Agents of SHIELD: The Hidden Secrets of Season 2’s Mid-Season Finale
By Phil Boothman.
“What They Become”, the mid-season finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., was so packed full of exposition, revelations and secrets that it was difficult to get out everything I wanted to say in my original review of the episode. So I’m back now to dig a little deeper into the secrets of the episode, and try to explain a few things that people may not fully understand.
Starting small, Billy makes a comment to Triplett of his brother Sam that ‘all this excitement fried his circuits, his cooling system kicked in, now he’s recharging his batteries’, clearly indicating that the Koenig brothers are robots of some kind, perhaps Life Model Decoys (or LMDs). However, Patton Oswalt’s sly grin, and Triplett’s dismissal of this suggest that this is not the case, and the mystery continues. In fact, it is one of the greatest tragedies of Triplett’s death, beyond him being a great character who met his end far too soon, that he will never find out the truth about the Koenigs.
Theories about this are all over the place: are they clones? Are they, in fact, Life Model Decoys, or are they just brothers? They do all seem to have distinct personalities, beyond their shared obsession with lanyards, but it remains a constant tease for fans of the show.
After Mack asking her about ‘the thing’ previously, and her hiding a thumb drive from Hunter this week, there’s definitely more to Bobbi Morse than meets the eye. Many rumours are circling on the internet about her, from the idea that she was brainwashed into compliance by Hydra and is still a double agent, only this within S.H.I.E.L.D.; to the possibility that she could be a triple agent working for someone else entirely; there’s even the idea that she is secretly working with Nick Fury to establish something different from S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra altogether. Personally, I’m leaning more towards the second or third option than the first: clearly Mack knows what she is doing, so if she has been brainwashed by Hydra then Mack must have been as well in order for him to be complicit, and that doesn’t seem like the case. I like the idea of them both helping Fury to build something new, and likely more shaded with grey than Coulson’s new version of S.H.I.E.L.D., but these are small worries for now.
I personally don’t believe we’ve seen the last of Daniel Whitehall, even after his apparent death in the episode. For those of you who may not know, Whitehall is based on a character of the same name from the comic books, although there he is a legendary Hydra agent also known by his codename ‘Kraken’, whose power comes from ‘Kraken’s Helmet’, an object which grants him a magical suit of armour with certain powers involved.
Besides the fact that we never got to see this side of Whitehall in the show, for such a major threat to the characters and the world they exist in, his death was kind of…unsatisfying. Two bullets in the back from Coulson, and he’s gone forever? That doesn’t seem like the way this show works, and I’m sure Hydra won’t be too happy about the loss of one of their top men. It’s just a shame that GH 325 formula is all gone…
The Doctor and Skye, aka ‘Cal’ and ‘Daisy’
The revelation of the real names of both of these characters confirmed something a lot of people have been speculating about, which is that they both have their origins in the comic books as well. ‘Cal’ is likely short for ‘Calvin Zabo’, a character who is better known by his codename ‘Mr Hyde’, and shares the same anger issues and ability to beat people to death with nothing but his fists that seem to define Cal. Whether or not this version of the character has any actual superpowers, which the comic book version is granted by drinking a serum which transforms him into a Hulk-like monster remains to be seen, but there is little doubt left for most fans that the Doctor is in fact Mr Hyde.
This theory is strengthened by the fact that Zabo also happens to have a daughter, named Daisy Johnson, a sort-of mutant (her powers were genetically inherited from her father, but she doesn’t possess the X-gene, which is what defines an X-Men-style mutant in Marvel Comics) with earth-based powers who also goes by the name ‘Quake’. By the end of the episode, it looks fairly likely that Skye has gained superpowers, and earth-based powers would likely explain the temple starting to collapse around them.
The Inhumans, in comic book terms, were ancient humans abducted and experimented upon by the Kree Empire, exposed to Terrigen Mists, vapour from objects known as Terrigen crystals and given superpowers and, in some cases, strange deformities. They went on to form their own society, and in recent years it has been revealed that they did in fact breed with humans, thus spreading the Inhuman DNA strain through the entirety of the human race. These people live their lives as normal humans, but upon exposure to the Terrigen Mists they gain their genetic Inhuman abilities through a process called Terrigenesis: a process which involves their bodies suspending themselves in a cocoon before busting out with new powers and occasionally a new look.
Does that sound familiar? By now there can be no doubt that the crystal inside the Obelisk was a Terrigen crystal, and upon the release of the Terrigen Mist both Raina and Skye, descended from a long line of people visited by ‘blue angels’, went through the Terrigenesis process. The physical changes looked to be a little more prominent with Raina, who showed some evidence of claws on her hands, as well as orange cat-eyes and small spines or quills protruding from her skin, but Skye’s powers looked a little more prominent, potentially causing an earthquake as she burst out of the cocoon.
It is a particularly interesting turn of events, considering the recently-announced Inhumans movie is still a few years away, to introduce the concept of Inhumans at this stage. However, it appears to be part of a longer-term plan by Marvel, who seem to be manoeuvring the Inhumans, a group they have complete copyright control of, into the position held in the comic books by the X-Men, a group they do not have cinematic rights to. So, now they have been introduced we could see Inhumans popping up all over the Marvel Cinematic Universe, quite possibly starting with Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch in next year’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.
The Man With No Eyes
This is one part of the episode that I am less sure about: presumably, because of his obvious disfigurement and his possession of an item seemingly identical to the Obelisk, this man is an Inhuman, but it is difficult to find a comic book counterpart to him. The most prominent choice at this stage is ‘Reader’, a recently-empowered Inhuman who was given the ability to bring to life anything he read: however, this ability was deemed ‘too powerful’ by the other Inhumans and he was blinded.
However, this character was only introduced into the comic books a few months ago, so it seems like a strange idea to bring him in now when there are so many other better-established characters to introduce into the show. It could be an impressive synergy-based move on Marvel’s part, though, to increase the notoriety and popularity of the Inhumans in other media to cross-promote the upcoming film.
Rest In Peace, Agent Triplett
And finally, as I don’t feel I had the opportunity to say this in my review: I’m really going to miss Trip. He was a calming presence, a truly competent agent and overall just a good man: his unwavering loyalty to S.H.I.E.L.D. even as Garrett revealed his true allegiance last season drew me to him, and his humour and willingness to act this season made me like him even more. In some ways, I knew this was coming, as B.J. Britt was one of the few actors not upgraded from a recurring character to a regular one between the first and second seasons, but it was still a gut-wrenching moment as he looked down to see the shards of crystal embedded in his stomach. He is gone, but not forgotten.
What are your theories on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s mid-season finale? Have I missed anything? Let us know in the comments section.