by Thom Yee
What “Repairs” should be is an attempt to shed light on the most enigmatic member of our team, Melinda May — pilot, hand-to-hand combat specialist, sometimes referred to as “The Cavalry” for exploits that have grown to near mythical proportions throughout S.H.I.E.L.D. May’s one of those people that we may see in life, but will probably never really meet. She’s quiet, hard to get a read on, almost aloof. She rarely smiles, never laughs, and if you examine the social structure of the people she’s with, she’s clearly the most separate from the rest of the group. And that’s a character type that I completely understand. From what little we learn of May in “Repairs”, it’s clear that she experienced something horrible, something that affected her so deeply that she would never be the same. A trauma (or traumas) that would make her distant, never able to truly integrate or accept herself as a part of the group, knowing that it’s better for everyone if she holds back, stays away, even if that leads people to the wrong conclusions about her. I think the writers really understand the type of character Melinda May is and where people like her are coming from, and I truly mean that as a compliment. It’s too bad that’s the B story.
In the A story, Hannah, our latest freak-of-the-week, has become a hated and persecuted member of her small community for an accident that killed four people at the plant she was responsible for. Our Agents step in when they find evidence to suggest her accidents may actually be telekinetic manifestations. Right here and before we get to the rest of our synopsis, I feel it’s important enough to bring this synopsis to full stop and point out that the cold open that introduced these concepts and this episode was one of the weakest I’ve ever seen, reminiscent of some of the most hackneyed storytelling and poor acting typical of telekinetic horror stories. So anyway, S.H.I.E.L.D. takes our young Hannah into custody where they discover the accidents she seems to be causing are in fact the actions of a phantom survivor of the plant accident who was actually responsible for the accident and is holding on to life because he’s in love with Hannah and doesn’t want to go to Hell for his misdeeds. It’s the kind of story that we can all see coming and that we hope isn’t really all the show’s about once we’ve figured out that’s where the story’s going. For me, it’s the type of story I’ll somewhat automatically reject on the basis of constructs like Heaven, Hell, demons, or people being punished by God, but most important in the overall rejection is the fact that it’s a boring, banal, moralistic story that makes you throw your hands up and say “Oh God” in the most eye-rolling way possible.
“Hannah and the boyfriend from Hell” is a complete failure, one that not only spectacularly fails to capitalize on the fact that, hey, this is the Marvel universe, but, even more importantly, gives us a story we don’t want to see. At all. The B story, what’s actually going on with our Agents, proves to be much stronger, giving us meaningful insights on Melinda May (though this episode is entirely tell and don’t show on that front), and reminding us that Coulson is thinking a little bit ahead of the rest of the team (and hopefully the audience). He has an agenda he’s pursuing that’s much more human than just putting together another S.H.I.E.LD. squad. In the case of Melinda May, someone he knew before she became The Cavalry, he’s trying to help her, just like he’s trying to help Skye, to become the best person she can be rather than the one she’s become. What’s most unfortunate is that the links between A and B are so tenuous that they don’t need each other at all, and the strength of the B story is significantly pulled down from its attachment to such a non-miraculous A story.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “Repairs” final score: 6
Items of Note:
-C’mon writers, no Easter eggs in the newspaper headlines?
-C’mon, Agent Ward, romaine is for salads, you should’ve found some greenleaf for your sandwich! And why didn’t you spread the mayo over the whole piece of bread? That’s going to be one non-miraculous snack experience.