‘Agents Of SHIELD’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 3, Episode 13: ‘Parting Shot’
Welcome back to another Agents of S.O.M.E.T.H.I.N.G., where Comics Alliance’s Special Agents Chris Haley and Ziah Grace debrief you on all the things to like and complain about in this week’s episode of Disney’s ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!
This week, Bobbi and Hunter are constantly foiled in their attempts to collect mushrooms in Russia. Meanwhile, the other Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. discuss things on a plane! “Parting Shot” was directed by Michael Zinberg and written by Paul Zbyszewski.
Chris: Another week, another frustrating episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.! What are your initial thoughts and feelings on this week's episode, Ziah? Thumbs up? Thumbs down? Thumbs kinda in the middle?
Ziah: Pretty in the middle for me, honestly! As a standalone episode of television, I didn’t love it, but as a fairly frustrating television show that we’re paid to watch every week, there was some marked improvement. For example: continued use of new locations, actual clarity regarding what’s at stake if the agents fail, and at least a half-hearted nod at the idea that these people are friends with each other. Most importantly, no Lincoln!
Before we get into what’s not so good, what’d you like about the episode?
Chris: That’s some real good positive mental attitude to start things off their, buddy! Let’s see, what did I like… did you already say that there was no Lincoln? Dang, you did. Well, I liked that too. I liked that this episode was pretty focused on just telling one story, even if the back and forth of the interrogations and the flashbacks did get a touch wobbly here and there.
Speaking of questioning under duress, I don’t know if you watch it, but this week’s Supergirl also centered around a handcuffed government interrogation, so this week was just double “fun” for me. Was there one on The Flash as well?
Ziah: Well, this week’s episode of The Flash wasn’t handcuffed, but was definitely off the chain, if you know what I mean (I mean that it was good). I pretty much always enjoy the conceit of a handcuffed government interrogation that tries to piece together what the cover story is while the viewers get to see the real deal, so that was a good time.
Chris: I can get into a good interrogation scene/episode in general, but it’s one of the last things I want to see on a superhero show, so two in one week was really pushing it for me.
Ziah: Fair enough. Bobbi and Hunter’s personal methods of responding to the interrogation was fun, too --- minus the opening when she asks for the cheeseburger, she’s all business in denying allegations and ignoring questions, while Hunter’s cheekier than a butt convention.
Chris: I could not tell you why, but I hated her “ordering” that hamburger almost as much as I hate Lincoln. Hunter’s recipe talk was just a notch under that. Take those aspects out and I thought those scenes were pretty well done. Especially once the emotions kicked in when Bobbi thought Hunter had been taken away, and once they were allowed to see each other.
Ziah: But that wasn’t just the episode! We also had Cold War intrigue (kind of like that Legends of Tomorrow episode with the glorious Captain Cold honey trap moment) as the Agents of SHIELD prevent a coup and fight a monster from Buffy --- err, a shadow-controlling Inhuman. I might be poking fun, but honestly, this was a fairly good fight by Agents of SHIELD standards. The cinematography was noticeable, which might be a ding on other shows, but considering that previous episodes have felt like a high school student’s stage play, it’s a welcome change.
Chris: I was not crazy about that shadow monster, but at least they tried to keep the stakes clear for the viewer and give us a good sense of what was happening and why. Or, at least, what was happening. I’m trying to see the good things here.
Ziah: Chris, let’s play another game of “What Did Coulson Do Right This Week.” As far as I can tell, just about nothing. This wasn’t an op that he authorized, or really even advised on; Hunter and Bobbi went rogue to do it. He’s not able to offer much assistance besides just showing up with the rest of the team, and telling them not to do anything.
Chris: I’m starting to worry that Phil’s not very good at his job. And he’s also still got that problem we talked about earlier in the season where his reaction to everything is exactly the same. He’s so even tempered it starts making you uneasy, because you start feeling like the only explanations are that he’s either a terrible actor or that the character has something deeply wrong with him.
Ziah: He does get them released at the end, somehow? Chris, did you understand this? Because I didn’t at all.
Chris: I did not. At all.
Ziah: The Russian Prime Minister very fairly says that someone will have to take the fall for the three prominent Russian politicians being murdered, and Coulson agrees, until all of a sudden it’s fine? I get that Bobbi and Hunter are disavowed now, but is that their punishment for literally killing three Russian politicians, because that seems fairly lenient. Or should I say Leninent.
