Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD Character Review: Melinda May


Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD‘s second season can almost be thought of as two separate seasons. The first half covered the deterioration of Hydra and Coulson’s psyche, ending with a huge bang — or, if you will, shake. The second half covered the discovery of the Inhumans and super-powered people.

At the winter finale, I did a series of articles  going over where particular characters started the season and where they ended mid-season. Now that we’re through the 22 episodes, I thought I would do an entire retrospective for each main character and give them an overall grade, kind of like what the Detroit Free Press does for the Red Wings. Because there’s been so much character development this season (and since we have the time to kill), let’s dive in and take a trip down Agents of SHIELD memory lane.

[Mid-Season Report: Melinda May]

The Positive: For the first half of season two, we saw subtle hints of changes in Melinda “The Cavalry” May, so subtle that our own Nick made sure I mentioned his complaint in the mid-season article. Everything about her came in small glimpses or grandiose Coulson speeches. Gradual characterization.

That was thrown out the window in these back-end episodes. She had an entire episode dedicated to her, aptly titled “Melinda.” It gave us a completely different side of Melinda May. We saw her before “the incident,” cracking jokes, smiling, and being happily married. It’s such a stark contrast to the stoic agent we’ve seen so far. It show that she’s human, that at one point she was just like everyone else and even planning for her future family.

And we see what changed her. It’s darker than any of us imagined, much less of a badass moment and much more of a heartbreaking moral quandary. We understand full well why Melinda May is that stoic badass, why she worked behind a desk for too long and took herself out of the field — we understand why she is who she is now.

The Negative: The first half of Season 2 had her becoming close to Coulson because of his alien writing/mental deterioration. We saw how close they truly were, how close they had always been.

And in the last half-dozen or so episodes, we saw division between them. No longer did they see eye-to-eye. No longer did Coulson have his ringer in his corner. Why? Because of some secrets he kept from her, the biggest being his talking to Andrew (her ex-husband) behind her back. She jumped to conclusions before he could explain. That’s not exactly like her, though it is more personal than anything else. Still, before this came to light, she trusted him enough to let him escape before fake!SHIELD arrived, and then when he returned, she didn’t give him time to give her answers. It doesn’t add up.

Okay, I may be underselling the gravity of Coulson’s secrets. With how they were portrayed by the writers and characters, it all felt underwhelming and not entirely deserving of May’s rage, especially since Coulson did explain and gave her reasons behind everything. Putting them on opposing teams added to the strife and anxiety, sure, and it was nice to see them back on the same side as this season wrapped up …  even if May may not be so easily forgiving.

Next Season: May is taking some vacation. Yes, Melinda May. Taking vacation time. With her ex-husband.

I can see her being a little more open and expressive with her feelings in season three. Her big secret is out in the open, so she doesn’t have much to hide. She may even challenge Coulson more on his decisions, which the Director needs anyway.

And if Andrew wants to stick around as a consult and show up every few episodes, I wouldn’t be opposed.

Where She Started: B

Where She Ended: A

Overall Grade: B+. Melinda May has become a new yet familiar character with how she’s evolved. Just keep the badass scenes coming.

Next: Agents of SHIELD brainstorm session: S.O.S.

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