Synopsis of 3×13: After tracking Malick to Russia, Bobby and Hunter become involved in an assassination plot; the team is changed forever as it races to save lives.
What Agents of SHIELD demonstrated this week was a surprising skill in being able to still write a story that functions around two characters instead of ten, and also the lack of foresight to see that they’re losing vital talent with this backdoor pilot to Bobbi and Hunter’s Marvel’s Most Wanted.
I’ve realized that the real crime that this show commits is showing an audience the potential that it can achieve while simultaneously taking it away. Bobbi and Hunter, a couple of characters that frequently get pushed to the side in favor of the “main plot” take the center stage this week and show just how sorely this show missed some actual dialogue that wasn’t trudging through a meandering season-long plot.
In the scope of the actual story this week, it was kind of a weird amalgamation of political intrigue, inhuman magic, and imitation cold war. It’s not really a bad plot, compared to some of the other stuff the show has conjured up, but it’s not really interesting. That is, the topic would be interesting, but it becomes clunky when the show introduces Inhumans and Malick. Since SHIELD never seems to know Malick’s plan, we’re essentially watching the main characters constantly having to play catch up.
This week’s installment of SHIELD vs Malick shows them facing off and narrowly escaping once again. Seriously, was strategy and thinking ahead not a class at the academy? I could have sworn they mentioned it years ago in season one when at the very least storylines made sense.
The build-up with Malick doesn’t mean much, since he gets away like we expect him to, and SHIELD is left with their pants around their ankles. After getting themselves caught up in a Russian political debacle, Bobbi and Hunter are captured by Interpol police and interrogated about their identities and their involvement in murders, with Interpol connecting them to SHIELD.
The episode jumps back and forth between where they are now, and how they got there, which is actually interesting in the first half of the episode, but it takes a turn when the team is brought in. Up until that point it’s actual espionage and banter and all the good things we get when Bobbi and Hunter are together, but then suddenly we’re dropped back into reality with the inhuman threat and I found myself tuning out.
The episode lays it on thick with Bobbi and Hunter’s interpersonal relationships with the team, but not really highlighting on the actually established relationships. Bobbi barely talks to anyone, despite the fact that a season ago she was good friends with Jemma and even helped her escape Hydra. Hunter spends too much time arguing with May over revenge and making things personal, where May simultaneously argues for keeping things distant while also complaining about Lash. They don’t even really settle it.
And instead of highlighting Bobbi, Hunter, and Mack’s friendship (in case the creators thought we forgot that Mack used to be really good friends with Bobbi and Hunter) the three barely share a moment together, and I feel supremely robbed. Mack is enjoyable when he’s playing off other characters. It’s really kind of unfortunate we didn’t get them having at least one pre-disavowing conversation.
Speaking of their disavowing, it was laughably easy to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes. Tell me that the prime minister didn’t just buy that bullshit Coulson was feeding them. No one finds it suspicious that when a guy walks into a room, with two people who probably work with him, the camera cuts off and then turns on back on a couple minutes later with the conversation over?
And if SHIELD doesn’t actually exist what’s the issue about them not being able to actually talk at a bar? That one agent tailing them can’t be that stupid right? He can’t be the one agent who didn’t get a briefing file about his targets and their suspected associates… who all happen to be in the bar? It’s supposed to be meaningful, and for a couple of seconds it can be, but if you look just a little close at it it kind of falls apart. Kind of like if you looked a little closer at this 900 square feet bar you’ll spot all the SHIELD agents sending each other shots with the one waitress who can ID them all.
In the scope of the season, this episode does nothing for the plot. The only thing that sort of moves forward the plot with Hive and Hydra is the stinger with Bethany Joy Lenz, which is vague and basically meaningless to the audience right now. However, that doesn’t mean this wasn’t a better episode than the last few.
Even with that painfully cheesy line (“That’s the world’s first Inhuman politican!”) it reminded me of what I used to actually really like about this show. It’s strongest points are when it reminds us that SHIELD is a group of spies, that’s what they do. They’re spies who work together like a well-oiled machine not because they’re all just a cog in that machine, but because they rely on one another and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Unfortunately it seems that only Bobbi and Hunter still show that. Their scenes were fun to watch because it relied on Hunter’s bullshitting skills and crackpot diplomacy and Bobbi’s super spy skills, also on their trust in one another. So, while the episode wasn’t the best, it does at least give me hope for Marvel’s Most Wanted. With Bobbi and Hunter gone so soon before the end of the season, hopefully the show fills the gap and opts for more interpersonal relationships (and I don’t mean just watching Daisy and Lincoln awkwardly kiss) and expands on that potential. But I sincerely doubt it.