Oh dear Agents of SHIELD, you just could not resist. After four very solid episodes and one that blasted me out of this world, you had to create an episode that I did not like at all. Actually, it is worth pointing out that the second series also took around six episodes to mess up, so at least the show is not going backwards (series one produced a truly awful one as early as their second episode). This episode was not ‘series one bad’ and it was not truly awful, it is just that I was left underwhelmed by it and thought it should have done more.
To give it the credit it’s due, this episode was not all bad. In fact it really upped the stakes of the series and revealed Lash’s identity, which is a very important plot point. Finding out that Andrew Garner was the monstrous Inhuman was really interesting and came right out of left field. I am glad they did not leave the ‘who is Lash’ plot hanging, as that would have been dumb. They solved it quickly and set us up for the consequences and that is very good storytelling that shows how they have learned from the whole Clairvoyant nonsense in series one. It would explain how Lash knew about the Inhumans and was able to track them so easily. Additionally, it shows why Andrew was so interested in where Inhumans were, particularly Lincoln, who he tried to kill in series one. It would be interesting to see how much control Andrew has over Lash; is this something he can control, or is it there a Jekyll and Hyde situation going on? This sets up the next episode perfectly, and that is what good programming should do.
Also, it was nice to see Powers Boothe return as the guy from the World Security Council who wanted to nuke New York. Turns out he was involved with HYDRA as well and he is a pretty powerful figure as he called and clearly intimidated Grant Ward. Boothe is a good actor and he played a role that was clearly menacing and important to the story. It will be interesting to see how this character plays out in the rest of the series. Hopefully he will be a bit more interesting than Whitehall.
It was also great to see Bobbi return to the field. She’d been out of action ever since the torture and horror that Ward and Agent 33 had waged on her and she clearly gone through her fair share of psychological trauma as a result. But now she has returned and she has certainly come back with style, electrocuting Ward’s number two in an awesome fight sequence. It never felt right for her being in the Lab (though it did add something to her character). The Mockingbird is someone who goes in the field and beats all the bad guys up, and it was nice to see Bobbi doing that again. Having her and May back in action will mean that we get to see more bad guys getting absolutely destroyed and that can only be a good thing.
However, I found the whole issue of May berating Morse for not wanting to fight a bit silly. The fact of the matter is that she had to go through rehab. Her kneecap had been utterly shattered and she had lost half a lung. Her being worried about going into combat and listening to Coulson telling her not to was a good idea and I found it a bit odd that the episode made it out to be so stupid. Additionally, when she was trying to talk her way out of the foiled bank robbery and it looked like it was working, I don’t understand why May was berating her. If you can talk your way out of a situation it is always better than fighting and Morse is not some thug, she is a master spy, trained at fooling people. For heaven’s sake this was the deep cover operative in HYDRA, and it seemed dumb for May to be angry that she did not want to smash heads together when that looked completely unnecessary. It did a real disservice to both their characters and created an artificial problem that was utterly contrived for this episode.
Finally, I was very upset at the way Werner von Strucker was just killed off. Honestly, it seems that dying a useless death is genetic in the von Strucker family, which is a disservice to some of the most pernicious comic book villains ever. Him failing a mission and then being tortured and killed in order for the show to reveal that Garner was Lash was honestly a waste of a good character. There was no need for the show to just toss him out, or if they needed some guy to die, there was no need for it to be a von Strucker. Talk about a wasted character.