And we’re back!  Marvels Agents of Shield returned with the bang yesterday to our screens and our hearts and while I for one was a definite fan of Agent Peggy Carter, Jarvis, Sousa and the gang at the SSR, I’m so very happy to have my favorite crime fighting/mystery solving group back on TV!  Please note that if you’ve not watched the most recent episode, I’d probably recommend that you give this review a miss as there quite a few spoilers in the text below.

With the shocking mid-season finale and the death of Tripp plus the transformation of Skye and Raina in the terrigen mists there were many questions and many unanswered fan theories and suppositions left outstanding and in the air.  Some of these were definitively answered but as with all good TV we’re probably left with just as many questions at the end of this episode as we started with – if not more.

I guess really quickly we should talk about the fact that Skye has become the Inhuman known as Quake after passing through the terrigen mists & in addition to her, Raina has definitely been transformed into something new also.  There were questions about Tripps possible survival which I think I have been pretty conclusively put to bed (although who really knows … we’ve seen hero’s and villains come back from the dead many times before, Coulson of course being a prime example) and quite a few different outstanding questions about what Raina becomes as her transformation seems to be quite a bit more physical in nature then Skye’s.

We do see that Simmons has a very negative reaction to to the potential transformation as she speaks quite negatively about all of the other people with power in the universe and the impact that they have had on normal humans. We also see that Fitz is still struggling with his mental incapacity after Ward’s incarceration of them when he truly turned to the dark side and HYDRA.  The other members of the team are all somewhat shattered with the death of Tripp and they all deal with Tripp’s death in a manner suited to their characters and May (as expected) really lets her frustrations out.

One thing I really liked in this episode is that they didn’t gloss over Tripps death  – they addressed it head on and they also addressed the impact that losing a loved partner, friend and colleague has on the survivors too. It was very nice to see them hold a mini wake for him at the end of the episode where they all acknowledge the fact that Tripp was the laughter in their lives and while Coulson uses this as a motivation for the team, is this any different to what Fury did in the Avengers when Coulson himself died? Another thing I guess that really did strike me is the change in Raina herself – I mean as a person who took such care in her appearance it was quite ironic what they did to her and I guess as a transformations goes it was extremely drastic and I’m very curious to see who she actually ends up being.

Who is Raina now?

Unfortunately as we didn’t get a specific answer as to who she could be there is still much speculation, but some possible candidates that exist are the Inhuman character known as Naja who has appeared in several Inhuman comic books.

Naja is one of the new Inhumans who underwent terrigenis after Black Bolt released the terrigenisis bomb in Infinity.  There are some distinctive body changes that could absolutely support this but I’m very curious if the transformation takes into account the character of an individual (similar to the sorting hat from Harry Potter) when it impacts the person or if their eventual change is completely random?

Another possibility is the character known as Quills – however as she is a mutant and quite possibly already on the Fox list of proscribed characters they probably cannot use her & I would give this the least likelihood of success.  If we do go by looks alone though I have to say that there is much there to match and she looks very similar.

Another character that she could possibly be although in this case he is now a Male is the character known as Jolen – Jolen developed a special affinity with plants after passing through the terrigen mists and became able to cultivate them and grow them by linking to them.

We already know that Raina has a great love flowers as she has indicated over the course of the previous two seasons and in fact with her new look which is very “thorny” this personally has a significant likelyhood of coming to pass, although they would obviously have to change it from a male to female character.

However this does presuppose that a person’s likes/dislikes impact their powers which might be completely bogus.

So long story short I guess we still don’t really know who she is for sure (which is somewhat frustrating) and while they’ve also introduced us to a couple of other Inhumans – Skye’s mom again and the eyeless man that we all thought was Reader, but seems to be a nightcrawler clone of some sort – I think we can safely say that Tigra is not one of the options and I’m very curious to see who she actually ends up being.

One thing I do have to state though in terms of the actual look she struck me very much as the character (Jabe the Tree) from the second episode of the resurgent Dr. Who when Christopher Eccleston takes Rose Tyler on her first excursion to watch the explosion of the Sun and the destruction of the Earth.

