Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – One of Us Review
I’ll admit that I walked into One of Us with really high expectations due to the promos that aired for it. Strictly speaking, this is probably the first Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode that could be considered Hyde-centric. While he has played a notable role in various episodes throughout this past season, Kyle MacLachlan’s Hyde really hasn’t been at the center of them, so it’s nice to see him finally get to come forth as a direct threat as opposed to a tangential player in a larger game. In One of Us he gets to run rampant in all of his gleeful manic glory. So how does the episode stack up? It’s pretty good, but it’s flaws prevent it from properly sticking the landing. One of Us’s biggest failure might be its awkward climax, which leaves me feeling slightly disappointed and casts a slight shadow upon the events that preceded it. It’s not that the ending is bad. It simply lacks the impact that one might have hoped for given the buildup.
One of Us splits its time between focusing on Hyde’s attempts to “wreak a little havoc,” as he put it back in Aftershocks, and focusing on the teams attempts to get Skye on the “Index” as quickly and painlessly as possible. While both of these stories are implemented in a very effective manner, it was Hyde’s attempts to strike back at S.H.I.E.L.D. that had me particularly intrigued. He starts out by recruiting a number of individuals off of the index including a hacker whom S.H.I.E.L.D. had made incapable of using technology (Much like they did with Skye back in the first season), a former mob enforcer who had used an untested steroid, a woman who had grafted blades to her fingers, and, finally, a man whose vocal chords could induce a catatonic state. All of the individuals that Calvin recruits gained their abilities via science, and it is while speaking with them that Calvin reveals that both his strength and aggression are due to chemicals that he tested on himself. He claims that he is still tweaking the formula, so it’s conceivable that we may see a full comics-style version of Hyde in the future. He and his team end up traveling to Coulson’s hometown of Manitowoc, Wisconsin where he plans of having his showoff with S.H.I.E.L.D. So, where does this go wrong? Well, just as it begins to look as if we are going to be having a full on brawl between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the MacLachlan Group, the eyeless Inhuman Gordon teleports in and spirits away Hyde. The fight that follows is good enough, but with the sudden absence of Calvin Zabo there isn’t really much left to be invested in as far as the villains are concerned and it all plays out in a somewhat predictable manner from that point on.
Skye’s index evaluation is slightly more consistent in its execution. She requires a psychological evaluation, which leads May to reach out to her ex-husband, Dr. Andrew Garner. It’s almost immediately apparent that Ming-Na Wen and Blair Underwood have a great chemistry, and Underwood brings the same degree of charm and likability to the role as he had in The New Adventures of Old Christine. However, his dealings with Skye feel a bit familiar. His calm demeanor aids in the interactions between them, but it can’t help but feel a bit like every other story of a doctor helping a troublesome patient. Furthermore, likable though Dr. Garner may be, it’s hard not to view as an outsider at points. There are ultimately few surprises in this story thread, and the revelation that Skye is suppressing her powers by directing them inward is interesting, but most of what we learn from this half of the episode feels familiar and somewhat uninformative. The reason it actually works is because of how well it serves to inform May’s character, by giving the audience a look at how she interacts with people with whom she has a close personal connection that is independent of S.H.I.E.L.D., but as an exploration of Skye’s character it falls a bit flat, and ultimately feels like we might just be treading water while we wait for Luke Mitchell’s character to show up and provide Skye with some direction.
Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- Gordon’s claim that Calvin Zabo was “making too much noise” can’t help but ring a bit false when he was the one who teleported in in front of a half dozen agents to collect Zabo (not to mention Raina).
- As I had suspected, Bobbi covers for Hunter’s absence throughout the episode. Apparently she and Mack are working for what they claim is the “real S.H.I.E.L.D.” It looks like we will be finally be getting a look at Edward James Olmos as Robert Gonzales, a prominent member of this other S.H.I.E.L.D., in the next episode, so I’m looking forward to that.
- Ward and Agent 33 will also be showing up again in the next episode, Love in the Time of Hydra, but I really have no clue what Agents plans to do with either of them anymore. It’s possible that they could side with either faction within S.H.I.E.L.D. or perhaps Ward is going to try and find Zabo or the Inhumans. Hopefully the show at least knows what to do with them.
- I don’t know much about Quake, but I do know that he outfit tends to include rather large gauntlets. There has been some speculation that the braces that Skye is wearing at the end after having cause multiple fractures in her arms may be the precursors to those gauntlets.
One of Us is an episode that I really enjoyed while I was watching it, but ultimately walked away from feeling a bit frustrated. The is a real sense that the episode didn’t live up to its potential, with the climax hitting a roadblock midway through, and Skye’s Good Will Hunting-esque therapy sessions failing to reveal anything new about her. While the episode is quite enjoyable overall, it’s hard to get ignore the irritating sense that we didn’t really learn anything new or progress much.
One of Us is an episode with great build up and an intriguing idea that stumbles near the end leaving one questioning what really changed over the course of the episode.