Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Scars Review
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The fact that Scars is one of the weakest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that we have had in a while is a testament to how strong the show’s writing has been lately. The biggest flaw of the episode is that it invests a lot of time and effort into misdirection that ultimately works against the strengths of the narrative. It also serves the make much of the characterization in this episode feel somewhat dissonant and results in the episode ending on a twist of sorts that doesn’t really fit the episode. Scars ultimately stumbles in its attempts to kick off a war between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Inhumans, and the manipulative elements serve to distract from the episode’s better aspects.
Scars picks up in the aftermath of Avengers: Age of Ultron, with Gonzalez now fully aware of the fact that Coulson’s secret Theta Protocol was, in fact, a helicarrier that was being constructed in case it was required for an emergency. Since the carrier served a vital role in the war with Ultron, Gonzalez and his counsel have been forced to reassess their approach with Coulson. Coulson offers to construct a unified S.H.I.E.L.D. with himself as director and the counsel serving as advisors. While it may not be one big happy family, it is a step towards stability for the group. However, when Lincoln wakes up to find himself in a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, he quickly informs Skye that the Inhumans have valued their secrecy above all else and that it would have been better if she had left him. And, sure enough, this leads to tensions that are heightened even further when Jiaying and Gordon discover that Raina had a vision of a giant stone that turned to liquid and back. While few details are given, Jiaying claims that it is a Kree artifact that was intended to destroy the Inhumans. What exactly this entails remains unclear, but together Raina and Gordon track the object to the Iliad where it is being stored on the lower decks. Their infiltration of the vessel is short lived as they are quickly forced to retreat after encountering S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, but, as a result, everyone’s paranoia is ratcheted up a number of degrees.
This ultimately leads to calls for a sit down, though the counsel agrees that Coulson is to closely tied to Skye to handle it himself. This results in Gonzalez being chosen as an emissary for S.H.I.E.L.D. When I mentioned that I felt that the misdirection in Scars was problematic, this is where most of those problems lie. By the time the episode has reached its end, it becomes apparent that almost every character who was presented as scheming was, in fact, acting nobly and in the interest of keeping the peace. And for the most part, the reverse holds true as well. While this isn’t necessarily a bad idea, the episode invests too much time trying to convince us that things are one way, that when it turns out that it is the other way, we have difficulty accepting it as a natural course of events. The interactions between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Inhumans conclude in such a way that it feels forced, and, while it may catch the viewer by surprise, it doesn’t actually feel like a good twist. Furthermore, even if you don’t view the overall setup and execution to be a “twist,” it doesn’t change the fact that it makes much of the characterization for two characters in particular feel quite off and artificial. We also have the culmination of Ward and Kara’s plans, but those ultimately feel a bit tacked on in this episode. That isn’t to say that what occurs isn’t significant, but it seems as if Agents itself just isn’t that interested in that plot, at the moment.
Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- While I may not appreciate the synchronized heel-turn that a number of the cast seemingly went through, I do like how certain aspects of Jiaying’s character that are revealed help to explain how Cal came to be the man he is in the present. There seemed to always be an odd disconnect between his past and his present, and the reveal in this episode does aid in bridging that gap.
- The term Inhuman finally gets established, as Skye states that their ancestors had used it. However, is it just me or is it odd how few Inhuman powers we’ve actually seen up till this point?
- Mack states that he feels that, as long as Coulson remains director, he won’t be able to remain at S.H.I.E.L.D. I can’t imagine anything would prevent him from leaving… aside from say an assault on S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Yeah… It probably wasn’t the best idea for Gonzalez to try comparing his wounds to Jiaying’s. He has a bad knee and she was dissected. Those aren’t exactly comparable.
As an episode Scars isn’t bad, but it results in slightly reduced expectations when walking into the two-part finale. Had it spent less time on misdirection, and instead sought to build up the conflict better, we may have had a great episode on our hands. Instead it ends up wasting some of its valuable time on setting up the final rug-pull and is weaker for it.
While not disappointing, per se, Scars feels like an odd lunge towards the finale that doesn't quite succeed in getting one invested the way it was likely intended to. As it stands, it's decent, but falls a bit towards late season 1 quality with its lack of narrative consistency.