Agents of SHIELD: 5.18 All Roads Lead
If one thing is true of this season, it’s that female antagonists who prove to be a formidable force against our heroes don’t last long. An awful lot gets developed in this episode and, unlike the past few, it felt fluent and smooth; character arcs were better explained, and story elements got conclusions and continuations. This may not be an episode to knock your socks off, but it was certainly an enjoyable hour of television.
Let’s start with Talbot, who last week was revealed to be a sleeper agent. This instalment reveals his plans to kidnap Robin. Frankly this side-plot is the weak link; it’s dull, lacking excitement and logic. The episode begins with Talbot entering the armoury, getting a weapon, and then changing the CCTV cameras completely undetected. I know SHIELD see him as an ally, but given his mental state and that he had been tortured by Hale’s Hydra (hehe, that will never get old) for six months, you’d think he’d be monitored.
The main body of the episode surrounds Ruby, who last week kept Fitz and Simmons prisoner in order to fix the Destroyer of Worlds machine. Between her and Von Strucker, they torture the SHIELD agents for compliance. This kind of bothered me; firstly I found Dove Cameron (Ruby) and Spencer Clark’s (Von Strucker) performances to be wooden, stiff and overly dramatized. Secondly, with all the talk of being invincible, why bother helping fix the machine; why not refuse, and test out your hypothesis and potentially save the world from destruction? It’s almost as if Fitz and Simmons want the world to be destroyed in order to guarantee survival.
Yoyo was the shining light in this episode. She may have only been on screen for a short amount of time, but when she was, her impact was incredible. Natalia Cordova-Buckley's performance was fantastic; you could feel the emotion pouring out of her as she struggled to get her new arms to work in conjunction with her speed powers, clearly causing her a great deal of pain. She’ll obviously be best remembered for killing Ruby, in a very revengeful fashion I might add, which was superb.
The effects and action were excellent; the fight sequence with Daisy and May was very reminiscent of past seasons and was very entertaining to watch. The effects used to crush Strucker’s head and slit Ruby’s throat, although perhaps not up to movie standards, worked very well for TV.
The same however could not be said for the attempt at generating emotion and heartfelt moments. During Ruby’s battle with the Gravitonium we see General Hale try to save her daughter by shouting at her and reminding her of who she is. It all felt false and unwarranted. Ruby has been a character much like Sinara, who is clearly a villain and doesn’t deserve retribution. As much as I would’ve liked to see her continue, her demise was inevitable and executed well.
What’s more bizarre is Daisy’s contradictory thought processes. She clearly saw some resemblance of herself in Ruby, so along with her mother, attempts to “save” her, bring her to the light side and recruit her as a SHIELD agent. So she wants to forgive Ruby’s previous actions in order to better the greater good? From this I can only assume that Fitz will be forgiven for what he did to Daisy. Is forgiveness so easy?...SHIELD makes it look like Thanos could be the new director.
The overlying question now is whether during the light explosion, as Ruby passed, was the Gravitonium transferred into Daisy? Also, what will happen now that Hale has told her alien friends to come get the dangerous substance? What will happen to Talbot? I can’t wait to see what happens next.