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'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' recap: 'Melinda'

May’s past comes to light as we finally learn how she became The Cavalry.

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Patrick Wymore/ABC

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet

Well, now we know why May hates being called The Cavalry.

“Melinda” builds up to May’s ass-kickingest (that’s a real word, right?) moment, the one spoken of throughout her years in S.H.I.E.L.D. She’s supposed to be one of the toughest, boldest, most intimidating members of the organization because of her time in Bahrain.

May’s not the person everyone thinks she is, however, and she’s had to live with that lie all her life. She didn’t become The Cavalry by taking out dozens of enemy combatants. She became The Cavalry because she shot a little girl—a creepy, mind-controlling one, to be fair—only making it appear like she fought off a few dozen foes on her own.

But let’s back up and see how May got to that point, which impacted not just her own current position but Skye’s as well, seven years ago…

Back in Bahrain

The long-awaited telling of Coulson and May’s infamous mission begins on a domestic note. She’s at home with her husband Andrew, very much in love and very much trying to add motherhood to her long list of duties.

Bahrain will change that. She and Coulson are looking for a superpowered woman, Eva Belyakov (Winter Ave Zoli), who Coulson tries to convince to come with them back to S.H.I.E.L.D. She’s less inclined to civil discourse than he is, however—she upends their table and almost causes a firefight. The chaos allows Eva and a few local criminals to kidnap one of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents calling for a rescue mission.

So Coulson sends in the entire platoon, save for May and himself, only to completely lose contact. Dead, capture, or worse—he’s not sure what fate has befallen them. May desperately wants to run in and free them, but Coulson wants to follow the commands from base and wait. Unfortunately, the wail of sirens from local soldiers incites the two to action, and May runs in while Coulson provides the distraction.

May stretches her legs and employs some parkour to leap into the building, where she knocks out a few guards and comes face to face with Eva in the basement of a building. A little girl is trapped in there too, and all Eva can go on about is wanting more pain. Well, May is most definitely the person to deliver on that.

The S.H.I.E.L.D. Schism

But present-day May is also dealing with a serious problem. Bobbi and new S.H.I.E.L.D. reveal Coulson kept secret after secret from May, and as she and Simmons do their own digging, they find out it’s all true.

He never traveled to the cities he said he’d been in, he had shell companies constructing something, and it makes May just dubious enough of her leader. She asks Simmons to work on Fury’s toolbox—not knowing of course Fitz ran off with the real one—while she handles the news of Coulson’s secret dealings.

It seems for the moment all of new S.H.I.E.L.D.’s resources are being put into this toolbox, while the hunt for Skye takes a backseat this week. But that doesn’t mean the powered up agent doesn’t have her own drama to attend to during “Melinda.”

A Family Affair

Skye is training with Jiaying, which includes moving mountains and moving water inside glasses. Jiaying’s tests run the gamut of magnitude to help Skye adjust to obstacles, big or small, in her path. What they don’t prepare her for, though, is finding out Jiaying is her mother.

As Skye goes on about being kicked around from one foster home to another, Jiaying can’t handle hearing about the entirety of her daughter’s life that she missed, and so she reveals her secret (and Skye’s actual birthday). The two have a tearful reunion that both sides can fully enjoy—good on the show for not dragging that surprise out too long—but the secret must remain hidden from the rest of Afterlife.

NEXT: May becomes The Cavalry, but at what cost?