Over the last season and a half, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has evolved from tepid telly to must-see TV. The mid-season finale was satisfying in that it answered many questions, yet left us begging for more.
Here are four stand-out moments from episode "What They Become" that changed what we know about the show. WARNING: Spoilers follow. If you haven't seen the episode, yet, here's your chance to turn back.
The fate of Tripp
We first met Agent Antoine Triplett in "T.A.H.I.T.I." He was a likeable guy who became a member of the team in "Providence." With a minor crush on Simmons and no major plot entanglements, he as good as had a target painted over his heart, and we should have seen it coming. But as with other AoS twists, we didn't (producers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen have obviously learned about character death from brother/-in-law Joss).
Tripp's death occurred not because he was fighting the ultimate evil, but because he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Because of this, it was one of the more useless -- and strangely realistic -- deaths on television. Was it wrong to think "awesome effect" the moment he crumbled away? It feels wrong.
Skye shows Ward she's over him
Sure, Skye has been repulsed by Ward ever since the reveal of his true nature left a body count. But nothing says "I hate you" like shooting an ex in the ribcage. She did. You go, girl.
Of course, this doesn't put the "Skyeward" fanfic to rest; after all, she didn't finish him off. But when Skye told him, "Never turn your back on your enemy," it was a great way to let him know where she stands. Perhaps this will dissolve his creepy crush on her.
Skye finally meets her father
In the previous episode, Ward had kidnapped Skye to fufill his promise to introduce her to her father, and here they finally meet. It goes about as well as expected: Cal, previously known as "The Doctor" (played by scene-stealing Kyle MacLachlan), has become unbalanced, and Skye was trying to keep her cool around the man she obviously loves and hates.
In short order, Cal attacks Agent Coulson for killing Whitehall (yay!) and stealing his revenge. Skye prevents her father from killing her substitute father by addressing him as "Dad." It was a bittersweet moment, compounded when Cal told Skye her real name: Daisy. It explains why Cal (and as a piece of trivia, Hal 9000) liked to hum "Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)."
This is the big one, and it could have repercussions that spread out into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thanks to the GH.325 serum that Skye, Coulson and Garrett have taken, they have had a map of an alien city superimposed on their minds. But only Skye, Raina and a few "special" others could handle the obelisk that is the key to the city. The obelisk, full of some kind of crystals, comes to life and alters Skye and Raina. Tripp, who stumbled in on the scene, didn't survive.
So what's going on here? Welcome to the first steps toward the arrival of the Inhumans in the live-action Marvel continuity. Those crystals were Terrigen crystals, and the dust that emerged was Terrigen mist. In the comics, this is how humans who've been altered by the Kree see their latent powers activated and is a big part of the Inhumans mythology, and the fact that Skye and Raina both developed powers after their exposure hints pretty strongly that that's what they are. It seems the groundwork for 2018's Inhumans film is already being laid.
The other twist is that the revelation of Skye's real name, the name of her father, and her seemingly seismic powers seems to indicate that she is, in fact, a character from the comics: Daisy Johnson, aka Quake. The comics character got her powers from a serum, not Terrigen mists, but it does appear Marvel is taking some liberties in translating her to the screen. This could mean big things for the character, though -- in the comics, Quake eventually becomes director of S.H.I.E.L.D.
In previews for the next few episodes -- for which we have to wait until March -- it looks as if Skye/Daisy is as powerful as anyone on Coulson's previous team, the Avengers. Of course, Raina has also become supercharged (and does this mean she'll have the power of "super-smug?"). Will we see an epic battle between the two? Will Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. delve further into the world of the Inhumans? We'll have to wait and see, but it's nice to know that the people behind the show aren't afraid to shake (see what we did there?) things up.
What did you think of the mid-season finale? Do these changes make you more likely to stick with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?