Friday, June 5, 2020

Agents of SHIELD S07E02: Know Your Onions

Taking a shot for the team...
by Brandon Coulson

SHIELD this week wrapped up our 1930s storyline and made a significant tie into the larger MCU, though did it in a way that is more tell than show. The main crux of this week was saving, or rather whether to save, Wilfred Malick and thereby secure the origins of Hydra.

The mystery substance he is delivering turns out to be a key ingredient in the super soldier serum that created Captain America and of course his rival, the Red Skull. The lead up to this felt a bit over convoluted with Simmons' lengthy testing to identify the element, though how does she know what to test for as no one is supposed to know how to make the serum anymore? Saving the scene from itself was Patton Oswalt’s brilliant delivery and telling her to cut to the chase and skip all the jargon.

I was hoping for something that more directly connecting our story to the MCU other than a line of dialogue, like the man who was picking up Malick. Why not make that Arnim Zola or some other character who could tie things together more? As it was this felt like a cheap way to make this part of the bigger Marvel story.

It was still a ton of fun though, action was solid especially a standout fight between May and Enoch. That fight got downright brutal and nasty in parts, ending with poor Enoch’s human facade cracked open revealing the robot underneath. May in general has me perplexed as I don’t know what is driving her actions, I’m sure all will be revealed, but I don’t recall her injuries last season being used to set up any deep changes to her personality so the lack of empathy and stone cold nature she’s adopted will need a hell of an explanation.

Actually odder than her violence or even disregard for Coulson’s LMD return, the way she immediately submits back to her healing pod when the team returned was eerily complacent suggesting there is something definitely wrong with our Agent May. Perhaps when Simmons “saved” her there was some tinkering done under the hood.

Oddly even with everyone split up on their own little missions this episode felt smaller than last week. So much less interaction with the world occurred and most of our scenes were each group in a room or as with Mack, Deke and Freddy in a train car. The part of the first episode that really had me all in was seeing them clash with the culture of the past but that just wasn’t happening here. You could have had this episode in almost any time period with very little changed.

Who had second week before the team basically threw away the rule book about changing the past or letting their cover slip? Almost everyone who could spill the beans did so and with no concern for affecting the timeline. Koenig got brought on board their ship they dump the whole World War II and Red Skull stuff in his lap. Hell, Enoch even tells him he will be a friend of SHIELD’s parent organization.

Staying on the Koenig stuff, he is the one to make a last stand for Freddy’s soul in the end and gets shot for his troubles. For a moment this felt like a nicely earned death. Show Freddy really is a monster already and give Patton a heroic send off … but no, shot in the shoulder shrugs it off, he’s gonna be fine folks! In fact after a last minute addition of a closing time window (that’s a thing apparently) We see Enoch left behind and tending bar for Koenig. Enoch has lived centuries already so I’m sure he’ll be popping up later.

This time window means, much like Sliders, the team has to achieve their goals in a set time or risk being stranded in the past. This ticking clock is a fine addition but Simmons neglecting to tell anyone feels out of character and the randomness of it will hopefully be explained.

This episode was fun, very fun even. But it was not a particularly memorable outing for the series. Whether budget constraints or just writing was the cause I’m unsure, but when you’re doing time travel take advantage of that setting to get as much interaction as you can with the fish out of water aspects. Luckily we were teased with a big cameo next week as Daniel Sousa, Peggy Carter's partner, is coming to SHIELD! We all are hoping for a Peggy cameo but my heart tells me it isn’t happening so maybe as a consolation prize we can wrap up some hanging threads from the fantastic Agent Carter series.

Agents of SHIELD airs Wednesdays at 10:00 PM on ABC.

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