Marvel's Agents Of SHIELD S2.11 "Aftershocks" review

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Hang on. Trip’s dead? Why didn’t anybody mention it? Oh hang on – they did. In every bleedin’ scene. At least, that’s what it felt like at times.

His death leads to mourning, to guilt, to anger, to accusations, to revenge. It also leads to some downright clunky dialogue and on-the-nose character motivation. “Trip died because of my fascination with alien super powers,” wails Simmons, “so now I will be cheerleader for the stamp-out-alien super power campaign! Yay!”

Okay, it’s not quite that simplistic but not far off. The big argument that erupts at Coulson’s briefing session isn’t much better; it all feels so artificial and scripted – the characters slaves to the plot requirements, vocalising a dramatic viewpoint.

With all that whinging and soul-searching it’s not a great episode for most of the regulars. Skye/Daisy sits in quarantine looking worried and causing GBH to lamps and fizzy drinks cans. Bobbi and Mack plot in dark corners using the kind of code language that only characters who know viewers are listening in would use. Simmons becomes a raving zealot. Coulson comes across even more like an out-of-his-depth insurance broker than usual. There would be nothing wrong with Coulson’s reluctantly promoted middle management performance if he could muster up the necessary steel in the moments that count; instead, when he has to square up to Mack here, he’s so whiny you half expect Mack to simply deck him.

First Mentions

Jiaying uses the phrase “terrigenesis” for the first time in the MCU. Meanwhile, Fitz refers to the change in Skye’s biological make-up as “inhuman” but that’s more of an in-joke, surely, than the first time the Inhumans have been named in the MCU.

Luckily, outside of Team Mope the episode shows a lot more spark. Admittedly, Raina is in a suicidal mood but her new thorns means she spends more time killing than moaning. The opening flashback showing Jiaying helping Gordon come to terms with his transformation is beautifully shot and acted. Gordon’s sudden reappearance at the end of the episode – teleporting in and creating an energy dome – is a visual highlight too. We’re liking this guy already.

Hydra is tricked rather too easily into a cull of its second-tier bosses, but the assassination montage nevertheless retains some visceral clout.

The “faux” crash is great too, and the excellently choreographed fight that follows it. You do have to question, though, if Coulson’s scheme may have been a little over-elaborate. Doesn’t SHIELD have a budget to think about? Coulson and May could easily have feigned unconsciousness after the crash and saved on a few explosives. But then we’d have missed Coulson’s glorious overacting.

The running gag about Mack’s model of Lola not being able to fly was fun too, and a clever bit of smoke and mirrors. It reminds you of the model’s existence without highlighting that it’s the smoking gun it turns out to be.

The only regular who really comes out of the episode with honours is Fitz (though Hunter’s American accent is amusing, we admit). Iain de Caestecker’s performance is deepening episode by episode to the point where you genuinely empathise with this guy’s frustration at his mental and physical limitations. As a result, he completely sells you on the idea that he’s about to betray Skye, before he then reveals his true colours and lies to protect her secret instead. He seriously needs a hug. Shame his bromance is destined to go nowhere as Mack is clearly set to do a Grant Ward in the coming weeks.

So, another Agents Of SHIELD episode with tantalising moments showing what the show could be, but lacking in oomph overall. Surely it’ll fulfil its potential, soon?

Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD airs on Friday nights on Channel 4 in the UK and on ABC on Tuesday nights in the US.

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WritersMaurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon
DirectorBilly Gierhart
The one whereEverybody talk/argues/mopes about Trips death. A lot. Oh yeah, and Skyes in quarantine and SHIELD tricks a bunch of Hydra bosses into killing one another. But mainly Trip this, Trip that.
Dave Golder
Freelance Writer

Dave is a TV and film journalist who specializes in the science fiction and fantasy genres. He's written books about film posters and post-apocalypses, alongside writing for SFX Magazine for many years.