Alright fellow Nerdom dwellers, I had intended to do one final post on the end of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2, but the whole damn thing became too long and only really touched on just a few things I wanted to say about each character and ark. So here is what I’m gonna do. I will to do a post per character/ark so that way I will be able fully articulate what in the hell is going on in the show and my hopes for season 3. You can read about Ward/Kara. Now we are going to have a damn fine cup of coffee and talk about Cal.
Show: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2
Stars: Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, Brett Dalton, Nick Blood, Henry Simmons, Adrianne Palicki, Ruth Negga, Kyle MacLachlan, Edward James Olmos, Dichen Lachman, Maya Stojan, Luke Mitchell, Jamie Harris
Kyle MacLachlan might be one of the more strange guys in Hollywood, but he is also one of the better actors out there. His casting into AOS was one of the more exiting announcements made for season 2. In the hands of any other actor, Cal would have been campy and annoying. MacLachlan found the heart of Cal and even when he was crazy and tearing people apart, you never doubted that he loved his family and in his own weirdo way was trying to be the best father he could be for them.
I know Calvin Johnson/Zabo originates in the comics, but I don’t know too much (or really anything) about his character and his Mr. Hyde alter ego. So I am going to focus solely on his AOS persona.
When we first meet Cal in episode 2 “Heavy is the Head,” all we really get to see of him is his hands are covered in blood, he knows what the Obelisk/Diviner does, and why Raina (Negga) can touch it and not die. He comes off as a typical big bad, but in episode 5 “A Hen in the Wolf House” we start to see that he can be much more terrifying than a typical big bad and has a very short temper. Anyone who can scare Raina into running to Whitehall (Reed Diamond) for mercy and not fall victim to her charms is a scary person in my book. She may annoy me, but chica is tough and resourceful.
Whitehall is like the Operative in Serenity, he is completely justified in his cause (in his own head), he will smile while you are dying and explain to you exactly why your death is a good death as if it your understanding of the situation matters. Cal is like Glory from Buffy, he will be calm one moment, but then he will go to 11 and beat you to death, and then apologize sincerely to your dead body (he really didn’t mean to hurt you). For all his crazy, he is very cunning when he is calm. If it wouldn’t have been for those meddling S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents, Cal would have gotten Whitehall down into the tunnels instead of Agent Tripplet (the much missed B.J. Britt) and Whitehall would have met a different fate than a bullet. I don’t know if you guys caught that plan the first time around when he essentially tells it to Whitehall in episode 8 “The Things We Bury,” it took me a second viewing of season 2 to realize Cal is brilliant. Obviously being married to Jiaying (Lachman), he knew all about the Inhumans and what the Diviner would do when in the temple. He would have gotten the transformation for his daughter and a weapon for his revenge all in one Terrigen Mist. He even tells Whitehall where he is going after he completes his task, to Afterlife so he can be with his family.
Cal is desperate to be with his family and earn the approval (and forgiveness) of Jiaying. He constantly refers to her in the past tense until he gets to Afterlife because he lost her and the person she was before Whitehall tore her apart. Instead of trying to get Skye to Afterlife so she could be amongst her people and family, he tries to get her into a temple so she will go thru Terrigenesis. Jiaying explains in episode 17 “Melinda” that there is a huge amount of scrutiny surrounding anyone who could go thru Terrigenesis due to problems in the past. Her child would be under the most amount of suspicion because in the past a mother has shown she would do anything for her child to the point of destruction. Cal figures he could earn back his daughter and his wife if he were to transform Skye into the person she was meant to become without the interference of any elders at Afterlife.
Episode 13 “One of Us” the diner scene came off as homage to Reservoir Dogs, much like the diner scene in episode 14 “Love in the Time of Hydra” was like the opening to Pulp Fiction. Do the writers have a big crush on Quinten Tarrantino? I find it interesting that in the episode he went after people that are like him. They are not born with the powers they possess and they turned themselves into a threat like he did. He knows they will relate to him and hate S.H.I.E.L.D. for stopping what they considered progress for themselves. He also specifically targets Coulson and not S.H.I.E.L.D. itself. He sees Coulson as the man who replaced him as Skye/Daisy’s father and the man who took away his revenge plan on Whitehall.
In many moments after Cal gets to meet Skye we start to kinda love and feel sorry for the guy. He lost everything to S.H.I.E.L.D./Hydra and their experiments with powered-persons. In episode 18 “The Frenemey of My Enemy,” we get to see more of the Cal he was before the science experiments he did to himself and we/Skye start to see him as a possible victim of bad circumstance. In episode 21/22 “S.O.S.” we even find out that all of the people he killed in the Hunan Providence (supposedly to find out where they hid baby Skye/Daisy) was on Jiaying’s orders so she could get her strength back after Whitehall cut her up. He is so full of love that he becomes blind to the fact that the woman he fell in love with is no longer there. He continues to follow her even though he knows the kind of person she had become. It does not sink in how dangerous she is until he realizes that she would harm her own daughter to get what she wants. When he chooses to step in and kill Jiaying so Skye does not have to have than on her conscience, it hits me right in the feels every time I see it. It is those moments you see the love and grief in him that MacLachlan does so well.
In the end, Cal gets the Hollywood ending he didn’t think he would get. Coulson arranges for him to have his memory wiped so he can go on and be the man he was before. I wish they could have found a way to keep MacLachlan around for at least a chunk of season three. I am going to miss both the actor and the character on the show. Hopefully the producers find a way to bring him back for an episode or two. Hey, Coulson eventually started to get his memories back. Maybe Ward will find him and try to get info out of him with a machine like they did Coulson! That would be a dream for me in season three.
So what did you think of Cal? I can’t decide between “Calm and cool as a cucumber,” or “Best day ever,” is MacLachlan’s big line for his character.
Next up, more Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this time I think I am going to tackle the wonderful divorced duo of Bobbie and Hunter. Till next time!