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Agents of SHIELD: Melinda

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#1 G-man

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Posted 15 April 2015 - 08:35 AM

This week, we were treated to parallel storylines:  One concerning Skye with Jaiying and the Inhumans, and touching on Rayna's own torment; the other concerning Melinda May's backstory, and touching on the hunt for Coulson.

With Melinda May's backstory, that was simply outstanding, and explains so much about why she is the way she is.  

She and Coulson were part of the "Welcome Wagon" to bring in this gifted Russian defector, Eva Belyakov, without having to resort to the Cavalry (aka the SHIELD Strike Team), before the Bahraini Armed Forces put in an appearance, but, the girl had holed up in "the bad part of town".  A little girl is taken hostage by a bunch of thugs with Eva fleeing with them into a building.  The Cavalry is dispatched to recover them, and ... things go wrong.  In light of SHIELD's organizational inertia, and the Bahraini (Bahrainian?) armed forces arriving on the scene, Coulson allows May to go in and attempt to extract the team and the girl.

This backstory is tied into Jaiying explaining why things are the way they are, after revealing that, yes, she is Skye's mother.  It seems that the Eva Belyakov had been part of the Inhuman's community and had a daughter, Katya, but Jaiying sensed that the child had "a darkness" within her and felt it more prudent not to have Katya exposed to the terrigen mists.  Eva disagreed, and stole some terrigen crystals so that her daughter could transform ... and ultimately fell under her Katya's disturbed influence, which would result in both her and her daughter's termination at the hands of Melinda May.

The kicker is, the SHIELD Strike Team who had fallen under Katya's influence have no memory of what had happened, and are looking around at the thirty or so bodies that are lying there, and at the battered, bruised, and wounded May, and thinking ... "Jeez, I thought WE were the Cavalry, but it looks like the Cavalry is HER!"

In the present day:  It seems that Melinda has been recruited to bring in Coulson in exchange for her reassuming command at the base, and of course Simmons is thrilled.  To help, Gonzales' gang provided May with the Intelligence they had gathered on Coulson; as May and Simmons delve into the apparent discrepencies between what they were told and was they found, Mack walks in and gives them the his interpretation ... all centered around Coulson's Theta Protocol, which raises doubts in May and Skye.

Of course, here, what I'm questioning is that May and Simmons seemingly accepting the Intelligence and Interpretation of Gonzales' Gang without reservation, whereas I'm thinking the Intelligence could well be fabricated, as misinformation is the common tool of the Intelligence world to get information and recruit reluctant assets (something that Agent May, at least, should be aware of).

In the meantime, Jaiying is helping Skye focus her powers ... ranging from causing avalanches to causing water filled glasses to sing.  However, given that Skye had jumped the line without going through proper preparation and vetting, which is cause enough for envy amongst the others, along with the unprecedented personal attention and tutoring Jaiying is giving her; that she is Jaiying's daughter must remain a secret to avoid the appearance of favoritism, especially given what happened with Eva and Katya.

Meanwhile Gordon is talking Rayna through her bad-times and adjustments, and very much resents Lincoln's intrusions, since he doesn't share the same affliction that the two of them have, and therefore cannot know what Rayna is going through.  Gordon assures Rayna that there is more to her transformation than simply her altered appearance, and that only time will tell what her other gifts are.

Obviously, there's some tension between the "freaks" and the merely "empowered" individuals within that community, as the empowered are free to roam the outside world without attracting attention, as long as they keep their gifts to themselves; whereas the "freaks" must forever remain hidden from public view.

However, Lincoln (who seemingly has unlimited access to everywhere and everyone in Afterlife) still visits with Rayna, and hears of her nightmares and gripes about her misfortune, especially when compared to Skye's good fortune.

In the close, Skye is talked into a family dinner by Jaiying, and Cal is simply over the moon about this prospect.  Upon being informed that Skye doesn't know when her birthday was, he is overjoyed to tell her, and relate to her just what happened on that day (obviously, that day is one that he has long cherished).  Unfortunately, Lincoln walks in on this tableau and realizes a number of things ... one of which is apparently Rayna possesses oracular powers.  Whether he realizes that Jaiying was married to Cal, and consequently is Skye's mother, remains unclear.

Which leads me to ask, why didn't Jaiying lock the damn door behind her when she brought in Skye?  I recognize that she might well have been distracted by the whole notion of having her family reunited, but she was also conscious of the need for secrecy, so this was one heck of a mental lapse on her part.

Finally, we're in a diner where a couple of gentlemen are wondering at how long someone is taking in the bathroom, and confirm that there wasn't a window in there.  It seems Fitz is in there, fiddling with the Toolbox which he finally cracks and contacts Coulson.  After the initial astonishment from Hunter and Coulson, they invite Fitz to join them.  However, Fitz wants to first know if they can instruct him in how to lose a tail.  After confirming that there is an electric hand-dryer in the bathroom, Hunter is more than pleased to do so.

Aside from my couple of quibbles, this was a solid episode that ought to be leading up to an eventual rapproachment of the SHIELD-Folk.  Admittedly, Skye's still kinda left twisting in the wind, for all that she's been reunited with Mom and Dad.

/s/

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Edited by G-man, 15 April 2015 - 07:13 PM.

