Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: One Of Us
March 18, 2015 9:12 AM - Season 2, Episode 13 - Subscribe

Super-villains galore as Skye’s insane dad Cal rounds up a few enhanced people to attack SHIELD in general and Coulson in particular.

He’s bothered by what SHIELD does to enhanced people, namely locking them up and/or denying them use of their powers. Never mind that these are criminals, which brings up some interesting points. Super beings already exist in this world, SHIELD knows it, but most of these people are criminals. So presumably there are good or at least neutral super people who are laying low for the moment. Point being, the implication is that there are untold numbers of various super types floating around.

This makes you wonder why Cal rounded up fairly lame ones. The electronics guy makes sense if you want to break into something, but the strong man and woman with razor nails seem pretty interchangeable. I suppose you could put it under the label of “Certifiable Dad” as his overall plan is privately motivated grudge against Coulson. He’s still mad about Coulson killing the head of Hydra, when he really, really wanted to do it. Ok, it’s the important part that he’s gone?

Speaking of Skye, the way she and the development of powers are being handled is quite good. She’s still a danger to everyone, but now she’s all a danger to herself, as suppressing her powers just turns them inward, wreaking havoc on her body. She’s gotta get her emotions in check, but the stress of everything that’s happened isn’t helping.

So que May’s therapist ex-husband dropping by to talk with Skye. Good visit character, as it revealed various personal things about May and enabled Fitz-Simmons to bond a little bit, which was very nice to see again. The characters and actors do have chemistry and it would be shame to not use that.

Overall, this was probably the weakest episode of the season so far. It wasn’t terrible by any stretch, but the collection of villains was tame and uninspired, as they followed a ridiculous scheme implemented for crazy reasons. The characters developments on the team were still good and the reveal that Bobbi and Mack are working for the “real” SHIELD is an interesting twist. Hopefully this is just a small bump on what has been a damn good road so far.

Anyway, here’s Agent Carter’s recap of the episode.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (47 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Plot wise, this was pretty weak, but Cal is so much fun that I didn't care anymore. The 'is it wings? I was hoping for wings' line especially.

This makes you wonder why Cal rounded up fairly lame ones. The electronics guy makes sense if you want to break into something, but the strong man and woman with razor nails seem pretty interchangeable.

I like to think that there's a number of better gifted people that took one look at Cal and said 'fuck no, I'm going to Arby's instead'.

Also, I was only a week off on the possibly-not-detrimental therapy plot line.

I didn't see the 'real' SHIELD thing coming - but it makes sense. First, Nick would plan for contingencies for his contingencies, and second, there were other good people in SHIELD who wouldn't just leave - especially if they're Edward James Olmos. I just wish their SHIELD logo was octagonal.

Also, the slight foreshadowing with Hunter saying where he and Mack first met was a cover, and Mack didn't tell Hunter because he wasn't SHIELD. History repeating!
posted by dinty_moore at 9:49 AM on March 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh wait, now that I think of it, the therapist gave the Obviously Wrong For TV* answer of telling Skye to quit SHIELD. So there's no way they're going to follow that advice for long, and therefore it's probably not a positive outcome. Poo.

*But probably would have been a good idea, and also would probably be interesting plot line to follow if Shield was a slightly more ambitious show.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:54 AM on March 18, 2015


But probably would have been a good idea, and also would probably be interesting plot line to follow if Shield was a slightly more ambitious show.

It's interestingly wrong, at least for me, because pre-SHIELD Skye was literally homeless, had zero support structures, and god knows where she got her income. I mean, maybe they'd give her veteran's benefits, but at this point I think May's right - SHIELD is the only support Skye has. Sending her off into the big world with potentially devastating powers tied to her emotions with no resources is just asking for trouble.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:04 AM on March 18, 2015 [5 favorites]


I know it's not Marvel canon but I like to think that Cal is Agent Dale Cooper still inhabited by the spirit of BOB 25 years after Twin Peaks.
posted by localroger at 10:06 AM on March 18, 2015 [8 favorites]


It was kind of a weak episode, but it's clear they're still transitioning from one big plot arc to a new one.

Yeah, I liked May's ex-husband as a character and was reasonably impressed with his work as a therapist right up until the point where he's like, "She should quit SHIELD." Look, doc, there's obviously a 0.0% chance of that happening - she wouldn't even sit out one fight with her dad, for cryin' out loud - so maybe you know, take into account all that stuff you've supposedly learned about your patient when you offer your advice? Of course that may have been some of the Doc's own distaste for SHIELD bleeding through, but either way, it's just unprofessional, poor advice to present the patient with something they are obviously not going to do as their only option. For me anyways, it completely undercut the level of competence they were trying to establish this character as having.

