Warning, Spoilers for Agents of SHIELD ahead.
Aftershocks kicks off with a flash back to when Daisy’s ma-ma was still alive (Dichen Lachman, Dollhouse) and the ‘first day of school’ for that creepy no eyed fellow from the stinger of the last episode, he can teleport which we didn’t know, and can’t see which we kind of knew, because you know… no eyes. This is all because of his exposure to the terrigen mists which was that stuff that came out of the obelisk. We see the slowly ageing Jaiying (Lachman) consoling the boy, showing motherly understanding and compassion. It gives us a nice insight into the Inhuman social structure as we get the idea that she has a habit of acting the maternal role with others. There’s also a mention of her not living forever, and that someone will have to take her place, which seems to turn out to be the blind teleporting lad, as seen in the last episode.
I thought Lachman’s acting was a little clinical here, she was a bit too uptight for someone who we’ve been told is very caring, but I really enjoyed the sequence in spite of that.
The rest of the episode deals with the fallout of the mid-season finale, specifically Mac dealing with his brain washing, Daisy’s (Skye’s) quarantine from the rest of the group, in part due to Trip’s unexplained death, and the fear that it could be a contagion. We also see the result of Raina’s transformation into this weird porcupine thing. People keep saying she’s covered in thorns, but to me she looks more like Spike from the Xmen Evolution cartoon. She’s at a loss as to where she stands in the world, robbed of her beauty and betrayed by Cal, Skye’s father, she ends up in a dark place, only to be consoled by Mr Eyeless in the closing moments of the episode.
In the team’s investigation we get to see two different sides to Fitz and Simmons, who are becoming much less the single entity they began as and are separately becoming the emotional back bones of the show. Fitz, who’s still suffering from his brain damage from season 1, is attempting to fix Skye’s watch to get some biological data from it, as well as helping Mac find his feet after his brain-invasion.
Meanwhile Simmons becomes much less of a sympathetic character. It was clear that she had a close relationship with Trip and she’s taken his death hard. She’s focused on finding the cause of his death that she says, in a conversation with the quarantined Skye (who has no idea what’s happening to her), that whatever is in Raina’s blood is wrong and unnatural and should be destroyed. In case, you know, it’s a plague or something. This is the worst I’ve felt for Skye in the entire series; she’s no longer such a cocksure character and is in a delicate state and here’s Simmons, her friend, inadvertently tearing into her.
Both these threads culminate in a great moment for Fitz where he covers up for Skye’s biological changes. It’s a lovely human moment for the two characters, one who the audience has been slow to warm to and the other who’s really suffered this season. As an added bonus, it sees Fitz drifting further from Simmons, see SHIELD? This is nice character progression, more of this please.
Running alongside this is Coulson’s clean up of the rest of Hydra following Whitehall’s death. It’s an elaborate sting operation which uses Hydra’s inhumanity against itself, it’s probably my favourite aspect of this episode, but the entire arc is finished with a twist of allegiances. To me, this tease of further betrayal is quite unwelcome, not just because it casts doubts on two of my favourite characters, but because it looks like it could be relooping story lines, which aggravates me.
Now Agents of SHIELD has, at times, been difficult to watch. Perhaps difficult is the wrong word, it’s just seemed like a bit of a chore some times to watch, and it’s twists like this that make it so, they just tire you out.
So far season 2 has been a huge improvement on the first season, it’s had some really great moments, and the introduction of Bobbi Morse and the strained relationship between Fitz and Simmons really helped to keep me engaged, but now that Marvel are using the show as a basis for the Inhumans, I feel more obliged to watch it than ever.
But as much as I enjoyed this episode, and I’ll be tuning in next week, I do wish it was less of a chore. It has to be said that some episodes are brilliant, but the twist in this episode seems to have rubbed me the wrong way, perhaps I’ll be proven wrong, and I hope I am, I hope there’s more to the revelations in this episode than the fairly predictable assumption.
I’ll just have to keep watching to find out.
In all, Aftershocks was a strong start to the mid-season, it had a lot of heart and some awesome moments, but it definitely felt like an episode dedicated to setting up the next half season. Which is fine, I just hope the next episode Who you really are, doesn’t feel the same.