TV Review: “Agents of SHIELD” – “Aftershocks”

Written by Danielle Sing March 08, 2015

agents of shield - aftershocks

It’s almost been three months since the mid-season finale of “Agents of SHIELD”, and with the success of “Agent Carter”, viewers were eager for the mid-season premiere, called ‘Aftershocks’. “Agent Carter” delivered well-rounded characters and was so well written that it left little to no plot holes, making viewers hopeful that this would rub off on “Agents of SHIELD”. There are still plot holes left unexplained from the first season and while it was not expected for these to be answered in ‘Aftershocks’, it glosses over them.

The mid-season finale of “Agents of SHIELD” had some of the largest reveals from the series so far and answers some questions from the first season. To recap, Coulson (Clark Gregg) robs Cal (Kyle MacLachlan) of his revenge on Daniel Whitehall (Reed Diamond). Skye (Chloe Bennet) then follows Raina (Ruth Negga) into the hidden city’s temple. The Obelisk turns into a crystal and releases a mist that cocoon’s both Raina and Skye. Trip (B.J. Britt) destroys the crystal to save Skye, but he ends up dying. Skye is able to break free which causes an earthquake. A man with no eyes is told that “there’s someone new”. The viewers learn that Skye is Daisy Johnson, an agent of SHIELD with the power to create seismic waves, and that her father is Calvin Zabo, who has superhuman strength and a bad temper.

“For Coulson, Trip was the embodiment of the principles he wants S.H.I.E.L.D. to be built upon. Compassion. Loyalty. Heart. And that is SHIELD’s strength.”

‘Aftershocks’ immediately follows the events of the mid-season finale. The agents are trying to assess Skye’s condition and clean up the hidden city. Hydra is also trying to rebuild itself by picking a new leader. All of this upkeep, while necessary to narrative, is boring to watch. Since Marvel only knows two ways to build tension and create action, they use option number one: kill someone. Raina kills several agents who are cleaning up the city, and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) reports to Coulson that Raina has transformed.

agents of shield - aftershocks

Option two of how Marvel builds tension and creates action is to start a disagreement. While planning a way to attack Hydra, Mack (Henry Simmons) airs his opinions about Trip’s death, blaming Coulson and Skye’s obsession with the alien drawings, and Coulson’s demanding style of leadership. This argument is nothing substantial, but it’s a way to reveal Mack’s opinion of Trip’s death. Coulson is motivated by Trip’s death to attack Hydra. Fitz’s (Iain De Caestecker) confusion about what the data shows causes him to believe that Skye transformed and created the earthquake. Most of these opinions are told directly to Skye, which makes her feel even more responsible for Trip’s death. These character’s reactions are some of the best and most consistent characterization within the entire series. It is all within the realm of possibility.

“That’s inhuman.”

And then there is Simmons. Anything good about consistent characterization is completely gone. While it’s understandable that she lost somebody special to her, it doesn’t excuse the fact that she would considering killing friend if she knew the truth. The hope is that this extreme response to Trip’s death will fade with time. On the other hand, Fitz covering for Skye shows a lot of character development. While his condition is getting worse, he’s able to joke about it and use it as an excuse. Throughout most of the second season Fitz is either being helped or being treated like he’s broken, which perpetuates the stereotype that those with mental disabilities are unable to take care of themselves. In this scene, Skye and Fitz are equals because they both know that they’re a little different, but lack power to change that. It’ll be interesting to see where this relationship goes.

agents of shield - aftershocks

Throughout the episode, SHIELD plans an attack on Hydra using Bakshi (Simon Kassianides) as bait. Through some purposeful bad acting and accents, the agents are able to get four high ranking officials in Hydra to kill each other. Offering some much needed comic relief, the Hydra subplot of the episode does nothing other than set up that SHIELD. can now forget about Hydra for a few episodes.

“It’s going to be okay, beautiful. I’ll show you the way.”

We get some information about the process that Raina and Skye are going through: terrigensis. In the opening sequence, Skye’s mother, Jiaying (Dichen Lachman), is comforting Gordon, the eyeless man from the finale. Jiaying’s kindness to Gordon echoes in the end of the episode when he saves Raina from being captured. Jiaying mentions the consequences of being unprepared for terrigensis. Preparation is the main take away from Cal’s and Raina’s conversation in Puerto Rico. In between Cal’s dancing, Raina’s expectation of becoming divine, and Cal telling Raina in a family appropriate manner to commit suicide, Cal subtly reminds Raina that she has had more preparation than Skye.

agents of shield - aftershocks

There are, however, inconsistencies within the plot. From the first season, we know there was an 0-8-4 (an object on unknown origin) in 1989 involving Skye. Jiaying was killed by Whitehall in 1989, so Skye must have been just born. From 1989 to before the first season, Cal must have met Raina and then prepared her for terrigensis. How he knew about Raina’s potential for powers is unknown, but he must have had a way of knowing without using the Obelisk. Everything should have a reason, but it’s usually something not fully thought out or, in Marvel fashion, someone is killed off and that is reason enough.

“We’re going to laugh a lot less. That’s for sure.”

With high hopes from thanks to the good writing of “Agent Carter”, it was foolish to think that “Agents of SHIELD” would achieve that status immediately. The show took some hints with developing their characters with some consistent characterization, and Fitz’s character development. The real disappoint was Simmons’ poor characterization, and the inconsistencies in the plot. As frustrating as these issues are, it gives the viewer something to hold on to until the next week in hopes that it will be solved. If anything, that is truly the one thing that Marvel does consistently well.

My Rating: 7/10

agents of shield - aftershocks

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