Chris: Slow clap. Yeah, for most of the episode I thought I had a sense of what they were saying the possible outcomes were, and it seemed to be something along the lines of either horrible Russian prison or firing squad for one, possibly both, of them. Coulson makes that remark about how the Russian Prime Minister should actually be thanking them for saving his life and for getting rid of all his political rivals in the process, but he says that after they’ve decided to “take the fall”, so it seems like that speech accidentally got cut and pasted into the wrong part of the script when they were trying to arrange all the flashbacks or something. Please feel free to explain this to us in the comments if you think you know what the deal was!
The way Bobbi and Hunter were all looking into each other's eyes and talking so seriously about what was going to happen, and how upset the rest of the Agents acted when Coulson gave them the news, things seemed really grim… aaaaaaand then, the next scene is them just hanging out at a bar and the only thing that seems to have happened is that they have to get new jobs. Seriously?!
Ziah: Yeah, again, totally confusing. I think Coulson was going to just let them die, but because they were so true to not admitting to working for SHIELD --- you know, like a professional secret agent --- he decided to not let them die? Which is… Which is terrible. That’s a terrible explanation and I hope I’m wrong. That would mean that he was willing to let them die until that moment.
I know he offers them an escape route, but I was unclear on why they didn’t take that either. This whole scene was confusing to me, to be honest.
Chris: You know, Ziah, I generally don’t care for this show. I don’t totally dislike it, but I don’t really enjoy it either. It has it’s moments, and sometimes it’s fun in spite of itself, but mostly it’s a bummer. It’s a show I don’t really like, filled mostly with characters I don’t really like or downright cannot stand.
Ziah: I think we’ve got a pull-quote for the Season 3 DVDS. “I don’t totally dislike it” - Chris Haley, ComicsAlliance.com
Chris: You know my goal is to get quoted on something!
However, having said all of that, the “Spy’s Goodbye” scene at the end of this week’s episode genuinely moved me. I literally got a little teary eyed. I was a little at a loss for how something like that could happen, by which I mean, how this show could elicit any kind of emotional response from me.
I wanted to make sure I made my general feelings about the show clear when I started talking about this, though, to really highlight what a surprising turn of events that was. Apparently, somehow, after spending this much time with these characters, they've managed to make me form some kind of emotional attachment to them.
Ziah: Honestly, I agree with you. This was a good scene, and it really showed how much bonding had happened off-screen, without any writing to back it up, when we weren’t watching. I’m definitely with you that it feels like a tragic end for these characters, and that it’s just overall a really sweet scene, but genuinely, the whole time it was happening I just kept thinking about how they’re going to drink all those shots. What quality was the liquor? Did Coulson spring for the top shelf? Did Fitz just go for well drinks because he didn’t know? These are the questions that keep me up at night, SHIELDios.
Chris: Haha, I think they only drank two shots each. The rest were just there for the symbolism. Did Mack have some kind of deeper connection to Bobbi or Hunter or both that we haven’t seen that made him seem the most upset by it all?
Ziah: I don’t know. It sure would’ve been nice to see characters making connections and becoming friends earlier than a few episodes ago, huh? If anyone would be really sad, you’d think it’d be Fitz, since he and Bobbi were lab buddies for like three months, but let’s not apply logic to this.
The thing I kept wondering about was how this new status quo sets up their spin-off, Marvel's Most Wanted. Then I was thinking about how it sure will be a bummer for those two if their pilot doesn’t get picked up. Maybe that’s why everyone was so upset. It wasn’t so much for the characters’ sake, but for the actors in real life, because they’re not going to be seeing these people all the time anymore. I mean, that seems to make more sense than what was presented in the show, because even if you’re a spy, can’t you have friends besides the ones you work with? Couldn’t they all still text each other or have a poker night or something?
Ziah: Yeah, I mean, Daisy’s a former Most Wanted Hacker, right? I’m pretty sure they can hang out even if Hunter and Bobbi don’t work for SHIELD anymore.
Although, side note, SHIELD technically doesn’t exist anymore, so it makes even less sense that they’d be disavowed, but whatever. I’m actually looking forward to their spin-off! There’s some optimism.
Next week, we’ve got more Lincoln, so prepare for the death of hope once again, Chris.