Melinda May becomes the focus of the latest episode of Agents of SHIELD while the team tries to find out if a woman in Utah is the first recorded case of telekenisis…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
The latest offering from Agents of SHIELD went down on Tuesday night with the focus on the show falling squarely on the rounded shoulders of mysterious agent Melinda May and her reputation as the reluctant gunslinger pulled back in the line of duty after some event in the past took her away from the field.
The last few episodes of SHIELD have done a much better job than the opening batch with exploring characters and giving them some personality as opposed to the blank slate stereotypes we were originally stuck with when the show launched. The best one of the season remains the back story and subsequent heroic actions of Agent Simmons (played by the wonderfully bubbly Elizabeth Henstridge) but fleshing out the characters was something sorely missing early on but now it appears the higher ups at Marvel/ABC are listening to the fans (and reviewers) and adding some depth to the show.
The procedural hook is still playing out with each week presenting a new mystery for our Agents of SHIELD to solve, and while that mechanism isn’t necessarily bad, the series has still failed on many levels connecting any of the points together. We still don’t know what happened to Coulson in Tahiti. We completely forgot about Project Centipede. We lost track of the Rising Tide. And there are at least four or five more issues that have been hinted at in at least two episodes, but have never returned as the series moved forward.
This week’s mission: There is a girl in Utah exhibiting telekinetic abilities after a lab accident gone awry and SHIELD is dispatched to investigate.
The girl, Hannah Hutchins, oversees a lab where there was a massive accident recently and four workers were killed. As the company’s safety supervisor, the town blames her for the mishap but whenever anyone starts to threaten Hannah, bad things start happening. Whether it’s a shelf falling on a storekeeper who was berating Hannah, or a rogue cop car flying towards Agent Coulson when it appears SHIELD is arresting the young girl — she weeps, and the s—t hits the fan.
This is the first occurrence where we see Melinda May really pop up this episode as she ends the melee with a tranquilizer shot directly at Hannah, rendering her unconscious so they can put her aboard the plane and investigate what’s really going on.
Hannah’s answer is simple — she’s no longer being protected by God and the demons are coming to get her. Makes total sense right?
Well nothing is ever as it seems in these situations and in reality Hannah’s not being tormented — she’s being protected. Tobias, one of the workers ‘killed’ in the lab accident, has a huge crush on Hannah but as it turns out when the explosion happened he was transported between this world and another alien world, constantly trapped between the two places. So he can phase back and forth between the two words, thus why cars and shelves can fall down without anyone seeing whodunit.
Tobias is deteriorating with each phase back and forth between worlds and now he’s hell bent on getting to Hannah, which causes a bigger issue than this show can handle. So Tobias is so protective of his crush that he’s willing to burn the world to make sure she stays safe, but what happens when he finally gets to her? He’s had this chance for weeks after the accident first went down, but only now does he actually want to claim her for his own? Again minor story telling flaw, but just something that stuck out in the episode.
All of the SHIELD agents rally to save Hannah from this ghostly force, but it turns out that Melinda May will be the savior of the day. She protects Hannah from Tobias when he finally re-appears to her and eventually she talks him down and convinces him that his ‘protection’ services have only caused her more harm. In the end, Tobias fades away into the netherworld from wince he came and Hannah is safe and sound.
Stories from this episode:
— First up, there is a budding yet secret relationship between Agent Ward and Agent May. They have been hooking up whenever the time allows it although no one is supposed to know about this connection. May does her part to ensure that by ditching Ward the morning after before he can even get his shirt on.
— We learn more about Melinda May’s nickname ‘The Calvary’. Fitz and Simmons decide to do a little rookie hazing of Skye telling her that in the SHIELD circle, May is known as ‘The Calvary’ because she took down 100 militants with two guns while riding on horseback, thus the name ‘The Calvary’. Ward decides to let Skye in on the real deal later in the episode when he reveals that it was only 20 men and she had one gun and no horse.
Finally, Coulson clues Skye in on the real story — during a ‘welcome wagon’ mission, Melinda May was forced to enter a building to save or stop a group of disciples who were following a charismatic leader (think Jim Jones, David Koresh). When May left the building that day after her mission was complete she was never the same again. She saved the day (thus the nickname) but she’s stopped being the fun loving, prankster she once was.
— Skye still manages to take up too much screen time, but at least they are trying to find a purpose for her now. Her skill set is similar to May’s before the accident — she’s great and rooting out people and finding a way to ease them into a situation where SHIELD is going to be their new best friend. Essentially she’s a case handler who can set up ‘specials’ with their agents in the field.
— This then leads to more and more evidence that Skye and May are related somehow and even possibly mother and daughter. The possibility keeps coming up so maybe there is a connection.
Overall, Agents of SHIELD provided a solid episode looking a bit more into the back story of Agent Melinda May. The down side is the story didn’t really progress much at all and I’m not really sure we have an arc that will carry the series forward towards an eventual finale in 2014. Procedural dramas are great — shows like NCIS, CSI and even House thrived on that formula — but at the heart of it all there was still a greater story to be told that helped drive an entire season. Buffy the Vampire Slayer worked this to perfection for seven full seasons. Sure, each episode could stand alone as the Scooby Gang tackled the latest demon in town, but ultimately there was always some underlying cause and effect to keep us coming back each week until the entire situation came to a head in the finale.
So far, Agents of SHIELD has failed at that one particular area of story telling. The next episode that returns on December 10 promises the return of J. August Richards, who debuted in the pilot episode earlier this season. Is it possible some story arcs will be entwined by the end of the next offering?
One can only hope.