TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 2 Episode 11 "Aftershocks"
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EPISODE 11: "Aftershocks"
SYNOPSIS: Coulson's team must deal with the consequences of their war with HYDRA as shocking revelations threaten to tear them apart, and HYDRA makes a dangerous move that may involve a traitor in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s midst.
BREAKDOWN: (The following column contains MAJOR SPOILERS, so I don't recommend reading this if you haven't watched this episode).
After a brief hiatus that saw the stellar first season of AGENT CARTER show us how good an original Marvel series could be, AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. returns to pick up with the birth of the Inhumans. Before getting into the transformations of Skye and Raina, the episode opens with a flashback to 1983 where Skye's mother comforts a young boy with no eyes named Gordon. She speaks to an elderly man and they discuss how long it has been since Gordon passed through the Terrigen Mists. Jiaying draws the boy to her despite his uncontrollable superpower of teleportation running rampant.
In current times, Coulson watches over Skye as she has nightmares about Tripplet dying in the Kree temple. Skye laments what happened, saying she failed but Coulson tells her she did not and he will find someone and make them pay for what happened. The crew moves on and begins to catalog the temple and the city, trying to find uses for what they have there. One of the S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists is attacked and killed by an unknown attacker. The only thing we see is a gnarled hand come around the wall. It seems safe to assume this is Raina.
We also get to meet a cabal who mourn the death of Whitehall and wonder where Mr. Bakshi could be. Assuming he has been captured, they decide that whoever can take out S.H.I.E.L.D. will be the new leader of HYDRA. One of the men also says he will look into Whitehall's research into arcane artifacts to see if anything will be of use to them.
As Simmons meets with the agents in the temple, Raina attacks and kills most of them. She gets a brief glimpse of herself in the mask of a HAZMAT suit and we can see she is not very pretty anymore. Simmons gets a shot off but she escapes. Simmons notifies Coulson and May that it was Raina and she was covered in thorns. As they gather their forces, they decide to go after her while also trading Bakshi. Mack has an outburst amongst the team about whether they should have gone to the city in the first place. As they all argue and fight, Skye's heartrate skyrockets and things begin to shake. Coulson diffuses the argument and no one but Skye noticed what was happening.
As May and Coulson head to deliver Bakshi to General Talbot, their car is hit head on by a truck. Driven into a warehouse, the agents take fire as mercenaries try to retrieve Bakshi. The mercenaries shoot and kill May and Coulson and one leads Bakshi away. In the car, the merc is revealed to be Hunter and the entire operation was faked to lure Bakshi into leading them to HYDRA.
At a shipping yard, Raina sneaks up on Cal, Skye's father, as he tries to escape. He apologizes that she didn't evolve but she says she did. She grabs him and reveals her face which looks cat and lizard like and asks what she has become. Raina tells Cal that Skye was safe after emerging from the Mist and he celebrates that she is okay. Raina blames Cal for her current state and says Skye stole what was rightfully hers. Cal tells her this is her dream and he cannot changer her, sending her off on her own.
Hunter and Bakshi arrive at the home of the HYDRA benefactor. Bobbi arrives as Hunter waits. Back at HQ, Simmons suggests that the team hunting Raina kill her instead of letting the potential contagion spread. Here begins the eternal Marvel struggle between treating Inhumans/Mutants as a sickness versus human beings. Sides will be taken, mark my words. Back at the HYDRA contact, Bakshi video-conferences with the leaders whom are referred to as The Doctor, The Banker, The Baronness, and The Sheik.
Fitz reveals that he saw the heartrate on Skye's monitor and questions how she could have survived unharmed when everything around her was totally destroyed. Calling her inhuman, Skye begins to get scared and everything in her containment cell shakes, the lightbul exploding and sending Fitz running in fear. At the same time, Coulson delivers the sad news of Tripp's death to his mother while various HYDRA agents take out the leadership Mr. Bakshi referred to. After all of them are killed, Hunter and Bobbi recapture Bakshi and take him into custody.
When May sees Skye's injured hand, they begin to get paranoid, but Fitz returns and covers for her, saying her DNA is normal and releases her from quarantine. Fitz tells her he switched her samples until everyone can calm down so she can be safe. Skye hugs Fitz and collapses into tears saying she is sorry and she could have stopped Raina, saying there is something wrong with her. Fitz says she is just different now and there is nothing wrong with that. At the same tiime, Raina walks into traffic to try and kill herself but instead is surrounded by soldiers who say they want to take her in. She says they have to killer her but before she can attack, the man with no eyes teleports in and takes her to safety.
In the stinger scene, we see a toy car in Coulson's office open up and begin to scan the room while the team chats. Bobbi and Mack discuss their operation and that they will make their next move soon. The team thinks about Tripp and lament his passing.
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: Several Inhuman references and a veiled comment about Iron Man.
REVIEW: This felt like a bit of a letdown after the major cliffhanger introducing the Terrigen Mists and the concept of the Inhumans. The introduction of a new group of leaders for HYDRA only to kill them alll off in a single episode felt like a waste, but we did get the first step in the humans versus Inhumans debate that will likely plague the Marvel Cinematic Universe for years to come. Coulson took a backseat this week as Skye and Raina took center stage in very different capacities. It is still unclear if Raina is based on an existing Marvel character or who the eyeless Gordon is, but it feels like AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. has abandoned the conceit of being a Marvel show without superheroes to instead embrace the superpowers and comic book stories everyone wants to see.
NEXT ON MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.:
Episode 12 "Who You Really Are" (Airs December 9th) - Coulson and team come to the aid of a confused Lady Sif, who has lost her memory after fighting with a mysterious warrior whose true mission will send shockwaves through S.H.I.E.L.D. Meanwhile, Bobbi and MacK continue to hide their true mission from everyone close to them.
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