The long awaited … wait a second, that’s actually not really true is it? I know that there was some mystery about why May has/was (been) called the CAVALRY, but in reality it didn’t really matter (at least not in my opinion). While some mysteries NEED to be answered, others can stay as mysteries as they add a little something to the character. Now I’d like to think that the writers had planned the whole reveal out, right from the beginning where May’s “origins” are linked back to Skye but unfortunately that almost seemed forced. I know that the MCU cannot utilize mutants to explain away powered individuals but by tying this episode into the current Inhuman story arc, they have taken away from all of the others that have been shown to have powers in earlier episodes. Last year at about this time, the show completely transformed itself with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the grand reveal of H.Y.D.R.A – conversely this year, while the show has been enjoyable, its also been dragging a little bit as they seem to be doing too much talking and not enough growing. Unfortunately this weeks episode was really nothing more than a long and extended flash back to May which is a real pity as having a two year mystery about someone’s origins is not really interesting.
One could assume that the upcoming release of Avengers: Age of Ultron will have another bombshell to drop on our favorite team of unpowered (well not counting Skye) crime fighters – perhaps the return of our favorite patch-eyed Director to command of S.H.I.E.L.D? Would this be how the underlying story between Gonzalez and Coulson gets resolved perhaps?
S.H.I.E.L.D.’s second season has been much more consistent than its first in terms of quality, and it’s done a relatively fine job of introducing secrets and paying them off in quick fashion (for example: Skye already knows that Jiaying is her mother), but it’s hard to ignore the feeling something is missing. I’ve complained several times already about the (too soon) removal of H.Y.D.R.A and the take over by the “Real” S.H.I.E.L.D was also very anticlimactic considering the buildup. While Gonzalez is being portrayed as nothing more than a patriot we love Coulson and while it is shocking to find out that he’s got another operation on the go – something called Theta Protocol – I‘m sure you continue to trust him as do I and this will all be explained away in a positive manner. With Ward and his role in H.Y.D.R.A – well that was a shock I’ve still not gotten over … it truly was a genuine surprise. Coulson though … he’s a goodie!
The opening sequence featured Blair Underwood as May’s husband, which was a nice surprise. I mentioned in my review of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2 Episode 13, that he was the best part of that episode. Ming-Na did a wonderful job of portraying a pre-Bahrain Agent May. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we learned what damaged her, but did it have to take so damn long? Her separation from Blair Underwood was somewhat explained – I know perhaps I’m a bit insensitive, but he is a psychologist so you’d think that he’d be able to explain to her and make her see that the problem wasn’t with her? After all, if you think about it, Fury did when he had her spy on Coulson while pretending to join her team. Unfortunately I really think that while they emphasized May’s fighting skills the actual storyline and interaction between May and the “transformed” child + mother was nothing more than a way to tie her storyline into the underlying Inhuman storyline. It felt forced. You could see that May was traumatized – this was played out extremely well however so I do need to give her absolute credit for this. Perhaps her distress at the title was in how inapt it really is as the only reason she was able to disable so many others was because of the use the little girl (Katya) put them to as she was literally dropping them right and left.
The more interesting stuff took place at “Afterlife” between Skye and her mother. Jiaying put a positive spin on Skye’s power and made her move mountains, literally, which was kind of fun. Perhaps even cooler however was her more subtle manipulation of the glasses to literally get them to sing.
While it was absolutely expected it was still nice to hear that she had made an “exception” to train Skye and her explanation on why it needed to be kept a secret made sense (Jiaying fears that some folks might draw parallels between Skye and Katya, therefore she can’t have people knowing the real nature of her relationship to Skye) – it didn’t however have to be tied into May’s role as the “Cavalry” as I feel like S.H.I.E.L.D. is diminishing the importance of that day in May’s life by also making it about Skye. Is it too much to ask that May’s backstory be about May?
Lincoln: You know it’s really impressive for Jiaying to take anyone under her wing.
Skye: I like her. I just… I can’t… What’s her role here?
Lincoln: Her role is, in charge. So really she must like you.
Skye: If she’s in charge, how often does she train people?
Lincoln: Since I’ve been here… let me see… never.
Continuing with our Inhuman friends though we do learn one other key thing that will definitely play out in the future … Raina’s power – or at least one of them – is prophecy. While we all know that the Inhumans story arc is a long one with S.H.I.E.L.D (after all the movie is years away) this gift is sure to be a very important direction for the show and I’m really glad that they are moving Raina’s character forward. I’ve never really liked her – she’s always been too amoral and only in it for herself, but her transformation to Porcupine girl was also really cruel and I know I started to feel somewhat sorry for her! The family dinner where Lincoln realized Raina was actually seeing the future was awkward, but Skye behaved herself and everyone enjoyed the moment. Kyle MacLachlan was wonderful as always as Cal, and it was nice to see him smile, although I’m sure you were also expecting the other shoe to drop just like I was? One thing I do have to wonder though … if the secret of Skye’s parentage must be kept … should Lincoln have been allowed to see them?
The episode concluded with our neophyte James bond wannabe, Fitz hiding in a bathroom after opening Fury’s toolbox. Always the genius he’s managed to get it working and has figured out a way to contact Coulson and Hunter – yay – the gang is getting back together!