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Kneel Before The One Who Will Save Us All - Agents of SHIELD

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  • Kneel Before "The One Who Will Save Us All"

    SPOILERS AHOY! - A bed full of lemons? Quake vs Yo-yo? Graviton vs. Thanos? Madness!

    Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 Episode 20 - The One Who Will Save Us All
    Directed by Cherie Gierhart, Written by Brent Fletcher

    GravitonOne of the best things about this show is how in any given episode, a bunch of things can be resolved, but you always come back to the original problem staring you right in the face. Despite all of the plot movement, when this episode closed, we are still left with the team struggling to break the time loop and stop whoever The Destroyer of Worlds happens to be from shattering the Earth. We know now it isn’t Ruby, and it still could be Daisy Johnson – but maybe it is General Talbot?

    I have to say that these last few episodes have very much felt like a comic book. It’s hard not to make comparisons to the first season since there are so many call-backs, but I recall back then thinking that there just weren’t enough super-powered people and that it wasn’t comic-booky enough. The slow build really helped me enjoy the later seasons more, because the focus was on character first and superpowers second. Now – powers are all over the place. Coulson’s robot hand, Daisy and Yo-yo with their inhuman powers, Talbot gaining the powers of Graviton, various aliens including the Kree, Rajaks, Kallusians, and Astrans … all side-by side with a normal ass-kicking human in May and a pair of super-scientists and now a scavenger from the future. Even some of the camera angles they use feel like panels right off the page of a comic - it's a lot of fun. They've gotten really good at presentation, and between the cinematography, and the strong characters with fantastic abilities, it is hard not to revel in the results.

    The episode begins exactly where we left off last time – with General Talbot lifting Coulson up to the alien spaceship poised above the Lighthouse to confront the Marauders (like some kind of Wizard). Talbot, if you remember, has absorbed all the gravitonium, and seems to be suffering no ill-effects (unless you could extreme super-powers as an ill-effect). He hasn’t claimed the name Graviton, the show’s producers have certainly dropped enough hints. Coulson shows concern about him going out in the field so soon after he received his powers (especially after all of the mental trauma and HYDRA brainwashing), but Talbot proves that was indeed able to “fix this,” though maybe not in the way Coulson or the rest of the team would like.

    Despite Talbot’s insistence, you see the cracks in his mental stability soon enough, and it isn’t long before his god complex is in full bloom, and he is demanding that everyone kneel before him. The Superman II nod is obvious – every time the line is delivered, it’s impossible not to think of Zod. When compared to the rest of the cast, inhumans included, that’s the level of power everyone is dealing with. Talbot quickly starts enforcing his will, collapsing any who oppose him into neat balls of compressed tissue – if not simply absorbing those who stand in his way. It isn’t long before his suspicious mind decides that Coulson is a traitor and that SHIELD is coming to stop him. By the end of the episode, The Confederacy is no more – but their threat has been replaced by an unstable Graviton, who has decided that the Earth should kneel before him as their mightiest hero – and he is set on returning to Earth to face Thanos himself.

    Oh yeah, did I forget to mention Thanos? The buildup to the reveal of the Mad Titan as the unseen enemy was great. He was this problem that just lingered in the background since they returned to the present. They hid his identity well, you had no idea who to expect, but the reveal was like a big light-bulb flashing. Who else could it be? Would any random alien invasion be satisfying? With the stakes so high, the power levels so extreme (destroying the Earth?) – it couldn’t be anything but Thanos. And suddenly, we have our Infinity War tie-in. I wonder how they will deal with the aftermath if they get renewed. It’s clear that this team isn’t going to be the ones to face him, but they are going to have their hands full with Graviton. Either one is way more powerful than S.H.I.E.L.D. could realistically handle alone, but next week's trailer implies that there is a little more movement on the Destroyer of Worlds front that may equalize things a bit.

    The Thanos reveal was the biggest zinger of a reveal this episode, but there were a few others. Kasius’s father finally makes his appearance, and we see at the end of the episode the first hint of why that family may have been so interested in Quake. Yo-yo also reveals to Coulson that her future self told her that they had to let him die – which doesn’t really bother him that much, but that is a plan May and Daisy are absolutely unwilling to go along with.

