Reaction: Agents of SHIELD – “Aftershocks” and “Who You Really Are”

Skye and Melinda May in "Who You Really Are"

“Who You Really Are,” written by Drew Z. Greenberg and directed by Roxann Dawson, kept the focus on Skye, taking us deeper into the the mysteries of the Inhumans, while giving us some fun moments with the return of Lady Sif.  Tonight’s episode, unlike last week’s, told a single story rather than trying to weave together the many threads left over from the midseason finale, and as such was more focused and a little slower paced (which is a good thing).  It still packed an emotional wallop, and continued the strong second season of SHIELD in great style.  So let’s break down “Who You Really Are,” and take a look at a few thoughts in common for the first two episodes of 2015.

  • I like Lady Sif, and Jamie Alexander’s portrayal of the Asgardian, but more than that I love how Sif has become a recurring character on the show.  I could probably count the characters who have crossed over from the MCU to SHIELD on one hand, but the fact that Sif, who only has a few lines in two Thor movies, gets to have a major role in two episodes brings a bit of fun to the show.  It also helps tie things together in a way that a huge appearance like Nick Fury doesn’t.  When Sif’s appearance is treated as another (albeit special) day at the office, rather than a major moment, it makes the show fit more naturally into the MCU.
  • This week, Lady Sif appeared in Portugal, emerging from the sea in civilian clothes, carrying her sword but without any memory of who she is.  This gave us a nice twist on the serious Lady Sif with whom we’re familiar, and gave Jamie Alexander some room to have some fun with the role.  I loved all of the little moments of her confusion, like when she insisted to an old man that she only hurts those who deserve it, before checking with Coulson to make sure that was true, or when Thor’s name made her want to smile but she couldn’t remember why.  Of course, even with only the knowledge that she had as a child, she was still smarter and more well informed than SHIELD’s best and brightest.
  • Sif wasn’t the only alien visitor this week, as we soon learned that she lost her memory while fighting a rogue Kree, named Vin-Tak.  This was only the third Kree we’ve met in the MCU, following Ronan from Guardians of the Galaxy and the dead Kree from the guest house in season one of SHIELD.  Vin-Tak was much different, first using a liquid nitrogen machine to make himself appear human, but also showing a sense of humor.  I loved the moment when he kicked his truncheon out of Coulson’s hand and used it on Sif to restore her memories as a way of bypassing a tedious conversation standoff.  Of course, we also learned from him a considerable amount about Diviners, Kree on Earth, and Inhumans, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
  • Favorite Quote: Bobbi: “Did you hear the words that came out of your mouth?.”
  • The episode opened (after a teaser) with an excellent scene of May and Skye sparring.  Skye has really come a long way with May as her S.O., but May keeps pushing Skye to not hold back.  Skye says she’s afraid of hurting (or at least trying to hurt May), because she can’t keep her emotions in check.  She plays it off as just being anger at what happened to Trip, but of course we know that it’s her fear of unleashing her power and either hurting or killing someone she loves or at least letting her secret out.  Of course, the icing on the scene was Fitz rushing in to check on Skye and being told that “training is not a group activity” while conjuring up the image of May sparring with Fitz.  I know a lot of people (myself included) love the idea of Coulson and May as father and mother to the team, but more than that I just love how May has grown from a badass robot in early season one to someone who cares enough about the people around her both to push them to be better but also to support them and defend them to the end.
  • The other relationships on the team are a little more complex, particularly Bobbi and Hunter.  The two are still sleeping together and clearly having fun, but things aren’t as simple as they seem.  Hunter was offered a permanent position by Coulson, and is considering taking it for a variety of reasons, including the fact that he and Bobbi being on the same team is one less obstacle to come between them in their relationship.  Bobbi is torn by this, and a conversation with Mack makes things worse when he shoots down her idea of bringing Hunter into their plan, saying that that ship has sailed and that they can’t risk Hunter telling Coulson.  Mack is convinced that he can’t be trusted, and talks Bobbi into pushing Hunter away, both for the good of their plan and for Hunter’s own safety, as anyone still around when they “pull the trigger” could get hurt.  She does just that, acting coldly to Hunter and telling him she wants to slow things down, which obviously doesn’t sit well with Hunter at all.  Somehow I doubt she’ll be able to hide her feelings forever, and eventually things will come to a head and she’ll have to choose either Hunter or the plan.
  • And then there’s FitzSimmons.  Simmons seems eager to bond again with Fitz, not knowing that he’s lying to her about Skye.  The game is almost up when she finds a tablet with Skye’s DNA scan on it, but he passes it off as a simulation he built.  She’s gone to the trouble of upping the strength of the ICERs, making them much more powerful in the hopes of stopping an Inhuman, but also making them much more dangerous.  Of course, once the truth about Skye gets out later in the episode, they both act defensive.  Fitz rationalizes keeping Skye’s secret by pointing out Simmons’s recent attitude shift, while she insists that she would never do anything to hurt Skye.  The way he called “Jemma, I am so sorry” to her as they ran away from the Kree was pretty tragic, and I think these two are going to have a lot of work to do to rebuild the trust between them.
  • Favorite Quote: Lady Sif: “I learned that as a child. Did you not?”
  • As the team tracks down the Kree, using a Youtube video of him and Sif fighting on a pier, Skye finds herself losing control once again when Bobbi is knocked out and Skye is face to face with the Kree.  Instead of shooting him, her powers manifest and the room starts shaking, and she shatters her gun instead of firing it at him.  But it isn’t until later, after we learn a lot more about what’s going on around here, that her secret finally gets out.
