Saturday, 26 March 2016

Review - Agents of SHIELD: 3x13 - "Parting Shot"

Agents of SHIELD
Episode 3x13 - "Parting Shot"

Synopsis

Bobbi and Hunter find themselves in danger when they are sent on a mission to prevent Malick from acquiring more Inhumans and inadvertently cause an international incident between Russia and the USA which Coulson may not be able to save them from.

Review

This episode of Agents of SHIELD acted as a back-door pilot for the long-rumoured spin-off show, Marvel’s Most Wanted, which is expected to focus on Bobbi and Hunter as a pair of married spies on the run from the government. For some na├»ve reason, I didn’t think this would drastically affect Agents of SHIELD and that whatever adventures the pair had in store for them in this new series would be told in-between seasons of Agents of SHIELD, just like Agent Carter. Looks like I was wrong, as this episode writes out both characters and sets up their new status-quo as rogue spies operating outside the system and without the back-up of SHIELD to help them. I’ll be honest, the events of this episode felt dictated by outside forces rather than naturally coming from the narrative of the story – there were definitely moments where characters acted out-of-character to facilitate the eventual outcome of getting Bobbi and Hunter blacklisted from SHIELD. I’m sure this decision can be easily over-turned if Marvel’s Most Wanted ends up at the bottom of the ratings chart, as Coulson mentions possible new identities for the duo.

As a tease of what to expect for the eventual pilot episode of Marvel’s Most Wanted, “Parting Shot” didn’t really focus on the interplay between Bobbi and Hunter, and as much as the show’s writers try to establish chemistry between the two, it always seems like Bobbi tolerates Hunter’s whiny attempts at humour, rather than genuinely caring for him. That said, the characters do work well separately and I enjoyed their different approaches to being interrogated. While previous episodes have felt somewhat restrained in nature, this episode certainly allowed the writers to shake up the series’ status-quo, removing two of its non-powered cast members to make room for more recruits to Daisy’s team of Secret Warriors. It has been a while since there has been any significant change to the roster, so in some ways I do welcome the decision to remove Hunter and Bobbi from the show to make room for new and existing characters.


Even though Gideon Malick and the Inhumans were still key elements behind this episode, it felt like a departure from the recent laser-focused attention these plot-points have received. Hopefully, the show’s writers will continue to create standalone adventures like this that tie into the overall narrative of the season – I have definitely found myself missing the early days of the series which saw more varied threats for the team to deal with. As with the preceding episode “The Inside Man”, “Parting Shot” was surprisingly focused on its main plot-line, with minimal attention given to the sub-plots of its supporting characters. Naturally, Bobbi and Hunter were given the spotlight as the series gave them a final hurrah, and I must admit that even though their ‘parting shot’ with the rest of the cast was a bit cheesy and unrealistic, it still managed to hit the right emotional tone and give the characters a respectful send-off. To be fair, it had to beat Agent Triplett’s undignified exit from the series!

I think that this would have been a much stronger episode if the fingerprints of the ABC execs hadn’t have been all over it – I’m not 100% sold on the idea of a Bobbi/Hunter spin-off show, preferring the two characters as part of an ensemble cast. In fact, the concept of Marvel’s Most Wanted doesn’t feel that different from Agents of SHIELD, making its existence even more questionable. Personally, I’d rather that they invest the funds into making a third season of Agent Carter. Still, the show’s writers did the best they could with the hand they were dealt and provided Hunter and Bobbi with an exit that also sets up their new status-quo, whilst leaving them open for ‘guest appearances’ later down the line. It will definitely be interesting to see how the series copes with their loss, and how the writers plan to fill in the gap, considering that there are hardly any field agents left in the show’s cast anymore. After a few stale episodes, this shake-up might be exactly what Agents of SHIELD needs to reinvigorate itself in the final half of Season Three.


Score - 9.1 out of 10


Easter Eggs/References
  • Bobbi's code-name "Bird" is a reference to her code-name from the comics, Mockingbird.
  • General Androvich's Inhuman soldier makes use of Darkforce to create his shadowy duplicates. The same mysterious substance was also used by Blackout in "The Only Light in the Darkness" and known as Zero Matter in the second season of Agent Carter.

Mysteries
  • What will Hunter and Bobbi do now that they have been disowned by SHIELD?
  • What will SHIELD do with the vaccine to prevent Terrigenesis?

Next Episode - "Watchdogs"
Agent Mack and his brother step in when a radical group called the Watchdogs plan to eliminate the Inhumans; Simmons finds a powerful chemical compound.

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