Saturday, March 26, 2016

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Recap: "Parting Shot" (3x13)

Things went down in the Marvel TV universe this past Tuesday. Major things. Bring the tissues.

Spoilers! Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. contains PG-13 level content.

The episode begins with Bobbi in an interrogation cell in Moscow. A Russian man questions her, and it's revealed that she apparently killed three government officials in cold blood. Instead of giving the Russian man answers to his questions, Bobbi asks for a cheeseburger.

We then flash back to Siberia, 34 hours earlier, where Bobbi and Hunter have followed Malick and Petrov to a secret facility.

Hunter's in an interrogation room as well, and he spins a story that paints them as the victims, telling his captor that they were only searching for mushrooms and were then accosted by drunken soldiers.

Hunter and Bobbi continue to watch the facility and figure out a way to get in. Coulson tells them to only find out what Malick is up to and instructs them not to kill him because the political ramifications would be enormous.

After Coulson hangs up, Hunter adorably tries to flirt with Bobbi. They discuss how they've never been on a vacation together. The conversation then turns to discuss Hunter's dislike for the missions. He doesn't like that he had to go on a mission with Creel, who killed his friends. He doesn't like how they had to be on a mission with Ward, who almost killed Bobbi. He doesn't like being told to only surveil Malick instead of taking him out. After listing off these things, he says he just needs a break.

Bobbi asks what he means, but then they spot movement down at the facility. There's an Inhuman, a prisoner, on a gurney with weird technology on his head. Before they can respond, they're discovered by some Russian guards. They try to talk their way out but end up just fighting instead. After they've knocked the soldiers out, there's a call from one of the radios about some Cabinet Ministers arriving.

Not only that, but backup has also arrived: May, Mack, and Daisy. Hunter and Bobbi fill them in on what's going on, and they form a plan to infiltrate the base.

Hunter and Bobbi are subjected to a polygraph, which is presented in a really cool montage. Hunter says his name is "Amadeus Ravenclaw Hunter," Bobbi was married multiple times, and Hunter dodges their questions by reciting a recipe for mushroom soup. Finally, the Russian man shows Bobbi a photo of a man, and Bobbi insists she didn't kill him. The Russian man spins this to mean that Hunter killed the murder victim and takes it as an official confession. Bobbi is informed that Hunter's going to be executed.

Russian Man: "All this time, I was searching for your weakness when it's obvious: your weakness is each other."

They haul Hunter away, kicking and screaming.

Hunter and May infiltrate part of the base and discover a dead body, whom is identified as the Russian Prime Minister's personal attaché.

Mack, Bobbi, and Daisy infiltrate one of the base's computer rooms. Despite Bobbi's protests, Mack tells her he doesn't remember a vacation ever occurring between her and Hunter. Daisy starts trying to hack the computer, but she doesn't read Cyrillic. Bobbi insists that she doesn't read Cyrillic yet.

"Come on, Daisy. You can hack the Pentagon and shake the earth. You're gonna let a few backwards letters trip you up?"

While Mack and Daisy stay behind, Bobbi goes after Malick and Petrov, disguised as a guard complete with a fluffy Russian hat. We finally see the dastardly duo (Malick and Petrov), who are discussing the Inhuman sanctuary state. Malick compares it to Native American reservations, saying that if America hadn't given the Native Americans reservations, they would have died out. (Which is an awful way to view things.)

Petrov and Malick start their meeting with the Cabinet Ministers, and Bobbi sets up equipment so Coulson can hear the conversation from the plane. It's revealed that the Minister of Defense, General Androvich, killed the Prime Minister's attaché because he was sent to shut down the whole Inhuman-sanctuary-state project. It's also revealed that the General himself is an Inhuman (the Inhuman we saw on the gurney, no less). He killed the attaché because the attaché's opinion of Inhumans was less than glowing. Because of this, Petrov has asked Malick to help smooth things over with the Prime Minister. Malick monologues about how the Inhumans are the only way to preserve our humanity, then says he wants to let the General wipe out the problem. In a Very Dramatic Scene, Coulson realizes that Malick actually wants to stage a coup.

