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Superheroes Round 18: More Agents


Agents of SHIELD recently wrapped up its second season.

And there was much epicness.

Thus, a discussion.  Also, all the spoilers for the second season.

This is still the logo.

This is still the logo.

Came Back Wrong

I’m very torn about Jiaying.

The character is fascinating, and quite well done.  She is initially sympathetic: the quiet, tortured-by-Hydra leader of her people, working to protect them from those who fear them — and worse.

We eventually realize that said torture changed her mind.  Her husband Cal wasn’t enraged by her death to the point of murder; he loved her so much that when she was near death, he collected other people to fuel her life-drain-powered recovery.  He loved her so much that when he realized she had started to hate all normal humans, even him, he tried to give himself superpowers so that she would accept him.

He would do anything to try to get his family back together… and Jiaying used him for it, in her twisted attempt to save her people by destroying others.

I loved that turn-about in perspective that we saw in the final episode.

That said… I’m disappointed that she wasn’t actually a reasonable leader.  It would have been nice for Skye to have one parent who wasn’t so terribly messed up, and to see SHIELD and the Inhumans negotiating how they would interact in the future.

I’m also disappointed that other Inhumans didn’t realize that she was slowly becoming more a danger to them than a protector.  Of course, she had been their unaging leader for who-knows-how-long — at least since the 1940s — so perhaps tradition combined with the selective blindness one can have regarding people one trusts and respects.  And she’d convinced a couple of the others to go along with her plan entirely.

Still not good.

People Who Really Had To Die (or Not)

Speaking of which, as soon as you know that Jiaying doesn’t age, you know she’s going to die.  It’s not the sort of thing that an actor can pull off indefinitely.  And, well, as soon as we learned that she went bad… she’s on the gonna-die list.

Reyna has a related issue.  You can see the future?  Oh, that’s going to ruin so many plots.  So, off you go.

Agent 33/Kara’s death, however, felt… unnecessary.  Sure, it was nicely set up, thematically, and her death is apparently going to motivate Ward to work on rebuilding Hydra so he can get his revenge on SHIELD… I mean, get “closure.”

But you could easily have the same effect by either (a) simply having her be seriously injured, and then join Ward in his vengeance, or (b) have her make a heel-face-turn, after being pushed away by something Ward does, and blames on SHIELD, so he goes to take vengeance on her and SHIELD for what he sees as a betrayal.

It really feels like she was fridged.

Skye is Daisy Johnson

Apparently, Skye is based on this character.

Her origin story was deliberately tweaked to prevent all the hard-core fans from figuring it out immediately, so… well done, Marvel.

But, it’s also better in another sense: the original story had her father Cal be a simple, foolish villain, and her mother, a prostitute he frequented.

I like this version much better.  So much more interesting.

Character Development

Has happened, in spades.

The contrast between Ward and Cal is fantastic.  Both are obsessed with protecting Skye, though Ward eventually shifts that focus to Agent 33.

Both will do anything to achieve that goal.

Phil Coulson offers each of them an opportunity to forget (thanks to the TAHITI project), and start over with a fresh life, untouched by their previous traumas.

Ward refuses.  Cal accepts.

I think that says something about them.  Ward wants to do what he wants, his way.  He doesn’t want to lose himself.  He blames others for all of his own bad decisions.

Cal, on the other hand… is capable of admitting and accepting that he has done terrible things, and accepting the consequences of what he has done… so that he can, perhaps, live a life where he can help people again.

I think the contrast shows something about what is necessary to effectively start over with a “clean slate.”  To apologize, and mean it, and perhaps earn a little redemption.

Predictions for Next Season

So many more powered people.  Those scenes showing the teragen compound leaching into the ocean… into the fish… into things consumed by humans… very nicely done.  It reminded me of the scenes in the Hulk where a drop of Banner’s blood gets into a bottle of soda.

I am really looking forward to the consequences next season.

Also, holy crap!  That black alien rock monolith thing just ate Simmons?!

Well, given that she and Fitz were finally showing signs of being grown-ups… yeah.  Can’t have that getting resolved yet, can we?

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