This week on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson and his crew confront a new case of paranormal happenings, and as per usual, there’s more to this one than meets the eye. When these fatally tragic and unexplainable accidents follow a young, unassuming girl, the team is called in to investigate, but quickly find that whatever horrible force that’s been following the girl is threatening to take them out of the sky. The theme of “more than meets the eye” is continued with this episode’s focus on the mysterious Melinda May, who finally gets her fair share of screen time and character development.
They made it clear, going into last night’s show, that we’d be getting a story that was centered on Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), a character who I’ve basically loathed up until last week. The timing couldn’t have been better, with my overall excitement about the character at an all time high following last week’s awesome twist ending. And boy, was that a twist. With both Agent Ward and Agent May being the last people you’d expect to have a relationship, considering I don’t think they’ve said more than 2 words to each other in the show’s eight-episode run, I think they did a great job of justifying the hook-up, planting a seed for what I can only expect will be a major eruption when the team finds out. Much like their work as agents, they are by-the-book creeping around behind the rest of the team’s back.
The poor girl who’s being haunted by an unknown power, Hannah, has a story that is a bit of a parallel to May’s, which is the obvious reason as to why she’s who S.H.I.E.L.D. is investigating in the episode. Frankly, it’s a bit overstated here, even going as far as to refer to the paranormal happenings around as “demons”. Get it? Like, May has her demons? Yeah, we get it. Anyway, interestingly enough, this is the first time that we have anything involving spirits in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so it was a nice surprise to see how far they can push the boundaries of reality in the show. We’ve had aliens, now we’ve got GHOSTS!
Unfortunately, May’s involvement with the subject doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, aside from those similarities. Coulson specifically requests her to talk to Hannah about what she’s going through, but why? What the hell does she bring to the table that no one else does? I mean, her past isn’t really anything like Hannah’s current situation, other than metaphorically. Sure, Melinda was the one who tranquilized her, and Coulson didn’t want to keep secrets from the girl to put her at ease, but Christ, Phil! Do you really think that she wants to see the person that shot her? The girl is afraid enough as it is!
The thing that has always bothered me about the Melinda May character, and it’s clearly present here, is the whole “I’m not in it for the glory, but you better not forget that glorious shit that I did” attitude that she’s got. It drives me nuts, and her character is severely weakened by it. Once the story behind the nickname “The Calvary” is retold by Coulson, it makes you feel a bit more for the character. The story manages to explain her lack of personality, which I guess was intended, but boy, does it ever make May boring. Whether I like it or not, her personality makes more sense now. Sort of like what had to happen a few times with Ward, to make him more human, last night had the same effect for Melinda May.
Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) uses this case to take Skye (Chloe Bennet) under his wing again, showing her what it’s like to deal with people who may or may not have new abilities. Aside from that, though, Coulson doesn’t really do much in this episode other than to lend an ear to May and Skye’s conflicting points of view over how a case should be handled. While Melinda May has a more no-nonsense approach, Skye has more compassion, calling out May on her shoot first, ask questions later style, which really shows how naïve she is, compared to the rest of the team. In something of a continuation of her scene with Coulson a few weeks back, we’re given a bit more info about her past in her scene with Hannah, where she talks about God, love, and life in an orphanage. Her interactions with May lead me to think there may be something more between the two, as far as Skye having been mysteriously dropped off at an orphanage by a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Was it Melinda May that dropped Skye there all those years ago? What would it mean for the two, now that May is romantically involved with Ward, who, up until recently, looked like he was surely going to be making a move on Skye?
Agent Ward (Brett Dalton), much like Coulson, doesn’t get a whole lot of opportunity to do a lot in this story. Basically, he just sat around, waiting Skye and May to get in his ear about the case, which in itself brings up an interesting predicament; does he side with his student, who he’s developed a much deeper relationship with, or does he side with his booty call, who is looking at the situation as an agent? It also brings up the rift that might come between Ward and Skye once she inevitably finds out that he’s with May, much like when he found out about her ex. While he may not get much of a story, he gets to fight a ghost/demon thing, so that’s cool. How much more badass can you get than kicking the shit out of a ghost, really?
Agent Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Agent Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) have another small part in this episode, but it’s a good bit at that. In their search of a “freshman prank” to pull on Skye, they land on the story of why Melinda May is called “The Calvary”. It’s doesn’t amount to anything of real substance but, as always, Fitz and Simmons are entertaining as hell. With what little they got to do last night, they still gave me some of my favorite moments of the show. Week after week, even if I find myself not really caring about what’s going on in the show, I can take solace in the fact Fitz and Simmons will give me a laugh, and if I’m lucky, maybe more. I don’t know why these two don’t get more screen time, and its really a travesty, as we’ve seen that they are can be more than just comedic relief. Personally, I’d watch a show that focused on those two primarily, and just let the other team members round out the supporting cast. In fact, I’d actually prefer it.
We’re nine episodes in, and I honestly can’t decide what to think of this show. While “Repairs” had an obvious purpose and brought up some interesting ideas, it failed to capitalize on the excitement that I carried in from last week’s show. Instead, it focused almost exclusively on Melinda May and Skye (who hardly had any interaction between them, at that), and while we eventually needed this episode to happen, it definitely didn’t feel like the right time. I’ve said it before, and I’m left with the same feeling tonight; the relationships between these characters are what make this show fun, and that’s basically it. Why not follow up on May/Ward? They barely touched it! I so badly want to like this show, and most of the time I do, but it isn’t nearly as consistently entertaining as it could, or should, be.