Many Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. viewers, myself included, have been waiting for the episode that would focus on no-nonsense pilot, Melinda May, shining a light on her shadowy past and maybe even explaining the origin of her moniker, The Cavalry. Thankfully, fans need to wait no longer as this week’s episode, “Repairs”, does just that. However, in keeping with the characterization of the eye-rolling woman of few words, what we learn about her doesn’t even come from her own mouth. We also receive a jarring follow-up to the ending of last week’s episode, where we saw Ward accept the invitation of May’s open door. Not the pairing I would have predicted.
Angels and Demons
This week the team is dispatched to Utah for an “Index Asset Evaluation and Intake”, investigating a suspected case of telekinesis. The affirmation that such abilities are rare is a stark reminder that this is still only part of the Marvel Universe, one where the extended X-family does not exist.
The subject in question, Hannah Hutchins, evidently acquired her powers after surviving an accident at the local Particle Accelerator Complex. Particle accelerators seem to be all the rage lately (see: Arrow). It’s bad enough to have the town blaming her for the death of four coworkers, but when her alleged abilities wreak havoc on a gas station, having an angry mob at your doorstep just pours gas on the proverbial fire. Enter the Agents.
Before Hannah can unleash her inner Carrie on the mob, Coulson steps in, distracting her long enough for May to put a Night-Night shot in her, safely bringing her into custody. Aboard the Bus, headed for yet another cleverly-named S.H.I.E.L.D. facility (The Fridge…-wink-), the episode takes an abrupt turn as the team slowly learns that Hannah is not telekinetic, but is in fact being haunted by demons, or so she claims. Having dealt super-powered people, alien invasion, and even WMD tech, divine intervention throws a curve ball at Coulson and Co.
In his attempt to get to Hannah, who is still safely sequestered in her impregnable cell, the mysterious brute sabotages the Bus, forcing yet another emergency landing beautifully executed by May. As the Agents attempt to find the logical, scientific explanation for all of this, thank you, Simmons, the demons in question are revealed to be Tobias Ford, one of the PA employees who, as a result of the accident, is being shunted between dimensions, a concept that was given a decent setup through Thor: The Dark World. You’ve seen it by now, right?
With the absence of telekinesis and the presence of what is initially believed to be a ghost, the tone switches from origin story to horror movie. Attempts to radio HQ are quashed and the team is stranded in the dark, fumbling around with flashlights as this ominous phantom BAMFs in and out of rooms and corridors. Amid the chaos, Ward is incapacitated and Skye attempts to have girl time with Hannah, but it’s May who steps up and gets the scared girl off the plane and seeks refuge in a nearby barn. It’s here that the showdown occurs, but back on the Bus, Skye puts the pieces together and figures out that Ford is protecting Hannah, but expressing his feelings for her in all the wrong ways.
As the rest of the team arrives at the barn to impart this information, May trades her kicks and punches for words in an effort to talk Ford down, pointing out that by holding on to Hannah, he would drag them both down to “hell”, or whatever dimension it was that he has seen. Ford, acquiescing to the old cliché that if you love someone, let them go, accepts his fate and vanishes into nothingness.
The slasher film motif is entertaining, but putting Agent May on display as the featured agent of the week turns out to be a bit of a bust. The origin of her nickname turns out to be a reverse fish story, starting out grandiose and slowly gets stripped away, revealing what we are led to believe is the truth. Fitz-Simmons, in an attempt to play a prank on Skye, get the ball rolling and deliver the over-the-top version, coloring the legend with two pistols, 100 bad guys, and a horse; Ward debunks the horse and reduces the threat to 20 opponents, all of whom were dispatched single-handedly; but its Coulson’s seemingly eye-witness account that brings it back to reality. He describes the once warm, fearless woman who ventured into Bahrain against a mind-controlled army, walking out with the rescued civilians, but leaving part of herself behind. It’s a touching account, but it feels lost among the chaos of the Michael Myers-esqe threat of the week. While it didn’t crack open the whole mystery of Agent May, it begins to fill in the holes surrounding her character. Now we just need to tackle her history with Coulson.
“Repairs” gets 2 out of 5 S.H.I.E.L.D. Badges. While the misdirection of a newly-discovered super-powered individual eventually led to a horror homage, it overshadowed what I’m sure many viewers where excited to see. Also, the b-story of Fitz-Simmons playing pranks of Skye to re-live their academy days feels shoehorned in and forces the typically organic humor present in the stories. However, the pranks subplot eventually leads to the light-hearted moment at the end, prompting a coy smile from May, unseen by the team, but speaking volumes about her acceptance of her new family.
Check back in two weeks for the mid-season finale of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!