On this observation space station all of humanities children return for a literal once in a lifetime event and one of the key characters is a human/plant hybrid … in terms of the overall look, she bears quite a few similarities to Raina and the plant correlation in my mind really provides even more weight to the possible Jolen hypothesis.

With Skye/Daisy Johnson as a modified human also we get a very brief glimpse of her powers and also an understanding of the fear that she herself feels for the changes that have impacted her. Now this is possibly something that I might be on my own about (they’ve definitely taken a more humane view of things) but if I had all of a sudden got superpowers AND was a secret agent with a team that liked and trusted me I probably would have been a bit more upfront with them as I would think that they would all recognize the potential benefit that someone with powers could bring to the group. I mean over the course of just a couple of seasons, we’ve seen the Absorbing Man, Siff and Deathlok and now Raina’s transformation too so who knows what else is out there.  I would think having an ace in the hole like Skye would be an obvious benefit and something that would be extremely positive.  However I realize that I’m probably being a bit to black & white as they’ve taken on the view about the transformation itself and the impact it would have on Skye as a person which I’m probably discounting unfairly.

What didn’t work?

One thing I probably wasn’t too keen on was the obvious stupidity exhibited by Bakshi. I mean the whole SHIELD sting operation was an obvious ploy and his immediately speaking to the other HYDRA leaders who turn on each other that wasn’t really what I would’ve expected from a group so devious and cutthroat.  They hid literally in plain sight for decades and were cut down in one episode?? I did like the fact that they definitely were not taking prisoners when they took the shot and Coulson’s actions while somewhat vindictive were I think valid. One point I probably should state though is that these actions shouldn’t be because of Tripps dead but rather they should be the standard operating procedures when dealing with HYDRA as otherwise SHIELD will never win.  I know its a bit harsh, but I think we’ve seen in the new MCU, they aren’t afraid to make those hard decisions and while I’m not in any way advocating collateral damage, I think targeted eliminations make perfect sense.

Another thing I didn’t really like was Skye’s mom … her death in the previous episodes was somewhat touching and heartfelt.  However seeing her as the trainer for Inhumans leaves a couple of major questions in my mind …

  • How was she captured?  If she’s trained all these Inhumans as its implied, shouldn’t she be protected?  She obviously cares for her charges and they seem to return her affection?  Gordon appears in the opening scene as a young man that has recently undergone Terrigenesis and is struggling with his new Nightcrawler-esque teleportation powers … as we learn from the conversation between Skye’s mother (Jiaying) and the village elder, she has managed to train many others due to her longevity
  • Where is the secret base she did the training in and why wasn’t she there vs. the “village” that she was taken from?

I’m assuming that she was exiled from the Inhumans for some reason – perhaps her love for Kyle McLaughlin … Skye’s dad? – and as such no longer had access to her students and resources?  I think its an unnecessary detail that doesn’t really add anything to the story though, but perhaps that’s just me.

Overall thoughts

It’s always good to get some AOS happening and while I definitely miss Peggy Carter and her shenanigans (and I have to admit the overall look/feel of that universe), I’m extremely happy to see what’s going on with Coulson and the gang and how that ties into the larger MCU.  I do agree that AOS is a lot “greyer” than the vibrant colours in Agent Carter and other shows like Arrow and Flash, but to some extent I think that’s very much a sign of the times – my wife says my wardrobe consists exclusively of blue’s, blacks and grey’s and I expect that I’m not an exception in this!

Talking about the transformations themselves, how Skye and Raina looked and coped with each of them was somewhat eye opening.  Skye unfortunately looked like she was acting, which was a pity … perhaps if she’d not dealt with it as such a negative it would have been better, but Raina … wow … you could feel her pain and anguish and see why she wanted to commit suicide to escape.  Raina truly has become Inhuman,  her former beauty has been wiped away, replaced by leathery skin, exaggerated facial features, and thorns all over her body. Her insides feel like gravel and she cuts herself every time she moves.

Was it a perfect episode … No, I guess it wasn’t … it was pretty good though and one of the better ones for sure.  I expect that it was positively colored by my wanting to see the show and this definitely had an impact on how I perceived it but they addressed quite a few things and I was very glad to see that they weren’t afraid to raise the stakes when engaging with HYDRA.

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