This whole “Agents of Hydra” plotline is turning out to be one of SHIELD’s strongest yet. This week’s episode “No Regrets” explores just how powerful a few simple changes can be. It actually dawned on me why Mace is actually Inhuman instead of faking in this virtual world, that was his big regret, and his one thing that Aida fixed. Maybe this was obvious for some of you but I had initially been confused by this change for him, so having that click in place was a huge relief.
Starting off, as small as the opening scene was of Coulson and Mace setting a trap for Hydra agents, it was very satisfying. Something about seeing those two work so well together on such friendly terms after all their tension this year. In retrospect many of Mace’s scenes were giving the character his due, but not in such an obvious way to telegraph where things were heading.
Fitz proved himself to be fully enveloped in his darker side and was pretty much a straight up Nazi. The cold callous way he treats Skye, his total devotion to Aida, Fitz is certainly a different man. Again I’m going to say that I kind of hope he has long term ramifications once back in the real world. Following the Buffy blueprint I feel like we could be heading to Fitz becoming a big bad for the end of the season or possibly into next year, mirroring the ‘Willow goes bad’ storyline. Either way, Iain De Caestecker has had a hell of a great run as evil Fitz so far. Some great range shown here between his two interpretations of the character.
Finally an answer on just why Fitz is so different in this alternate world while also solving another mystery set up earlier this season: Fitz’s father. We see who his father is and just what having a bastard like him around can do to a young man like Fitz. It was a bit underwhelming that his dad isn’t anyone of note in the MCU or connected in some way. By the way he was set up and how carefully they avoided any photos or specific details, it always felt like there was a big reveal coming, something shocking. Instead we got a vaguely familiar character actor who is just kind of a jerk.
One area that stuck out as particularly weak was the action. Multiple times I found myself put off by very obvious wirework. Once when Mace lifts the car, and again when he strikes May into a wall. In fact the whole fight with May was a letdown compared to the great action sequences SHIELD is known for. What I mean by the wire work comment is that you can tell where the wires are attached, the point of propulsion.
Go watch Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and you can see tons of examples, or most of the X-Men films. Scenes don’t have the right physics, people jumping or being thrown are obviously being pulled by their midsection where the rig is attached. Modern films have learned to adjust where the center of gravity on these rigs are so they “feel” real. Iron Man films now have the support running to Stark’s feet to show his boots are what are lifting him, that kind of thing. Yes, yes, I know I’m being far too picky but I expect the best from this show because it’s shown us it has the capacity to be the best.
Did anyone else suspect that Mack might be a double agent? I don’t know, he just seems so damn eager to run headlong into danger. Plus how does he have all this know how in a world where he wasn’t a spy? This is either a brilliant slow play by the writers or just some oddly convenient skill sets in the framework’s world. Mack, much like Fitz, has potential to have some great fallout from this arc. Every scene with his daughter I feel what Gemma’s face shows, pain and dread. This man is getting a second life with his lost child. Having that ripped away from him again will be devastating. In fact, I would not be surprised if he voluntarily stayed in the framework.
There has been some talk that this or next season could be SHIELD’s last. How amazing would it be if they started just picking the team apart one by one leading to their end without announcing it as a series finale? Almost completely ridiculous but wow would that be a baller move on the writers’ parts.
Supporting that theory is the big shocker death. That of Director Mace. As I said earlier he got multiple stand out moments leading up to this sacrifice. His opener with Coulson. That confrontation with Gemma after she dropped the truth bomb about the real world. His fight with May, not the best but still a moment. Then he goes out saving his team and a bunch of children from a collapsing building?! Is there a more heroic way to die? Plus his sacrifice knocks sense into May. That final glimpse of Mace, back in the real world with Aida turning off his heart monitor? Just chilling. An effective and fitting send off for the character.
Coming off of that emotional send off we did get a little good news. When May came in and gave Skye that Terrigen crystal? Yes!!! I can’t remember having such a “hell yes” reaction to a show in a while. After three weeks of Skye being trapped in a living hell, she is going to kick some major ass next week, which just happens to fall one day short of the May sweeps period, oh so close!
A few other thoughts/ observances this week.
- A nice little touch having Whitehall in that Hydra History book, and kudos for not lingering on it and jamming it down our throats.
- Fitz’s “nevertheless she persisted” line? Eh kinda cute. But it felt a bit too on the nose for me.
- Aida offering Lincoln to Skye? No Thank You! Him going bye bye was a great decision.
- Coulson’s “Like Hives” remark on Ward was also too clever for its own good.
- Radcliffe’s speech about one sentence / one regret was fantastic, the best work the actor has had this season.
Oh, and Trip! I loved Trip and his death had made me so mad. Having him cameo with zero lead up was an amazing surprise.
While not without some small gripes, Agents of SHIELD continues to be some of the best television around. “No Regrets” was a great episode that gave us a long forgotten friend, a perfect send off, and great moments for multiple characters.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Tell us in the comments section below!