The Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. infiltrate Russia to head off Malick and prevent another Cold War, but a few comrades get left behind to set up a spin-off in an emotional episode this week. Head here to read Doug’s review of the episode, and read on for the biggest moments from “Parting Shot”.
1) A Spy’s Goodbye
It’s impossible to talk about this episode without discussing the ending first. Normally in these breakdowns, I tackle three or four of the biggest moments from the episode, going over the ramifications of each major event. This week however, the central plot and action, while tied to the ongoing story this season, was all about the departure of Huntingbird. I also need to say this up top: I was wrong. Last week, I felt strongly that Bobbi and Hunter going off to Russia on a mission together was a coincidence, rather than the show giving the two their backdoor pilot for Most Wanted. To me, it felt far too early in the season to remove two of S.H.I.L.E.D.’s best assets (both in universe and out). But after watching the episode, I realized it was the right call to make. No one knows how the new series will fare once it airs this fall, but if we’d simply had them leave at the end of the season, only to return if the show didn’t take off next fall, we would have sacrificed that emotional ending. By having them depart now, so suddenly and in the middle of all the action, it not only gives a large gap between the events here and the six months or so before they’d need to return to the show should the spin-off fail, but it gives the series plenty of time to tell the story of them leaving.
While there’s the ongoing threat of Hive and Malick and renegade Inhumans, not to mention the dastardly actions of various nations vying to get their hands on enhanced soldiers, the insanity that will surely be the final few episodes of this season (especially given a Civil War tie-in) hasn’t kicked in yet. This means the team can spend an episode getting back to their spy roots as they work to prevent Cold War II. It’s a viable story-line, as Russia and the US have always had a tumultuous relationship, and given that the accumulation of Inhuman assets rivals the ownership of nuclear weapons, it makes sense that both sides would be wary of the other having too many working for their government. I’m sure the world will go bananas once it finds out that possible terrorist group S.H.I.E.L.D. is not only alive and well, but operating with the President’s authority and building an elite black ops team of Inhumans. While there may be some logic loopholes as to how all this ends with Bobbi and Hunter disavowed rather than just secretly still working for their secret organization (Coulson has been “dead” for years and yet blatantly operates as a “spy” with the Avengers themselves failing to even be aware of his continued existence), but we knew this moment had to come. With that known, we can suspend our disbelief and focus on what works in the episode: namely, all that spying.
As S.H.I.E.L.D. has moved towards more stories surrounding superpowers and Inhumans, it’s left some of its classic spy trappings aside. Occasionally, the espionage elements will return for a usually spectacular sequence in a given episode, but for the most part it has larger issues to deal with. When Most Wanted was announced last year, it seemed assured that the new show would take on the former’s aesthetic and genre. Sure enough, this week was all about covert ops and Russian backstabbing. Most Wanted was already guaranteed to be a blast with its predominant focus on Bobbi and Hunter and all the ass-kicking and wise-cracking they bring to the table, but if the show fills itself out with wacky gadgets and secret plans and double-crosses while the two former-agents jet-set to exotic locales, I’m on board.
That said, it was still sad to see them leave. While it isn’t goodbye for audiences, we know that, for the characters, this hurts. Only a handful of TV moments have brought me close to tears (Barry saying goodbye to his mom on The Flash, every few episodes of Fringe), but this one definitely gets added to the list. While it was intense watching all the cast members toast our departing friends, the deal was nearly sealed for me by Mack. He’s the one with the longest history and best chemistry with Bobbi and Hunter and seeing the big guy hang back and tear up as he offered them an extra shot was brutal. I’m glad we still get to spend time with these characters on their own series, but their absence from Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. will surely be felt by the team and the audience.
2) Darkforce Returns!
In between all the tears and snooping, we did get a few other noteworthy moments this episode. After figuring prominently into the Season 2 plot of Agent Carter, Darkforce returns to S.H.I.E.L.D. in the form of General Androvich’s shadow. While some in Russia want to build a “sanctuary” for Inhumans in the country, the Prime Minister isn’t having it. When his opposition learns of this, they have the General (an Inhuman) kill the Minister’s attaché. Turns out, he can summon a shadow-like version of himself composed of Darkforce. We’ve previously seen the substance on the show wielded by Blackout, and just like on Agent Carter, it appears that each person who controls the matter can use it in different ways. The shadow creature is definitely creepy looking and used to good effect, but I would have loved an entire episode designed like a horror film where the team had to take on this creature. As it stands, he’s kind of a one-and-done villain, which is disappointing given how unique his ability was. It appears that Darkforce will be a recurring element in the MCU, so hopefully it’ll be a source of connection between the universe as so far, no one has mentioned any of its previous incarnations.
3) Daddy’s Little Monster
I usually reserve these sections for big moments worthy of discussion, but again, as so much was tied up in Bobbi and Hunter’s story, it doesn’t leave a lot of separate elements to discuss. So I’ll briefly touch on the tag scene this episode, which couldn’t have been more anti-climatic. I kept waiting for Malick’s daughter to be revealed as an Inhuman, but turns out the writers thought that Malick having a daughter and her being on board with his plan was shocking. It wasn’t, of course. Nothing strange about him having a child, and given his generally evil Republican demeanor (and her junior evil Republican outfit), it wasn’t surprising at all the she toed the family line. We even saw this exact same sort of reveal played out on Arrow awhile ago when we learn Darhk has a happy family and his wife is just as maniacal as him. Anyway, I usually try to be positive with these breakdowns, but that was a letdown of a tag, especially given the emotional climax it followed. So instead of ending the breakdown on that note, here’s a teary-eyed Mack to bid you farewell.
So, what did you think? Let us know in the comments what your favorite moments were and what you’re hoping to see next week. You can check out the promo for episode 14 titled “Watchdogs” here and for all things Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., follow along here. For more MCU related news and features, make sure to follow us on Twitter.