Let me strive every moment of my life to make myself better and better, to the best of my ability, so that all may profit by it.
Let me think of the right and lend my assistance to all who may need it, with no regard for anything but justice.
Let me take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage.
Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens, and my associates in everything I say and do.
Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.
-- Doc Savage

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#2 Christopher

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Posted 15 April 2015 - 03:07 PM

It looked to me like Lincoln was bringing something (the food?) in for them, i.e. that he was supposed to be there.
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#3 Cardie

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Posted 15 April 2015 - 10:10 PM

Yes, Lincoln's shock was that Rayna had described the whole scene to him before it happened, not that he was seeing a scene he shouldn't. Fitting, I suppose, that Rayna should turn out to be clairvoyant.
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#4 Youkai

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Posted 15 April 2015 - 11:30 PM

But remember: May should know what Theta Protocol is. Coulson told May just before they entered the Kree temple that if things went bad and he didn't come back to execute Theta Protocol. So I think she knows what it is, although she may not know everything Coulson's been doing. It'll be interesting to see where this all leads.

#5 Orpheus

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Posted 15 April 2015 - 11:35 PM

I found this a much more satisfying episode than many recent eps (which were fine, but had much more build-up without nearly the satisfying payoffs of this week)

The question that stood out most to me was: is Rayna truly prophetic? I saw no reason to think she was. She's long known that Cal is Skye's father. She likely knew that Skye had been born 'Daisy' [barring that, she was in Puerto Rico and knew Cal had gotten daisies for his reunion with Skye -- it was the bouquet, not the name, that she reported to Lincoln,and the presence of the bouquet might have seemed an even more compelling "coincidence" to him if he didn't know Skye's birth name). She had expressed resentment of her appearance (and physical pain, though she emphasized that less than her nightmares this week, perhaps because her physical pain is improving) and sense of loss/deformity, compared to Skye,  in every scene since the Temple.

Was she being oracular, merely self-pitying, manipulative? Can we assume she has precognition, which even the Alien Races don't seem to have (yes, we've heard of occasional "prophecies" --no more accurate, and every bit as prone to hindsight, as our own-- but is that "real" or is it how some sentences sounded to us through our own linguistic and cultural filters?)

It's a bigger issue for me than for most people. "Prophecy"/"visions" are so ingrained in our culture that they do not stand out in a narrative, though there may be a stark philosophical/physics chasm between universes (laws of physics) where such things are even possible and those where they're simply not. SHIELD may be fiction, not science, but I think most skilled SF writers have long since come to understand that some powers/capabilities/technologies are "too powerful" for good ongoing storytelling.

#6 Christopher

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Posted 16 April 2015 - 07:29 AM

View PostOrpheus, on 15 April 2015 - 11:35 PM, said:

It's a bigger issue for me than for most people. "Prophecy"/"visions" are so ingrained in our culture that they do not stand out in a narrative, though there may be a stark philosophical/physics chasm between universes (laws of physics) where such things are even possible and those where they're simply not. SHIELD may be fiction, not science, but I think most skilled SF writers have long since come to understand that some powers/capabilities/technologies are "too powerful" for good ongoing storytelling.

But there have been lots of genre shows with prophetic characters in them. Remember Doyle and Cordelia on Angel? The entire series The Dead Zone was based around its lead character's clairvoyance, and shows like Early Edition and Tru Calling were based on variations of knowing the future. The key is to give the future knowledge enough limitations that it doesn't become a simple cure-all, and even becomes a source of complications in its own right.
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#7 G-man

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Posted 16 April 2015 - 02:12 PM

Alternatively, if the prophetic visions are fragmentary/incomplete then they are useless until a context is provided, which, in itself, is a severe limitation.  It's only insofar as the oracle can make sense out of them do they gain any value.

Much like Lincoln witnessing that dinner scene, where Skye is greeted with a bouquet of daisies ... NOW, after he has witnessed the moment, he knows what Rayna was talking about, but up until then he had no idea what she was talking about, and therefore couldn't affect what would occur.

/s/

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Edited by G-man, 16 April 2015 - 02:21 PM.

Let me strive every moment of my life to make myself better and better, to the best of my ability, so that all may profit by it.
Let me think of the right and lend my assistance to all who may need it, with no regard for anything but justice.
Let me take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage.
Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens, and my associates in everything I say and do.
Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.
-- Doc Savage

Few people want to be moderated, most people see the need for everyone else to be moderated. -- Orpheus

#8 RJDiogenes

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Posted 16 April 2015 - 05:22 PM

Poor May.  I knew the Cavalry story would be bad, but that was really bad.  :(

The present day stuff was interesting.  Is Coulson really doing all this sneaky stuff like meeting up with May's ex behind her back, or is nuSHIELD lying?  And if he is, what are his reasons?  They better be good, because Evil Coulson would be going too far.

I was a little surprised that Jiaying revealed herself to Skye so quickly, and Skye took it better than I expected.  But it doesn't bode well that they have to keep the relationship a secret.  Her new home may end up no more stable than her previous ones.  Especially since Gordon seems to have a dark side.

Speaking of Gordon, is he the only way in and out of the Great Refuge, or the Lesser Refuge or whatever this place is?  Do they have other teleporters?  Kind of putting all their eggs in one basket if they don't.

I loved that last scene:  "Is there an electric hand dryer?  You'll be fine."  :lol:
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