Another episode of Agents of SHIELD goes by and it remains solid. I know that I’m starting to sound like a broken record but the fact is that while the show has not made the transition to greatness that I was hoping for, it is churning out solid episodes and not sliding back to how it was in series one. For what it is worth, I preferred this episode more than 2 and 3, but we are really splitting hairs at this point. Agents of SHIELD is becoming like the Krispy Kreme of television: unambitious and you know exactly what you are going to get. I can work with that.
For once the best character of this episode was neither Fitz nor Simmons, it was Hunter, who proves again he is not a hero like all the others. Hunter has always been the character on the outside, amoral enough to make tough decisions but at heart a very decent person. Watching him make the call to attack Ward, even though it would almost certainly mean the death of someone close to his friend, was really nice to see. I was worried for a moment Hunter would not go through with it, that the show might be afraid to kill off Andrew Garner, but no, it seems like he did that. One of the nice things about Joss Whedon shows is that they are willing to kill off interesting characters often with loose ends being left hanging (Jenny Calendar comes to mind). It will be interesting to see what the ramifications of this will be on May, now that he has begun trying to fix his relationship with her. What is even more interesting is that if the stakes were reversed, the situation would have still have played out the same; May would have made the call to attack Ward with Hunter begging her not to, in order to save Bobbi. It shows how single-minded Hunter is that he is willing to complete this mission, one he started due to love and a need for vengeance, that he will let another’s loved one die.
I also liked how this episode delved into Lash a bit more. This is only the second time we have seen him and it looks like he is a more complex bad guy than just some dude who wrecks things and kills Inhumans. He seems to have some motivations; he feels that what he is doing is necessary. This is good and proves that the show is moving away from one-dimensional villains like Whitehall, who just seemed to want to be evil for the sakes of it and more towards Jiaying, who actually had reasons for doing what they did. While his motivations are unclear it is nice to see that the show is moving towards explaining him and I hope to see his character more in the future.
Additionally, despite them not being the best bit of the episode, I liked how Simmons is now looking for Fitz’s help. It is odd that after spending time on that planet she actually wants to go back. One has to wonder what she found on there. The planet seemed to be some sort of penal colony or ‘death by punishment’ so it is odd that anyone wants to go there again. Either Simmons has found something there or she feels so alienated from this world that she needs to return to that one. The fact that she gave up hope on that world makes me wonder what she found (and left) on it.
The only criticism I have for the episode is that it did not spend enough time on Hunter. For him to make such a decision, to put someone else’s loved one in danger, I felt there needed to be a bit more build up. You have snippets of the move towards this, with May telling Hunter he was not thinking this through and Hunter going into a dangerous mission alone, but the episode felt the need to show us the Lash, Fitz and Simmons storylines rather than build this one up. Those storylines worked but there is no reason that they could not have been in a different episode and this one been mostly about Hunter.