Jiaying manipulates war between SHIELD and the Inhumans, Skye must decide who’s side she is really on, and we’re given an ending of bitter sweet consequences.
Artist Joshua Budich brings us the last installment in The Art of Evolution for tomorrow’s “S.O.S. Part 2” of Marvel’s #AgentsofSHIELD!
There were more than a few moments in this episode, especially near the end, that I felt like I was going to have a heart attack, metaphorically speaking. The episode itself hit the ground running right from where the last episode left off and it never let up. While the finale had many strengths, awesome fight sequences, witty dialogue, earned conclusions to various story arcs, it’s not without some faults. Rather than my usual style of giving a blow by blow description of the two-hour long episode, as I don’t think I could adequately relay the impact of it in words, I’m going to focus on a few of the specific strengths and weaknesses of Agents of SHIELD’s season two finale.
Throughout the entire second season, the show has done an amazing job with it’s pacing and it’s consequences. That shines through in the finale, especially with the relationship with Fittz-Simmons. We’ve watched as our favorite science team tried and failed and tried again to get back to the place there relationship was before the end of the first season. Not only that, but both have struggled to deal with the changes in their own characters. The fear Simmons has for people with powers based on her own experiences. Fittz working to overcome his brain damage. It was all a process that finally got to a point in the finale that felt earned. It felt as if the characters had worked out their issues with each other and could finally move forward. Most shows, relationships begin and end and a new one begins again so quickly. To see the slow, natural, building of a genuine relationship is refreshing.
With the pacing of the entire season done so well, there are parts of the finale that did feel rushed and not earned. Much of the second half of this season has focused on fear and prejudice. Fear of powered people. Fear of SHIELD. Many characters like Gonzalez and Jiaying made their decisions based on this fear of each other. But in the episode “Scars,” we see that while I’ve mistrusted Gonzalez from the beginning, it turns out he was a good man, and while he had his own fears of the Inhumans, he was willing to put it aside for the greater good. Jiaying was not. From the moment we met her, she was the wise, caring, and level headed leader of the Inhumans at Afterlife. In the finale, that entire persona was revealed to be manipulation. Apparently, she WAS kind and wise, but after Whitehall cut her up, she, as Cal put it, lost her head. The murders committed by Cal were ordered by her, to feed her the life force of people to facilitate her healing powers. That’s how her gift worked. She sucked the life from a person and healed her, slowing her age. With Cal, who started out this season as a monster, but slowly peeled back layer after layer to show how complicated of a person he was to end up saving Skye and killing Jiaying, that character arc was earned. I don’t feel Jiaying’s was. This could simply be that we had so few episodes with Jiaying, but I feel they could have peppered the true nature of her character throughout the season, instead of cramming it all in the finale.
Switching from mother to daughter, Skye, from the beginning of this season, to the finale, has shown herself to be an incredibly well rounded and strong character. She’s a gifted hacker, has become a deadly SHIELD agent trained by May, and now she has super powers. All three of these gifts are put to good use in this episode as she holds her own against the Inhumans, and even against May. When her powers are stripped from her via the medical gloves Simmons made, she is still able to hack through a computer and take down enemies the old fashioned way. Dare I say it, she could be heading towards the power and skill levels of an Avenger. With the threat of Jiaying gone, SHIELD decides to put together their own team of powered people, an anonymous SHIELD Avengers team, with Skye leading it. A leadership position that she’s earned. I love that in the end with Skye and Coulson, it’s Skye who drives Lola, with Coulson sitting in the passenger seat, paying tribute to the end of the first episode, and subtly showing how things have changed.
My big disappointment, however, lies with the Inhumans themselves, and is something I’ve commented on before. Where are they? We saw Jiaying, Gordon, Raina, Lincoln, Skye, and the red-head who can multiply herself, but that’s it. At Afterlife, there as no other evidence of Inhumans with powers, no other physical changes. In the battle with SHIELD, the red-head was the only new Inhuman we’ve gotten to see, and we don’t even know her name. I can understand restraints on a production budget, but we needed to see more of the Inhumans. We needed to see the actual threat of them. Instead we got a few specific characters and that’s it. Imagine Wolverine’s introduction to X-Mansion in the first X-Men. It wasn’t over the top, but there were students there with powers, showing them and using them, and we should have gotten the same with the Inhumans.
The finale left us with a lot of concluded story arcs, and the openings of a few new ones that gives us an idea of where season three will take us. Cal is given a bitter sweet ending, as he’s put through the TAHITI protocol, wiping away his memory, and giving him the life of a kind and gentle veterinarian. While it’s a happy life, Skye’s now lost both of her parents after just finding them.
Coulson lost a hand in the battle with the Inhumans, so maybe robot hand?!
Ward, grieving the loss of Agent 33, looks to be rebuilding Hydra, or a more chaotic and thuggish version of it. Will he be the big bad of season three?
The Kree object in the Elliot’s hold is still unknown, even to SHIELD. Mack has been put in charge of securing alien objects, channeling his paranoia and fear of them to good use. However, it has acted and taken Simmons into itself, much like the gravitonium did in season one. Hopefully, Fittz and Coulson can save her soon and we don’t lose her for the beginning of season three.
Bobbi and Hunter also survived the events of the finale, but as their spin off has been cancelled, it’s unsure what will happen with them. They may not return at all. Personally, I hope they do. Mack, Hunter, and Bobbi were strong additions to the cast and it’d be terrible to lose them.
The diviner terrigen crystals the Inhumans made are in the ocean, infecting fish, which will in turn go on to infect people. The plague that Simmons worried about looks to be in the works as the effects will either turn humans to ash, or identify other Inhumans, giving them powers. Will these new powered people join the ranks of SHIELD’s anonymous powered team? Or even the New Avengers? Could these new untrained powered people be the spark that ignites the powder keg in Captain America: Civil War?