As the dust settles from the near-cataclysm that was Avengers: Age of Ultron’s finale battle, we see how it and its lessons have crossed once again into Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. To be fair, the fallout isn’t as severe as things were in Season 1 with Captain America: The Winter Soldier; but that doesn’t mean all is safe and sound. A war is brewing and just like with the last crossover in Season 1, it seems like not all are who they appear to be.
The Aftermath of Avengers: Age Of Ultron
Seeing the old 64 Hellicarrier from The Avengers back in action in Avengers: Age Of Ultron was incredible; and it seems like we have Phil Coulson to thank for that. As the episode begins, we flashback to prior to Season 2 as Coulson secretly meets with one of the Koenig brothers about the Theta Protocol. Whereas Theta Protocol certainly had connections to reassembling the Avengers as well as the Avengers Academy, it’s true purpose was to bring the old Hellicarrier back online. Though this episode had more than just an ‘explanatory’ tie to Avengers: Age of Ultron as we see the aftermath simultaneously brings S.H.I.E.L.D back together, but also causes some new splits – from a very familiar theme. Coulson’s work repairing the Hellicarrier certainly saved thousands of lives, but it still doesn’t exonerate him from what Gonzales sees as his biggest downfall – meddling in things he doesn’t understand. Mack and Gonzales both express an opinion that was made painfully clear in the Avengers: Age of Ultron: “don’t meddle in things you don’t understand”. This is what caused Tony to create Ultron as the other Avengers just sat by and watched it happen.
Gonzales – now acting as part of the governing council above S.H.I.E.L.D – wants to hold the new S.H.I.E.L.D to a higher standard and makes sure something like that never happens again. He might have been a pain up until now, but Gonzales does have some very valid concerns. Though sadly, there’s so much concern of S.H.I.E.L.D starting a new war after it just finished another (a war against Hydra), he fails to suspect it’ll be another who starts the next war.
Scars – Some Wounds Never Go Away:
As the episode title suggest, this episode is all about some things that never heal – whether they be physical or emotional. The most obvious representation of scars here is the physical, and I’m not just talking abot the physical scars left in the planet where Sokovia used to be. Jaiying’s scars are a constant reminder of what people are capable of and that forces her to act from fear – despite thinking she’s above it. Similarly, it is also the idea of scars that divides her and Gonzales, despite him thinking their commonality on being wounded by Hydra makes them similar. Jaiying was literally eviscerated by Hydra, so to compare a leg injury is insulting. Though as the episode progresses, we see that not all scars are noticeable – like Agent 33. As Agent 33’s brain scan revealed, there’s no more signs of Hydra influence; but that doesn’t necessarily mean she isn’t damaged. As we learn by the end there is of course a bigger plan and she’s acting on her own past pain against Bobbie Morse. Though it’s the characters who can’t escape the scars that they caused, which most drive this episode. Coulson’s reputation is scarred because of his past dealings with alien tech, May is still scarred from her trip in Bahrain, Raina’s reputation is scarred from her history of manipulation. The list continues as more and more are unable to escape something from their past, something that still shows itself to be ugly. It is because of these scars – apparent or unapparent – that makes it so hard to decide who is and who isn’t deserving of forgiveness.
Those Who Truly Deserve Forgiveness:
During the ‘previously on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ set up, we were reminded how Ward said last episode that “some people don’t deserve forgiveness”. Here we was talk of course about himself, but then added that Kara (Agent 33) did deserve some. Well when her brain scans came back as ‘no longer Hydra induced’, we knew that wasn’t the real problem. Agent 33 loves Ward, so with so much assurance she wasn’t Hydra anymore, we knew the rug would be pulled out from under the Agents as Kara still sided with Ward. Though whereas the Kara deception was pretty easy to spot, others took us by complete surprise – yet still made sense.
For a while now we’ve been hearing about how great an agent Gonzales was, yet kept seeing him acting very paranoid towards anyone with powers. Was Gonzales a respectable foil for Coulson or the anti-Coulson? Well this episode kept the tension building as he prepared an ‘insurance policy’ to meet with Skye’s mother Jaiying; but in the end it turned out he was indeed a good man who just wanted peace. Though he wasn’t the only one who had mixed reviews this season. Since she first appeared at Afterlife, Raina was a constant case of debate. ON one end we had Cal and Skye reaffirming her manipulative and evil tendencies, but on the other we remembered Jaiying and Lincoln’s original words about how once you become Inhuman you’re part of something bigger. Could Raina cast off her old way or would she use her new gifts for evil? Much like Gonzales, this episode built her up more and more to have malicious intent. In fact, when it looked like Gonzales and Raina would meet rather than Coulson and Jaiying, it looked like war was all but assured. As it turns out, Raina was in fact making amends for her past and trying to help “her people”. In the end, it was Jaiying who was indeed not the one to be trusted.
