Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Option Two

"One flying saucer, probably no big deal."

This entire episode was a delicious plate of what Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. does best. From "Self Control" to "Together or Not at All," this show knows how to deliver thrilling, action-packed hours and "Option Two" was another winner. The drama, the conflicts, the tension, the action, the twists. And the rising of that Big Bad. What a terrific turn of events.

Talbot is the one who becomes Graviton, of course he is. There would be no time to develop Qovas as a Big Bad with only four episodes left, but they've been prepping Talbot as an antagonist for several episodes now. A couple of reviews ago I mentioned that Talbot would make a better villain than Hale and Ruby, but that was more wishful thinking than guessing. Even during this episode I had the impression that Talbot would sacrifice himself for the team, not become the villain they would fear the most. Great setup, wonderful execution.

Talbot isn't quite there yet, though. He did save everyone and proceeded to face the alien threat, but it's a given that he will lose it at some point. He has brain damage, was brainwashed by Hydra and now has the company of Ian Quinn and Dr. Hall inside his head. I wonder how Quinn and Hall's hatred of Coulson will influence Talbot, who has a deep respect for S.H.I.E.L.D.'s leader.

Gorgeous ship.
What is most interesting about the whole situation is that Talbot believed he was doing the right, helpful thing. Under Hydra's programming, but still, he really wanted to be a champion for S.H.I.E.L.D. and compensate for his betrayal. And it's not just him. Each agent is trying to take matters into their hands, hoping that it will prevent Earth's destruction. But they can't help it, and at each step they only get closer to the future they are trying to change.

When they clash with one another, each perspective is valid. Daisy is right on the money that Yo-Yo killed Ruby for revenge, but Yo-Yo has a point when she says that Ruby needed to be contained before it was too late. Daisy is again correct when she says that Fitzsimmons weren't supposed to be on that mission, but Simmons is right when she says that they delayed Ruby and Alex enough to make a difference. That was a very well written and acted scene, and a long time coming. What I love about it the most is how every character has earned their mindset, and as a result what we have isn't cheap conflict for the sake of conflict, it's good drama.

Yo-Yo and Mack's scene follows that blessed pattern. It's organic, with different elements playing into their discussion. Just look at this bit of dialogue:

Mack: "We've been through too much. It messed you up."
Yo-Yo: "Thanks for the reminder, Mack."

Mack doesn't hold it back, and he shouldn't. Yo-Yo locked him up and killed someone, which goes against Mack's deepest beliefs. But Yo-Yo hasn't only changed mentally, she has changed physically, and hearing from Mack that she is messed up hits right where it hurts, even if it isn't what Mack intended. In the end, the two of them can't work out their issues. Yo-Yo is too far gone from where she started and that's something that Mack can't deal with right now.

But cold, driven Yo-Yo is immensely cool, and acknowledging that Elena has become tougher and more detached, the episode gives her a moment with the other tough, detached person of the team: Melinda May. There is no judging from May's end. Recalling her own experience of killing an Inhuman child, May gives Yo-Yo great advice: that it's up to her to decide whether what she did was right or wrong, and then she should make peace with it. Can May be my shrink too?


Yo-Yo is one of the episode's MVP (the other two being Coulson and Talbot) and she finally tells Coulson and May that they are supposed to let Coulson die. She breaks the news with such respect and devotion to Coulson that you can tell why she kept it to herself for so long. It might be a bit too late and, despite Yo-Yo's efforts to articulate the importance of what her future self told her, May doesn't buy it. I too am puzzled about why not saving Coulson is so important, but I guess that's the point and a mystery the season will drag to its finish line.

For now, Coulson reclaimed his leadership right when it mattered the most: to bring unity to his fractured team. I liked how he and May exchanged looks of concern while everyone else argued. Coulson was terrific throughout the hour, as he has been this entire season. His understated comic entries were the best, from pressing option two before option three appeared, to asking if his comeback speech to Qovas was too much. I still don't understand why he is so down with dying, but he has shown over and over that he is one of MCU's best creations. For that alone, he should be far from his expiration date.

