S.H.I.E.L.D. fans have been through a helluva ride since the show premiered three years ago. We’ve taken the good, the bad, the light, the dark, the silly, and the serious. But I’ll be damned if “Parting Shot” isn’t the first episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—or any Marvel TV show for that matter—to bring great big bucket-sized tears to my tired eyes.
As early reports had indicated, this week’s episode is indeed the one that lays the groundwork for the S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff Marvel’s Most Wanted, by creating a means for two characters (Bobbi and Hunter) to migrate to the new show. Yet last week’s episode, which, in its final scene, saw the two stow away on Malick’s plane as they tailed the HYDRA leader to Russia, had me worried that “Parting Shot” would have way too much story to cram into 40 minutes to give the former husband and wife the exit they deserve. Boy, was I ever worried for nothing. This week doesn’t just provide a fitting farewell; it’s the touching love story that my two favorite agents have long deserved, culminating in a celebration of brotherly and sisterly love that has left me utterly wrecked.
A large part of the reason why “Parting Shot” works so well lies in the way it’s structured. Through its lean script and flashback-laden editing, the story of Bobbi and Hunter’s mission to Siberia is told at breakneck pace while creating a believable reason for their departure, giving us plenty of laughs and suspense in the process. Malick’s plan for an Inhuman “Sanctuary State” comes into full focus this week, as he convinces the Russian Prime Minister’s own men to stage a coup against him. Powers Boothe is more wicked than ever in the role, as he smugly suggests that Native American Reservations were beneficial for the people forced to relocate to them, and that his own plan will do the same for the new “alien threat.” Which he intends to use as prison camp in order to weaponize Inhumans in a bid for more power.
Meanwhile, Bobbi and Hunter’s recent spark of doubt about their own work—in light of Bobbi being tortured by Ward and Creel killing their friends then being assigned to work with them—is fanned into a full-on inferno when they realize the simple truth that’s been staring them in the face since the day they reconnected: they love each other more than they love S.H.I.E.L.D.
It’s a truth that gives me more hope than ever for Marvel’s Most Wanted, because there’s really nothing sexier than a devoted couple willing to lay down their lives for one another every week. And as great as the TV landscape is these days, there’s always room for Bobbi and Hunter’s patented The Thin Man-by-way-of-James-Bond shenanigans. Nick Blood’s irreverence and Adrienne Palicki’s wit makes for as good a chemistry as we’ve seen in the Marvel Universe.
And that ending… Oh, man. As each of their teammates, forbidden from approaching them, sends a drink to their table in gratitude for their sacrifice (the “spy’s goodbye”), I felt, to my own amazement, my eyes start to sting. When Jemma started to cry I lost it. And when Mack started to well up? Well, let’s just say that I’m glad my wife wasn’t home. Though “Parting Shot” has reminded me that I need to take her on a vacation real soon.
— “You want to know the key to a good mushroom soup?”
— I love Hunter’s come-hither eyes when he gazes at Bobbi as she spies on Malick in the snow. Who could blame her for wanting to run off with him?!
— “Amadeus Ravenclaw Hunter.”
— Marvel/May’s dig against DC’s Man of Steel was also most hilarious: “Anyone can snap a person’s neck.”
— Bobbi it must be said looks magnificent in her ushanka, and that bit where she adjusts it after ruthlessly dispatching an enemy? Pure James Fucking Bond.
— “You ready, sestra?” Orphan Black in the house, y’all!
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).
Image Credit: ABC