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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Rise and Shine - Review

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “Rise and Shine” was written by Iden Baghdadchi and was directed by Jesse Bochco. Baghdadchi previously wrote for the “Slingshot” mini-series of S.H.I.E.L.D. This was a terrifically written and acted episode. I loved all the parallels. We get some much needed insight into Hale (Catherine Dent) and finally find out what happened to Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) – I do hope they let him keep his hair! I’m also glad to see that the show isn’t going to keep us wondering about poor Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge).

The episode begins with Coulson (Clark Gregg) being dropped off at his new accommodations. Hale tells him that they’ll talk in the morning. It’s her standard way of throwing off prisoners. But she’s underestimated Coulson. Coulson knows it’s not an Air Force operation, and Hale admits she’s Hydra. She wants to tell him her story, and she’s sure that he’ll see it’s time for S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra to unite. I loved Gregg’s face here – no words are necessary!

The show then proceeds to tell us Hale’s story, starting 28 years ago. We hear the alarm for Hydra school: “Good Morning. Rise and seize the future!” As the camera pans out, we realize that we are in the same bunker that Hale has been using all along. I loved the parallel her with the first time we saw Ruby (Dove Cameron). I also love that as Hale (Alyssa Jirrels) wakes up, we see that she has a dog – and I knew exactly where this was going. What a terrific way to circle back to how Ward (Brett Dalton) was tortured! The music playing also sets us squarely in the time period.

Unlike the empty hallways that we see with Ruby, they are packed with other students. The cafeteria is likewise staffed and full. Hale is clearly ambitious – and the teacher’s pet. It was fun to see Reed Diamond back as Daniel Whitehall – there to drone on about another placement opportunity. Professor Steger (Graham Sibley) mentions a final, final exam that will be happening that night as he introduces Whitehall.

Whitehall tells them that they are close to creating a super-soldier with a particle-infusion chamber. It’s always nice to have a quick reference to Steve Rogers, and it really feels like the show is at least mirroring some of what’s to come in Avengers: Infinity War – though there’s no indication of a real collaboration. Hale impresses Whitehall and makes Teenage Von Strucker (Joey Defore) look bad. Von Strucker looks to the past, while Hale looks to the future and outer space. Von Strucker looks for some payback in the gym, and we get a taste of Hale’s violent bad temper.

The next day, all the other kids are getting placements. We see Jasper’s (Adam Faison) placement into S.H.I.E.L.D.’s administration. Hale is still waiting, and Jasper tells her that she’s not going to get one after she punched the future leader of Hydra in the face! However, Whitehall wants to see her personally. She’s one of the few women to make it to commencement, and she proves that she’s passed the final test by handing over her dog’s collar.

Her happiness that Whitehall has picked her doesn’t last long. Von Strucker got the plum assignment to work on the chamber. All Whitehall really wants from Hale is her womb. In point of fact, he tells her that she’s the only one who can perform the final part of the experiment. She’ll ensure the future of Hydra by providing the perfect subject for the chamber. Hale wants to know about her own future. Whitehall tells her that she’ll be placed in the air force in deep cover.

        Maybe she’ll even become an astronaut – there’s the space comment coming back to bite her in the ass. Hale asks if she has any other choice – and Whitehall tells her she always has the option not to comply – while clearly meaning exactly the opposite. And kudos to Jirrels for doing a fabulous job capturing so many of Dent’s mannerisms.

We jump to 2 years ago. The same alarm – “Good morning. Rise and seize the future” – wakes Ruby who also has a dog. There are fewer students, but still a few. Hale proudly watches Ruby beating the crap out of the boys in her class. Professor Steger is still there, and he tells her that Ruby’s weaknesses are more glaring than Hale thinks. Steger tells her that leadership have yet to make a decision about Ruby’s future. Hale insists that Whitehall designed her to lead – but Steger reminds her that Whitehall is dead.

Ruby and Hale have lunch. Ruby wants to know about her placement – she doesn’t want anywhere boring like the Air Force! Hale sings the praises of the Air Force and mentions that she joined because of the possibility of becoming an astronaut. Clearly, the two aren’t very close. Ruby had no idea that Hale wanted to be an astronaut – and we see that that was taken away from her because she had to have Ruby. Their lunch is interrupted by a phone call – no doubt the beginning of the end for Hydra!

Hale reports to General Fischer (Rocky McMurray) who tells her that S.H.I.E.L.D. has Gideon Mallick, and he’s placing her in charge of communications. After New York, they found transceivers in the wreckage of one of the Shitari cruisers and reached out. The made contact with an alliance of several races calling themselves the Confederacy. The two are interrupted by Talbot and Fischer yells Hail Hydra before taking a cyanide pill. Hale acts distressed, and Talbot assures her that she’ll never have to see another squid again!