I'll be interested to learn more about SHIELD B. There are a lot of possibilities - could be Maria Hill, could be some other SHIELD remnants, could be that Nick Fury tasked several different small groups with "rebuilding SHIELD" without telling them about each other, on the theory that the "best" rebuilt SHIELD would win (this seems like something Fury would do), could be this other SHIELD is (knowingly or not) still host to a bunch of HYDRA elements or still heavily influenced by HYDRA ideology, or maybe it's just overrun with bureaucrats. Heck the whole thing could be run by Dell Rusk (unlikely!). It'll be interesting to see where they go with it.

One thought I had, though - in terms of the MCU chronology, is this really the first time we've had a bona-fide "team of supervillains"? Most of the movies pretty much just have one or maybe two villains operating independently. Score one for Skye's dad if he managed to put together the first genuine Sinister-Six style supervillain group in the MCU. (Granted, Angar the Screamer is a C-Lister on a good day, and the rest of them aren't even on a list.)
posted by mstokes650 at 10:18 AM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


could be that Nick Fury tasked several different small groups with "rebuilding SHIELD" without telling them about each other, on the theory that the "best" rebuilt SHIELD would win (this seems like something Fury would do)

I tend to doubt it, as the show made a big deal of Fury handing over the Toolbox to Coulson, because he was the only one that Fury trusted to do right by the power and information.

I can understand other higher ups SHIELD agents not trusting Coulson. First he was dead, now he's alive? Plus he's Fury's handpicked successor, the Director who didn't catch on that Hydra was in the agency's ranks. And finally, some people just love power.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:30 AM on March 18, 2015


I liked this episode overall, but some things that occurred to me as I was watching were:

The new "Real SHIELD" logo had three stars IIRC. What do the three stars signify?

What is the point of keeping Skye in a geometrically-patterned cell when her earthquakes clearly extend beyond that space, and everybody just runs into and out of her cell whenever they feel like it, leaving the door wide open?

I liked the therapist character. The casting of Blair Underwood was really good, I thought. I also liked that they wrote him to have high ethical standards; he even made it clear that he had asked Melinda's permission to discuss his and her personal issues with Skye. Because they've made such a point of making him seem like he has high integrity, I of course assume that he is either actually secretly evil, will become evil, or will die horribly in some future episode. Blair Underwood is also too good an actor to have in just one episode.

How does pretty-much-now-a-horror-movie-cliché-distorted-jaw-stuns-birds-and-cheerleaders-with-voice man eat food with his mask permanently on? Does he get fed intravenously? Does he not grow facial hair?
posted by tempestuoso at 10:35 AM on March 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, rather than putting Freddy Krueger Girl in some kind of hand harness contraption (to which she could have welded more metal if she wanted), why wouldn't SHIELD just pull out some tin snips or a grinder and give her a trim? I didn't get the impression that her fingernails grew; they were just grafted to her body somehow.

It kind of seemed like they phoned in those C-list supervillains. Yes, they're C-list, but even so, they could have done better -- and have! -- Joss Whedon has made some spectacularly mediocre villains in the past: Dr. Horrible, Moist, Dead Bowie, the rest of the Evil League of Evil, anybody from Buffy. Granted, he didn't write the episode, but I'd hope the writers would aspire to his level of creativity. The writer of this episode wrote for Lost and Alias, so the talent is there...
posted by tempestuoso at 10:57 AM on March 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I can understand other higher ups SHIELD agents not trusting Coulson. First he was dead, now he's alive? Plus he's Fury's handpicked successor, the Director who didn't catch on that Hydra was in the agency's ranks. And finally, some people just love power.

Yeah, but then you have to explain how and why Bobbi and Mack came to be working with a bunch of power-hungry bureaucrats that apparently don't trust Coulson or Nick Fury. I can see them going along with "we don't trust Coulson", but "we don't trust Fury, either" seems like more of a stretch, character-wise, for them to buy into than "it's okay, we're Fury's backup plan". Coulson could still have been Plan A, as far as Fury was concerned...but it certainly wouldn't be the first time Fury had a fallback plan that Coulson didn't know about and wouldn't necessarily like.
posted by mstokes650 at 11:37 AM on March 18, 2015


My guess is that R.E.A.L.S.H.I.E.L.D. is made up of trustworthy people who don't know that Fury is still alive, and are basing their authority on whatever succession plan was already in place. They see Coulson as a loose cannon who must have stolen Fury's Toolbox and is running his own independent thing.