  • After the Kree restores Sif’s memory, the two fill Coulson in on the history of Terrigenesis and the Kree war.  Vin-Tak came to Earth because he detected Terrigenesis happening on the planet and he wanted to stop it.  Years ago, during a long Kree war, the Kree found themselves in need of more soldiers.  They created the Diviners as a way to transform the population of planets into warriors and killers with powers to destroy Kree enemies.  Sif says that their experiments didn’t work, but Vin-Tak says that they did work on Earth.  However, some good Kree shut down the experiment, hiding the Diviners and the crystals they contain.  But the ancient signal was triggered with Skye and Raina transformed, and Vin-Tak came to take the crystals back and wipe out any evidence of Terrigenesis in order to prevent the Kree from renewing the experiment.  He calls the Inhumans “abominations” and says that there were enough crystals to create an army, but when Fitz opens the crate it’s empty, with slots for several missing Diviners, which could belong to anyone, including HYDRA.
  • Of course, at this moment the truth about Skye comes out, and she shatters a window as the Playground starts to quake.  There’s a moment of debate, as Vin-Tak wants to exterminate Skye, Sif wants to take her to Asgard, and Coulson and the rest of the team wait in limbo.  But May and Coulson quickly decide to protect Skye, with Coulson holding Sif and Vin-Tak at bay while May and Skye flee.  Fitz rushes off to get something while Mack and Bobbi try to slow the alien visitors down, debating whether they should call in the ‘real backup.”  Mack is taken out quickly, while Bobbi fights valiantly but is losing until Fitz shows up with the Destroyer Gun (“I know what it does!”) and stuns the Kree long enough for her to use his own truncheon on himself, robbing him of his memory.
  • Favorite Quote: Coulson: “Yeah, I know keys.”
  • Skye and May barricade themselves in the Vault, as May tries to coach Skye into focusing on controlling her fear and thereby controlling her powers.  Sif starts to cut through the force field, and there’s a standoff as it looks like we’re going to get a May vs Sif showdown.  She won’t give Skye up, an Sif won’t back down, but it seems like May’s teaching isn’t helping Skye to regain her sense of control.  Finally Skye takes control over the only thing she feels she can, and she grabs May’s gun off her belt and shoots herself in the chest with an ICER, in the most tragic moment of the episode.  Skye’s solution is the only way to take herself out of the equation for the moment, and her self sacrifice (even if temporary) is enough to convince Sif that Skye wants to get better.
  • Sif heads back to Asgard with Vin-Tak in tow, but not before she makes an interesting point to Coulson.  She says that decisions on Earth and Asgard tend to follow logic, but before Coulson can argue that keeping Skye with him is logical she clarifies to say that there are things that even Asgardians, with all their wisdom, do not understand.  She says there are tides you cannot swim against, and Coulson interprets this to mean that she’s talking about fate.  She leaves and Coulson turns to May, who normally only believes what she sees with her own eyes, but is starting to have questions.  She points out that Coulson died, and was brought back to life with a map to the city in his head.  Skye was recruited on their first mission, and it seems like everything led to her being transformed.  And she reminds him of the warning that wherever Skye goes, death follows.
  • Things aren’t much cheerier on the Bus, as the rest of the team discusses what to do about Skye, and Fitz and Simmons fight over their respective choices.  Mack tells them that secrets don’t help anything, which sounds like a load of crap coming from him.  He says they had a right to know, but Fitz insists that they would have treated Skye the same way the Kree would have.  He says they need to protect her, but Mack says that they’re the ones who need protecting from her.  He then spots Skye standing just outside the door, listening, and she walks away carrying her bag.  Fitz follows her but doesn’t stop her or catch her.  We watch as she moves into the Cage on the Bus, presumably the most secure, power-proof room they have, and slams the door closing her off inside.
  • The post-credits scene is a doozy.  Hunter confronts Mack on the Bus, saying that he knows they’re hiding something, that there’s no support group, that there’s a mysterious flash drive that Coulson doesn’t know about, and then he implies that he might tell Coulson if they don’t tell him the truth.  And he wants to know who the “real backup” is.  Mack thinks for a second and then puts Hunter in a choke hold, cutting off his air until he passes out and then laying him on the floor!  “Damn,” is all he says.
  • Favorite Quote: May: “Not a lot of laughs, that one.  And when I say that about someone…”
  • So there are a few big things that seem to be driving this second half of season two, and we’ll start with the most obvious: Skye.  Clearly, a large part of the rest of the season will have to be devoted to her current situation.  She has new powers she’ll have to learn how to control and eventually how to use.  She now knows the backstory of how she came to have those powers, but there are still many questions, and SHIELD may not have all of the answers.  I think at some point she’ll have to hook up with someone else, whether it’s her father or Gordon’s unit, and which one she chooses could have serious consequences for her friends.
  • With HYDRA out of the way (at least for the moment), the big threat is who has the rest of the Diviners and how does SHIELD find them.  I would think it’s a safe bet that Gordon has one, and HYDRA probably has one locked away somewhere too.  Perhaps even SHIELD has another one somewhere, since they did have the original 0-8-4.  Of course, there’s still the question of what the Diviners are capable of without the temple.  Are there other temples, or can they be used in different ways?
  • The Bobbi and Mack conspiracy seems like it will be coming to a head sooner rather than later, unless they keep Hunter knocked out or locked up for an episode or a few.  Either they’ll come clean to Hunter, or the rest of the team will be tipped off to what they’re doing.  They’ve said they’re not HYDRA, and I believe them, but I don’t think they’re working for SHIELD on this plan.  It seems like they’re after Fury’s toolbox, so the question is what specifically do they want from it, or are they after the whole thing?  We don’t really know what it contains, so it could be anything.  One thing that seems clear is that they don’t seem to be working alone, given the reference to “real backup”.  For a crazy theory, I’m going to suggest they’re working with Mike Peterson!
  • And then there’s Ward, whom we haven’t seen after two episodes.  I’m definitely curious to know what his plans are, but at the same time I’m happy to wait.  Skye’s situation is big enough at the moment to soak up a large portion of the plot, and they don’t need to cram Ward in just so he can make an appearance.  It’s better to save him until he has something substantial to do.  Still, I can’t wait to see what he’s up to with Agent 33, and what their agenda might be.

