Synopsis of 2×13: Cal forms a team of super villains with the hope of seeking revenge on Coulson — and destroying S.H.I.E.L.D.; a crisis forces May to reach out to her ex-husband.
In what was sizing up to be a fun episode, “One of Us” showed us some pretty important things about our favorite spy organization. The main thing being that while SHIELD is being run by a different person, it might be trying to change, they are ultimately the same.
Not only an their enemies count on that, but it builds the foundation for the exact outcome of the original SHIELD.
But let’s start from the beginning with the fun stuff.
This week we get to see Kyle MacLachlan back on the set as ‘bat guano’ crazy Cal, assembling his team of the craziest index listers he can find for an all out face off with SHIELD. Not only has he found a dangerous ensemble of people, but he’s found people who seemed to have suffered the most from being put on the index. While not particularly super in any way, they have been driven to a point where revenge against SHIELD is something that definitely brings them together.
Cal brings him and his merry gang to Coulson’s home town in Wisconsin to lure the team there. He uses David A. Angar aka Angar the Screamer from the comics to send a whole field of teenagers into catatonia. With Mac and Hunter missing from the scene and Skye struggling to maintain her quake powers, Coulson’s team seems to be running on fumes in terms of man power, as he and Bobbi track the team down to Wisconsin.
Although this showdown seems to reach a climax, Cal, Coulson, May, Skye, Bobbi, are all on the field with the other gifted, a familiar force field beams down and we see a glimpse of Gordon as he grabs Cal and spirits him away. Chaos erupts when the baddies lose their leader, and Bobbi, May, and Coulson are left to deal with the remaining villains.
Ultimately, Cal’s mission is a successful one, despite his absence. In the chaos, Skye, standing to the side, witnesses just how someone on the index can be treated as Coulson beats one of the villains senseless despite his pleading. The guy is in no way innocent, being described as having no moral compass, but it’s a difficult mental image to scrub out, the sight of Coulson beating down someone begging for their life.
Skye’s role in the episode just seems to bring more anguish to her character. After choosing to isolate herself within the containment room in the Bus, she prepares herself to be put on the index. While we have heard of the gifted index before, we are getting the crash course in it this episode. All people on the index must undergo a full psych eval and threat assessment, which would be fine if SHIELD was open and candor, but it’s made clear by Andrew Garner (Blair Underwood), May’s psychologist ex-husband, that SHIELD’s psychological evaluations are self-serving.
Underwood does a perfect job of portraying just the kind of guy we all sort of wish was still married to May. He’s got a good head on his shoulders, he’s not under any delusions with SHIELD, he’s looking out for his patients, and he’s able to bring out that side of May that isn’t just stoic and quiet. Andrew Garner is brought in by Coulson and May to evaluate Skye under the conditions that they are not monitored, not observed, given private session, and he is transparent with his evaluation to both the patient and the organization.
That should give you a good idea of what kind of psych evals SHIELD was conducting in the past to people just like Skye.
Skye’s scenes, not only with Garner, reveal a lot about her and confirm some parts of her personality. The Skye we know has always wanted acceptance. What is more alienating than literally becoming a pseudo alien? She wants nothing more than to go back into the field and have everything be normal again. She tells Garner that if things get bad, she’ll just ICE herself again. She desperately contains her quakes, but after seeing Coulson fighting on the field against Levi, she just can’t get a full hold on her abilities.
Instead of emoting outward, she turns the vibrations in on herself, causing over seventy hairline fractures from her hands to her collarbone and bruising herself badly. Not only does Garner assess that Skye should not be out in the field, but she should be away from SHIELD. Despite her connection to her teammates, it’s becoming too much to handle. I suspect a few more episodes of Skye within SHIELD before she is spirited away by Gordon or Luke Mitchell’s Lincoln, another Inhuman, comes into play to help her out.
Garner’s character also gives us some great development with May’s character. Ming-Na Wen shines brightly in this episode as she and Underwood play off of the great chemistry they have reminiscing about their past. We find out May eloped, no big wedding, it wasn’t a Vegas wedding (though she seems to really like Vegas), and can definitely not cook.
Despite their divorce, they two seem to still care about one another. Garner seems to note that May should not be back in the field, relating it to the “cavalry” incident. Garner definitely knew what happened in Bahrain that turned May from the warm, fun loving woman into the stoic warrior we see today. Wen gets some awesome action sequences during the villain take down, only serving to remind us that not only can she act but she can still kick all of our asses.
It was nice to see FitzSimmons talking again, especially seeing the lighter side of Fitz and Simmons regarding May and her past life. Despite being distanced in the beginning of the episode, with Simmons saying that “a betrayal of trust like that changes everything”, they make some strides in mending their relationship.
Speaking of betrayals of trust, after chokeholding Hunter, we find him chained to a sink being held captive by Mac. Unable to avoid their secret anymore, Mac takes Hunter in and reveals to him that he and Bobbi have been working for the “real” SHIELD. Well, now SHIELD definitely hasn’t changed. A secret organization within a secret organization. Color me absolutely not surprised.
Bonus great things come in the form of Simmons renaming the gifted index, I can’t help but feel that we are episodes away from them dropping the name “Inhumans” on us (yes, Fitz did already kind of say it). Simmons also creates the beginnings of Skye’s protective gauntlets, ones that we’ve seen Daisy Johnson wield within the comics during combat.
Then there’s Gordon coming in and just whisking Cal away to face some sort of inhuman tribunal it seems, reminding him that he’s just a science experiment (and Cal telling us that he’s “always tweaking his formula”). Plus, did there seem to be a lot of food in this episode? From the steak dinner to Coulson’s special grilled cheese to the diner scene, there seemed to be a lot of nourishment.
Maybe they’re gearing up for next week’s episode in which we are going to find out just what is going on with the “real” SHIELD. Sci-fi super actor and Battlestar Galactica veteran, Admiral Adama gives us a look into just what Bobbi and Mac (and Hunter apparently) signed up for. I could not be more excited to see Edward James Olmos guest star on the show. I hope we get to see Blair Underwood do a reprisal of his role and yeah, I am very excited about the return of Ward.