I will say this for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: When it does emotional storytelling, it does it well. “Parting Shot” — which acted as both a vehicle to advance the Inhuman plot and also served as a set-up for the potential Mockingbird-centric spin-off Marvel’s Most Wanted — could have been a convoluted hour filled with loose ends and hastily told stories. Instead, the episode was (in my opinion) a tightly woven tale that culminated in an emotional pay-off that felt both earned and genuine, proving this show does its best storytelling when it focuses on its characters rather than the bigger mythology. (See: “4,722 Hours.”)
Last week’s episode ended with Hunter and Bobbi stowing away on Malick’s jet for an undercover mission in order to find out what he’s planning to do with the Inhumans. This week’s episode finds Bobbi being interrogated and looking worse for the wear. She’s told (and we learn) that three members of the Russian government were murdered in cold blood by former S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, so what does she have to say for herself? “I’d like a cheeseburger and curly fries. Crispy.” THAT’S what Bobbi Morse has to say for herself. A spy after my own heart… Marry me. Hunter is being interrogated, as well, though he’s disliked even more than Bobbi is. But that could also be because he’s just telling them they were on holiday, picking mushrooms. Maybe I want Hunter to marry me actually — it’s a toss-up.
What exactly is Bobbi doing here in Siberia? Why did Hunter tell his captors they were attacked and THEY were the victims? Why did they break into a top secret facility to begin with? That takes us back to 34 hours earlier, as Hunter and Bobbi are fleeing from the jet they’ve infiltrated, waiting to track Malick’s convoy. Fitz and Simmons are helping them via a target designator, and they eventually get eyes on the facility, though they’re blocked from seeing it. As they try to figure out how Malick is building his army, Hunter mentions (rather casually) that he wants to assassinate Malick. Yeah, Coulson is unsurprisingly not on board with this and would rather they keep a low profile. But we’re dealing with Bobbi and Hunter, and when have the words “low profile” ever been associated with them? (Spoiler alert: never.) Hunter is making the most of the moment, though, and reminding me of why I love this relationship so much.
Bobbi isn’t sharing Hunter’s sentimentality, being alone in the woods and all, but Hunter is seriously trying to figure out the last time they went away together just for kicks. For a couple that thrives on kicking butt in various countries, it’s kind of depressing that there’s no answer they can come up with. (By the by, things I need background on in this new series includes: “Florence.” “That wasn’t me.” Readers, I give you permission to write this for me.) Bobbi’s curious where this was coming from, and Hunter says he needs a break. Just, you know, something else other than worrying about Carl Creel or hiding things under the rug (a.k.a. probably not assassinating people on a whim.) “Are you talking about a vacation or something else?” Bobbi asks him, but before we get a real answer, they spy a prisoner that they can tell is an Inhuman. Unfortunately, before they can radio the team and do anything, they’re caught in the act…so naturally, they try to talk their way out of it, pretending to play dumb and then beating them up. Because of course they do.
Daisy, Mack and May show up, and Bobbi tells them what she overheard: that Malick is going to have a meeting with cabinet members. That means they need to infiltrate, which is great because no one knows Russian. Especially not Mack. And especially not Daisy, who dated a Russian hacker and only learned the bad words. Bobbi chooses to go in with Mack to find the security hub so they can locate Malick while May and Hunter team up. Coulson wants to keep this low profile, in and out, with no one getting caught…but we know that’s not going to happen.
NEXT: You and I remember Budapest very differently
As Hunter and May search for the gurney they saw the Inhuman being brought in on, they find bodies: namely, the Russian prime minister’s personal attaché. Mack, Daisy, and Bobbi find the control room, and Bobbi leaves Daisy in a Cyrillic mess as she tries to hack into the surveillance feed to find Malick. Come on, Daisy. Put those hacking skills to use!
Bobbi spies Malick bringing in Anton Petrov — the delegate we saw him talking with at the end of last week’s episode. She puts a bug near them so Fitz can overhear the conversation, and they learn from Anton that the prime minister sent the attaché, Mr. Krupin, to shut down the site. He was killed by Gen. Androvich (Kristof Konrad), the minister of defense, because Androvich found Krupin’s position on the Inhumans offensive…because Androvich himself is an Inhuman. This makes him the world’s first Inhuman politician, and, Mack realizes, one who happens to have access to nuclear launch codes. (Remember Rhodey and Tony and Hill in Age of Ultron? All we’re obsessed with when it comes to aliens and robots are nuclear codes.) Bobbi realizes Androvich is the guy in restraints that they had seen earlier and overhears Malick telling Anton that Inhumans are the key to their survival. They need to build a home and a sanctuary for them! Why keep a man in restraints when he could singlehandedly take care of things?
Coulson realizes Malick is staging a coup and in present time, Hunter (Amadeus Ravenclaw Hunter) is getting interrogated separately from Bobbi, though he’s not giving anything up and just keeps talking about food. Bobbi, meanwhile, is being shown a photo of one of the victims. When she says she didn’t kill him, they tell her that the blame will be on Hunter and that he’ll be handed over to the Russians for trial, which means execution. They won’t tell Bobbi where Hunter is, but they do want her to admit she’s covertly working with S.H.I.E.L.D. with the American government. If she tells them, Hunter can be saved. Bobbi is nothing but resilient, though. Because S.H.I.E.L.D. spies like Mockingbird don’t break that easily.
