It’s rare that something setting up spin-offs actually works. Films like Iron Man 2, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and even Avengers: Age of Ultron to some degree have suffered by trying to set-up other films, bending over backwards to include unnecessary scenes that simply don’t matter to the story at hand. It almost always feels cheap, a decision made by studio executives that reduces the quality of the thing you are watching in order to squeeze more money out of the next thing they have planned – so it’s refreshing to see Agents of SHIELD do it well, especially when the show itself has been much-maligned by people because of its status as a spin-off in the first place.
After stowing away on Gideon Malick‘s plane at the end of last weeks “The Inside Man”, “Parting Shows” opens up by showing us that Bobbi has been arrested before flashing back to explain how that happened. It’s an episode focused almost entirely on setting up the upcoming Most Wanted spin-off show, but the reason that “Parting Shot” works is that it isn’t trying to fit this set-up into an episode with something else going on. “Parting Shot” is very much Bobbi and Hunter‘s episode, putting them in the spotlight and (most importantly) giving them a proper send off, a satisfying ending even if you were to never watch Most Wanted. It sounds simple because it is, but you’d be surprised how often things trying to set other things up fail to do this.
Ever since they were introduced to the show in the second season, Hunter and Bobbi have been two of my favourite characters, so naturally “Parting Shot” did a lot for me. Their relationship has always been a difficult one to follow thanks to the simple fact that they are as far away from a traditional couple as you can imagine, but “Parting Shot” uses that to its advantage – Hunter pointing out that they’ve never even really been on holiday together is a subtly sad moment, and when taken with his growing frustration of working for SHIELD it does start to feel like he was probably going to leave SHIELD sooner or later anyway.
What makes “Parting Shot” somewhat more tragic is that ultimately, that choice has been taken away from them for good. Obviously, I have no idea how willing Agents of SHIELD will be to stick to this (presumably, the success of Most Wanted will decide if Bobbi and Hunter do return to Agents of SHIELD in the future), but the idea that Bobbi and Hunter are now officially on their own is sold to us at the end of the episode in the most emotional scene in the show since Fitz and Simmons went on a date after she returned from the alien planet. Agents of SHIELD may still be lacking in some areas (namely production quality), but one thing it consistently does well is making you care.
As for the rest of the episode? Well, it’s pretty consistently entertaining, even if it seems to have little relation to the season-wide plot that I really want the show to get back too sooner rather than later. The action is more interesting than usual thanks to the presence of an Inhuman with an unusual power, and although I don’t want to say exactly what that power is (“Parting Shot” uses it as a mini-mystery, so it would technically be a spoiler), you can rest assured that it is one of the more imaginative introduced to the show so far, and the simple fact that SHIELD are all but totally out-matched when it comes to fighting it sells the idea that Bobbi and Hunter had no choice but to do what they did.
But I would like to see Agents of SHIELD get back to the larger season-wide story now. Like the last couple of episodes, “Parting Shot” is never less than good, but they haven’t done the back half of Agents of SHIELD‘s third season any favours in the long run. With set up for Most Wanted completed, I want to see Agents of SHIELD get back to dealing with the Inhuman outbreak, the public backlash to that and the Secret Warriors truly forming – some of which next week’s “Watchdogs” seems to be dealing with based on the promotional material released. Here’s hoping it does.
Image from comicbookmovie.com