Instant Reaction: Agents of SHIELD – “What They Become”

*Update: My full recap of “What They Become” is now live.  Read it here!

Theories were confirmed!  Mysteries were solved!  Questions were answered!  Many more questions were asked!  Characters died!  Tonight’s episode of Agents of SHIELD wrapped up the first half of season two with action, excitement, drama, and emotion.  It also potentially changed the MCU permanently, and could potentially have as large an impact on the show as Captain America: The Winter Soldier did last season.  We won’t see SHIELD again until March, with Agent Carter to fill the gap, so we’ve got plenty of time to theorize and speculate.  Also, I’ve got plenty of comic book research to do just to keep up the appearance that I actually know what I’m talking about.  But for now, read on for my instant reactions to the episode and the new developments for the show, and check back tomorrow for my full recap!

  • Obviously I have to start with Skye.  We learned tonight that the popular fan theory that Skye’s real name is Daisy (Johnson, presumably) is correct.  Our first hint was when her father introduced himself as Cal, pinning him down as SHIELD‘s version of Calvin Zabo, also known in the comics as Mister Hyde, a supervillain inspired by the Robert Louis Stevenson story.  The hints had gotten progressively less subtle lately, with the repeated refrain of “Bicycle Built for Two,” but the fact that fans figured it out doesn’t make the news any less important.  And then there’s the whole Inhuman twist at the end, making Skye a double dip character, filling two comic book roles at once.  Like with Deathlok last year (bring back Mike Peterson!), the clear message here seems to be that characters/ideas from the comics will show up, but not always in the way or combination that you might expect.
  • So what do we know about Daisy Johnson?  When Skye transformed at the end of the episode, she showed off some vague but familiar powers that match up well with Daisy’s alias, Quake.  In the comics, Quake had the ability to create and manipulate vibrations, such as those that might cause an earthquake.  She could use these powers both generally and specifically, targeting them when necessary to destroy or disrupt something in particular, and could use them as a form of shield/protection.  Obviously a large part of the second half of the season will focus on her coping with her new powers, learning to control them and deciding how she wants to use them.  In the comics, Daisy/Quake was a potential member of the Avengers and also at one point the director of SHIELD, so I would expect her to stick with her SHIELD family for the time being, despite the big changes.
  • Then there’s her father.  In the comics, Calvin Zabo set out to replicate the plot of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and release his darker, animal side.  I’m very curious to see what happens with the show’s version of Cal.  He’s already pretty unstable, and he seems to be stronger than average, but is that just his nature or a result of some self-experimentation?  Will we actually see a supervillain version of Mister Hyde on the show, transforming in to a Hulk-like creature?  Beyond the desire to reunite with his daughter, what plans does Cal have for the future?
  • Favorite Quote: Coulson: “Know what we could use?”  May: “Another fifty men?” Coulson: “I was gonna say a dozen but I like your idea better.”
  • I feel like the little taste of the Inhumans was so huge and yet leaves me so little to talk about.  We’ve discussed the possibilities for months, and now that it’s finally here I’m still a little surprised.  Inside the Diviner was apparently the show’s version of the Terrigen Mist, bursting outwards from a crystal and causing Raina and Skye to go into a cocoon from which they burst out, changed.  Skye became Quake, garnering new powers, but we didn’t get to see much of Raina.  She appeared to have something growing out of her face, either coarse hair or stubby feathers, and her eye was orange.  I’m completely at a loss as to what comic book character she might be.  She also seemingly disappeared from the Temple pretty quickly.
  • And speaking of Inhumans, there’s that final scene to consider.  A mysterious figure, with his own Diviner which had started glowing, made a phone call to someone to say, “There’s someone new.  Tell the others I’m on it.”  He turned around and we saw that he has no eyes!  This is another character I’m not sure about, although I’ve already seen some speculation that he might be Reader, but I’m not ready to jump to that just yet.  I think it’s just as likely that he’s an entirely new Inhuman.  I definitely don’t think we’re going to see major characters from the Inhumans comics on the show, given that they can’t create a feature film (due in 2018) and expect audiences to have watched the show.  I expect the Inhumans we see starting in March will largely be original characters, but the bigger question is what is their agenda?
  • One last thought about the Inhumans, particularly as it connects to the film.  Given the fact that Attilan, the home city of the Inhumans, has moved to many different locations throughout the years, including the Kree homeworld, I’m betting we haven’t actually seen Attilan yet.  Given the existence of multiple Diviners, it’s possible there are also multiple hidden cities, and that Attilan exists elsewhere at the moment.  I think the film will focus on the Royal Family, including the most familiar Inhuman characters, rather than directly tying into the current storyline on the show.  Perhaps it will be a prequel, or maybe just a tangential story in the vein of Guardians of the Galaxy.  I just have my doubts about Skye, Raina and No-eyes showing up in an MCU film just yet.
  • Favorite Quote: Hunter: “Join SHIELD, travel to exotic and distant lands, meet exciting and unusual people…. and kill them.”
  • Ok, enough about theories and Inhumans and Daisy Johnson (for now), because some other big things happened on the episode.  Biggest of all, Trip died!  He chose the wrong moment to run to Skye’s rescue, being trapped inside the Temple with her and Raina.  The Terrigen Mist sent Skye and Raina into cocoons, and Trip kicked the crystal to stop the process, getting shards embedded in his chest which turned him to stone just as the Diviner has done to countless others over the years.  Skye watched helplessly as his body crumbled when subjected to her new powers.  It was a touching moment, but as fun as Trip was I never felt like we got to know him well enough to be too devastated by his death.  I liked him, and B.J. Britt did a great job, but when Hunter was added to the regulars this season over Trip I assumed that things looked dire.  On the other hand, Mack was saved, released of the city’s control once the crystal was destroyed!
  • Whitehall is also dead!  I’m a big fan of Reed Diamond, and I’m sorry to see him go, but it was a fittingly unceremonious end for the evil HYDRA scientist.  His death also sets some new events in motion, and gives the team some new enemies to face in the future.  Dr. Cal is probably still fuming about Coulson stealing the possibility of revenge away from him, but I’m more interested in two other characters dealing with the fallout of Whitehall’s death.  It looks like we’re going to see a teamup between Ward and Agent 33, which to me is full of possibilities.  I’m sure HYDRA will still be around going forward (cut off one head, two take its place), but I’d be happy for things to change tack a bit and perhaps see Ward as a full villain.  After Skye shot him, I don’t think he can really believe there’s a chance for love between them, and with the lost Agent 33 at his side he’ll have the ability to cause some serious havoc.
  • Skye shooting Ward might have been my favorite moment of the episode, and this was an episode full of big moments.  Skye has really grown as a character, going from a literal Mary Sue sort of situation to a believable, complex, strong agent.  It’s one thing for Ward to point out the way she’s checking all the exits and guards on her way in, but it’s quite another for her to take a gun off a dead guard and shoot Ward with no warning, as he’s in the process of looking out for her.  It not only speaks to May’s great training about dealing with threats, but also the level of anger and betrayal she still feels towards Ward.  It was a Whedonesque moment, surprising and even funny but also saying a lot about character.  And the fact that it was followed with the moment where she couldn’t shoot her father and then tearfully apologized to Coulson made it all even sweeter.  It was the juxtaposition of the new Skye and the old one, and it pleases me to no end that they haven’t lost sight of the character despite the changes this season.  It also bodes well for the future, given the even bigger changes still to come.
  • I have to end by praising Chloe Bennet.  Ian De Caestecker may have been the MVP of the season thus far, but Chloe did a fantastic job tonight and has been solid the entire season.  I know a lot of people aren’t the biggest fans of Skye, particularly when they compare her to Melinda May or to Simmons, but hopefully tonight she won some people over.  She had to portray such a range of emotions, and she did it so well without ever overselling it.  Her tearful apology to Coulson was so genuine, and the helplessness on her face as she watched Trip crumble was more heartbreaking to me than the character’s death.  Chloe has had perhaps the hardest job of any actor on the show, often given awkward exposition, quippy dialogue that tends to rub people the wrong way, and a more central role than some feel she deserves.  But I feel like she’s turned Skye from a trope into a three dimensional character, worthy of her central role in the show.  I’m excited to see what she’ll bring in the spring, but at this point I hope we can all take a step back and appreciate the work she’s done thus far.

