(Editor’s note: Welcome back to our coverage of Agents of SHIELD, from now until the end of the season, William will be joined by Agents of SHIELD super fan Zoe as they discuss the last stretch of episodes).
William: “SOS” is a VERY busy finale for Agents of SHIELD and I think suffers a bit under the weight of all that it has going on, but there’s some really strong stuff here.
Zoe: I think the two-parter was the way to go, so good for Marvel and ABC. In my opinion, they managed to wrap up a lot of arcs that I was worried wouldn’t be wrapped.
William: There is a strong sense of finality here and I’m glad I’m not the only one who picked up on that fact. Minus the post credits tag, this very easily could have doubled for a series finale for the show.
Zoe: And segued into a brand new show! In the end, a lot of people we care about are safe and ready to move on. But let’s talk about how they got there. I specifically want to talk about Jiaying first. Overall, how did you feel about her arc?
William: The whole thing felt a touched forced to me. Jiaying certainly has a reason to be protective of her people, but I’m unsure of whether or not enough work was done with her character to make me feel as if she was ever a real threat to the team – unlike Ward, who I thought might seriously kill Bobbi at several points throughout the episode.
Zoe: Jiaying was very believable to me. I thought there were a lot of nice touches to add to giving context to her actions. One of the biggest ones for me was establishing that even though she heals herself, she still feels pain. I found myself imagining her going through what Whitehall put her through, and it’s horrifying! I also thought it was an interesting to tie in some themes from season one. Are HYDRA and SHIELD essentially the same?
William: I think that’s something the show has really explored this season, especially through the Skye’s eyes – what does it mean to be an Agent of SHIELD, more specific what it means to be an Agent of SHIELD under Coulson.
Zoe: To be simplistic about it, I think the answer is “good,” or at least “well intentioned.” And not just Skye, but also with May who is ostensibly the most loyal to Coulson. What secrets are worth keeping? Who do you tell? What are the consequences?
William: I think well intentioned is a good descriptor. Coulson shows he’s capable of making the tough decisions, except for when it comes to Skye (for very clear reasons). I appreciate that fact that this season still kept those secrets, mostly because this is a spy show (even with Inhumans running around) and that’s a good way of keeping things grounded as everything else starts to get a bit weirder (hi Fish Oil pills).
Zoe: Agreed! I also found the episode to be surprisingly grounded in how the characters interacted with each other. From May validating Skye’s mistake by saying, “You didn’t know,” to Cal connecting to Coulson, to Simmons and Fitz talking, there were so many great moments of friendship. I got the impression that this group is really solid together and I enjoyed that a lot. What did you think of the dynamics?
William: This is one of the first episodes in a while in which I felt the entire team (both old and new-ish characters) were really firing on all cylinders. Oliver Sava over at the AV Club pointed out how the writers seem to be writing Mack as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jr and I couldn’t find a more apt description. Sometimes you have to go with what works, right? But after some stumbling, I’m glad everything is back to being a touch more balanced. Which brings me to my next thought. I’m all for Skye leading what looks to basically be the Secret Warriors (a comic storyline that’s already been a major influence on this show), but that means lots of new characters and I’m a little wary of how the show might handle that considering some of the growing pains we got this season. However, at the same time, I’m very excited to see the show introduce more superpowers, because I think the SHIELD/Inhumans/HYDRA trio worked very well this year.
Zoe: I love that. As Mack and Dwayne Johnson are both darling ass-kickers with good hearts who aren’t bad to look at, either. But I digress. I love how Skye has been given this responsibility. On top of being able to drive Lola! After all of this, Skye has proven to be capable (loved that five-on-one fight scene) and trustworthy again and again. We will have to see what happens with the Secret Warriors, but don’t forget, a new head of HYDRA is lurking, waiting to get vengeance on the team! Oh, Grant Ward. What are you doing?
William: I LOVED that Grant didn’t 1) get to rejoin the team and 2) is now rebuilding HYDRA. He’s the anti-Coulson and you can tell that Brett Dalton loves playing into that darkness that Ward wears. And who better to take on Coulson’s team than the one who knows them best?
Zoe: At this point, Ward has definitely cemented himself on the side of “bad.” According to a lot of media outlets, this was in question. Now that it is more clear than ever and he has a goal, I’m excited to see how they use Dalton, especially since we lost so many villains in the finale.
William: Let’s talk a bit about just how good Kyle MacLachlan was this season. My. God. The amount of joy that he had once Cal fully embraced the monster was just incredible. And he’s legitimately funny! And scary! It’s a really great balance and I will certainly miss his presence moving forward.
Zoe: I can’t lie. I’m already deeply in mourning. The man is truly masterful. His Mr. Hyde was tragic and scary, yet the slapstick was played so well. Let’s hope Skye gets a pet and is able to see him. Maybe Cal will abandon his vet practice and achieve his ultimate status as Mayor of Portland. Either way, I truly loved his work on SHIELD and think the casting choice was one of the best.
William: How do you feel about the season as a whole, Zoe?
Zoe: As a whole, I liked it. It had its ups and downs, but I enjoyed being able to familiarize myself, someone who reads very few comics, with some Inhumans backstory and motivation. As far as the characters go, ultimately I’m happy with where they all started at the beginning of the season to where they all ended up. I’m a little concerned about keeping HYDRA around as a looming entity, but overall this season has made me very hopeful for a satisfying third season. What about you?
William: It’s been a bit of a mixed bag. I’m not sure Agents of SHIELD will ever be a great show, but it is a good show. Hell, it’s certainly a fun show. And sometimes that matters more than anything else.
Zoe: Hear, hear!
– “Science, biatch.” – WG
– “It’s you and me, Tremors.” – Z
– Poor, poor Jemma! What a great cliffhanger to go out on though. – WG
– As an unabashed Trip stan, I was hoping that somehow he was the goo that napped her. – Z
– I’m glad the Empire Strikes Back reference tread of everyone in a Phase 2 Marvel movie losing a hand applies to Agents of SHIELD as well. – WG
– Adrianne Palicki shined these two episodes. I’m glad she’s sticking around. – Z
– Seriously, the stuff with Bobbi, Ward and 33 was the highlight of the episode for me in many ways. – WG
– Rest in peace, Raina. – Z