And Coulson can't tell them that Fury gave the Toolbox to them without revealing that he's still alive. Which makes for an interesting conflict that can hold out until a SLJ guest spot once Age of Ultron is out in theaters.
posted by Uncle Ira at 12:17 PM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but then you have to explain how and why Bobbi and Mack came to be working with a bunch of power-hungry bureaucrats that apparently don't trust Coulson or Nick Fury.

Oh that's easy. Mack was already arguing with Coulson about how he differed from Fury. Bobbie and Coulson had a much nicer talk about how he was different Fury. I'm betting they think Coulson is too soft and the stakes are now too high for the director to be concerned about civilian lives.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:19 PM on March 18, 2015


I too don't understand Skye staying in the honeycomb kill room but I think she plopped herself there (did she? trying to remember....), and is probably lulled into a false sense of security by the geometric womblike qualities. I find it so claustrophobic, just watching the scenes. The dark walls, the lack of windows. I always almost feel sick watching her sitting on the bed.

I found the D-List band of villains hilarious.
posted by the webmistress at 2:43 PM on March 18, 2015


The room is called The Cage and designed to be strong enough to hold an Asgardian. It's probably the best place on the plane for a person still learning to control their vibration powers.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:06 PM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Glenn Talbot nicked it The Honeycomb Kill Room. Which is, of course, a much better name than The Cage.
posted by the webmistress at 3:20 PM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


The writer of this episode wrote for Lost and Alias, so the talent is there...

We have the same facts and very different conclusions, you and I.
posted by phearlez at 7:35 PM on March 18, 2015 [6 favorites]


I know that as a whole the episode didn't hang together very well, but it was full of so many bits that I liked that I was happy. Melinda and her ex were very cute together - lots of good moments there. I like Simmons and how her character rings true to me - she wants to help Skye because it's her friend, but she's also terrified, so hey, why not drug Skye to the eyeballs so she's too sleepy to do anything? Crazy Cal with his RV of D-List supervillains, and they go out for pancakes! Cal hoping his daughter maybe sprouted wings, because that would be awesome! Hunter yelling at Bobbie while chained to a sink!
posted by PussKillian at 8:05 PM on March 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'll be honest, I am genuinely loving Simmon's characterisation because the potential for an organic progression into villainy is right there.

And I don't know if I'm giving the show too much credit, but the general ineptitude of Cal's 'Slicing Talons' fits pretty well with his poor planning and decision-making skills, which removed all the suspense for me, but truly, maximally, increased my enjoyment of this crazy cocoapuff.
posted by cendawanita at 9:32 PM on March 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


@ localroger "I know it's not Marvel canon"

It's not? Because I am thinking that it actually is, but that their actions are on a pretty small scale and out-of-the-way. One example was that Agent Sitwell was on S01E16 and left to go to the Lemuria Star, which is where we find him in "Winter Soldier"
posted by alchemist at 2:25 AM on March 19, 2015


My suspicion is that Star Shield is a new government funded Shield, possibly headed by Talbot. Whether Coulson is going to be neutralized or recruited is the question.

Also, I liked the sheer ridiculousness of Cal's freak show- it's almost at the level of a Circus of Crime.
posted by happyroach at 6:53 AM on March 19, 2015


@ alchemist

Oh, the show is most definitely canon to the MCU. I think localroger was referring to the non-canonicity of crossover-retconning Marvel's Calvin Zabo/Mister Hyde character to be a BOB-possessed Agent Cooper from Twin Peaks, since both are played by the same actor. It does make an excellent headcanon for people who don't have a strong attachment to the comics version of Zabo, though.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:02 AM on March 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why didn't Angar just shout everyone to sleep as soon as May and Skye turned up?
posted by fullerine at 9:08 AM on March 19, 2015


And I don't know if I'm giving the show too much credit, but the general ineptitude of Cal's 'Slicing Talons' fits pretty well with his poor planning and decision-making skills, which removed all the suspense for me, but truly, maximally, increased my enjoyment of this crazy cocoapuff.

I think there was some deliberateness to them being kind of slipshod, given that the eyeless teleporter calls Not-Agent-Cooper a science experiment and not part of "us." I think we're supposed to take that to mean that not-Nightcrawler is part of an actually organized operation - unlike NAC's knee-jerk revenge operation - and therefore the people who have useful powers, or at least control over them, are out of NAC's reach to recruit.

We've seen him coordinate with at least one other via phone, and shown that he was initially mentored by NAC's wife/Skye's mom before her death. So he knows NAC from that time, we assume (though we never get Skyemom and NAC in a scene together, so possibly they're estranged? because of his doing what he did to empower himself?), and may or may not know of "Daisy."