The Russian man tells a distraught Bobbi that if she admits they're working with S.H.I.E.L.D. and America, Hunter might live.

Back with the dead body of the attaché, Hunter and May discuss how snapping people's necks isn't really an Inhuman power; anyone can do that. Then the conversation changes to finally address that time when Hunter put Andrew's life at risk in order to get revenge. (Oops, I forgot about that, but it's why May's been so terse with Hunter. Glad we're dealing with it now.) Hunter insists he'd take a bullet for any one of his teammates.

Hunter: "Not for the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo on the wall. For you."

Hunter says S.H.I.E.L.D. is about the mission, not the person standing next to you, but May says she was next to him. She continues, saying that S.H.I.E.L.D. is about sacrifice for the greater good, even the ones you love. Hunter apologizes for what happened, but before May can respond, Bobbi notifies them that Malick is on the move. Bobbi tries to follow them, but she's confronted by one of the guards whom she has to beat up. She loses Malick and Petrov. At the same time, someone's cutting the General free from the gurney.

Back on the plane, Fitzsimmons have somehow managed to discover the cause of death for the Prime Minister's attaché. He was strangled, but he has no marks or bruises and no signs of being touched at all.

Daisy and Mack help Bobbi hack her way through the door, and on the security footage, Mack spots a weird shadow moving independently of its owner. (Peter Pan, anyone?)

Up above, a formation of planes appears, and the team on the plane deduces that it's the Russian Prime Minister's fleet. They're planning to murder him, and they're planning to do it here, now. Coulson immediately puts a plan into action and orders them to try to stop the murder from happening. As Bobbi wonders what to do, the mysterious shadow melts into the wall behind her.

Hunter and May almost pursue Malick, who's leaving the premises, but Coulson orders them not to in favor of protecting the Prime Minister. The meeting goes down with Petrov, the Prime Minister, and the General. Jemma analyzes the security footage, trying to figure out what this Shadow-Thing is. As the conversation with the Prime Minister continues, the Prime Minister realizes they killed his attaché. Before he can do anything, the S.H.I.E.L.D. team sets off a ton of smoke bombs and starts attacking, prioritizing the Prime Minister's safety. Mack, Bobbi, and Daisy also escort the General to a safe distance from the Prime Minister, but he summons the Shadow. Each of them tries to fight it, but it's useless--instead, the Shadow knocks Mack out cold.

Thankfully, Fitzsimmons have the answers: the General can summon a dark, sentient force that can shift densities. It's independent of the General. Daisy and Bobbi ask if they can skip to the part where they find out how to beat it.

...Unfortunately, it's unbeatable.

Hunter runs with the Prime Minister through the base, and Petrov tries to get in their way, crying, "For Mother Russia!" Unfortunately for him, Hunter is just too good, and he gets shot in the chest.

Bobbi and Daisy realize they need to take out the General himself in order to defeat the Shadow, but the Shadow attacks first. They fight in some slow-mo action sequences. Mack wakes up just as the Shadow slams Daisy against the ceiling. (Yes, that is the scene in the preview that made me think Daisy was going to die.) The Shadow disappears into the floor, then goes straight to Hunter, who calls for help. Bobbi tells him she's going to help out.

Instead of going to Hunter, though, Bobbi chooses a different angle. She finds the general, shoots him, then falls to her knees in surrender. The shadow disappears just as it was about to attack Hunter and the Prime Minister. Unfortunately, now Hunter's gotten caught too... and knocked out with the butt of a gun. A concerned Bobbi calls for Hunter.

Bobbi and Hunter are reunited in an interrogation room. They discuss what's going to happen. Hunter says there's not a way out of this where everyone wins. Bobbi says maybe not everyone should.

Behind the glass of the interrogation room, instead of Malick, we see the Russian Prime Minister... and President Matthew Ellis. (I love the amount of cameos we're getting from the President of the Marvel United States.) President Ellis denies the existence of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the Prime Minister insinuates that the USA is trying to get ahead with the Inhumans arms race. The President says the Prime Minister is lucky to be alive, but the Prime Minister is worried about it going public. That's when Coulson shows up, saying that two out of the three dead people were trying to kill him. Coulson masquerades as the head of the ATCU. The Prime Minister says someone must pay.

