Week of July 24, 2022:

Melinda (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. s2 e17) released April 14, 2015 (where to watch)
Frenemy of My Enemy (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. s2 e18) released April 21, 2015
The Dirty Half Dozen (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. s2 e19) released April 28, 2015
Scott Hardie | September 18, 2022

Melinda: First, the bad: I'm predisposed to dislike Daisy's storyline because she has been written so poorly since the series started, as an off-putting combination of sanctimony and self-absorption and social awkwardness. (Nothing against actress Chloe Bennet, who does her best with the material given to her and has a sense of humor.) So every time the show cuts away to her mountain retreat with The People Who Are Obviously Hiding Things From Her, I start counting down the seconds until we can get back to better material. It's just so predictable, and it hits every story beat right on schedule. Raina whining about her karmic "gifts" for the fourth? fifth? episode in a row is also a turn-off.

I like Coulson and May far more because they act like adults instead of teenagers, and here, May's slow-burning "Cavalry" subplot finally pays off in ways that justify her personality throughout the series. I'm not convinced that we needed to see a depiction of how she got the nickname or an explanation of why she's so stoic (some things are better left unsaid), but if they're going to do it, at least it was done well, and it tied into Daisy's storyline in a way that I didn't see coming. I don't buy that anyone in S.H.I.E.L.D. would so immediately doubt Coulson's intentions. (He's building bases full of beds, so they leap to "he's forming an army of superhumans"? How about he's just planning to expand the organization? Ockham's razor is not strong with this bunch.) The bonus scene at the end with Fitz was fun, and has me excited to get on with that storyline asap. (5/10)

Frenemy of My Enemy: Does anybody else wonder if May is playing double agent, pretending to doubt Coulson even to other Coulson-allied people in order to preserve her cover and buy him time in the field? Perhaps not; the show rarely trusts its audience that much without tipping its hand to them. I'm enjoying the intrigue and double-crossing; like I wrote before, all this show needs to get good is for all of the agents to become paranoid once in a while and turn on each other, quite literally in the Mexican standoff aboard the plane. Most of this episode, even Zabo's clumsy attempts to connect with Daisy, was fun if a bit far-fetched. (7/10)

The Dirty Half Dozen: I assume it was the detonation of the "bus" that earned this episode an Emmy nomination for best visual effects, the second of the series' two nominations ever. But that scene isn't as neat as Daisy's oner, which really was done by Chloe Bennet in a single take and earned her a broken elbow. That's one highlight of a pretty fun episode, with the reunion of the original six cast members being another. Ward accepting that he cannot redeem himself is the right call for the series (it would have been wrong to try to force a permanent reconciliation), and this would be a great place to write out the character for good if the writers were so inclined. I also appreciated Deathlok and Lincoln's cells being a callback to Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

What irks me about this episode is the strangely low energy. Zabo raves in public about Jiaying being Daisy's mother, something that was a big secret last episode, and nobody seems to care. Gonzales reveals that he intends to experiment on imprisoned superhumans, the very thing they all oppose, and Morse lets it slide. Simmons tries to kill Ward and succeeds at killing his servant, and he just scolds her and walks away. Raina openly suggests overthrowing Jiaying as leader and gets no comeuppance. Why bother introducing this stuff if there's no dramatic impact? I'm glad that the show isn't overdoing the drama, but there's such a thing as undergoing it. I'm sure that the show will follow up on some of these plot points soon, but does anybody else find this hour to be strangely low-key? (6/10)


Scott Hardie | September 18, 2022
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