What do you think?  Did you enjoy “Aftershocks” and “Who You Really Are”?  What do you think of Skye’s development as an Inhuman?  How about Raina?  Who is Gordon and what are his plans for Raina?  What are Bobbi and Mack up to?  Where is Ward?  Are you excited to see Calvin unleash supervillains on SHIELD next week?  Where do you want to see SHIELD go from here?  Let me know in the comments!

8 thoughts on “Reaction: Agents of SHIELD – “Aftershocks” and “Who You Really Are”

  1. Glad to have you back! I don’t mind having just these reactions as sometimes they’re more detailed than professional recaps. But these were intense episodes and I hoped you saw them. Personally, I preferred “Aftershock” but I do enjoy the fact that they seem to be moving through their plots now that everyone knows Skye’s secret.

    No one else seems to discuss the fact that Skye will have to meet with others beyond the team at some point, even though they already have Luke Mitchell playing an Inhuman who bonds with Skye. I think she’s going to leave the base entirely at some point, whether it’s for the team’s good or her own. That’ll be when things get interesting.

    As for Bobbi and Mack, the newest theory flying around is the Secret Warriors project, of which Mockingbird is already a member in the comics. It could work with the idea of something like SWORD, but also keep them away from anything like betrayal like HYDRA. Either way, I hope they get on that soon because compared to Skye’s story, their mystery is dragging.

    Ward is coming back soon, a plot with him is mentioned in 2.14, and he may very well appear next week. I am wondering what they’re going to do with him at this point as there’s no HYDRA or SHIELD to fall back on for his character. Perhaps he’ll become a mercenary, much like Hunter was in the opening.

