Agents of SHIELD: 210 “What They Become” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
Holy hell. Things just went from intense to earth-shattering in the space of a single, very tightly-packed hour. So tightly packed, in fact, that it’s near-impossible to cover everything that happened in 1000 words, so let’s get started.
So after all the craziness that went down last week, things were only ever going to ramp up as we say goodbye to Agents over the winter break: fortunately the dangling thread of the Bus being shot down is tied up pretty quickly thanks to some fancy flying from May and some well-timed use of the cloaking system from Triplett. Once they’ve lost Hydra, they reunite with the rest of the team and have the unenviable task of telling Coulson that Ward has taken Skye: he’s obviously not too happy about it, but tells May that she did the right thing to save the lives of six other agents.
But they have other things to concentrate on as well, like blowing up the temple, likely with Mack still inside: Triplett raids his stash of Howling Commandos gear and finds some mechanical detonators which will work in the anti-technology atmosphere of the temple, while Fitz and Simmons try and work out what exactly happened to Mack. They come to the conclusion that the temple reacted to an unwanted presence and either killed him, or co-opted him as a kind of zombie soldier to protect itself; they also work out that they will be able to explore the temple by wearing hazmat suits to disguise themselves.
So the team splits up again, with Hunter, Bobbi, Coulson and May heading off to retrieve Skye, and Triplett and Fitzsimmons heading into the temple to make sure they can blow it to smithereens. However, there are still issues: Bobbi is hiding a thumb drive from Hunter, presumably related to ‘the thing’ Mack mentioned last week, and Fitzsimmons insist on heading down into the temple with Triplett to allow them to cover more ground. Not to mention the fact that Hydra, hidden away in an abandoned theatre on the other side of San Juan, are drilling directly down into the temple.
Meanwhile, Skye has a distinctly uncomfortable reunion with her twitchy father, who identifies himself as ‘Cal’, and tells an understandably frosty Skye about her mother and what Daniel Whitehall did to her. He also makes vague references to Skye being ‘special’ and that being here will allow her to fulfil her destiny; Skye admirably holds her own, even though her entire purpose for a long time has been to find her father, and now she has done that, she doesn’t take any crap from him, taking him to task about the fact that he is a monster, and that kidnapping her isn’t the best way to have a family reunion.
But he is soon called away to meet with Whitehall, who reveals that he knows exactly what is going on: he remembers Cal and his wife, realises that Ward is working to protect Skye, and takes all of them into custody. Ward and Agent 33 have a brief moment about their respective mentors, but then Team Coulson attacks the theatre and Ward helps Skye to escape. However, in a particularly impressive moment for the character, Skye takes a gun from a dead guard and shoots Wards several times in the side before going to find her dad.
Unfortunately her dad is busy confronting Whitehall, but is denied the satisfaction of actually killing him by Coulson, who shoots Whitehall in the back and takes away Cal’s moment. This makes Cal understandably angry, and he is damn near beating Coulson to death when Skye intervenes and threatens to kill him if he doesn’t leave. Cal gradually calms down and agrees to leave, but not before telling Skye that he will be there when the change happens and she needs him, and calling her by her real name: Daisy. At this point, the stresses of the day clearly get to her, and she breaks down in front of Coulson, before dashing off to get the Obelisk and fix the whole situation.
As the big gunfight at the theatre draws to a close, a bleeding, but not entirely damaged Ward is found by Agent 33, who is mourning the loss of Whitehall. However, Ward tells her that she is free now, and that they will find out what she can do next together. It’s an interesting moment, and one that will surely come back to bite everybody in the arse at some point, but the rest of the episode is not Ward’s story.
Because unfortunately, Skye has realised that Raina has the Obelisk and has ventured down into the temple: she follows her down, and a half-dead Coulson follows them both. On the other side of the temple, Triplett and Fitzsimmons have made it out of the temple having placed the explosives, but Trip gets a call from May telling him that Skye, Raina and Coulson are all down there, and he jumps back down into the temple without hesitation.
Meanwhile, Raina, Skye and Coulson all have individual encounters with a still slightly zombified Mack, who guides Raina to a circular room with a pedestal for the Obelisk. Skye manages to follow her in as the Obelisk floats out of her hands and onto the pedestal, and the room closes. But not before Trip, who has successfully managed to disarm all the explosives, manages to dive in to help: Coulson unfortunately gets stuck outside with zombie-Mack.
Inside the room, the Obelisk opens and reveals a strange blue crystal while Raina marvels at Skye that they get to find out ‘what they become’. The crystal suddenly emits a wave of gas which causes Raina and Skye to grow a weird cocoon-like structure around their bodies. Trip smashes the crystal, but it’s too late: the two of them become completely encased, and worse still, shards of the crystal embedded themselves in Trip’s stomach, causing him to turn to stone.
A moment later, the strange substance cracks and smashes off Raina and Skye, and an earthquake follows, threatening to bring the temple down on all of them. Raina disappears, Triplett smashes to pieces, and Skye is helpless to do anything to stop it.
And finally, a man with no eyes and a second Obelisk makes a phone call to someone telling her that ‘there’s someone new’, and to ‘tell the others’.
And then Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. goes away for several months. How is this fair?
A midseason finale which is in equal measure exciting, heartbreaking and full of potential, “What They Become” is going to be an episode which will have everybody talking about this show.