‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ 3.13 Recap: “You Wanna Know the Key to a Good Mushroom Soup?”

The last two episodes of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ have disappointed me quite a bit. This week’s in particular is basically a pointless waste of an hour that exists only to set up a spinoff show that, at this point, still may not may not happen.

At the end of last week’s episode, I assumed that this one would finally fill us in on what the deal is with the evil alien god that took over Grant Ward’s body. No such luck. He’s not shown at all and is only mentioned obliquely. Instead, we pick up with Bobbi and Hunter, who stowed away in the luggage hold of Gideon Malick’s private jet and rode with him all the way to Russia.

The episode continually flashes back and forth between two timelines. It opens with Bobbi and Lance in custody at an Interpol black site in Moscow, where they’re interrogated about the assassinations of three Russian officials. They both plead ignorance and claim to be tourists who were searching for mushrooms while on vacation in Siberia. The fact that this story isn’t believable in the slightest doesn’t deter Lance from smugly sticking to it. Bobbi mostly sits silently and refuses to answer questions.

We then flash back to 34 hours earlier. The two agents sneak out of the plane and tail Malick and his Russian liaison to a base where they discuss Russia’s plans to establish a sanctuary for Inhumans. They contact Coulson, who rejects Lance’s request to assassinate Malick, out of fear of creating an international incident on foreign soil. This is to be a surveillance mission only. A backup team consisting of Daisy, Mack and May arrives in a quinjet to help. Unfortunately, of the entire group, Bobbi is the only one who speaks any Russian. May concocts a plan to sneak into the base: “Low profile. In and out. No one gets caught.” We already know that won’t work out.

Inside the base, Hunter and May come across a dead body. The victim was an attaché to the Russian Prime Minister. He appears to have died of strangulation, yet has no signs of being touched. Bobbi eavesdrops on Malick’s conversation with several Russian officials, and learns that the country’s PM opposes the sanctuary plan. However, the general who serves as Minister of Defense is an Inhuman himself, and murdered the attaché. Malick is working with the general and his cohorts to stage a coup. As soon as the Prime Minister arrives at the base, the general will kill him.

Coulson orders the team to ignore Malick and save the PM. That’s hard to do when they don’t know what the general’s power is. It turns out that he can independently control his own shadow as a “sentient dark force.” The shadow monster attacks Mack. Daisy and Bobbi attempt to fight it without much success.

The only way to stop the shadow is to kill the general himself. As the monster gets close to the PM, Bobbi shoots the general dead and surrenders herself. The shadow vanishes. Hunter is likewise captured, but the rest of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team gets away. So does Malick.

In the present timeline, U.S. President Ellis meets with the Russian Prime Minister. He brings Coulson with him as an “advisor” but denies that S.H.I.E.L.D. is still active and plays along with the story that Hunter and Bobbi are merely tourists. The PM, desperate to save face, demands a scapegoat. Coulson speaks privately to Bobbi and Lance and lays out the situation. The President will have to disavow them, but S.H.I.E.L.D. will break them out of prison.

Lance and Bobbi decide that they don’t want to run. They’ll stay and take a bullet for the team, whatever those consequences may be. Coulson and the President both officially disavow the two of them. The PM finds this acceptable. In gratitude for the fact that they saved his life, he’ll let Bobbi and Lance go, but they cannot be agents anymore.

Several days later and back in America, Bobbi and Lance sit at a bar discussing their future plans when they’re sent a drink. At the other end of the bar sits Jemma. Then they get sent another drink from Fitz at another end of the room. Then May and Daisy and Mack and finally Coulson also send over drinks and raise a toast. They all leave silently without saying a word. Bobbi describes this a “a spy’s goodbye.”

The episode ends with Malick skeet-shooting on his estate. He’s joined by his daughter Stephanie (Bethany Joy Lenz from ‘One Tree Hill’), who tells him that she’s very eager to meet the new Ward.

Episode Verdict

I’ll be blunt. This is a terrible episode, perhaps one of the show’s worst. The plot doesn’t move the season’s storyline ahead in the slightest. Instead, the entire thing is a patently contrived excuse to write two characters off the show so they can go off to star in the planned ‘Marvel’s Most Wanted’ spinoff (which has been greenlit for a pilot, but hasn’t actually been picked up for a series commitment yet).

The scripting of Lance and Bobbi’s exit makes no sense at all. The President disavows them so they can’t work for S.H.I.E.L.D. anymore? Umm, hello, the President also disavowed S.H.I.E.L.D. in its entirety! He flat-out lied and told the Russian PM that S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t exist in that very same scene not 30 seconds earlier.

So what if the President disavowed them? If they continue to work for S.H.I.E.L.D. and get caught doing something they’re not supposed to do, the President will claim they don’t work for him and will refuse to help them. Guess what happens if they go off and become independent contractor agents and get caught doing something they’re not supposed to do. Exactly the same thing.

For that matter, how does the President disavowing Bobbi and Lance satisfy the PM’s need for a scapegoat if he’s just going to release them from custody immediately afterwards?

Bobbi and Lance are fun characters, and if ‘Most Wanted’ gets picked up, I’m sure I’ll watch it. However, this is a really lame transition. What’s especially galling is that everyone knows that if ‘Most Wanted’ doesn’t get picked up, we’ll see these two characters right back on ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ next season anyway.

2 comments

  1. Todd A.

    “The President disavows them so they can’t work for S.H.I.E.L.D. anymore? Umm, hello, the President also disavowed S.H.I.E.L.D. in its entirety! He flat-out lied and told the Russian PM that S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t exist in that very same scene not 30 seconds earlier.” I guess then you have a problem with all the Mission: Impossible movies (and tv series), because that’s the setup for them as well. The organization doesn’t officially exist, but if the agents are caught- they are disavowed and can’t work for the (not officially existing, top secret) agency anymore. I’m not saying that invalidates your dislike of the episode, but you can’t pin that on S.H.I.E.L.D. quasi-hazy legal status.

  2. Bill

    Sorry Josh, I though the goodbye was very elegant and sophisticated. I noticed that Bobbi’s character acted and sounded more human than at any time previously on this show. On S.H.I.E.L.D. she was portrayed as an automaton most of the time. If the new series does get slotted in as the mid season filler I’ll be looking forward to it.

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