It kind of seemed like they phoned in those C-list supervillains. Yes, they're C-list, but even so, they could have done better

I am resigned to the fact that all the Marvel tv/movie properties feel like they need a constant low-level fan service where they provide versions of the comics characters for the really dedicated folks to recognize. Thus we get Angar. On the upside it does seem like there was some deliberateness here. NAC's abilities are not Terragen-provided ("science experiment") and that's true for Angar's comics history. I don't think we get a backstory on Drea DeMatthew's abilities but the other fellow, as I recall, NAC says volunteered for something. So that seems like a deliberate contrasting to the inhumans who have something inate, and seem to have an organization we have not yet seen.

Maybe we'll hear from their leader. *cough*
posted by phearlez at 9:14 AM on March 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Crazy Cal with his RV of D-List supervillains, and they go out for pancakes!

I just realized that the breakfast run might be another nod toward David Lynch, who is is legendary for holding similar meetings at a similar diner.
posted by localroger at 9:43 AM on March 19, 2015


And I don't know if I'm giving the show too much credit, but the general ineptitude of Cal's 'Slicing Talons' fits pretty well with his poor planning and decision-making skills, which removed all the suspense for me, but truly, maximally, increased my enjoyment of this crazy cocoapuff.

Yeah, agreed.

I mean, I think Cal's encounter with the Eyeless Teleporter Inhuman (Gordon) at the end was meant to hammer home how much Cal is operating under delusions of grandeur - he's only gotten as far as he has and caused as much trouble as he has through sheer chutzpah and because he's (in his own words) "bat-guano crazy." He's not actually any good at understanding power and how to get it, or how to use it, or strategy, or tactics, or planning. He's the loosest of loose cannons. So it makes total sense that Cal thinks that he can throw together a team of the first people he can locate from the index and take down SHIELD in its current smaller state. I don't think it even occurred to him that his plan might not work; that's how bonkers he is.

And I'm definitely on Team "Kyle MacLachlan's take on Cal Zabo is just sublime and brilliant."
posted by soundguy99 at 10:35 AM on March 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why didn't Angar just shout everyone to sleep as soon as May and Skye turned up?

I suspect the plan may have been "You, my loyal Sideshow of Crime, will be my backup while I beat Coulson to a pulp with my bare hands". Which to Cal at least sounded reasonable, until teleporting guy showed up.

In other words, blame Cal. Which, brings to mind a song...

If Skie has a crazy dad, go blame Cal
If the plan is really bad, go blame Cal
"I will scream until I'm red, 'cause I want that Coulson dead!"
Go blame Cal, go blame Cal, go blame Cal

(Apologies to Call Worthington and his dog Spot)
posted by happyroach at 6:15 PM on March 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Another part of Cal's plan that was not terribly inspired, taking the fight to Coulson's home town. Coulson did not seem to have had much of an emotional attachment to it and didn't even go the HS there.
posted by ursus_comiter at 6:31 PM on March 19, 2015


But it was Manitowoc! He probably looked at all the places that Coulson had lived and decided that it was the one with the best name.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:11 PM on March 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Because of lingering impressions from the weaker first season, it wasn't immediately obvious to me that Cal's team was supposed to look ridiculous. Scalpel-finger lady, and steroid dumb guy didn't feel all that far below the boring nonsense they used to deal with.

Also, Morse can hold her own against Cree and Asgardians, but scalpel-finger lady was surprisingly hard to defeat.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:33 AM on March 20, 2015


So maybe I'm totally out of the loop with Marvel, but it seemed to me that "The Real S.H.I.E.L.D." was a Captain America thing. Mack's emphasis on word "shield," the star in the middle. I assumed this was all a setup for bringing the TV show back to the continuity with the Ultron movie. The movie comes out in 6 weeks, and even if Coulson doesn't make an appearance don't they have to make some sense of where Nick Fury's been? Am I crazy?

Weak episode, but I appreciate the idea here that the terribad villain gang is so ludicrous on purpose. I'm particularly struck that one of the villains is basically a woman with a bad manicure. Or maybe she's like a low-rent cosplay Wolverine? Either way what she has seems to work, she repeatedly managed to knock Mockingbird's lead pipes out of her hands without chipping a nail.
posted by Nelson at 9:24 AM on March 21, 2015


And I'm definitely on Team "Kyle MacLachlan's take on Cal Zabo is just sublime and brilliant."

