[Review] - Agents of SHIELD, Season 2 Episode 9, "...Ye Who Enter Here"

Courtesy of Marvel Television Studios
And the confirmation of information keeps on coming. After a couple weeks of mystery after mystery being resolved and revealed, this week we 100% learned the identity of the mysterious blue corpse, and got a horrifying sneak peak at what waits for Hydra and SHIELD in the ruins of the lost city, and saw the return of Patton Oswalt. Add to that a May-style action sequence for Skye and the laying out of a mission statement for the new SHIELD leadership, all while on location in sunny Puerto Rico (and slightly overcast Vancouver).

That seems like a lot, but it actually wasn't. For the most part, this was a well balanced episode, that covered the ground it needed to while also advancing the major character arcs. It had espionage, action and horror, all with some genuine comedy to keep it from getting too heavy. Now, if only someone could explain to the writers how to structure a scene to include exposition without it seeming so forced or repetitive. And finding someone who can write less tin-eared dialogue would be a boon as well.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers which, if they die in Canada, they die in real life.

Let's start with Coulson and Bobbi's scouting excursion, which while framed to make as much use of the lovely location, served up a concise look at the philosophical differences between Fury's SHIELD and Coulson's. Fury was about secrets, lies, manipulations and a strong arm. Fury perceived potential in every threat, and that mentality resulted in dangerous weapons being hoarded and an environment in which Hydra was able to prosper, because it was expected that every agent would be keeping their agenda close to the vest. Coulson, having worked in that environment, and survived its spectacular destruction, has chosen a different path. Coulson, while working towards the shared and laudable goal of protecting those that cannot protect themselves - serving as a literal shield - as his predecessor, his method is much more reactive and less combative.

If something poses a danger, eliminate it. Work under maximum possible information. Be honest and open to collaboration. Trust, do not suspect. and above all else, put the lives of those you are protecting above those doing the protecting. In Fury's world, Avengers are needed because there is always something to avenge. Some slight, some failing, some massive misstep born of a miscalculation that leads to the deaths of innocents. In Coulson's America, he would seek to prevent those initial casualties, rather than seeking to prevent additional casualties. And that is the fundamental difference between Coulson and Fury: Fury saw the world in terms of acceptable losses; Coulson considers no losses acceptable. What Coulson's SHIELD needs isn't Avengers, but Defenders.

The episode was a classic set up: SHIELD has the location of the ancient alien outpost, buried in the sea under the edge of Puerto Rico (Atlantis got a little shout out, though Namor's right are still tied up at Universal, as far as I know). Hydra has the key to opening the weapon at the heart of the city. Caught in the middle is Raina, appearing again in less floral attire, the only person confirmed to be able to handle the Diviner,and thus successfully enter the city and open the lock. So, the episode was a series of races. A race to protect Raina from the other tam, a race to find the city and destroy it before the other guys can, and a race to see how much more mythology the show can cram into an episode. Most importantly, this episode confirmed that the Guest was in fact a Kree. Does this mean the hidden city is in some way related to Attilan, the ancient home of the Inhumans, and that the show is setting up that film a full four years before its release? Doubtful.

What is clear is that the show really wants to use the word mutant. Like, really really wants to. Cross your legs and don't think of waterfalls wants to. Which would seem to have an easy solution: don't back yourself into a situation where you have to use the most prominent aspect of the Marvel universe which your aren't in anyway allowed. Don't write yourself into the need to have to keep using words like "special" or "becoming," or as Joss christened Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver in the Winter Soldier, "miracles." Perhaps, if this is a backdoor into the Inhumans mythology, the next episode will reveal Terrigen Mist, to help explain what would otherwise mutants, and also pave the way for additional super humans in the second half of the season.

What was working against this episode was the roughness of the dialogue. There were retorts here that lack any force or natural flow, just tacked on to the end of sentences as though they were expected. And that opening run down by Coulson would have been fine, if a little lead-footed, except it didn't provide us, the audience, with any new information. So called "Black Board" scenes are only interesting if they aren't used as time filler and a chance to sum up the last few episodes (especially if the episode already has a 'previously on'). If Coulson were revealing to us new information at the same time as his team, it might have been passable. As it stood, it was just annoying. But at least the show has graduated to simply annoying instead of actively frustrating.

What worked well this episode was what you'd expect from an episode that feature both Patton Oswalt and Ming-Na in duel rolls. The action was actiony, and the humour was humoury. And Skye got to show off some of the skills she's been picking up form her new CO. Super Spy Jr. is a roll that Skye has been much more successful in than hacker chick stereotype, so more of that is certainly something to appreciate. I felt like the writers might have moved the FitzSimmons storyline along a little too fast, and clearly that was because they were making room for Mac's sudden and violent departure. I'll admit to not seeing that one coming. My attention has been on Bobbi, who since still being a guest star, was the one with the most likely target on her back (by this show's standards, her time as a surviving recurring character makes her practically a regular). Though they shoehorned in a mysterious side gig for her to conveniently leave the show at the mid season, if need be. While not as strong as the last few episodes, this was still a winner, and provided a good push going into next week's finale.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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