‘PARTING SHOT’ PLOT SUMMARY:
Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) and Lance (Nick Blood), having stowed away on Gideon Malick’s (Powers Booth) plane, discover Gideon’s plans to stage a coup of the Russian government, which only S.H.I.E.L.D. can stop. However, the formidable Inhuman abilities of one of the co-conspirators make things a whole lot more difficult.
Thinking back, the show hasn’t tried to add new characters to the main cast for a while. While Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) is technically a new addition, he was introduced in the second season, making this more of a promotion. Similarly, the others were added in the second season, or earlier in one case (rest in pieces). Each character has left some mark, but the two additions that have made the biggest impact on the series are Bobbi “Mockingbird” Morse and Lance Hunter. This impact hasn’t just on been the plot but the overall tone of show. While Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has grown more serious since it first premiered, Bobbi and Lance provide witty levity to every situation they find themselves in.
This episode is no exception. In fact, it perfectly illustrates the point, since they’re in the direst of straits. We actually know that right off the bat, as we see them imprisoned and questioned by INTERPOL. While Hunter’s story that they were out picking mushrooms starts out as ridiculous, as the episode progress it evolves into an effective joke, mostly due to Lance’s cooking tips. The bulk of the episode takes place before these events, but these flashforwards efficiently showcase its theme while also being the best way of presenting these scenes; chronologically would not work as well.
As for things in the present, they don’t really get all that interesting until the latest Inhuman shows off his powers, which are pretty nifty. Essentially, General Androvich (Kristof Konrad) can send his shadow through walls to attack people. Okay, it’s not really his shadow but dark matter or something. Think of it as his Dark Passenger (to borrow a phrase from Showtime’s Dexter). The fight between the Dark Passenger and the team is the highlight of the episode, as far as the action is concerned. It’s a shame it’s virtually impossible to bring the Passenger back for a few more episodes.
But while the fight between General Androvich’s shadow is the best action moment, the overall best scenes are the character moments. The theme of the episode is how working for S.H.I.E.L.D. has affected Bobbi and Lance’s relationship, and instances like Hunter’s conversation with May (Ming-Na Wen) about her husband and Bobbi and Lance talking about never going on vacation together really drive home the point. Their relationship has been complicated in the past, obviously. They were once married and are now divorced, but it’s clear more than ever that they still love each other. We already knew it when Hunter was looking for revenge earlier in the season, but this is the prime example. Look no further than the way they hold each in the INTERPOL black site. It’s truly a spy’s love story.
This brings us to the ending, which will undoubtedly be the most talked about segment until next week’s episode. While it’s a little confusing/hard to believe how they manage to avoid execution or life in prison, it works because of the emotion behind it. I won’t claim to love Bobbi and Lance, but I like them both and this is a poignant way to send them off. They deserve a few free drinks.
Of course, they won’t be off the job for long, as this serves as the set-up for their spin-off, Marvel’s Most Wanted. Not too long ago said spin-off was supposed to be off the table, but now ABC is moving forward with it. Considering Agent Carter’s lackluster viewership, whether this new show will be able to survive is debatable. Most Wanted will likely take over as the season break replacement for S.H.I.E.L.D., assuming Agent Carter gets cancelled.
Even though the Russian coup itself isn’t all that engaging, this is the best episode since the break, thanks to some entertaining action, along with a nice goodbye to two of the show’s most likeable characters. The fact that they’ll be coming back for their own series undercuts it a little, but that’s the reason for it in the first place.
Until then, guys.
RATING: 7.5 OUT OF 10 (GOOD)
Aaron Sarnecky is Pop-Break’s television editor and covers Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter, among other things. He is a graduate of Rowan University with a degree in television and film. He probably remembers that show you forgot existed. Follow him on Twitter: @AaronSarnecky