‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Review: ‘One of Us’
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. assembles its 13th Season 2 installment with “One of Us,” as Skye's father assembles a team of supervillains to gain vengeance against Coulson, while May recruits her therapist ex-husband (Blair Underwood) to help Skye keep her Inhuman abilities under control.
Last week’s S.H.I.E.L.D. installment, “Who You Really Are,” saw Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) discovered on Earth with no memory of her objective, leading to an alien revelation about Skye, while Bobbi and Mack found their secret mission threatened. So, how does ABC’s Avengers-adjacent series continue its marvelous new season?
Read on for your in-depth review of everything you need to know about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 2, episode 13, “One of Us”!
Last week felt very much like the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that struggled in its initial season had settled into a better balance of its procedural and comic book aspects, so it made sense that “One of Us” would attempt branching out along the same vine with a “super villain” team of sorts. The visual flair from Kevin Tancharoen (whose also brought us that fantastic May vs. May fight earlier in the season) gives a nice heightened reality to the hour, as Cal and his shabby-seeming miscreants ham their way through a football-field battle with Coulson’s team, though the execution couldn’t help lacking a bit in impact.
Much as we love Kyle MacLachlan at any level, I was struck by a resemblance to Arrow’s tonally jarring (first) Count Vertigo, in which the flagrant performance commands attention, but never quite connects with the more grounded heroics. One needs genuine menace to balance out a larger-than-life personality, and considering how often Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has kept Cal to a manipulator, rather than outright force, the thrust of tonight’s conflict never quite resonated as effectively.
The same goes for Cal’s purported crew – who admittedly don’t pose the highest threat on S.H.I.E.L.D. indexes, to the point Simmons even proposes reclassifying them – as neither their threats to our heroes nor overall plan made a great deal of sense*. Teleporting Cal away with Eyeless Blue Bubble Man (we’re working on the name) made for an interesting resolution at least, as did May’s fight with the super-strong member of the group.
*Putting aside the questionable competition of a trained S.H.I.E.L.D. fighter against a woman with scalpels for fingernails, what was the overall plan, exactly? Cal’s desire to expose S.H.I.E.L.D.’s treatment of gifteds to the world (over high school radio?) would seem somewhat moot after Captain: America: The Winter Soldier dumped the organization’s secrets onto the internet. Not to mention, was Angar going to put everyone to sleep in the same broadcast? Did those poor students ever wake up?
Likely the stronger aspects of the hour owed to glimpses at May’s past, as the team brings in ex-husband Andrew Garner to evaluate Skye, which itself offered a few nice moments of levity in the quid-pro-quo sessions. The ultimate outcome seemed to stall a bit, as Skye turns out to have less control over her powers than she’d projected, and May’s ultimate insistence to Andrew that Skye would improve amongst family seemed transplanted almost verbatim from last week’s resolution with Sif. Seeing a lighter side of May brought out by Andrew helped, though further teases of the Bahrain incident only seemed to further delay any development overall.
If nothing else, “One of Us” kept things out in the open as best it could, restoring the rapports between Skye, Coulson and Maye, while even Fitz and Simmons eked back into one another’s good graces over May gossip. We don’t yet know what to make of Mack and Bobbi’s covert operation however, as the reveal of a “real S.H.I.E.L.D.” brought more questions than answers, particularly for anyone who skipped the promos of next week. At one point in the hour, Garner made note of May not realizing how little S.H.I.E.L.D. had actually changed, something Hunter echoes in pointing out to Mack that their early friendship was more rooted in lies than they’d like to admit, and it seemed a bit like “One of Us” overall evoked that sentiment of arrested development.
Along the same line, Cal is now the second to be teleported away by our mysterious Inhuman, leaving us to wonder if superpowers might be put on hold while Season 2 pivots into conflict with another S.H.I.E.L.D. sect. That might be for the best, ultimately, as while the human elements of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2 felt well-serviced by “One of Us,” the more fantastical comic aspects definitely stumbled a bit.
AND ANOTHER THING…
- Casting as strongly as Drea de Matteo to a recognizable Marvel name, here reimagined as a woman with sharp fingernails, seems to have proven a massive misfire thus far.
- Ever one for secrecy, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. won’t even tell us its grilled cheese recipe.
- At least we’re sticking to the comics with Cal, in that his powers came from scientific, rather than Inhuman origins. And good on them, for starting to classify powers differently, as well.
- Did the tech guy actually do anything? We were told he had no moral compass, but he…failed to open a gate, welded off some metal restraints, and hooked up a sound system. Diabolical!
- Nice touch, that May gave Andrew permission to divulge any details of their personal life.
- There is a weirdly specific Hollywood cliché of characters deliberately pointing out Hawaiian pizza.
- So, what do we make of this new S.H.I.E.L.D.? Or whom Cal might have straightened himself out to go see?
Did Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s “One of Us” keep up the momentum? How do you think the show handled Cal's supervillain return, or its Inhuman implications? Stay tuned for more coverage of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2's latest, and join us next week for our review of “Love in the Time of Hydra” on ABC!