    Why, hello there JiayingDespite the shared experience in the future, each member of the team has come back with wildly different priorities. This has caused some serious conflict which is now reaching its boiling point. Mac is disgusted with almost everyone over their betrayal of him and their morally questionable tactics. Yo-yo, still with an invincibility complex, is obsessed with breaking the time loop, and furious that the advice her future-self gave (Let Coulson die!) is being ignored by the rest of the team. We don’t see Daisy venting on Fitz anymore after his betrayal, but she does come to blows with Yo-yo after the latter slammed her for being absent and demanded to see the contents of her duffle bag. Daisy, of course, was out trying to find a way to save Coulson, and her bag contained the remains of her own mother which she plans to use to help heal Coulson. Yeah, probably not the right button to push at that moment. Of course, May is still pissed at Coulson for his willingness to die, and being the romantic she is, she has refused to speak with him since she admitted she loved him and angrily storming off in the previous episode.

    Oddly, the only two that don’t seem to be experiencing any strife this episode are the newlywed Simmons-Fitzes … but in their case, Deke’s (their grandson from the future) very existence assures them that they are going to make it just fine in the future, and that is taking the edge off. At least for now.

    It is nice to see them managing to keep every cast member involved in the story. No one is shuffled to the background, and they have managed to make you care for and identify with each of them – even when they disagree with each other.

    Despite the conflict between members of the team, they are still making some progress with their problems – even if they are reacting more than acting. Most of the action is aboard Qovas’s ship (well, Talbot's ship), where Talbot is taking matters into his own hands. He dismisses the mental anguish that both Creel and Ruby experienced because of the bickering Hall and Quinn, calling them dead losers who just needed a General to keep them in line. Makes sense to me! If that isn’t comic logic, what is? Talbot quickly takes over the Confederacy and learns that they never had any intention of helping the Earth. They were merely scavengers and could not hope to stand up to Thanos – who is revealed to be the alien force coming to Earth (or more accurately has already arrived on Earth).

    It's lemons then.One thing I was shocked with was the way they handled Mac in this episode. These days, open displays of Christian faith and morality tend to be treated as ignorant or bigoted in media, and are usually only brought up to later prove them wrong. In this episode, Mac’s faith and morality are presented in a positive light. His teammates, the would-be heroes, are slipping deeper and deeper into that gray-area between right and wrong. He recognizes it, and rebels against it, chastising his team for their methods. He has become the moral compass, sees his team is getting lost, and is despairing. He isn’t overbearing, nor does he proselytize – but even as his friends argue against him, it is obvious that a part of each of them think he is right. Having a character demonstrate outward faith in a story without being a part of a political message (either for or against) is a nice change of pace. No other message was being sent, it was just his character. It’s nice not to be preached at for a change.

    Deke: I have had mixed feelings about that character since he was introduced, but I think I am starting to come around. It was obvious from his first appearance that he was intended as a love-interest for Daisy, and this show’s track record on that front has been pretty bad (Lincoln was a less-than-stellar character). I am not sure why they made Deke such a goofball when they returned to the present, but now that he is starting to calm down a bit, I am liking him more. Daisy’s reaction to his gift of a bed full of lemons pulled at the heart strings, and they have managed to finally get me to root for someone trying to court Daisy… which they hadn't before pulled off during this show’s run. It was nice to see Fitz start to come around to him as well after several episodes of abuse. Deke’s taken a ton of it, and it’s time he started to stand on his own a little better.

    Despite everything that has happened this season, it feels like the team is still at square one. This isn’t a bad thing. I think it is a fairly masterful way of presenting an ongoing arc. Each episode presents another potential solution to their problem, and while the plot is advanced – at the end of the episode, there is still a destroyer of worlds, they are still stuck in the time loop, and the stakes just get higher and higher the closer they get to Armageddon.

    Just two episodes left. I hope the series gets renewed, but if it doesn’t – they are building to a hell of a finale. I’ve encountered a lot of people who stopped watching this show after the first season in recent weeks. To them, I have to say you are missing something that is a lot of fun. It’s probably too late to jump in now, but if you can get caught up with this season, I expect you will know enough to enjoy the ride.

    Episode 21 of Season 5, The Force of Gravity will air on Friday, May 11th at 9:00 pm.
    Last edited by Craig Reade; 05-07-2018, 11:40 AM.
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