Tuesday, May 5, 2015

So Much In Transition, "Scars" Acts As A Weird Splinter Point For The Marvel Cinematic Universe

The Good: Progresses the periferal characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
The Bad: Derivative, Focuses om way too many characters (none sufficiently), An obvious bridge episode
The Basics: "Scars" tries to keep Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. relevant after The Avengers: Age Of Ultron while getting steamrollered by the foreshadowing for The Inhumans!

As the second season of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. reaches its peak, it has an interesting series of challenges accompanying it. Despite leading directly into the latest Marvel blockbuster, The Avengers: Age Of Ultron (reviewed here!), the show has not been getting much respect. As well,Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is doing all it can to try to top the first season of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. (reviewed here!). With "Scars," it is hard not to start feeling like Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is just being used as an advertising tool for forthcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe projects. "Scars" formally introduces the concepts necessary for the world to (eventually) embrace an Inhumans movie!

Picking up after The Avengers: Age Of Ultron and "The Dirty Half Dozen" (reviewed here!), "Scars" works hard to connect to the known Marvel Cinematic Universe while foreshadowing what is yet to come. Unfortunately, with all of the external elements influencing it, "Scars" almost forgets to bother with the main characters from Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. (outside Skye).

Flashing back to the time when Coulson took over S.H.I.E.L.D. and began Theta Protocol, which was apparently just him secreting away the Helicarier used in The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Coulson resumes control over S.H.I.E.L.D. in the present. Simmons finishes removing the H.Y.D.R.A. protocols from Kira (Agent 33). Back at Jiaying's compound, Raina's premonitions lead Gordon to suspect that the Kree, who created the Mist that transformed Skye, Raina, and others, might have an agenda that remains active. In the bowels of Gonzales's ship, Gordon and Raina discover the pitted alien artifact, which liquefies and reforms in front of them. Skye explains the Inhumans to May and Coulson and when Gordon and Raina return to the Inhumans's secluded location, they are confronted by Jiaying and Calvin.

When Coulson sends Skye back to Jiaying, Raina forsees Afterlife under attack by S.H.I.E.L.D. and she proposes to Gordon that she communicate with Coulson. Unable to reconcile Coulson's leadership with the alien blood that resurrected him, Mack resigns from S.H.I.E.L.D. as Gonzales leads a S.H.I.E.L.D. team to Afterlife. When Kira's true allegiances pop up, the mission to make peace with the Inhumans takes a turn for the worse for all involved.

"Scars" plays with the idea that Raina now is a legitimate clairvoyant and seems to have the series splintering off. Even without recent news that Bobbi Morse and Agent Lance Hunter are being set up for a spin-off, Bobbi Morse's place in the episode does very little to advance the main plot. "Scars" has her relegated to a background character with a vague, soap opera-like character arc (she is waiting for Hunter to start talking with her again). In fact, Mack's departure from S.H.I.E.L.D. in "Scars" is a bigger character moment than anything Morse has had in the last several episodes.

Jiaying and Calvin dominate "Scars." As Daisy's (Skye's) parents, they have scenes that are conversations that finally make the two characters pop; their conversations are insular to themselves. They have a legitimate relationship that does not revolve simply around the plot of "Scars" and that finally makes their characters interesting to watch. Cal gets the episode's best quips and Kyle MacLachlan and Dichen Lachman (Jiaying) have decent on-screen chemistry. They are finally given the chance to act and react as if their characters have legitimate lives outside of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D..

Gonzales and Jiaying have an intriguing scene at the climax of the episode, but "Scars" is stuck between what has been and what is coming. The episode struggles to keep Grant Ward in the mix and his late-entry into the episode feels more forced than Jiaying's actions in the episode's crucial scene.

What struck me as "Scars" neared its end was that I neither knew where the series was going . . . nor did I care. At the peak of "Scars," it occurred to me that I can't imagine looking back at Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. from a seventh season and appreciating where the characters were in season 2 and believing they have an organic link between them. In other words, "Scars" works so hard to link to the other portions of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that it fails to create anything strong and distinctive on its own. "Scars" "reads" more like an advertisement for fans to go out and watch The Avengers: Age Of Ultron and (in the future) The Inhumans.

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. - The Complete Second Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the sophomore season here!


For other reviews of television shows, seasons and episodes, please check out my Television Review Index Page for a listing of reviews!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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