Back at the Hydra bunker, Ruby if refusing to kill her dog. She’s the only student still left, so why should she. Steger is insisting. Ruby refuses to obey Steger – that would be weakness. He grabs Ruby’s hand and Hale shoots him! They’re the last two.

Another time jump takes us to 6 months ago, and a recovering Talbot! He’s in the hospital and his family is trying to help him recover. Carla (Raquel Gardner) is confused as to why they want to move him – he’s getting better. Clearly, they are giving something that is making him lose control and he explodes at his young son, George (Jack Fisher).

Talbot wakes up in the bunker – just as we saw Von Strucker do a couple of episodes ago. He wanders into the empty cafeteria – and the more limited breakfast supply. How much did I love how excited he got over the Cap’n Crunch. Ruby walks in with her music blaring and completely ignores Talbot’s attempts to communicate with her. He follows her to the gym. When he reaches for her earphones, she grabs his hand and puts him on the floor.

Hale arrives and Talbot is shocked to find out that she has a daughter. Talbot tries to pull rank on her, and Ruby pulls her knife Frisbee on him. Hale tells him that his Air Force career is over – and his family is afraid of him. Hale tries a little more psychological warfare on him. She tells him that there was a time in her life when everything felt out of control and she needed a new purpose – she sees Talbot going through the same thing and she thinks they can help each other. Sounds an awful lot like the conversations that she’s recently had with Coulson.

Hale shows Talbot the machine she uses to communicate with the Confederacy. Apparently, the machine is also used to move ships around the galaxy! She tells him about meeting with the other races and that her predecessors had also made a deal for protection against the war that’s coming to earth. Talbot wants to know why he hadn’t heard about it. Hale tells him that she inherited the project from Fischer on the day that he died. Talbot immediately wants to know what flag she flies. Hale tries to make the point that that is irrelevant. She’s not wrong. They should be banding together to fight a common enemy. Hale insists that she didn’t choose Hydra, she was born into it – the same way he was born American.

Hale tries to get him to renounce S.H.I.E.L.D. by pointing out that Daisy (Chloe Bennet) shot him in the head. And it’s possible I cheered just a little bit when Talbot told Hale it wasn’t Daisy! He knew! Hale isn’t stupid enough to deny that it was an LMD that shot him, but shifts the blame back onto S.H.I.E.L.D. who created the technology. Hale maintains that the symbols are irrelevant when they are fighting for their survival.

Talbot wants to know what kind of weapon Hale has. She tells him that it’s an old Hydra device. He’s figured out why he’s there. He tells Hale that he’s not going to get anything from him. He hid the Hydra contraband – and he’s not talking. Hale insists that she’s trying to save humanity – and give him that as his new purpose. Talbot refuses, and Hale has him cuffed to a wheelchair and taken away. Talbot insists that she can’t do this to him – but more importantly, he’s sure that Coulson is coming for him.

We finally catch up to 24 hours ago. Coulson wakes up – but he hasn’t slept in the bed, merely on it. Just like Talbot and Von Strucker, he makes his way to the rather bare cafeteria. He watches Ruby come in, and immediately knows it’s meant to keep him off balance when she doesn’t respond to him or acknowledge him. Coulson is excited to find Oops All Berries – another Cap’n Crunch flavor that I wasn’t even aware of! But it’s real! Coulson doesn’t play along and tells Ruby that when Hale is done playing games, he’ll be in his room. Ruby doesn’t react, but she watches him as he leaves – she’s clearly intrigued.

Hale comes to Coulson’s room. He asks her if Ruby is responsible for cutting off his Agent’s arms. Hale tells Coulson that Ruby is her daughter. Hale again doesn’t argue with Coulson, but agrees with him and then offers to show him what she’s working on.

As soon as Coulson sees the Alien writing, he declares the machine a bad idea. Hale starts the machine and asks Coulson to take one of the handles. When Hale threatens him, Coulson complies. Qovas (Peter Mensah) wants to know why Hale has brought Coulson. I loved the look on Coulson’s face when she calls him one of Earth’s mightiest heroes! Gregg is also great as he is clearly a bit taken aback by Qovas and his sudden appearance.

