Agents of SHIELD: 5.15 Rise and Shine

Firstly, thanks to Baz for reviewing last week’s episode while I was on holiday. I couldn’t have agreed with him more, it was a superb instalment that brought a new and exciting twist into the world of Agents of SHIELD. It was a pleasure to watch and arguably the best episode of this season and of the show.

The start of Rise and Shine gave me mixed feelings. Initially I thought this would be an episode encompassing the aftermath of Fitz’s actions.  Instead it tells the back story of General Hale, who we now know is working for Hydra (get it, Hale, hail Hydra). Honestly, I never would’ve believed her character could be so interesting. Until now she has come across as your run of the mill villain, but heck no, she adds something truly different to the mix that made this episode just as entertaining as The Devil Complex, but for very different reasons.

Broken down into sections, Rise and Shine starts in the past, depicting a young Hale who attends a deeply hidden Hydra school, followed by a more recent version of herself, to the present where she is talking with Coulson. The school element was a fascinating idea. Throughout, it has been hinted that Hydra agents are essentially bred, but this confirms it. I would honestly watch a mini-series on the subject.

So much is learned through these flashbacks; how Hale got to where she is, who Ruby is, and most importantly, what role she potentially plays in the destruction of Earth. The flashbacks add a depth to Hale’s character that in some instances, make you sympathetic towards her situation. I love it when a show can make you feel for the villains, it’s a testament to the writing, which in this case is brilliant.

Rise and Shine really wants to remind you that this show is connected to the Marvel Cinematic University. Referencing the machine and serum used to create Captain America, talk of the New York incident and Chitauri, as well as famous Hydra members like Red Skull. This lead me to believe that the so called impending invasion that the mysterious confederacy refer to could be Thanos and crew (remember the UK episodes are 3 months behind the release of Avengers: Infinity War). I must say, it’s been a  while since we were reminded of such things and their subtle placements makes you pay more attention through a desire to catch more…well done!

The writing is by far the standout element, tying together the events from the first half in such an intriguing way. A young Hale was ordered to be artificially inseminated so that her offspring (Ruby) would be Hydra’s own super soldier. Hale, not believing she is ready, wants to use Daisy, believing she is a better candidate for the project known as…wait for it…the Destroyer of Worlds. It’s cheesy, but wow was it effective! It also showed a different side to Hale, as perhaps she is loyal to Hydra, but doesn’t necessarily agree with their teachings and orders.

Thankfully we’re not completely without some aftermath from last episode; May wants Fitz’s help, but obviously Daisy wants nothing to do with him. The back and forth was electric, I could’ve watched for hours; it was clever, witty and creates a new imbalance in the team, rivalled only by Ward in past seasons.

Towards the end, Simmons talks with Fitz to quash his doubts for the future, by explaining that Deke is their grandson so they must survive into the future. The following line had me in a fit of laughter; “so that means our future daughter marries a space goon and gives birth to a, Deke”.

This was an episode I never knew I wanted. The flashbacks generated new potential storylines and added new character developments that will no doubt keep the excitement alive through the remainder of this season. It’s world building at its finest and has made even what I considered to be dull and lifeless characters into something I cannot wait to see more of. I thought the idea of Hydra being back would be hidden and drawn out for ages; the fact that Hale comes out in the open about it was refreshing and really shows how Agents of SHIELD has progressed as a TV series. Bring it on Agents of SHIELD!

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