Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Who You Really Are Review
With Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. beginning to dip into the mythos of the Inhumans, it makes sense that they would want to anchor the proceedings by drawing upon what they have already established. In the case of Who You Really Are, that means incorporating the mythos of Asgard through the return of Sif. Sif had previously shown up in a first season episode, Yes Man, which wasn’t a particularly bad episode, but it was still a first season episode that came before The End of the Beginning and Turn, Turn, Turn, so the actual quality of the episode was limited. Ironically, the part of that episode that stuck out to me the most was the scene where Coulson asked Sif about blue-skinned aliens, and she briefly mentioned the Kree. As a result, I was quite interested in seeing how Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would make use of her now that they have started making better use of the Marvel Universe’s mythology. It turns out that Who You Really Are actually exceeded all of my expectations, by actively driving the plot forward in a way that I assumed I would have to wait several weeks to see.
Sif’s reappearance is initially confusing to everyone involved, including Sif herself. She can remember basic facts, but all of her personal knowledge has been wiped from her head and she is found wandering a beach in Portugal. As the team traces her path, they discover that she was in a fight with another non-human on a boardwalk shortly before her memory was wiped. When investigating the boardwalk, Fitz, Hunter and Mack find traces of liquid nitrogen from where Sif clipped the individual with her sword. Bobbi and Skye corner the suspect at a hospital where he is repairing the valves on his damaged nitrogen vest, and, as many Marvel fans will have probably already guessed, it turns out he is a Kree. After detecting a signal sent out by the temple, his purpose in coming to Earth is to try and recover the Diviners before they can be used to trigger terrigenesis. Once captured, the Kree, Vin-Tak, restores Sif’s memory and explains that the Kree race once used terrigen crystals to try and mutate lesser races and recruit them as soldiers to help fight their wars. Vin-Tak fears that if the rest of his home world of Hala discovers that the Diviners are being used successfully to trigger mutations in humans that they will renew their experiments. The Asgardians had assumed, due to the warlike nature of the Kree, that Vin-Tak had traveled to Earth with malicious intentions and Sif was sent to retrieve and question him, resulting in the fight in which he stripped her of her memories.
Now, back when Fitz hid the truth behind Skye’s terrigenesis from the rest of the team, I thought we probably wouldn’t see that come to a head until near the end of the season, but Who You Really Are is barely two-thirds of the way through its run time before the truth starts coming out. Vin-Tak describes the subjects of the Kree experiments as “abominations” and “weapons,” and Sif is hardly less aggressive in her response. It turns out that the container of Diviners that Vin-Tak was trying to recover is empty, and when he learns that Raina was transformed and Skye was present he immediately begins pressing her for details regarding what occurred. It’s at this point that the base starts to shake as Skye begins to lose control of her power. Vin-Tak and Sif both react with aggression, and attempt to either kill or take her into custody which naturally does nothing to calm Skye’s panic. Vin-Tak is eventually subdued by Bobbi who uses his own weapon to wipe his mind, and Sif stops her pursuit when she sees Skye shoot herself with an icer in order to suppress her powers and protect her friends. Coulson convinces her to let them take care of Skye and she takes the now amnesiac Vin-Tak back with her through the Bifröst. The team is left rather fractured by the ordeal, with many of them turning their frustration towards Fitz for not telling them the truth. Fortunately, Who You Really Are eases up a bit on Jemma’s paranoia, and most of the anxiety and fear feels more natural, though it still isn’t quite where I feel it should be. Moments, like where Mack states that they are the ones who need protection from Skye only to reveal that she heard what he was saying, ring as bit artificial. However, the image of her moving her belonging into the isolation chamber on the bus served as a strong finish for the episode.
Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- Vin-Tak is played by Warehouse 13’s Eddie McClintock, who does a good job blending aspects of affable and threatening into his character.
- It would seem that in the MCU, Kree don’t require nitrogen to breathe but rather to hide their true skin color. The episode isn’t extremely clear on this though, so I may be mistaken.
- Vin-Tak’s fear over Kree factions starting up their experiments with the terrigen crystals again plays well with the larger MCU, since we know from Guardians of the Galaxy that the Kree are at peace with Xandar for the first time in centuries. Thus it makes sense that he would want to prevent the potential reignition of hostilities.
- It is a little weird that an Asgardian and a Kree would be so unsettled by an Inhuman. Skye is hardly the weirdest thing they have encountered, so their initial panic is a bit questionable once you stop to think about it.
- We don’t get any new additions to the cast this week, but, given the promo for next week, it appears that that is going to change. Plus, Kyle MacLachlan is back… things are looking good.
- There was more hinting regarding Bobbi and Mack’s covert actions. With Hunter considering joining S.H.I.E.L.D. as a full agent, Bobbi considers bringing him in on their plans, but, when he confronts Mack with his suspicions at the end of the episode, Mack responds with a quick stranglehold. Mack outright states when talking to Bobbi that they are not Hydra, but I wonder if that is completely true, given my suspicions from earlier in the season. Plus, the episode after next is called Love in the Time of Hydra…
Who You Really Are is a very enjoyable episode, but it also feels a bit scattered. I expected things to slow down a bit after Aftershocks, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. There is a lot of information and reveals that get thrown at the audience, and, since most of this is thrown at the audience towards the end, the episode ends up feeling a bit back heavy. The characterization is a bit more natural though, at least as far as the main cast is concerned, and I’m very eager to see where Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. plans on going with this. Compared to the somewhat sluggish pace of some of this season’s earlier episodes, I find this, admittedly rather frantic, pacing to be far more favorable.
While a little more cluttered in its approach than Aftershocks, Who You Really Are is a strong episode that explores some of the history behind the Inhumans. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is driving its plot forward more quickly that I expected, and, for the most part, I can't say that I don't approve.