Well friends, we made it. Agents of SHIELD has finished their season, and what a season it was. Truly, I have never been so invested in a show and watched it fall apart on me with such panache.
Last night, Agents of SHIELD killed a total of three characters, and each one was a woman of color.
But wait, it gets better!
First, we should look at Skye’s mom, Jiaying. And we should remember that as a character, Skye’s one truest hope and wish has been to meet her birthmother. Well fuck you for that, Skye! Your mother is full Magneto in a show that’s got no time or sympathy for that. In fact, she shot past Magneto the second she was willing to, that’s right, kill her own daughter to achieve her goal. Erik might be something of a hard-ass, but he would never kill Wanda to meet his own ends.
Pietro doesn’t count.
Now, to add insult to injury, Skye’s father, Cal Johnson, an actual supervillain in the comics, was not only given a second chance by Coulson, but got to save his daughter by killing his wife.
That’s right. He snapped her neck so that his daughter could survive. Because as a woman, and as an Inhuman other, she's just too far gone and too evil. We should’ve seen this coming! I mean, I think I’ve written about as much as I can about Jiaying and the Inhumans. We knew that the show didn’t care about ‘others,’ and we knew they would get vilified for opposing Coulson.
“Real SHIELD,” a plotline that came and went so quickly it’s barely worth mentioning, is only worth noting because the second they decided to work with Coulson, they were the good guys again. Bobbi and Mack were forgiven, and everyone decided to focus on killing the mutants- I’m sorry, the Inhumans.
Actually, can we talk about Bobbi for a second?
We were told by reviewers, critics, showrunners, that Grant Ward and Kara Palamas would be graphically torturing Bobbi Morse. And we did get some graphic torture, but as it turns out, the show really only wanted to torture Bobbi for two reasons: One, so Grant could see that he’s incapable of helping people (this whole setup was to get Bobbi to confess what she did and apologize to Kara.)
And secondly and MORE IMPORTANTLY, it was to get Lance to forgive Bobbi for not telling him about Real SHIELD. None of this was about Bobbi or Kara, in the long run. It was about the romantic relationships they were in, and how that affects the outcome of their male counterparts. Bobbi and Lance end up together and stronger than ever, and all it took was Bobbi almost dying for them to realize it!
And that brings us to Grant Ward. Grant Ward, who I have written quite a bit about, will be taking on the role as the ‘big bad’ next season. Why? Because he tried to help Kara and accidentally killed her. That’s right! Remember that he’s the only person on the show that proactively helped Kara after her brainwashing. And now she’s dead!
And listen. There’s a part of me that’s kind of here for villain Ward, because I love a good bad guy. But the thing is, the way they got him here is probably one of the most disgusting testaments to the style of AoS writing staff that I've ever seen on any show, period.
First of all, if they were going to vilify Ward, why bother giving us so much abuse backstory? So many abuse victims looked at Ward and saw hope for a second chance. What they got was a team of former friends that mocked his history of abuse. Literally mocked it! To his face! What a great joy that was.
And then, of course, the show has proven to Grant that he’s too broken to help anyone. That’s his literal villain origin story! You are too fucked up to help people, so you should hurt them instead.
Now, I trust this show to keep Ward’s character consistent about as much as I trust them to, I don’t know, not kill Women of Color. Or Queer Women! God, this season was like a feeding frenzy! But even so, adding Grant’s abusive backstory, making it an integral part of his character, only to do this, sends a very clear message to fans that are victims.
Agents of SHIELD doesn’t care! Abuse victims, as we know, are too hurt to ever do any good. You’re damaged. You’re broken. No one will ever forgive you for letting yourself get hurt.
That’s the message Agents of SHIELD has chosen to broadcast to its fans. And so if I just ride the show out, it will be as someone who can’t be this attached or look this deeply at the subtext of the show. Because the writers clearly don’t care. So why should I?
And quite honestly, Villain!Ward may end up being the only person that can give Coulson a run for his money. Because as the show showed us with Skye, especially, Coulson is the only one you can trust. Your mother is a monster. Your father is going to get his memory wiped, though, so you can still go see him from time to time. Your adoptive mother never got to resolve her issues with you. So the only person you can ever trust is your white, male dad.
That’s it, friends. That’s the show.
Raina, Kara, and Jiaying had to die for that.
My only hope for next season is that we get to see Skye superhero-ing about. That’s all I’ll be watching for. And, of course, to see if Grant finally lights Lola on fire. Do it, Grant! I’ll give you the match.
Thanks for sticking with me through all this Shade, friends! I wish it could’ve gone any number of ways. But in the end, this bullshit is so absolutely typical of the Whedons that I’m not sure what I expected.
I can’t believe I love Skye enough to watch season 3. How did this happen to me?
I think I’ll start The Flash. Only Barry Allen can save me at this point.
Shade on, friends. And shade strong.