Wednesday, January 15, 2014
As expected, the show pivoted from the mystery of Coulson's resurrection to the emotional consequences of it. Knowing now that his memories of what had really happened were faked, he began to question what else about him might be fake as well. It was a real crisis of faith for him, and good use was made of May's character in dealing with it. May has always been portrayed as stalwart and unflappable, but she has always used those qualities for "the mission," not to provide emotional reassurance in the way she did here.
Of course, in the end, it was Skye that ultimately pulled Coulson back from the edge. Interestingly, Skye's story also really showcased how Coulson's ongoing story was mishandled. For nearly as long as we've been asking ourselves "how did Coulson survive?", the series has also been posing the question "what's the truth behind Skye's mother?" I suggested last week that in waiting too long to address the former, the writers created an ever-worsening situation where the answer would have to be more and more outrageous to be worthy of the hype. By contrast, Skye's mystery was much less hyped, and this week's revelation that she herself is an "object of unknown origin" is exactly the sort of grander-than-expected reveal that Coulson's story didn't deliver. Now we'll see if the writers have learned their lesson. The new question, "what the hell IS Skye?" ups her mystery considerably. They'd better have a great answer in store for that one, and/or not take so long in getting to it that the answer no longer seems like "enough."
Another interesting thread in the mix tonight was that, for two weeks in a row now, the series seems to be in the supervillain making business. Last week, it was the coerced Mike Peterson revealed in the episode's epilogue. This week, it was the character of Donnie Gill, who apparently gained cryokinetic powers by the end of the episode. (The Marvel fans on the web say this makes him the character of Blizzard, not that that means a thing to me.) Of course, they did imply the creation of a supervillain earlier in the season (at the end of the first episode to feature the Ian Quinn character, in fact), and that's on top of the repeated mentions of The Clairvoyant, so it might soon be time for the writers to start paying off some of these things. But there was something about Donnie Gill's "origin story" this week, if you will, that somehow felt more compelling than any of the previous tales. This is the one I hope they come back to sooner rather than later.
All that, plus some pretty good scenes for all of the regular characters. I've already mentioned Coulson, May, and Skye, but Ward, Simmons, and particularly Fitz got some decent moments too. And I have to mention Skye's great little joke about how "bad seed" isn't S.H.I.E.L.D. terminology; it's just terminology. Stuffing the episode so full of story while still finding those moments was a pretty deft bit of work.
I'd give this episode a B+, a tick up from last week.