Saturday, 23 May 2015
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Melinda
"I moved a mountain!"
At last we get the backstory to all this "Cavalry" stuff that Agent May did in Bahrain. The truth feels a bit like backtracking- what she actually did tends to underwhelm after all the hints- but this episode is nonetheless quite as brilliant as they all are at the moment. I'd expect nothing less.
What a difference seven years makes: Melinda was still with Andrew, and seemingly much more comfortable in her skin as she sets off with Coulson on a mission to retrieve a "gifted" individual in Bahrain. Unfortunately, things soon get out of control. This contrasts with the present day, in which Skye is slowly learning to tame her powers. She also finally learns that Jiayang is her mother, "put back together" by Cal after being vivisection by Whitehall, and also learns the circumstances of her birth right down to her actual birthday, which she now finally knows. It's a deeply emotional moment but one fraught with danger for Jiayang, who cannot be seen, as leader, to be favouring her daughter. I bet she will be outed as doing so by the end of the season.
Meanwhile, May impresses on Simmons that Coulson has been keeping many mysterious secrets, and she now wonders whether he should be trusted. Most prominent among these are the mysterious Theta Protocols.
There's a nice structural moment as Jiaying recounts to Skye of a woman, seven years ago, who stole Terrifen crystals and explored her powers without help, juxtaposed with footage, seven years ago in Bahrain, of May dealing with the fallout. The twist is that the powers- to gain power from others' pain- are not those of the target but of her daughter, whom May is forced to kill. This devastates her, damages her marriage, and leads her to abandon combat operations. She is now the distant Melinda that we know. All of this fits the facts as we know them, but it doesn't quite satisfy after all the build-up of the "Cavalry".
We end with Fitz proposing to join Coulson and Hunter, and he's bringing Fury's secret box of tricks...