Hale has brought Coulson because she wants Qovas to convince Coulson to work with them. Qovas tells Coulson that that war is coming to Earth and they will protect them – but Coulson knows there’s a price tag. Qovas tells him the price is much smaller than what Qovas shows him. Coulson sees a gigantic ship. Coulson knows that the Confederacy wants the gravitonium as part of the price, and Hale tells him they also want the Inhumans – and Coulson immediately knows why he’s there.

Coulson points out that the Confederacy could easily be lying to them, letting them arm them and then enslave them. Coulson suggests that they should be fighting back – and Hale is thrilled that someone finally gets it. Coulson suddenly seems on board with working together towards this common goal.

Hale brings up the particle infusion chamber, which Whitehall designed to create the most powerful human. Coulson immediately thinks of Captain America – but Hale says better than that. And she wants the person to be a woman. Coulson points out that Ruby doesn’t have the qualifications. Steve Rogers was chosen for his heart. Hale tells him that Ruby was bioengineered to be optimal for particle infusion, but Hale surprisingly says that Ruby isn’t ready – and thinks that Ruby might not have the temperament. Hale wants to use Daisy! She didn’t just sacrifice a dog for the cause – she sacrificed her own boyfriend – let’s not forget that Ruby didn’t want to kill the dog – who we haven’t actually seen in the present…

Hale describes Daisy as “powerful, intelligent and calculating” – not the first words that come to my mind. Coulson is already starting to have doubts about his alliance – and the parallel of two parents talking about their daughters is well done here. Hale wants to infuse Daisy with gravitonium and then send her to take out the alien armies. The clincher is when Hale tells Coulson the code name for the project: Destroyer of Worlds.

Coulson tells Hale no. And then explains that the team hadn’t been in hiding – they’d travelled to the future – where the planet had been broken and they’d seen the aftermath of the program. Hale’s actions caused it. He begs her to stop looking for the machine. Hale clearly has a huge chip on her shoulder – and we can see where that seed was planted – it’s great to have such a rich backstory on her. She asks Coulson if in his scenario he’s the big strong man rushing in to save her from her mistakes. Hale declares that he’s just like all the others. She has him dragged away – to become more reasonable.

Ruby visits Coulson and wants to know if he really travelled to the future. She wants to know how she failed. She’s the Destroyer of Worlds… Coulson tells her that it wasn’t her. And Ruby knows immediately that it was Daisy, and she wants to know where she is. Coulson tells her that it’s a bad idea – she can’t beat Daisy. Ruby threatens him, and he maintains that he’s not talking.

Ruby brings in Talbot – the last guy who said he wasn’t talking. Poor Talbot is a mess. He’s clearly happy to see Coulson, but admits that he finally talked when it became clear that S.H.I.E.L.D. wasn’t coming. He tells Coulson he’s sorry as he’s dragged away again. But did he really tell them anything? Have they already got the machine? I’m hoping that Talbot only pretended to tell them things.

We finally catch up to NOW and shift focus to the Lighthouse. May (Ming-Na Wen) and Daisy. They’ve figured out that Hale is Hydra. In an echo of current events, Daisy wonders why they’re still fighting Nazis. Daisy is spinning with next steps, and May steps in to play second as she’s done so well for Coulson all this time. She tells Daisy that Coulson picked her for a reason and to just take a breath. May tells her to rely on her combat training. Take what you have and use it to your advantage.

May suddenly remembers that they have a super villain – Fitz! May reminds Fitz – and us – that she was also Hydra in the Framework. May tells Fitz that she made decision she regrets too, but Fitz reminds her that this isn’t the Framework. Fitz also tells her that he doesn’t regret what he did either. May tells him that she doesn’t want him to regret it – she wants him to embrace it.

Mack (Henry Simmons) and Simmons, meanwhile, are attaching Yo-Yo’s (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) new arms. He wants to know if she needs to consult Fitz, and Simmons tells him no need. Clearly, she is avoiding having any contact with him. Mack tries to help her by explaining what it was like in the Framework – because Simmons wasn’t plugged in the way the rest of them were. He tells her it was you but not you. Mack does finally give Simmons some insight – but inadvertantly.

The new arms work, and Mack asks if Yo-Yo will now be stronger than she was. Simmons says theoretically, yes. Simmons asks if there’s something wrong, and Mack tells her that lately, Yo-Yo thinks she can’t die because she saw herself in the future alive. Simmons then muses that if Yo-Yo subscribes to Fitz’s theory that time can’t be changed, she can’t die – except, of course, that Yo-Yo does die – many times. But Simmons does gain insight from this.

Fitz concludes that Hale is building a weapon because she wants the gravitonium. May wants to know why she wants Coulson, but Fitz needs to know Hale’s target to figure that out. Fitz asks for a few hours access to the computers and labs in order to figure it out.

