Tuesday, March 17, 2015

AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. "Really Are"

Article originally written for Seat42F.

On this week’s MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC, Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) arrives sans memory. As the team tries to help her figure out her mission, it quickly becomes clear that her path is not that different than their own. The secrets kept by some of the team members start to come out, one in a big way, and relationships are threatened. For our heroes, it will all come down to “Who You Really Are.”

I like very much that Lady Sif’s mission, tracking a Kree named Vin-Tak (Eddie McClintock, Warehouse 13), directly intersects with Skye’s (Chloe Bennet) story. It isn’t forced, with it making logical sense that what happens to Skye will summon Vin-Tak, and by extension, Sif, to Earth. It also keeps things focused on what’s important, rather than distracting viewers with unnecessary, formulaic cases-of-the-weeks, as most broadcast network shows are wont to do.

At the end of last week’s episode, one wonders how long Skye can keep her secret after Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) takes pains to hide it for her. I’m pleased that “Who You Really Are” answers that question with ‘not long.’ After all, while it is interesting for large arcs to play out in bits and pieces, this story is very essential both to Skye and to MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D., and it is driving the show right now. It needs to be front and center, not pushed in the back.

Skye is lucky that her lie comes out so quickly. Coulson (Clark Gregg) and May (Ming-Na Wen) don’t feel severe betrayal, as they would had she continued to hide the truth from them for an extended period. Instead, they understand her fear, with everyone still going through the trauma of what happened, and they move to protect her. She is one of their own, and they will not abandon her when something happens to her outside of her control. S.H.I.E.L.D. truly is a team, even if it’s a team that has been manipulated from the beginning, a conspiracy theory expressed in this episode.

But is the team still solid? Some of the other agents are less welcoming to Skye. Mac (Henry Simmons) says they need protected from Skye, and others agree. Sadly, Skye overhears this, but thankfully she has some friends left.

Skye’s secret breaks down the fragile, rebuilt trust between Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) and Fitz. They are still on shaky ground in “Who You Really Are,” and that ground crumples away when Simmons realizes Fitz is keeping Skye’s secret. He has good reasons for doing so, reminding Simmons of her prejudiced rant last week, and while she claims Skye is her friend and she wouldn’t treat Skye the same as others with powers and I believe her, I still think the schism is more her fault. Fitz and Simmons’ continued uneasiness continues to stem back from her abandoning him after his injuries, and until that is dealt with, they’ll never get back to being FitzSimmons.

A relationship doing better, at least at first, is that of Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) and Hunter (Nick Blood), with Hunter confident in their chance of success since he is now involved in S.H.I.E.L.D., which came between them before. But Bobbi has a new secret, shared with Mac, and she has to drive Hunter away to keep it. Apparently this is for his own good, but of course he wouldn’t understand why she can’t just tell him. So that signals the end of the couple for now, if not forever.

Hunter has trouble letting go, and questions Mac directly. Mac knocks Hunter out, a sure betrayal of a team member, but at least Mac doesn’t hurt him. Mac and Bobbi aren’t bad guys, after all. “Who You Really Are” confirms they aren’t working for Hydra, though stops short of revealing who their boss is. I have the feeling it doesn’t matter, though, because even if they’re on the side of good, they are working behind their fellow agents’ backs and that is going to cause a rift that cannot be quickly healed.

There’s a lot going on in this week’s MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. We learn about the Kree’s project on Earth, which Skye is a result of. We learn there are more obelisks that are likely awakening more humans with powers. This is a huge threat, and certainly what the rest of season two will be about. Since the Inhumans movie (the finale of Marvel’s film franchise Phase Three) isn’t scheduled for another four years, this could actually be the driving plot of the entire series, assuming the show isn’t cancelled in the meantime. If it is, we might be waiting until then to see Skye and company again, but at least they should show up for that.

MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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