Agents of SHIELD: Parting Shot

Marvel’s not throwing away their shot
Marvel’s not throwing away their shot
ABC’s line up is ratings starved and hungry
Marvel’s not throwing away their shot

Coulson: “They did that for S.H.I.E.L.D. They did that for us. And they paid the price.”

I don’t know why I thought the backdoor pilot for Marvel’s Most Wanted wouldn’t come until later–closer to the end of the season. I suppose I assumed that Civil War would come first? Or at least Coulson learning about Grant Ward as Hive? Actually I sort of assumed that the Ward as Hive thing would probably be it–the thing that divides SHIELD and cause Bobbi and Hunter to choose to leave, especially after May last week questioned Hunter’s loyalty to the outfit.

bobbi and hunter

Instead we had a Bobbi and Hunter centric episode that served as their exit from the show–caught in Russia, and questioned as spies, the whole “tracking Malick and the Inhumans” became a side plot shelved for the moment. Instead the focus was all on SHIELD trying to get Bobbi and Hunter out while disavowing any knowledge of them, only to have the two of them choose to fall on their swords for the team.

Hunter: “What are the chances he just tripped and fell and wrapped himself in a nice, comfy tarp?”

On the one hand, this was a very well done episode. SHIELD has taken real risks this season–Elizabeth Henstringe’s tour de force on the Blue Planet, for instance. And though this was not that good, it was interesting to have another episode where our central figures like Daisy and Coulson are shunted off to the side, and the normal side players of Bobbi and Hunter are given the chance to stand front and center, to relay their point of view on all the goings on, instead of reduced to functioning as snarky side commentary.

shield

And as an episode send off, this was a well done hour of TV. The jumping back and forth in time helped elevate what would otherwise have been a fairly straightforward plotline. It also helped mask the fact that there wasn’t really the need for Bobbi and Hunter to take the fall like this. Coulson’s plot may have felt a little far fetched, including his robotic hand, EMPs and secret identities, but the truth is, SHIELD has gotten out of zanier and more impossible situations than this. There was no need for Bobbi and Hunter to get themselves disavowed, banned from government work and so forth. (Though it should be noted that Coulson’s plan also ended with them off the team, shunted away with secret identities, far far away from ever getting in trouble or working with SHIELD.)

Hunter: “Amadeus Ravenclaw Hunter” (Hunter, you are so not Ravenclaw.)

But.

Personally, I’m not sold on Marvel’s Most Wanted, which is the series that Bobbi and Hunter’s departure is directly spinning off to. Look, I like Bobbi and Hunter, don’t get me wrong. But I like them as side characters. Giving them a one off episode where they can be the Rozencrantz and Guildenstern of SHIELD for an hour makes for great TV…for an hour. Putting them front and center in their own non-SHIELD based series as a couple of black ops spies disavowed by the US government is…stretching it. Perhaps it will be the fun, lighter series that will take off. One can see why ABC certain thinks it will sell. But there’s one other major issue, that that’s that it takes them out of Agents of SHEILD.

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I cannot figure out why anyone thinks losing these two from SHIELD is a good idea for the series that is still struggling after three seasons. It will be the poorer for their departure. The bringing on of Bobbi, Hunter and Mack (there was a reason he got his own shot with them) at the beginning of Season 2 was an injection of new blood into a series that had spent 3/4 of its first year trying to function with it’s hands tied, and had only found it’s voice in the final episodes. SHIELD needed these guys–they brought ass kicking irreverence, a touch of relationship drama and a whole lot of funny to a bunch of straight men. But you need the straight men to make that work. Perhaps Marvel has plans in mind to surround Bobbi and Hunter with straight men to play off of. But as it stands currently, I cannot see wanting to spend 22 one hour episodes a year with them. Part of why the final send off in the bar was so touching was that the show, and the actors who were being left behind,  seemed to understand they were losing valuable players that made the SHIELD work as well as it does.

Hunter: “De nada.”
Bobbi: “Pretty sure that’s not Russian.”
Hunter: “Whatever.”

Still, actors Nick Blood and Adrianne Palicki did a fantastic job with the heavy lifting in this episode, so one can see why the network thinks the two of them deserve a fighting chance to hold their own, independently of the rest of the crew. And how often does one get to headline a new show like this? At least they are not throwing away their shots.

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