After tonight’s very action-heavy and loaded with fan-pleasing moments episode of The Flash, could Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. possibly match its rival from another comic book universe for sheer excitement? Well, it turns out that it could, and did, raise the ante not just for superhero shows in general, but for itself in particular.
This season of S.H.I.E.L.D. hasn’t been lacking for stories, and its spent season two chewing up plots like a hungry beast with a bottomless stomach, but for the two-part season finale, the show didn’t seem as if it were getting full. Actually, it seemed hungrier than ever, and along the way there were some startling developments, a high body count and another shift in the status quo.
The S.H.I.E.L.D. versus Inhumans war ended as abruptly as it started, but with some potentially serious implications for the future. Many armchair quarterbacks online pondered if S.H.I.E.L.D. was building up to the detonation of a Terrigen Bomb, the release of the power of the crystals suddenly turning the populace Inhuman or turning them to ash. Certainly that seemed to be Jiaying’s plan, and she almost succeeded with the help of some witting Inhumans (Gordon) and some unwitting (Lincoln). A Terrigen Bomb though seems rather huge in fully considering it, the kind of thing you’d call up the big guns like The Avengers to deal with. S.H.I.E.L.D., however, aimed to resolved things by making them much more personal.
Kyle MacLachlan has been an MVP on this season of S.H.I.E.L.D. as Skye’s father Cal, and he did not disappoint this week. Cal’s transformation was constant in “S.O.S.,” from the Hannibal-esque deranged prisoner, to taking up the mantle of Mr. Hyde and fulfilling Jiaying’s plan to keep Coulson occupied while she and the others seized the aircraft carrier. Eventually, Cal heard the words of the man he had seen as his chief rival for his daughter’s affections, and realized that he was being used as a tool by his wife. MacLachlan understands that sometimes the most human actions come from monstrosity, which is why the care was taken to ground Cal’s motivation for being monstrous in protecting his family.
“S.O.S.” was kind of a showcase for MacLachlan, and even in the midst of all the action, the show seemed more than willing to take it easy and let the actor just be Cal. Despite the lingering reminder that Cal’s done some fairly disturbing things in the name of protecting his family, he still has this Father Knows Best kind of swagger, except with veins popping out of his neck. It was shrewd to boil the resolution of this end-of-the-world scenario down to what was basically a family drama. As for Cal’s fate and being given the T.A.H.I.T.I. treatment, well, it provided a nice moment of sweetness for Skye, but it would be a shame if Cal were gone for good.