Agents of SHIELD, Season 2, Episode 12: “Who You Really Are”
Written by Drew Z. Greenberg
Directed by Roxann Dawson
Airs Tuesdays at 9pm (ET) on ABC
Sif’s first appearance on Agents of SHIELD in “Yes Men” is a highlight in an otherwise uneven first season. It is thus strange that in season two, Sif’s big return in “Who You Really Are” is a bit of a letdown.
“Who You Really Are” isn’t a bad episode, per se. As Sif, Jaimie Alexander gets a few good moments of comic relief (“Odin? You’ve met him!” “Shut up!”), and all of the action scenes are well-executed, particularly the fights between Adrianne Palicki’s Bobbi Morse and Vin-Tak, played by guest star Eddie McClintock. The gun falling apart in Skye’s hand is also a smart way to show off her powers, and how her lack of control over them can actually hurt her.
The weakest parts of the episode are Sif’s memory loss and the romance between Hunter and Bobbi. Sif is a great powerful female character, as seen in the Thor films and “Yes Men”, but because of her memory loss, she is a more passive character this episode, with Coulson and May moving the action forward instead. Jaimie Alexander plays Sif with innocence and wonder, and it is very funny. The problem is that this will probably be Sif’s only appearance in season two. If the writers had her sticking around for a while, the episode would be more enjoyable. As it is, it needed more of Sif as her awesome, full-powered self.
Bobbi and Hunter’s romance is not developing as well as it could be. Most of their dialogue in “Who You Really Are” is redundant and repetitive. They tell each other how great they are in bed, and Hunter reminds Bobbi that their flings inevitably turn cold, and it can never work between them long-term. This is all old news. Fortunately, it looks like the storyline with Mack and Bobbi’s big secret is moving forward, and Hunter’s relationship with Bobbi will be over for now. However, the writers could have made better use of the scenes with Bobbi and Hunter, and could have really twisted the knife when Mack took Hunter down.
On the other hand, May and Skye’s relationship is developing very nicely in season two. May being Skye’s mentor is a much better dynamic than their weird Ward jealousy in season one, and two of the episode’s best scenes are between May and Skye. The training scene expertly balances past events surrounding Triplett’s death and the present concerns of Skye getting back in the field, as well as Skye keeping her powers a secret from May. Plus, it wraps up with May drily offering to give Fitz a fighting lesson. Their conversation about control also pays off well later on, when Sif and Vin-Tak are both after Skye. Rather than join them in eliminating or imprisoning Skye, May acts as Skye’s protector. It is a touching moment in the midst of a lot of action and chaos.
The high point of the episode, though, is the fall-out from Fitz’s lie. Once again, Fitz sees himself as not being part of the team. He is compelled to protect Skye, someone who is now an outsider like him, and right now he cares more about Skye’s well-being than being completely honest with Simmons. Fitz and Simmons are not the inseparable Wonder Twins of season one anymore, and Fitz’s lie is pushing her and the rest of the team away. Even Fitz’s good buddy Mack refuses to take his side, making Fitz more isolated than ever. The scene works so well because neither side is wrong. Mack and Bobbi are right in that the team deserved to know the truth and protect themselves accordingly, but Fitz is right too. They have not coped well since Fitz’s injury, and did not always support him the way that they should have. It is unlikely that they would have handled Skye’s change any better. The dialogue is on point, and everyone’s acting, especially Iain De Caestecker’s, is excellent.
Overall, “Who You Really Are” is a mixed bag, but the parts that work are so good that it will probably be easy to gloss over the rest in retrospect. The only thing left to do is implore the writers of Agents of SHIELD to bring back Sif more often. Regardless of one’s feelings about Sif’s memory loss, it is really good to see Jaimie Alexander throw a European tourist down the beach.
Stray thought, one wonders what Ward is up to while Coulson’s team is fighting amongst themselves. He is due to show up again sometime soon, once Coulson’s team is truly broken.