    As for the Inhumans, I have my own theories, mostly to do with Skye’s backstory. In the comics, the Inhumans, both the royal and the mutants, are normally an exclusive group, moving at odds even with superhero groups and not ordinarily helping people. And I kept wondering why they chose to have the flashback take place in 1983 other than to explain how old Gordon is. Then it struck me as odd that someone valued among the group like Jiaying associated with people who have the ability to teleport or more was in the end captured by human HYDRA soldiers. A dark theory crossed my mind that perhaps the group wasn’t too keen on her falling in love and having a daughter with someone who wasn’t one of them (Cal with all his craziness and impressive strength is not Inhuman as far as I can tell). I’m not saying they handed her over to HYDRA, but perhaps they…looked the other way? After all, Skye did end up with SHIELD as well. It’s more of a guess than a theory, but I think that it would provide a grayer portrait for a group that on the surface seems so accepting of others especially if Skye will interact with them in the future. Plus, I recall reading an interview with one of the producers who discussed the intricacy of the Inhuman group along with the unusual quality of Skye’s birth. With an Inhuman mother and human (and crazy) father, can she ever truly belong to one group? And it would give an excuse for Dichen Lachman to come back which is never a problem.

    On a side note, I’ve also begun writing my own review of Agents of SHIELD on moderngafa.com The one for “Who You Really Are” should be up later this week. I’m so glad to have you back!

    Like

    • Thanks for sticking around and for always dropping by to comment! I really appreciate it, and you always know more about the comics than I do. I think you’re right that Skye is going to leave the base completely at some point, and the questions are what drove her to that point and where does she go?
      I’d never heard of the Secret Warriors project, but that definitely is a possibility. I agree that it’s been dragging, but I think we’ll learn more about it this week.
      I could absolutely see Ward becoming a mercenary, and pursuing his own agenda and sense of right and wrong. A wild card character like that can work really well in a show like this.
      Ooh, I like the theory that the Inhumans either handed her over to HYDRA or were at least complicit in it, as a punishment for falling in love outside the exclusive group. I definitely see Skye stuck between worlds given everything that’s happened to her, and it will leave her with some tough choice to make down the line.
      I’ll definitely check out your reviews! Sounds great!

      Like

      • Really quick I wanted to thank you for commenting on my review! I’m still working out the details with the site, so I don’t know if I’ll be able to comment there. Also, since the reviews are mostly present episode-focused, I’ll probably still come back to talk theories.

        Also, I wanted to elaborate on the Secret Warriors, since they’re growing as a theory. The Secret Warriors were a small group founded by Nick Fury following the destruction of Manhattan by the Skrull Empire and the infiltration of SHIELD by HYDRA (sound familiar?) Sometimes they’re mutants but other times they’re just specialists like Mockingbird. Bottom line, they’re another group that answered to Fury but moves outside SHIELD since the fall of HYDRA and certainly aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. Since Bobbi and Mack aren’t evil, this could be a thought as to why they don’t necessarily feel loyal to Coulson (although SWORD would probably give a bigger sense of betrayal).

        But I’m feeling good about this theory considering one of the founding members of the Secret Warriors was…Daisy Johnson! Of course they can’t possibly follow that story at this point, but the show’s usually privy to those inside references. I wouldn’t be surprised if they came out with a version of the Secret Warriors at this point as a wink now that the audience knows who Skye is.

        Thank you for your time!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Wait, you’re not getting Agent Carter? What kind of crap is that? I guess there are always DVDs or streaming options. But she’s British! I figured there’s no way they wouldn’t show it in the UK.

      Like

      • I KNOW! No sign of it. It hasn’t really come up on the streaming sites either. It’s obviously some kind of sexist conspiracy.

        Mind you, Firefly never aired here either.

        Once it gets released on DVD in the US it will be easy to get hold of over here.

        Like

  2. Pingback: Reaction: Agents of SHIELD – “One of Us” | Love Pirate's Ship's Log

  3. Well, I truly liked the detailed recaps: I have to watch a film three or four times to catch all the details, and the recaps laid out those details beautifully. Also, somehow managed to miss the entire friggin season so recap recap recap time. I do understand how Stuff of Life takes over and you really don’t have time and energy to write a mini novel about each episode! (the ABC site has recaps, though, heh heh, not as good as yours). So carry on with the new version, insights always massively awesome.

    And all the background comic book history bits are great, Easter eggs I’d miss.

    Somehow I missed that whole Black Widow thing in Agent Carter. Also missed (fortunately) the blah blah over her future husband. “Some things seemingly never improve, I guess, but we should live in an age where a woman (real or fictional) is not defined by whichever man to whom she chooses to attach herself.” You rule!

    Really wish I hadn’t missed season two, though a few episodes are still up on ABC.com.

    Thanks for the recaps!

    Liked by 1 person

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