‘Melinda’ was one of the best episodes of Agents of SHIELD. Period. The past few episodes, whilst good in their own right, have been set-up episodes. In ‘Melinda,’ there were some revelations that have been bursting to open up for a while. May’s character was heavily and nicely embellished. We finally saw the story behind Bahrain and ‘the cavalry.’ Skye’s ‘origin’ story continued with her learning how to control her powers. And at the ‘Real SHIELD,’ the search for Coulson was on…Nothing was superfluous here. Everything had a point, and everything built to a gripping and harrowing end.
May’s character is steeped in mystery. When we were first introduced to her, May seemed reluctant to join SHIELD. ‘Bahrain’ and the ‘cavalry’ were keywords that followed her around. We only found out in this season that she was married. The history behind the keywords ss revealed in ‘Melinda.’ And that history explains a lot about May, including how her marriage ended. Coulson and May head a SHIELD team looking for a powered woman named Eva Belyakov in Bahrain. Some local goons help Kolyakov escape by holding a little girl hostage. They are cornered in a building. SHIELD go in, but Coulson and May lose contact with them. May goes in…
What follows is the usual May-kicking-ass montage. But it ends with her fighting Kolyakov. May manages to kill her, but the true villain is revealed…the little girl. She has the ability to control people. May makes a terrible choice…and shoots the girl…Off screen, of course. We hear the gunshot and see Coulson’s pained reaction. The event breaks May, and her marriage to Drew. She asks for a transfer into the offices of SHIELD. It’s harrowing. And tells us a lot about May…and Coulson. Coulson knew what effect the event had on May. But he insisted on bringing her back into the field. Coulson is a man willing to use people for his (noble?) intentions. This reflects on the ‘Real’ SHIELD plot as well. Do they have a point? Has Coulson been out of control since the beginning of Agents of SHIELD?
“You are not a monster”
May’s face-off with Eva not only has pay-off in embellishing May’s character, but intertwines with Skye’s journey. Jiaying became Skye’s mentor, and took her through a series of scenes from ‘The Empire Strikes Back.’ She asked Skye to move a mountain, and the scene played out like Luke trying to move the X-Wing in Dagobah. Later on, Skye was asked by Jiaying to copy a tune made by rubbing the rim of a glass full of water. Was Skye using the force? However, all of that paved the way for Jiaying’s revelation during Skye’s outpouring of emotion. Skye, visibly upset, said that she had never had a family or lived in a house for more than two years. She didn’t even know her birthday…until Jiaying breaks and tells her. Like ‘The Empire Strikes Back,’ parentage was revealed… “Skye, I am your mother,” Jiaying says. I almost had tears in my eyes! It was a perfect reveal.
Jiaying says that Skye must never reveal their relationship to the rest of Utopia/Chinatown/Inhumanville. All because of a woman called Eva Belyakov…and her daughter. It coincides with the revelation in May’s story. Gordon and Jiaying are seen at the aftermatch of Bahrain, looking on. Jiaying’s voiceover ran with May’s battle in Bahrain. It was a cracking intertwining of events, giving even more depth to both rather than halving their importance. Skye even sits down for dinner with her mother and father, Kal, in a beautiful moment. Has Skye found her home? She’s definitely found her family.
The dangers of powered individuals carries over into the ‘Real’ SHIELD. Bobbi et al are concerned that Coulson is creating a team of powered individuals, like he did with the Avengers. There is evidence that is he doing so; but for what purpose? May, in the present, recruits Simmons to help her find out. Has May turned? Or does she have ulterior motives? At this point in time, anything is possible. But eventually the ‘Real’ SHIELD will confront Coulson and Hunter…but who will be on each side? Exciting times ahead…
VERDICT: 9/10. Utterly enthralling in every sense of the word. This is the Agents of SHIELD episode we’ve been waiting for.
(Click here for my review of Agents of SHIELD, Season 2, Episode 16: Afterlife)