If there are other teams I don't want to know about them. I will be so damn pissed if he dies or gets removed from play because he's just delightful.

And yeah, I thought it was clear that his plan was a showdown between himself and Coulson and that Angar using his voice to win instantly would not be acceptable. If there's two things we know about Cal, they are that he is very protective of his family and, more relevant here, that he hates when other people do his dirty work. That's half of what this vendetta is about!

Re: "The real S.H.I.E.L.D." -- H.A.M.M.E.R.?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:50 AM on March 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I expect it to be SWORD
posted by Strass at 11:04 AM on March 21, 2015


I am so very very in favor of MCU Abigail Brand.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:20 AM on March 21, 2015


I think it's H.E.L.M.E.T. or possibly S.A.F.E.T.Y.G.O.G.G.L.E.S
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:04 PM on March 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


I was surprised by the "real S.H.I.E.L.D." reveal mostly because I figured they'd drag it out for a few more weeks and then link it up with something in Ultron
posted by rmd1023 at 7:05 PM on March 21, 2015


It's worth remembering that everything in the MCU is happening in real time in parallel with real life. The SHIELD episode immediately after Thor's last movie debuted in theatres featured the SHIELD agents sifting through the rubble of the battle in London from the movie. That's a kind of connection between cinema and TV I had never seen before. It required a lot of coordination between different Marvel production teams. I would expect SHIELD to be fully in sync with whatever happens on screen the week that Ultron debuts, both in prep and in follow-up.
posted by localroger at 8:17 PM on March 21, 2015


So that's two SHIELDs. Which makes me wonder how many there might be right now- no reason to stop at two.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:20 AM on March 22, 2015


Yeah, the coordination is impressive. And they sort of dragged a bit last season while waiting for winter soldier to come out so the hydra reveal could be matched up time-wise.

Maybe it's settings something up for ultron rather than the other way round.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:53 AM on March 22, 2015


Maybe it's settings something up for ultron rather than the other way round.

They might do that up to a point, but the expected viewership of AoU is exponentially larger than the viewership of Agents of SHIELD, so if they do 'set something up', it'll be more like a fun extra and less something that would be expected to be required viewing for the movie to make sense, the way the Hydra reveal or even the Thor episode would were dependent on the movies.
posted by dinty_moore at 3:08 PM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


> Plot wise, this was pretty weak, but Cal is so much fun that I didn't care anymore. The 'is it wings? I was hoping for wings' line especially.

Oh, YUSS! He plays crazy so well.


> It kind of seemed like they phoned in those C-list supervillains.

"I present to you: The Outlaws! There's Dumb Dumb Guy! There's Mister Smarty who can break electronic stuff! And Miss Stabby-Hands (whatever you do, don't ungraft her stabby bits, then she'd be downright unremarkable)! And me, Captain Unstable!" Angar the Screamer (I didn't catch/remember his name, I had to look it up) was really the only one with a "Capital S" Super power.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:58 PM on March 23, 2015


I really don't understand why they put Miss Stabby-Hands on the index and gave her supertech finger traps instead of having somebody design a vibranium nail clipper.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:00 PM on March 23, 2015


I actually thought the character was most the humanized, what with the joy at being able to touch her face at least and thinking that should just quit and find normal lives.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:26 PM on March 23, 2015



I really don't understand why they put Miss Stabby-Hands on the index and gave her supertech finger traps instead of having somebody design a vibranium nail clipper.


The best headcanon answer I heard was that they DID remove her knives. Repeatedly. And she keept finding new ones to have attached to her fingers. Which really creeped her caseworker out.
posted by happyroach at 12:12 AM on March 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


mstokes650: ould be that Nick Fury tasked several different small groups with "rebuilding SHIELD" without telling them about each other, on the theory that the "best" rebuilt SHIELD would win (this seems like something Fury would do)

Oh Lord, I hope not. That sounds like the Eddie Lampert school of espionage, and I think that Fury is too smart for that.
posted by brundlefly at 4:53 PM on March 25, 2015


Finally got around to watching this and how is Karla not dead from slicing the bejeezus out of her vagina every time she peed or had to change a tampon?

Worst fake superpower addition to your own body ever. STUPID STUPID STUPID.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:13 AM on April 6, 2015


In fairness, the Marvel Universe has precedent for that kind of high quality decision-making.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:40 AM on April 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd love it if "Real SHIELD" turns out to be HATE, from Nextwave.
posted by Pronoiac at 12:27 PM on April 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


Only if Fin Fang Foom puts Hunter in his pants. I'd love to hear that dialog.
posted by phearlez at 1:07 PM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


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