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

Written by Danielle Sing April 17, 2015

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“Agents of SHIELD” is back this week with “Melinda”. There’s an emphasis on mothers: Melinda May’s (Ming-Na Wen) past desire to start a family; Jiaying (Dichen Lachman) revealing her identity to Skye (Chloe Bennet); and Katya’s (Ava Acres) control over her mother, Eva (Winter Ave Zoli). It had me hoping that I won’t forget Mother’s Day. In terms of writing and plot lines, it was much more complete. “Melinda” provided insight on May’s past in a much more interesting way than during “One of Us”, and similar to last week’s episode, this episode was well balanced.

Throughout the entirety of “Agents of SHIELD”, there have been constant mentions of May being ‘The Calvary’, and mentions of May’s involvement in a mission in Bahrain. Those mysteries are solved in “Melinda”, and it’s done through flashbacks. We get a flashback to 2008 describing May’s marriage with Andrew Garner (Blair Underwood) and the mission to Bahrain to get Eva Belyakov, a powered person with incredible strength. During the mission, the rest of the agents become unresponsive and May goes in to help them. The agents and Eva are controlled my Eva’s daughter, Katya, who feeds on people’s pain. May kills both Eva and Katya which is against her morals. Her decision shatters her hopes of having a family with her husband.

“Do good Melinda, but come home.”

Everything in the flashback is tied up nicely and if anything is left open, such as May’s unwillingness to touch her husband, it’s directed to go where the present day plot line is. There’s a connection to the Afterlife plot line, when Jiaying tells Skye that Eva stole the Terrigen crystals to give Katya powers. This is written really well so that everything is tied together nicely, with minimal plot holes.

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In “Melinda”, May’s past is shown to the audience in a more interesting way compared to “One of Us”. While flashbacks are quite standard in film and television, and are at times considered cliché, it’s a lot better than exposition through dialogue. In “One of Us”, the audience was told about May’s past, and in “Melinda”, the audience is shown May’s past. Since television is a visual medium, it’s always better to show the audience rather than to tell us. The writing of “Agents of SHIELD” has improved, and I hope this continues.

“I was too afraid to hope.”

The Afterlife plot offers more information, as Jiaying trains Skye to feel an object’s natural frequencies, and as Gordon (Jamie Harris) tries to sympathize with Raina (Ruth Negga). Jiaying reveals to Skye that she’s her mother, but because of Eva’s recklessness with the Terrigen crystals and her destructive daughter, it has to be a secret. Jiaying, Skye and Cal (Kyle MacLachlan) attend a dinner together that Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) oversees. What seemed to be a dream about the dinner was actually a prediction made by Raina. There’s balance because it’s well-paced and information based; we’re given information about multiple characters, not just Skye.

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On a small note, the facial prosthetic and special effects make-up used on Ruth Negga are quite stunning. Raina’s profile is striking and memorable. I have a deep respect for actors who spend a lot of a time in a make-up chair getting prosthesis put on them and for the artists that create them.

“Underestimating powers is playing with fire.”

Other elements of this well balanced episode is the slow paced but high tension of the present day SHIELD. At the SHIELD base, May is given control of it from the Real SHIELD and learns about Phil Coulson’s (Clark Gregg) ‘Theta Protocol’, a second base for powered people. Since no one knows about ‘Theta Protocol’, May grows suspicious of Coulson, thinking he’s been keeping secrets, and wonders if the Real SHIELD is lying to gain her trust. While this plot is small in run time, it provides high tension between May and Coulson.

“The Calvary went in after all.”

“Melinda” is another well-balanced episode, with a good pace, action, high tension, and new information. The audience learns about May’s past through flashbacks, and the completeness of this plot line and how it connects to the Afterlife shows an increase in the quality of writing of “Agents of SHIELD”. Overall, “Melinda” was technically very good and it showed. With the theme of motherly love, no matter how twisted it is, please remember to call your mother on May 10th and promise that if you get powers to control someone, that you will not use it on her.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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