Warning: This recap for the “Parting Shot” episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. contains spoilers.
We’ve been building to this for a while. Plans to spin off Bobbi Morse (Adrianne Palicki) and Lance Hunter (Nick Blood) onto their own show in Season 2 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. were seemingly tanked, but revived earlier in Season 3. With Agent Carter’s lackluster ratings — and with Hayley Atwell starring in another pilot for ABC — Bobbi and Lance got a storyline send off that will almost certainly lead to Marvel’s Most Wanted filling in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s winter break slot in 2017.
Bobbi and Hunter have been captured by the Russian military and are charged with assassinating three Russian politicians. Flashback to 34 hours earlier: The couple are surveilling the Siberian compound where Malick is starting his Inhuman sanctuary. The Russian Prime Minister is coming and Malick plans to kill him and mount a coup more friendly to his plans. He releases the Minister of Defense, who also happens to be an Inhuman with the power to control sentient Darkforce. The team rescues the Prime Minister, but kills the Minister. Hunter is to be executed, but President Ellis steps in and they are disavowed — never again to work for the U.S. or S.H.I.E.L.D.
A Fond Farewell
Even though there was zero chance either of them would be killed, an intractable situation in a Siberian prison is a good place for Bobbi and Hunter to be at their most heartfelt and vulnerable. Palicki’s face as the Interpol investigator says, “Your weakness is each other,” feels real. Going from that to, moments later, gunning down the General, knowing that it would save her team’s life while almost certainly dooming hers, is intense.
It also allowed Blood to display the full range of his character. From the simple sweetness of staring at Bobbi in the snow as she watched the base through binoculars to the snark of giving his name: Amadeus Ravenclaw Hunter. We got to see the culmination of his arc from feckless rogue under Agent Hartley (the still-lamented Lucy Lawless) to lovesick boy to reasonably dedicated S.H.I.E.L.D. agent to disillusioned ex-spy who, when push came to shove, still stood by the agency even when it could mean his or Bobbi’s life.
They weren’t always a great fit for the show. When both first came into the fold, it smacked of Cousin Oliver: Bringing in pretty new faces to distract from some of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s deficiencies. Hunter’s snark felt shoehorned in and Bobbi felt like a cut-rate Black Widow. But by Season 3, the writers managed to find the balance of jokes and real sentiment that made them feel like a real couple and like a vital part of the team. Hopefully, this means that the reserve members of the Secret Warriors will be brought in to fill the gap. But those are big shoes to fill and it’ll be a long time before they feel comfortable again.
Their final scene — drinking in a bar and thinking of somewhere to go on the vacation they’ve never been able to go on — is a beautiful send-off. Each S.H.I.E.L.D. member individually — and surreptitiously — toasting them before melting away into the night. A spy’s goodbye. When Agents tugs at the heartstrings, it’s always a welcome and perfectly executed moment.
* May and Hunter made their peace with each other just in time. It’s always fun to see her wanting to be mad at him, but unable to. Like when he tells her his plan involves hitting people, her half-smile is pure magic.
* Line of the Night: “You wanna know the key to a good mushroom soup? Dried porcinis.” Don’t think we weren’t taking down this recipe in hopes of cobbling together something for a cold winter night.
* Other Best Line of the Night: “There’s no cheeseburgers where we’re going.” It’s an awkward line, but wonderfully rendered and is as touching as it is silly.
* Never admit you did something wrong. If you get caught, just tell them you were mushroom picking.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC.