Marvel’s Agents of Shield has always held a unique ability, capable of building deep and resonant characters in a fantastical, yet realistically grounded world. Shield hasn’t always succeeded in utilizing this, sometimes moving too far to the ends of the spectrum, though the series has hit that sweet spot more and more as the show matures. But “Parting Shot” is a microcosm of the shows entire existence, representing the show’s past, present, and future, and all of the good and the bad that comes along with it.
But let’s not pretend the ending didn’t happen. Everyone, raise a glass to Bobbi and Hunter. It was an emotional spy’s goodbye.
And it was emotional because this episode earned it. Bobbi, aka Mockingbird, never really received her due focus on Shield, and Hunter, while always a snarky joy to watch, never really brought much beyond comedic relief and some hot-headed action. But this episode focused entirely on their characters, and it was difficult to ignore the time they’ve put in on the show and the inevitable strength of their relationship together. “Parting Shot” was a marathon episode for their characters, offering truth, depth, and reality for them together as they ran the physical and emotional gambit.
“Parting Shot” had a very strong first 15 minutes, as Bobbi and Hunter snuck towards a Siberian base where Malick had landed. At first, I was hopeful that this would be another episode akin to “4,722 Hours”, which focused entirely on Jemma’s time on an alien planet. Alas, this was not the case, though I was grateful for the extended period of time we had to focus solely on Hunter and Bobbi, whether it was outside of the Siberian base or being interrogated the next day. Adrianne Palicki and Nick Blood both gave outstanding performances this week, and gave their characters the depth they deserved.
After some enjoyable interrogation and some endearing banter outside, Bobbi and Hunter are joined by May, Daisy, and Mac to infiltrate the base. Throughout the episode, scenes jumped between the base mission and the interrogation to great effect. However, after we got some nice scenes with Bobbi and Hunter, the other characters’ flat approaches felt in the way. Not that these characters aren’t generally enjoyable, but they just couldn’t bring the same performance game as Bobbi and Hunter.
The episode was also hindered by an excess of information. I was working pretty hard to keep up with what was happening in the middle of the episode. Names and titles were blended together, character introductions sped by, and important information could easily be lost by the casual viewer. Shield usually does a pretty good job with keeping things accessible for the audience, but the middle of this episode got messy, particularly as characters were difficult to always tell apart, and the cinematography did little to assist.
The general as a villain was completely brushed over outside of his awesome power, though it did lead to an excellent fight scene as Bobbi and Daisy faced off against some shadow fighters. This was a highlight for the episode thanks to a blend of great special effects and well-choreographed fighting.
In the end, though it was an enjoyable episode, a lot of it ended up feeling forced for the sake of giving Bobbi and Hunter a reason to leave the show with a proper send-off. And while this is respectable, I’m not so sure it succeeded. Did Bobbi and Hunter REALLY need to be disavowed? I have little doubt something could have been figured out rather than the option that was selected.
Let’s talk that final scene: While a lot happened in this episode, not a lot had lasting effects on the series, save the exit of Bobbi and Hunter. But it was a sweet exit. Bobbi and Hunter sit in a bar, living a normal life for once, albeit being watched by someone in a suit at the bar. But drinks keep getting purchased for them by random people, who turn out to be the other agents. The dramatic music swells, and they all share in one final drink. It’s sad and sweet. But what really sells it is when Mack can’t quite take his drink.
It’s easy to forget that Hunter and Mack joined Shield together, and that they and Bobbi have a long history together. It’s referenced, and they’re obviously on the same team now, but they rarely share scenes together anymore. This is perhaps why it is all that much more sad when all of those memories come back to a long-time viewer as they watch Mack share a tearful goodbye with the couple.
Agents of Shield isn’t always an emotionally satisfying show but, when it is, it can really succeed. Though the middle of the episode and the other characters couldn’t quite provide the same level of excellence as Bobbi and Hunter, those two stole every moment they had this week and earned their emotional goodbye.
But don’t worry too much! Marvel’s Most Wanted could be right around the corner!
Have thoughts? Tweet at me: @LoganASchultz or @BagoGames
Marvel’s Agents of Shield airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on ABC.