Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Parting Shot Review
In my review of The Inside Man, I alluded to the fact that Agents has been directing its focus more towards Inhumans and less towards spying and espionage as of late. Powers have always been a significant element of the show, but as it continues to explore concepts like the spread of Inhuman powers and the development of Daisy’s Secret Warriors, some of the non-powered characters have been feeling slightly less relevant. Fitz-Simmons still fulfill their role of providing scientific explanations and support, Mack provides a similar role while also serving as the mechanic, and May has been with the show since the beginning and has her ties to Dr. Garner. As it stands, Hunter and Bobbi were starting to feel a bit like the odd couple out, so Marvel’s decision to move them into their own spin-off, Marvel’s Most Wanted, isn’t a surprising one, particularly since that idea has been bouncing around for a while now. However, I will admit that I wasn’t expecting their departure to come so soon, as Parting Shot ultimately serves as a farewell for both Adrianne Palicki and Nick Blood. So, how does the episode hold up? Well, it’s okay. Not excellent, but still pretty entertaining. The primary problem with that is that, while I am going to be giving this episode a good rating and I definitely enjoyed it, there is a clear sense that it was trying to aim higher, but it runs into issues when it comes to actually giving the characters a good reason to leave.
The episode jumps back and forth in time, between scenes of Bobbi and Hunter’s mission in Russia and scenes of them being interrogated by Russian authorities. Strictly speaking, this structuring doesn’t serve much of a narrative purpose outside of centering the episode around Bobbi and Hunter, thus making it clear that this is specifically their story. Therefore, I actually found it to be a bit distracting, as I don’t think the time jumps aided the episode enough to warrant their presence. Bobbi and Hunter track Malick and Petrov, the Russian official from the previous episode, to the site of a proposed sanctuary for Inhumans. The team soon discovers that Malick is pushing for a military coup to overthrow the Prime Minister, and are forced to intervene when Petrov releases a Russian Inhuman general with the intent of him serving as an assassin. The idea of S.H.I.E.L.D. trying to protect a foreign politician in a region where they have no authority is an interesting one, and that aspect of the plot is well implemented. General Androvich, an Inhuman capable of making a shadow clone out of Darkforce, is a threatening adversary, even if he is pretty much a glorified goon, and Hunter gets some fun quips as the episode progresses.
However, Parting Shot hits a bit of a snag when it comes to actually implementing Bobbi and Hunter’s departure. The reasoning ends up feeling a bit weak, and, while Agents has tried to sprinkle hints of Hunter wanting to leave the organization, their actual reasons still end up feeling mildly convoluted. The Russian Prime Minister apparently wants to prove that Bobbi and Hunter are S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in order to use their operations as a basis for a potential war with America or something. The show generally hasn’t focused too much on political specifics in the past, and its attempts to do so here feel like a halfhearted attempt to hide the real objective. Bobbi and Hunter are getting a spin-off so they have to leave the show. It is as simple as that, and this bizarre “We have to leave S.H.I.E.L.D. to protect our friends and country,” justification does little to disguise the reality. Fortunately, even if the logic behind the departure feels sketchy, the episode still takes care to properly utilize the inherent emotions of having two of its major actor leave. The scene in which the rest of the team toasts the couple with the titular parting shots from across a crowded bar is cheesy, but effective nonetheless. Even if the path to that scene was a bit rocky, it allowed the episode to end on a high note.
Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- Given its prominent role within the second season of Agent Carter and its appearances here, I’m starting to wonder if Marvel has something specific planned for the Darkforce. When looking into it, I saw that it is allegedly going to play a role in the upcoming Doctor Strange, but I’m not sure how. It is probably unlikely, but I will keep my fingers crossed for an appearance from Cloak and Dagger at some point.
- Hunter’s constant insistence that he and Bobbi were simply in the countryside looking for mushrooms is probably one of the best gags that the character has gotten in quite a while.
- Malick has a daughter… and she likes skeet shooting… I don’t know, the final scene seems to think that is a big deal.
- It only just occurred to me, but given the current prominence of Hydra and powered individuals in the narrative, this would be a great opportunity to introduce or hint at Jessica Drew.
Parting Shot is a good episode, that was clearly aiming to be something more than just that. Although Marvel’s behind-the-scenes machinations are quite apparent and get in the way of total engagement, the episode still succeeds in finding a strong emotional core, and gives its characters an appropriate send-off.