In the interrogation room, Coulson shuts off the microphone so that the others can't hear and starts telling Hunter and Bobbi the extraction plan. He says they can change their identities and relocate their families so that they're safe. But... Hunter and Bobbi don't want to be extracted. Coulson asks what their other options are--like going on trial for a terrorist organization, which is what people think S.H.I.E.L.D. is. But Bobbi and Hunter stand firm.

Bobbi: "We took an oath. To be the shield."
Hunter: "To protect those in danger."
Bobbi: "Well, now S.H.I.E.L.D.--this team--is in the crosshairs. And the right thing for us to do is... take a bullet."

Coulson isn't happy about this, but Hunter and Bobbi reassure him that they've discussed it and that it's time.

Interpol gets involved, and Hunter and Bobbi say they're not involved with America or S.H.I.E.L.D. Covertly, they apologize to Coulson, and Coulson just-as-covertly thanks them for giving up their vacation and saving the Prime Minister. And just like that, Bobbi and Hunter walk free. But they can't return to S.H.I.E.L.D. They can never be agents again.

Coulson returns to the plane alone and has to explain to the team. He says they're disavowed as agents and not coming back. They paid the price; they took the fall. Mack isn't happy about it, for obvious reasons, and neither is everyone else... including me. We're all going to miss our favorite Lance Hunter and Bobbi Morse.

At a bar, Hunter and Bobbi discuss where to go since most of the intelligence community doesn't trust them. Suddenly, the waitress brings Hunter a drink from an admirer. Hunter's gaze lands on Jemma Simmons, sitting in a booth across the room. The waitress brings Bobbi a drink, and this time, it's from Fitz. (I'm already crying at this point.)

May, Daisy, Mack, and Coulson each show up, buying Bobbi and Hunter drinks. Then Coulson raises his glass in a toast, and they all toast together even though they're apart. It's a spy's goodbye.

Slowly, Fitzsimmons, Daisy, May, and Coulson leave the bar, until it's only Mack left, who shares a tearful goodbye with Bobbi, his partner and friend. (Mack's crying, I'm crying, we're all crying.)

After Mack leaves, it's just Hunter and Bobbi against the world.

In the last scene, Malick and his daughter duck hunt. The daughter asks about how things went in Russia, but Malick doesn't want to talk about it. Instead, they talk about how S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn't know "he's back," and how "you-know-who" (presumably Hive) has plans that will change the world.

My Thoughts

This... episode. 

Let's address the obvious: Hunter and Bobbi are gone. And that's a little hard for me to swallow.

While we have the hope of a sort-of-spin-off, Hunter and Bobbi are still leaving the team that they've been a huge part of. They were integral to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s success, and they've made relationships with each team member. This was especially poignant in their final scene. Shockingly, no one died, and it was still just as painful, if not more. I knew I would cry, but I didn't expect to flat out sob, and sob I did. Every part of it was perfect, especially Mack and Bobbi's special moment. (I'm not crying, there's just an entire S.H.I.E.L.D. team in my eye.)

The parallels in this episode, such as the metaphor of taking a bullet and the many mentions of vacation, were so perfectly woven into the episode as well. Overall, even though I'm sad about Hunter and Bobbi's exit, this was a really solid episode.

As for Hunter and Bobbi leaving, I'm torn. While I have no doubt that Adrianne Palicki and Nick Blood deserve to have their own show and are more than capable of it, they were still really strong parts of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and it's definitely going to be different without them. In addition, I do worry about the quality of Marvel's Most Wanted because I hope Marvel doesn't burn itself out with too many spin-offs (though honestly, the way everything connects in the Marvel universe is awesome). Whatever happens, I will be tuning in to see what happens to our favorite ex-partners and ex-agents. And I will be tuning in to see what happens next with our current team on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 

Farewell, Bobbi and Hunter. You will be missed.

Have you seen "Parting Shot"? What did you think of it?


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