Intel and Assets

- Daisy's side mission involved two blasts from the past: the Centipede, from the very first episode of the series, and Jiaying's DNA. Those two combined seem to be the key to extending Coulson's lifespan. How lovely was that final scene of Daisy digging her biological mother's grave to collect material from her remains in order to help her father figure?

- I don't buy Simmons' theory that Deke will blink out of existence if they manage to break the loop. The number of paradoxes that that logic entails hurts my brain.

- The Remorath warriors were great villains-of-the-week. The concept of literal darkness following them was pretty neat.

- There were some great moments of tension, here are a couple of my favorites: when Yo-Yo, Piper and Davis are holding the line against the Remorath and the door behind them explodes; Coulson, May, Mack, Fitz and Deke waiting for the Remorath to arrive at command central.

- The Lighthouse is located at 43.9462 and -76.1191, which gps-coordinates.net says is 106 S Broad St, Sackets Harbor, NY 13685, USA.

- Davis told Piper how he survived Aida's attack, but we didn't get to hear it. "You tell everyone that story?"/ "I don't think they care."

May: "You always listen to the whole menu. Always."

Coulson: "We have years of food, water and air."
Agent Kim: "Is that true?"
May: "Not good food."

Tony: "Weird kid. Drew me a picture of a blue lady juggling someone's balls."
Daisy: "Pretty sure they were her balls."

Tony: "Have you seen all this weird stuff happening in New York?"
Either an obscure reference to Infinity War or a reference to the events of the episode itself.

Fitz: "Deke, whatever happens next, never call me gramps again."

Rick Stoner (recorded): "Citizens of the Lighthouse, I bring you excellent news. The outer atmosphere shows no signs of contamination. Congratulations, you have survived the nuclear apocalypse. The planet is safe again."

Last week's episode got the season back on track. This one shot for the stars and delivered. If this is the final season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is going out with a bang. Four our of four callbacks to the past.

Again, I ask for no Infinity War spoilers in the comments. Thanks. :)
--
Lamounier

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Got to say Talbot being the final villain in all this is a pretty effective twist. And he's easily the best villain of the season we've gotten so far since we've known him for so long and can sympathize with how he got in this situation. He's been such a great part of the series throughout the years that it sucks that he's probably going to die at the end of this one. Although I will say its kind of annoying that this whole thing is essentially a self-fulfilling prophecy now since if Coulson and company hadn't been sent to the future and came back six months later, Talbot probably wouldn't have been in Hale's possession long enough to be where he needed to be to get all Graviton-ed up.

Won't mention any Infinity War spoilers but I will say if the show does end up showing the fallout from that it could potentially be the biggest movie shake-up since Winter Soldier for the series. Let's just say that unlike Ultron this can't exactly be dealt with within a week. It'd be a heck of a challenge on the writers though but I'd be curious to see how they could pull it off. So hoping for that Season 6.

Lamounier said...

He's been such a great part of the series throughout the years that it sucks that he's probably going to die at the end of this one.

Yes, this is the downside of Talbot becoming the ultimate villain. His story is so tragic, he was a victim in all of this and odds are he won't make it out alive.

I think that, thematically, this season would be a great conclusion to the show, since it's filled with elements from the entire series. But I won't complain if the show is renewed, it remains fresh and full of life.

Patryk said...

I really need to see Infinity War because in the next episode there might be some spoilers, but on the other hand TV tropes says that the show won't adress it this season so I hope I'm good for now.

Fantastic twist with Tablot, it's so rare now for TV to suprise me (well Fear the Walking Dead did this week too so maybe there is hope), but they did it. Talbot will be a great villain.

Lamounier said...

Patryk, next episode's references to Infinity War contain no actual spoilers. It's nothing beyond the premise of the movie. You should be safe for now. I do recommend watching Infinity War, thought, because it's pretty awesome.