What do you think?  Did you enjoy “What They Become”?  Check back tomorrow for my recap as well as my predictions for the rest of season 2!  Were you surprised by either the Daisy or the Inhumans revelations?  Who was the man with no eyes?  Who was he talking to on the phone?  Who/what did Raina turn into?  How did you feel about Trip’s death?  What about Whitehall?  What are Ward and Agent 33 going to do now?  I didn’t even mention Hunter and Bobbi, but what do you think is on the flash drive?  What is the Theta Protocol?  Where does the show go from here?  Let me know in the comments!

*Note: I apologize to anyone who has commented in the last week or two if I haven’t responded to your comments.  It wasn’t intentional, and I do plan to get to them, things have just been busy lately.  Hopefully with SHIELD off for a month until Agent Carter starts I can get caught up on those as well as the articles/reviews I need to write.  And as always, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!  It means the world to me!

1 thought on “Instant Reaction: Agents of SHIELD – “What They Become”

  1. Yeah, this definitely took the place as the best finale of the series, though I’m still partial to the S1 finale because at least some people had a good ending. Though there is no going back at this point.

    Good research by the way, that’s pretty much all I know about the theories which will probably double over with the long wait. I do think there’s a chance that the guy at the end is Reader, but I also believe that the film will be about the Royal Inhuman family. Maybe a mention? There are literally dozens of Inhuman characters to delve into, so it’s entirely possible. Perhaps they’ll be original or maybe they’ll be like Daisy and be Marvel mutants under the Inhuman mythology.

    That scene with Skye at the end will probably go down as one of the best in the series in my book. The emotion and implications of it were amazing. The fact that we have no idea where this will head for Skye or the characters makes it that much more fascinating. Chloe quickly made Skye a favorite.

    On the other hand, I’m almost worried that this whole Daisy Johnson experience may backfire. Now I’m going to consider nearly every crazy theory with the possibility of being true. Sure it’ll be fun, but very confusing.

    I’m actual most concerned, behind Skye’s new powers, about who the next baddie might be. HYDRA still plays a role, but there needs to be a center antagonist to get stories rolling. Perhaps Reader or Cal or even Raina will be there to shake things up, but I think there needs to be another clear villain. There are still some HYDRA villains from the comics left, so there are still possibilities. Gotta say there was a sigh of relief after Whitehall was killed though.

    Then again, there’s still a lot to deal with in the characters now. We still have the situation with Bobbi and Mack which, now that he’s okay, will definitely come back. SWORD is a possibility, mostly because I don’t want to see anymore betrayal. Ward’s still a factor, though he didn’t really do anything wrong in this episode, so maybe there’s hope for a redemption. It is interesting to see him as a villainlike character, but I have to acknowledge when Ward actually seems helpful. FitzSimmons is officially back on speaking terms though, so that’s a plus. Either way, anything can happen at this point.

    Liked by 1 person

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