Too Close To See Clearly:
It’s ironic that what we initially thought would be the worst meeting (Raina and Gonzales) would actually have been the best. Gonzales left Coulson behind because he was too close to all of this and his desire to protect Skye might jeopardize the peace talks. Well the same should have indeed happened at Afterlife as it was Jaiying’s proximity to the case that made things go south. She’s been hurt too much by ‘agents’ in the past. To her S.H.I.E.L.D and Hydra aren’t that different, and in that moment she became just as manipulative as the Hydra she feared.
“Fear drives us to do things we’d otherwise never do. That’s why I first started experimenting with Terrigen crystals. We only had 5 diviners in our possession. I knew if they were destroyed we’ve lose our ability to transform. An entire race gone forever. So we decided to make our own. As some have said, discovery requires experimentation.” – Jaiying
It’s hard to tell if a Coulson Jaiying meeting would have ended this badly or if their mutual connection to Skye would have helped things out. Though regardless of all this, when one person in any meeting fails to be objective, things go downhill fast. Jaiying was always worried that if people learned she had a daughter, then they would think she was putting her needs before everyone else’s. Well that is exactly what happened here as she chose war out of fear – not love.
Excelsior – Easter Eggs, References & Other Important Points:
- “Its hard to argue with a man who prevented Ultron from killing thousands of people” – That’s right Gonzales. Acknowledge Coulson’s awesomeness!
- Again, the episode built up wonderfully the idea of Raina still being manipulative considering she was telling everyone their visions and said she was ‘getting them more frequently”. It would have been so easy to spin this as her making it all up to gain sway.
- “Daisy’s strong, she gets that from you, but if she’s not ok I’ll personally rip out Raina’s little tainted rat heart … or not, whatever you want” – Oh Cal, we still love/fear you
- Behind Door 47 lies what remains of a Kree killing machine meant to undo their creations. What exactly it is remains to be seen, but there can’t be many items in the Marvel universe that undulate between a solid and liquid.
- This is the first time we actually hear the word Inhuman used as a title and not just an adjective to describe Skye’s medical tests
- As Bobbie said, “sometimes chaos brings order”. Hopefully order comes from the 2 hour finale
- We now learn why Skye’s method of Diviner Terrigenesis was considered outdated as Jaiyin explained how now they grow their own Terrigen Crystals infused with Diviner metal
- We keep getting the build up that Simmons is going to cross the line and kill someone. Though considering Ward does have bigger plans, she does have a point.
- Can we take a moment to just acknowledge that Cal actually said something nice about Coulson and how he does look after their daughter.
- “Let me protect my family the way I couldn’t before.” If we remember correctly, Cal couldn’t protect his family last time because he wasn’t strong enough … this time we will have that strength, but not in the way we want.
Manipulation Of The Coming Battles
With Jaiying lying about Gonzales trying to kill her, its going to force Skye to take sides – most likely with her actual parents. Though the truth is somehow going to come out – it always does. Again, like Avengers: Age of Ultron, Jaiying just caused hell by having ‘the best of intentions’. Though in the end, she might just be the monster others fear her to be. When Skye called May out about what happened in Bahrain, she somehow turned around May’s VERY tragic story. The manipulative child left May with no other course of action and yet Skye makes May seems like she did it out of fear. Skye will initially side with her mother and fight against May, but the tide will soon – hopefully turn. As we saw in this episode, May responded very coldly to the idea of Skye’s mom. She also seems quietly upset; but why so much this time? Well as we’ve said for a while, if Coulson is Skye’s foster father, May is her foster mother.
As we learned from the Bahrain episode, Skye is the only child May will probably ever have, and this signifies May losing yet another daughter. She blames Phil for this loss and how his actions pushed her towards her Inhuman heritage. The two-hour finale is going to be filled out tough, painful and emotional moments, especially when they realize Cal is hiding a secret. He drank several vials of a new concoction that is sure to finally give us the Mr Hyde of the comics. I’m so nervous to see what’s going to happen next. Though if the Season 1 finale was any hint, we should have a resolution to everything with one tiny hint at something to be expanded upon next season. So stay tuned for the next and last episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D this season.