TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 3 Episode 13 "Parting Shot"
EPISODE 13: "Parting Shot"
SYNOPSIS: Bobbi and Hunter become ensnared in an assassination plot after tracking Malick to Russia. As S.H.I.E.L.D. races to save the lives on the line, the team is changed forever.
BREAKDOWN: (The following column contains MAJOR SPOILERS, so I don't recommend reading this if you haven't watched this episode).
One of the problems ensemble shows run into is too many characters. Between season one and two of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the showrunners added half a dozen new characters including Hunter, Bobbi, and Mack. While main characters like Grant Ward took a more supporting role in recent years, there just hasn't been enough story to go around. Tonight's episode begins to clean up the roster a bit by sending two characters off into the sunset but not by killing them off. "Parting Shot" serves as both a farewell to Adrienne Palicki and Nick Blood as Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter while also acting as a backdoor pilot for their spin-off series, Marvel's Most Wanted. Knowing that these characters will return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is comforting but it also does not diminish the quality of this hour.
Picking up from last week, Bobbi and Hunter follow Gideon Malick's entourage to Russia where they are planning to take action on the proposed sanctuary state for Inhumans. A wraparound story to the episode shows that their actions 36 hours before led to their arrest by Interpol who are holding them under the assumption that they are S.H.I.E.L.D. agents working under orders from the United States. Bobbi and Hunter do not crack under the interrogation methods which eventually leads to why they depart this series. But, before we get to that, we need to take a look at these two. Both characters joined the series last year and quickly became fan favorites. Their spin-off was originally slated but then cancelled and is now back on track. What this episode does is offer a lot of character development they have been lacking as the duo discuss never having taken a honeymoon or spent quality time together. It is apparent early on which direction things will be going in.
Coulson and the rest of his team are monitoring things from the skies. They observe Malick as he convinces the Russian dignitaries to release their captive general, an Inhuman himself, which will help serve as the beginning of a coup d'etat which could put HYDRA in control of one of the most powerful nations on Earth. The general's power involves a sentient shadow that can fight and kill. If destroyed, it can regenerate. This poses a problem for the team as there is no physical way to stop the threat without taking down the general himself. May, Daisy, and Mack head to the Siberian compound to assist when the Russian Prime Minister arrives and it becomes clear that his death is the true motivation for Malick's plan.
Both Bobbi and Hunter fight alongside their colleagues and try to find a way to stop the general but it quickly becomes clear there is only one way to save the Prime Minister. Bobbi grabs her gun and kills the general, saving the dignitaries as well as her ex-husband. President Ellis arrives with his advisor, Phil Coulson, to discuss terms with the Prime Minister. The Russians make it clear to the President that there is a new arms race in the world, one that includes the stock-piling of super-powered assets like the Inhumans. The Prime Minister finds it impossible to present the truth to his people of what happened and demands that Bobbi and Hunter are held liable. Scrambling the signal to their room, Coulson offers the two agents an extraction plan, but the couple elect to take the fall in order to protect S.H.I.E.L.D.. Coulson understands what they are saying which will result in them being disavowed and no longer able to act as agents. But, by distancing themselves from S.H.I.E.L.D., they protect the resurging agency and get to live their own lives.
At a New York bar, Hunter and Bobbi have drinks and think about their lives now that they are no longer spies. The waitress begins to bring them shots and all around the room, they see their friends and colleagues. Each of them takes a shot in honor of their friends and bids them a "spy's farewell". It is an especially emotional scene for Simmons and Mack while Coulson remains steadfast, knowing his respected agents made the bravest choice. It is unclear how the two will get pulled back into the MCU narrative for their series, but even if that gets cancelled, this was a fitting goodbye to two interesting characters. The episode wraps with a stinger scene featuring Malick and his daughter shooting clay pigeons and discussing Ward/Hibe. Malick's daughter cannot wait to meet their new leader, saying she knows he will change the world.
Despite the incongruous closing scene, the rest of this episode was a very focused story that worked as a standalone for Bobbi and Hunter while also moving forward the HYDRA plot involving Malick and Ward/HIve. I am still not quite sure what the villainous team has in mind for their big plan but this episode does open a huge can of worms for the MCU as a whole. With the Inhumans becoming such an international commodity, there will have to be some sort of recognition on the big screen about their existence. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR and DOCTOR STRANGE both hit theaters this year and it would be a major blow to the small screen Marvel properties if this growing Inhuman plot element goes unaddressed. Hopefully we learn more over the coming months as this season wraps up, but I hope the showrunners make the right choice.
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: No overt references this week.
NEXT ON MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: "Watchdogs" airs March 29th - When a radical group called The Watchdogs emerges with plans to eliminate the Inhumans, Agent Mack and his brother become caught in the crossfire. Meanwhile, Simmons discovers a powerful chemical compound that could alter the future for Inhumans.