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Family and Fear With AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

Ardo Omer

Staff Writer

Ardo Omer has a BA in criminology and a minor in creative writing. She’s a senior writer at Women Write About Comics and Batman seeks her advice constantly. Blog: Ardo Omer Twitter: @ArdoOmer

This discussion contains spoilers for the latest episode of AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

The second half of season two has had Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. introducing us to the Inhumans – descendents of the human beings who were experimented on by the alien race known as the Kree – which comes with your standard paranoia towards super powered people. In this week’s episode, we’re given the origins of the Melinda May we know, and the reunion between Skye and her biological parents. Seeds of doubt are also being planted against Coulson, who doesn’t seem to be as truthful with his team as we’d like. I don’t know about you but I know what happened the last time a S.H.I.E.L.D. Director kept so many secrets.

Agents of SHIELD. Season 2 Episode 17. April 14 2015. Marvel. TV Show.

Melinda May

Family has always been a main theme for this series, whether its through Skye’s desire to learn more about her past to the manufactured family found in Coulson’s team. So it was interesting to see that the Agent May we know today wanted to start a family with her husband (now ex) seven years ago, just before the event that changed everything. I’ll set the scene: it’s seven years into the past, and S.H.I.E.L.D. has been dispatched to Bahrain to retrieve a woman with super strength (Eva Belyakov) before the Russians or Bahraini government do. Things quickly go from bad to worse when the S.H.I.E.L.D. team is held captive in a warehouse along with a little girl, which prompts May to stage a one woman rescue while Coulson stalls the Bahrainis. By the end of the episode, May has not only killed Eva but her daughter Katya as well, who had the ability to control people through touch by feeding on their emotions.

The Melinda May we’ve come to know has no problem doing what needs to be done, which is why finding out what caused her to drastically shift from pre-Bahrain May to post-Bahrain May was because of the death of a child. Family is a key element in the show overall but more so in this episode. May has previously encountered super humans with powers they couldn’t control or were misusing but in this instance, that super human was an Inhuman little girl. Ending her life later affects May’s relationship with the job she loves (S.H.I.E.L.D. Field Agent), and the man she loves by withdrawing from both due to the trauma, resulting in her divorce and transfer to a desk. It also feeds into S.H.I.E.L.D. the Sequel’s (aka Commander Gonzales, and crew) fear against super powers, and the need to eliminate those threats versus the school of thought that both Fury, and Coulson’s are students of: weaponize them or turn them into heroes a la The Avengers.


This fear is played out in Skye’s narrative when Jiaying reveals herself as her mom before telling her she can’t disclose that information to anyone else. Why? It’s quite simple:

  • Jiaying is in charge of enforcing the rules at Inhuman Camp
  • Eva and Katya were Inhumans who broke the rules when a too young Katya was exposed to the mist despite not being ready nor suitable
  • Eva, and Katya become dangerous and both are killed by May
  • Inhuman Camp decides that parents shouldn’t be allowed to make mist related decisions

And since Skye went through the mist without the permission of Inhuman Camp, Jiaying helped spare her from being “dealt with” by the mysterious elders/camp counsellors without disclosing the part where she gave birth to the delinquent in question aka Skye.

Agents of SHIELD. Season 2 Episode 17. April 14 2015. Marvel. TV Show.

Fear of the powerful is what drove Skye towards the Inhumans which in turn led her to the family she’s been searching for. This, however, isn’t about the biological family winning over the created family. The way Jiaying, Lincoln, and Gordon have been going on these last few episodes, the Inhumans are just one large, dysfunctional family looking out for one another.


We don’t get to see Coulson all that much in this episode but we do hear a lot about him. Basically, S.H.I.E.L.D. the Sequel tells May that Coulson has been keeping big secrets from her. He got Simmons to build Deathlok a super battery, and lied to her about it. He’s been spending, and moving money like a white collar criminal, while also lying about where he’s been going. He has secret bases with a lot bunk beds, and no, he’s not throwing a massive slumber party. The real kicker is when May finds out that he has a mysterious name for his mystery project called the Theta Protocol, and I’d be mad too if I found out I wasn’t told this cool name.

Secrets aren’t great, and I wasn’t joking when I said that what happened in Captain America: The Winter Soldier was enough of a reason to avoid the Fury method when it comes to S.H.I.E.L.D. or in relationships. Fear that Coulson isn’t the guy May thought he was will provide interesting conflict for future episodes, especially when it’s tied to super powers and the family structure this team has built and protected. I’d like to see how these themes further evolve as we get closer to the major shake up known as Avengers: Age of Ultron in a few weeks.

Additional Facts:

  • Raina can see the future which means psychics are real. Booyah!
  • Fellow Panelteer, Dana, brought to my attention that Skye went to the same orphanage as Daredevil: St. Agnes
  • I still love Lincoln *swoons*

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