Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (2013) season 2, episode 17
WRITER: DJ DOYLE
DIRECTOR: GARRY A BROWN
AIR DATE: April 14 2015
‘Melinda’ gives some background to one of the core characters in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as we learn how Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) got the nickname The Cavalry, while storylines past and present intersect in unusual ways. The two S.H.I.E.L.D. factions on the one hand and the Inhumans on the other play out their storylines against the past and present elements of the episode.
May finds herself in charge of Coulson’s base, now under the control of Gonzales and his faction. She’s uncovered some troubling issues about Coulson (Clark Gregg), who has been diverting funds and consulting with her ex-husband (Blair Underwood). Mack (Henry Simmons) thinks Coulson is trying to gather a private army of gifted individuals. Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) doesn’t want to think the worst of her boss, to whom she remains loyal. Coulson and Hunter (Nick Blood) remain on the run, after their escape by the aid of Deathlok in the previous episode. May herself remembers an operation in the past, something that went deeply awry, and ties into things happening elsewhere.
In the Inhuman refuge of Afterlife, Skye (Chloe Bennet) is getting accustomed to her new life. Jiaying (Dichen Lachman), the woman who oversees the area, reveals that she is her mother, explaining a great deal - about her father, her heritage, and tells a story of an Inhuman mother who broke the rules regarding Terrigen Mists on behalf of her daughter, a story that ties into May’s flashback story as well. There’s a quiet dignity in how Lachman plays the character, a woman filled with tragedy, who’s had to make hard decisions in life.
The one dangling element of the episode is Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), who’s under surveillance by the rival S.H.I.E.L.D. faction even after being let go. Fitz has Coulson’s actual toolbox, as it’s called, with him, thanks to a ruse he and Simmons engineered. The highly intelligent technician might be out of his element as an agent in the field, but his ingenuity serves him well, and helps him come to a critical realization at just the right moment. It’s a good character development for Fitz, whose best asset is his mind, and of course through much of this season, his mind’s not quite been what it was.
not so happy times
The episode does have a bit of a setting the stage for what’s to come feel to it, rather like moving the pieces on a chessboard. Still, those movements are compelling, and the core of the episode is Melinda. We understand her more now - this is a character who rarely says more than she must, and the tragedy of what happened in the past must weigh heavily on her, influencing that standoff personality, while no doubt leading to the end of her marriage.