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Earlier: Hunter is watching the guards while May waits for them to move out. Hunter, it should be noted, is still bitter about the fact that May’s not really his friend. May thinks he’s selfish, and she’s still pissed he was willing to let Garner die to get revenge. She tells him that’s not what S.H.I.E.L.D. is about — “S.H.I.E.L.D. is about sacrifice for the greater good.” “Even for the ones you love?” asks Hunter. Indeed. Bobbi takes off after Malick but gets stopped by a suspicious guard. She takes him out easily but loses Malick in the process. Simmons, meanwhile, has a cause of death on Krupin and realizes their Inhuman might have a psychic ability that allows it to break bones without even laying a finger on the victim, which is kind of terrifying. Mack gets a visual of the general and manages to direct Bobbi while May and Hunter spy Malick with security detail…but no Androvich. Fitz spies incoming helicopters on the feed and realize the prime minister’s detail is on the way and that they need to stop the Inhuman assassin before the Russian prime minister gets there. And that’s going to be harder than usual because this Inhuman isn’t so easy to snare.
Androvich meets the prime minister, and the team goes on high alert to try to protect him. Daisy, Bobbi, and Mack are sent to try to contain Androvich, but May and Hunter arrive and interrupt their conversation. Bobbi tries to take on the Inhuman, realizing this particular power is one that’s unbeatable because he seemingly controls his own shadow. Fitz and Simmons deduce that Androvich can manifest a form of sentient dark force that allows him to shift at will. Essentially, he operates independently of his shadow. Hunter and Bobbi realize they have to take out Androvich to stop him, but Androvich easily takes them down, knocking Daisy out. Mack takes care of Daisy and tells Bobbi and Hunter to end it, so they do, and Bobbi shoots Androvich — because I guess if you kill the Inhuman, you also kill its sentient. She gives herself up, leading us to the present day situation of Hunter and Bobbi being captured. The two are finally brought back together and share an emotional moment where Hunter asks if she’s okay…and if she wants a cheeseburger. My. Heart. Hunter’s resigned himself to the situation because he can’t see a way out — at least, not a way where everyone wins. I’ve made it no secret that I love Hunter and Bobbi’s dynamic, and it’s not just because they can provide me with sassy banter. They care about each other the way only people who have been at war with the world can.
NEXT: Let’s have another round tonight…
President Ellis arrives to talk to the prime minister, who tells him he should be grateful for the people that intervened. The prime minister isn’t happy because he’s suspicious that S.H.I.E.L.D. still exists and because he needs to now explain why three members of the government were murdered. Enter Coulson, who bargains for some time with Bobbi and Hunter, pretending not to know them — until he kills the comms for a precious 90 seconds to give them time to escape. But Hunter and Bobbi aren’t going to escape. They don’t want new identities or for S.H.I.E.L.D. to move their families. And what other options are there? Bobbi tells Coulson they took an oath to protect those in danger, and with S.H.I.E.L.D. now in the crosshairs, the right thing to do is take the bullet. Coulson’s not dumb: He knows what they’re doing, and to his credit, he respects it, letting everyone know that they don’t work for anyone…and they never will. He thanks them for the sacrifices they made — and for giving up their vacation — and tells them they’re free to go. When Coulson gets back to the bus, the team wants to know what happened to the extraction plan. Coulson tells them that Bobbi and Hunter aren’t coming back and that they’ve been disavowed thanks to Coulson’s deal: They can walk free, but they can never be agents again.
Hunter and Bobbi drown their newly-disavowed-from-work sorrows in a bar with some much-needed drinks. They talk about where they want to go on their actual vacation now that they’re kind of allowed to take one. They’re interrupted by a waitress who brings them a shot, and when they look around the bar, they see Fitz…and Simmons…and Daisy and Mack and Coulson and May. Although the team can’t talk to Bobbi and Hunter or technically associate with them in this moment, it’s an emotional scene that, thanks to its weight, evokes the same strong response as when we saw Fitz and Simmons reunite at the end of the first half of the third season. As a longtime fan and supporter of the show, I will be the first to admit that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has its fair share of problems. Sometimes it has muddy storytelling, and sometimes it makes character choices that I don’t agree with. But I’d imagine there will be few people who won’t be affected by this scene and this beautiful and understated demonstration of found family as the team pays homage to Bobbi and Hunter with a spy-like farewell. I’m surprised that the show chose to shuffle Bobbi and Hunter out so far out before the end of the season, but I’m raising my own glass to what they brought to S.H.I.E.L.D. and what they can potentially bring to their new series, which has the potential to give my fangirl self everything I ever wanted in a spin-off.
Just in case we weren’t prepared to do a 360 in terms of emotions, our tag is Malick enjoying some personal shooting time with a girl who is revealed to be his daughter, Stephanie (Bethany Joy Lenz). Malick’s daughter, it turns out, is quite the burgeoning Hydra stalwart, as in she knows about Hive and wants to meet him. Hold up: I’m giving Malick the award for raising Daughter of the Year.
- Yes, Hunter, I do want to know the key to a good mushroom soup.
- Bobbi: “He was just doing his job.” Hunter: So was Stalin.”
- I’d argue that Malick’s daughter is being set up to become a significant player, though I would’ve said the same about von Strucker’s son. Still, if we can get another awesome female adversary kicking some butt on this show? I’m totally here for it. And I’m all for learning about how Malick raised such a Hydra-enthused daughter…