Saturday, March 21, 2015

S.H.I.E.L.D. Fan Is "One of Us"

Article originally written for Seat42F.

This week’s MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC is called “One of Us.” Whether or not Skye (Chloe Bennet) remains “one of us,” meaning part of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, is an open question. Coulson (Clark Gregg) is certainly treating her as such, getting May (Ming-Na Wen) to bring in her ex-husband, Dr. Andrew Garner (Blair Underwood, The Event), to treat Skye. But are Skye’s powers beyond what she or they currently comprehend, and as understanding deepens, will that change opinions?

MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. has a tough situation on display. Skye is a dear friend to many and she is May’s protégé so she should be protected and treated normally. But how can her friends not pretend she’s different? If she loses her concentration, she can shake apart buildings, if not larger areas. She is dangerous because she isn’t experienced in controlling her powers, and until she gets a handle on them, if she can get a handle on them permanently, she can’t fully rejoin the team, no matter how anyone feels about her. But not using them, mostly controlling them as she has done so far, is actually hurting her, so that can’t continue either.

“One of Us” talks about a registry of powered people that S.H.I.E.L.D. maintains. Skye is added to the registry, of course, but that hasn’t always been a good thing for those on it. Cal (Kyle MacLachlan) picks up a few folks who have been imprisoned or controlled because of the registry, including Karla Gaye Gideon (Drea de Matteo, The Sopranos), and sets them on a revenge course against S.H.I.E.L.D. One presumes Cal is doing this because the organization has his daughter, Skye, whom he may misguidedly believe would return to him if given free will. But it’s pretty easy to convince the others to help him, as they feel wronged by the organization.

Is this Skye’s fate? Is she destined to be locked up, or not allowed to use her powers? That’s certainly Dr. Garner’s worry, and it’s the reason he refuses to stick around when he’s asked to. Even under Coulson’s new command, not everyone has happy feelings about the agency. Skye didn’t start out believing in them, but she believes in Coulson and May, and so S.H.I.E.L.D. by extension. “One of Us” provides some pretty valid reasons as to why that opinion is not universal, moving the titular body into a greyer area than we’ve seen thus far.

Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) and Mack (Henry Simmons) go even further than just distrusting S.H.I.E.L.D., secretly working for a group they refer to as the “real” S.H.I.E.L.D. We barely catch a glimpse of the place when they take Hunter (Nick Blood) there against his will, so we don’t yet know who’s running the place or why. Yet, they are nice enough to Hunter in the interim, meaning they aren’t villains. Since Coulson is Fury’s hand-picked successor, these are likely people who disagreed with S.H.I.E.L.D. previously and now, believing the organization has a chance to change for the better and has not, are trying to circumvent the inheritance. I’m very curious to learn more about them.

So with two groups of good guys set on conflicting paths, what will happen to MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.? Last year at this time, S.H.I.E.L.D. as we know it collapsed. This season has been about rebuilding. Is the organization about to undergo another monumental shift, just as it’s getting back on its feet?

If that weren’t enough, Cal escapes when the agents capture his minions. Admittedly, Cal is grabbed by Gordon (Jamie Harris), who does not seem a fan and is determined to rein Cal in, lest he expose others with powers. But because Cal is still out there and he proves himself quite capable in the past, Cal still seems like a threat worth worrying about. Plus, we’ve seen no sign of Ward (Brett Dalton) lately, so that’s the other show that can drop at any time.

I really dig this move into darkness that MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. is going through. I’m all for the heroes winning the day, but things get much more interesting when we’re not sure who the heroes are, or when a big difference of opinion splinters them. “One of Us” is certainly a good sign the series is on track.

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

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