Danny Hale reviews the fifteenth episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5…
‘Rise and Shine’ took us 28 years into General Hale’s past, shedding light on her training and education among HYDRA’s finest while also giving us an early look at some of the big HYDRA names in the MCU. This was a packed but well executed episode that saw Yo-Yo take one step closer to her comic-book counterpart and General Hale’s HYDRA reveal become far more intriguing than expected.
Right off the bat I was happy that Hale didn’t deny her involvement with HYDRA to Coulson; it started the episode well and began to help me understand General Hale properly. The following glimpse into her life was refreshing and quickly established the hard-working and dedicated woman Hale is while also giving us a look at a young Agent Sitwell and Von Strucker. These were great little ties to the wider MCU and previous seasons of AoS strengthening the incredible continuity on this show. This being HYDRA though, of course things took a darker turn. With the return of Reed Diamond’s Daniel Whitehall we learn of HYDRA’s plan to create a new super-soldier, by artificially inseminating Hale. Hale has no real option but to comply and it’s awful to see her have her ambitions crushed and her body signed away for the greater cause. It was nice to then see a relatively normal scene between a now older Hale and a teenage Ruby where, despite the disturbing circumstances of her birth, the two seem to have formed a genuine relationship.
Talbot’s back and we learn just where he’s been for the past few months. I really wasn’t expecting to see him like this once he inevitably returned; his material this week was surprisingly moving. I’ve always enjoyed Talbot and appreciate the respect he and Coulson have developed for each other over the years. I loved his certainty that he was shot by an LMD, his absolute contempt for HYDRA but most upsetting, his complete certainty that S.H.I.E.L.D. and Coulson would come for him. Seeing this loyalty from a man who has been opposed to our team on many occasions was great; Talbot truly is a good man who will fight for the greater good.
It’s looking like Yo-Yo will be back in action imminently as we see her with her robotic arms fully attached. While I am sure there will still be some adjustments to be made the notion that the already fiery Elena will be stronger than before and fully convinced she is invincible has me gripped. I don’t know if I’m excited or terrified by what she may do. The psychological damage inflicted on Yo-Yo has yet to be fully explored but her arc this season is shaping up to be one of the strongest.
My favourite development this week came as Coulson was rather surprisingly put face to face with Peter Mensah’s Qovas. I adored Coulson’s characteristic unperturbed attitude as he casually travelled through space again but Clark Gregg really sold the holy shit behind his eyes as he found himself under Qovas’ gaze. The whole concept of HYDRA reaching out to alien life after the events of the Avengers makes complete sense; we all remember Hive right? So, we know this Confederacy is granting earth protection from some impending “war” but is this a loose tie-in to Infinity War? Or is it perhaps referring to the Kree? While I dream for the former I think the latter is more probable. Either way Hale’s reaction to Coulson meeting Qovas was great, she’s already ahead of Coulson and as he plans to shoot down her attempt at an allegiance she explains her intent to alter the bargain made with the Confederacy has always been her goal. This was so welcome; after last week I though “Oh cool, HYDRA’s the villain again!” but now it’s clear that what flag you fly really does not matter in the face of an alien invasion. Sadly, Coulson’s tale of the future seems to drive a wedge in what could be a powerful pairing between himself and General Hale. Her well-intentioned plan to create a super-soldier to save the world seems genuine, based on the fact that even after everything she has done and sacrificed she still believes Daisy, her enemy, should be the one to be enhanced and not her own daughter. This goes against everything she’s ever worked for, she really does seem willing to make the tough calls. This week above all did a great job of exploring General Hale and creating an intriguing character out of someone we had seen too little of.
After the trauma of last week we got a glimpse of the fallout as Daisy and Fitz come face-to-face. I loved May this week; she probably understands more than the others what Fitz is going through having made many tough calls herself. She also understands the severity of the situation they are in and has no qualms about encouraging Fitz to embrace his darker side if it helps save the world. Once Daisy arrives, her reaction is perfectly understandable even if it does stand in the way of the mission. I’m going to love seeing this drama unfold and where it takes these two characters down the line.
With the introduction of the Confederacy, heightened by a delightfully eerie performance from Peter Mensah and the threat of an impending alien war Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is really gearing up for an exciting final seven episodes. I’m now invested in General Hale, slightly more afraid of Ruby and wildly curious to this “seat at the high table” Hale is vying for on the Confederacy.