Who would have thought that after all that that fighting between 20th Century Fox and Marvel the two would finally come together and let the X-Men star in an episode of Agents of SHIELD, complete with a psuedo-Magneto rounding up mutants to rise against the oppressive non-mutants? Wait, what do you mean those weren’t X-Men and this wasn’t a story ripped straight out of the X-Men movies? Weird. In our first Agents of SHIELD review we take a look at an episode that definitely isn’t an X-Men story, where everyone does their best to avoid saying the word ‘Inhuman’.
Joking aside, can we all agree that if you switch out “gifted individual” and “anyone on the index” with mutant you almost have an exact replica of 2000’s X-Men? Take away Magneto’s ability to do basically anything and replace him with the Skye’s twitchy and vengeful father rounding up willing fighters against SHIELD and declaring that the two can never co-exist and you’re suddenly wondering if Fox and Marvel have settled their little feud after all. Sure, the general plot had to be condensed, but in the end the two sides end up fighting in a highschool football field, with various low-level gifted individuals, such as Angar the Screamer and Bender Bending Rodriguez, taking on the usual SHIELD cast of Coulson, May, and Bobbi. The means may justify the end if the big Inhuman reveal ends up paying off, but the main plot of “One of Us” just feels extremely recycled.
At the very least, Cal’s motivations remain crystal clear. Coulson took away his opportunity to exact revenge for his wife’s death, and he still has the fire burning in him. It also helps that Kyle MacLachlan continues to turn in a great performance as the high-strung doctor. His ability to flip the switch between caring father and psychotic menace is impressive, and his emotional state is constantly volatile and it works to great effect.
Other than when Fitz blatantly said “that’s inhuman” two episodes ago in reference to Skye’s DNA samples, Agents of SHIELD has been dancing around the fact that Skye and all these other
mutants gifted individuals are indeed Inhumans. Most of the audience who has even cursory knowledge of the Marvel comic universe knows that these gifted individuals are Inhumans, but the characters on the show themselves continue to dance around that fact. Simmons also hints that the big reveal is coming when she says that Skye should be classified as something different than the other gifted individuals, but she never comes out says the word.
A ho-hum main storyline aside, “One of Us” is far from a terrible episode, it’s just that most of its better parts are not the focus. The subplot of Skye trying to control her emotions with the newly-introduced psychiatrist, Dr. Andrew Garner, is enjoyable. Seeing May’s ex-husband start to crack Skye works to finally give her some characteristics other than “sarcastic computer hacker.” The stakes for Skye and her new found powers also get raised ten fold in the end of the episode when it’s revealed that she’s not actually controlling her powers, just targeting them at herself. It does raise the question of how she didn’t break any bones prior to this, though. If her earthquakes are powerful enough to shake a plane or a football field, it seems strange that only one of them caused small fractures in her arms and not the other. It’s a small nit-picky thing, but unless it gets revealed that she has some kind of super strength, it’s a bit of an open question.
Either way, there is essentially no way out for Skye at this point, and it has me really curious where they are going to go with it. It looks as if starting an earthquake will sooner or later just mean suicide or killing everyone around her, and that fact alone should create some interesting dynamics going forward as everyone learns and eventually deals with this new reality.
May has not been quite the stone-faced emotionless killer she was in Season 1 for a while now, but it’s nice seeing her get some more humanity in this episode brought about by Garner being on board to help with Skye. Outside of Skye’s constant questioning, we also get to see some human interaction between May and Garner, and even a real laugh out of the oft-stern agent. If the chemistry between Ming-Na Wen and Blair Underwood were between almost any other two actors on television their interactions would feel stilted and unnatural, but it just worked for their respective characters, and I hope we see more of it in the future.
The big reveal of this episode is the conclusion of the cliffhanger produced last week when Mac went and knocked Hunter out cold after he hinted that he knew something was up between the big guy and Bobbi. As we learn this episode, there appears to be a division within SHIELD. I don’t actually know of a storyline in the comics that follows what is happening, so it’s pure speculation, but that new fake (real?) SHIELD logo looks an awful lot like Captain America’s new emblem. At least that was my first thought when I saw it. Whether or not Steve Rogers has anything do with creating this splinter within the spy agency is left to be seen, but either way a lot of infighting is bound to happen before the season ends in less than a month.
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