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'Agents of SHIELD' episode 9 review: 'Repairs' has an 'X-Men' vibe

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Marvel's Agents of SHIELD continues its mission to build on character in Week Nine - coming in the wake of episodes that focused on Simmons, Fitz and Ward, 'Repairs' attempts to penetrate the frosty exterior of Ming-Na Wen's Melinda May.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD episode 9: 'Repairs'

© ABC / Kelsey McNeal

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD episode 9: 'Repairs'



The enticing recipe for this week's episode is one-part futuristic ghost tale, one-part tragic romance and - in the first act - one-part X-Men adventure, though of course Agents of SHIELD is forbidden from uttering the word "mutant".

Regardless, there's a strong X-Men feel to the first third of 'Repairs', as Hannah Hutchins (Laura Seay) appears to display telekinetic powers - unwittingly wreaking havoc wherever she goes - and is shunned and persecuted by the townsfolk of Batesville, Utah.

In previous weeks, Agents of SHIELD has relied heavily on the mythology of The Avengers and that entire cinematic universe, so it's refreshing to see the show explore other aspects of the Marvel-verse - however subtly.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD episode 9: 'Repairs'

© ABC / Kelsey McNeal

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD episode 9: 'Repairs'



'Repairs' gets the balance between drama and humour just right - guilt-wracked Hannah's plight and her belief that she's being plagued by demons is more emotionally affecting than you might expect from a SHIELD plot.

And while, after being put through the wringer in previous weeks, Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) are back in comedy sidekick territory, their obsession with pranks ties in neatly with the rest of 'Repairs' in the episode's final moments.

Melinda May acts cold for a reason - tragic backstory, yadda yadda yadda - but when you're having an actress play frosty, there's a danger that her character can just come off as boorish and unlikeable.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD episode 9: 'Repairs'

© ABC / Kelsey McNeal

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD episode 9: 'Repairs'



She might be bedding Ward (Brett Dalton) these days, but The Cavalry still felt like an ass-kicking robot. Her final prank on Fitz is the first crack we've really seen in that frosty exterior - showrunner Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon, back on scripting duties here, do a great job of making their gags feel like a natural part of the drama and not just shoehorned in for a little light relief.

That subtle nod to the X-Men franchise aside, this episode dwells less on established Marvel mythology than any other Agents of SHIELD outing, but it doesn't need knowing nods and in-jokes to feel worthwhile.

'Repairs' is an original and compelling science-fiction tale that stands on its own merits.

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