Daisy comes in – not a chance. Fitz knew that she was listening. May tries to get them to play nicely, but Daisy is still furious. Fitz tries logic – they had to seal the rift and there was only one way. Fitz asks if Daisy would have agreed if he’d asked, and she says never. Fitz maintains that he didn’t have a choice, and she quakes him into the wall.

Daisy points out that she was the one who was drugged and restrained and had no choice. Fitz tells her that he doesn’t feel good about it, but in a few hours, the town above them also would have been affected – he had to sacrifice the one for the many… He tells her that he’s sorry, but he doesn’t need her forgiveness, he only needs her to trust him.

Fitz tries to point out that his Framework connection to Hydra is actually an advantage in their current situation. Daisy tells him that they don’t turn on their own here – and Fitz tries to remind her of the many times that she turned on the team – like when she went with her mother – and abandoned the team – after Lincoln. Fitz isn’t wrong!!! Daisy is determined to go after Hale – but Fitz tries to point out how dangerous it would be with her having her powers back and Hale having the gravitonium. Daisy rushes out with May following.

May is not happy with Daisy’s plan – she’s going to bring Rose out of hiding. Daisy tells May they need every weapon at their disposal. Why do I have a feeling that this is where Rose’s mother ends up dead?

The final scene is one of my favorites. Simmons brings Fitz tea – and reassurance. Fitz is clearly scared when Simmons tells him that she’s been thinking about them. Simmons, naturally, sees it and tells him to relax – she knows they get through this. She shows him a knife. He assumes that it’s his because he got the number 17 engraved on it after his injury because he couldn’t remember the name. But it’s NOT his knife, and she produces his. The first one is clearly much more worn and older than Fitz’s.

Simmons tells Fitz that she got the other one from Deke (Jeff Ward) who got it from his Grandfather. De Caestecker is fantastic as the penny drops. Fitz tells her that Deke is the worst, but she already thinks he’s perfect! She also points out that Deke’s existence proves that the two of them make it to the Lighthouse and live long enough to raise a daughter. And it means that the two of them, contrary to being cursed, are actually invincible!

I loved how this episode helped to shed so much light on Hydra, Hale and Ruby. It was great to see Talbot back. Henstridge and De Caestecker never fail to disappoint. I also really liked Fitz actually firing back at Daisy. She’s not perfect either – but they can all do better, right? Clark Gregg is also terrific in this episode, and I have to say that I’m happy that even if S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t get picked up for another season, we can still look forward to seeing him in Captain Marvel… but it will be a real shame if ABC doesn’t give us another season. I will never not be baffled as to why this show doesn’t have better ratings. It is, for me, by far the best “superhero” show on television – I’m not counting streaming. The writing and the acting are consistently fantastic and it has great special effects and stunts to support it too… What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Favorite Lines

Coulson: Not my first rodeo, so I may have already figured out a little bit of what’s going on here.
Talbot: After today, you’ll never have to see one of those squids again.
Talbot: I still out rank you!
Talbot: Crossfit Tinkerbell is your daughter?
Talbot: This one’s nuttier than a Butterfinger!
Talbot: I know you think I’ve lost my onions. But I’ve got a feeling it was one of Anton Ivanov’s tin cans.
Talbot: You filthy calamari Mati Hari.
Talbot: I would rather die on my two legs than slither on eight with you.
Coulson: Is this supposed to keep me off balance or something? Having me stumble out to an Econo-Lodge Continental breakfast?
Coulson: Seems like a major strike against home-schooling.
Coulson: I’m good. I’ve already been to space. Pretty recently too.
Hale: He considers himself humanities’ shield. One of Earth’s mightiest heroes.
Hale: You’re familiar with Whitehall? Coulson: I buried him. Go team!
Coulson: The idea is to put your ninja daughter into that chamber?
Coulson: I can’t tell you, but I can recommend some medication. Preferably at a high dosage.
Daisy: Hale Hydra. Seriously?
Mack: It’s not that Fitz is still a bad guy out here, it’s that he was still a good guy in there.
Fitz: I can’t do anything while I’m locked away in this dungeon like a hideous freckled step child. Simmons: Please. You’re not in the least bit hideous.
Fitz: She quaked me against the wall and then stormed out, so yeah it was quite productive.
Fitz: It means that our daughter is obviously going to marry some belligerent space goon, and she’s going to give birth to a “Deke!”
Simmons: No, Fitz. It means you and I are invincible.

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