Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD Character Review: Calvin Zabo


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 superpowered people.

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, character by character.

Miss a post? Get caught up: Melinda May  |  Grant Ward  |  Fitz  |  Simmons  |  Bobbi Morse  |  Lance Hunter

[Semi-Related Article: An Introduction to Daisy Johnson and Calvin Zabo]

The Positive: He was a mystery for the longest time. We only knew him as Skye’s dad or the Doctor. Starting out as a blood-covered arm in the Season 1 finale is certainly a good way to be introduced. We didn’t even know he was Calvin Zabo/Mr. Hyde until the tenth or eleventh episode of the season, when he introduced himself as “Cal.”

Kyle MacLachlan played the character perfectly. There are multiple recaps where I reiterate how he was my favorite character on the show. In an instant, he could go from mentally unstable to calm anger to a relaxed, awkward joke. He destroys a table in sheer rage and then turns to his wife, sheepish, and says, “I’m sorry, that looked very old. Was it old?”

Calvin Zabo became the scene-stealer. Anything was made better if he was a part of it. With each episode, a new layer unfolded. We knew he had lost his whole family, yes, but we didn’t know how, especially when Jiaying turned up alive. Turns out him putting her back together after Whitehall dismantled her destroyed what little humanity she had left. That village that was leveled in Skye’s wake that we assumed was Cal? Yeah, it was actually Jiaying healing herself and now wanting to kill all humans.

His love for his family was unfailing, really hitting home in the back half of the season when both he and Skye are confined to Afterlife. How many of us felt our hearts ache when Skye came to his cell for their first family dinner, and we saw him dressed at his best with an offering of flowers and his best, most awkwardly heartwarming behavior? Calvin Zabo’s endgame was always simple and always direct: his family.

Even Coulson, his archenemy, got him to see the truth about his family in the finale. That was one cool thing about when Cal finally Hulked-out as Mr. Hyde: that he wasn’t just a smashing machine and listened to those around him. I mean, when Coulson’s giving you a heartfelt speech, you kind of have to listen.

Cal always found a way to pull at your emotions.

The Negative: Really, there wasn’t much working against Cal’s character. One big grief I’ve noticed around the Interwebs: the Mr. Hyde makeup when his big transformation happened. I know I expected something more. It just looked like a bad facial and hair day. For something that should have been big and resonant, it looked relatively laughable.

The other issue: putting him through the TAHITI program. Yes, it’s great that they can have a fresh start at a happier life. But they just lost one of the best characters.

Next Season: Crazy theory time! By the mid-point next season, Grant Ward will be desperate for anything that will mess with SHIELD. He tracks down Cal in his new location and reverses what TAHITI did. He’ll revert to being a crazed lunatic, now bent on revenge against Coulson, Skye, and SHIELD because Ward did his anti-hypnosis in such a way that Cal doesn’t remember he killed Jiaying or that he was getting along with Skye or agreeing with Coulson.

I can hope, right?

Where He Started: A
Where He Ended: A
Overall Grade: A. One of the most entertaining additions to Agents of SHIELD. Hopefully they find a way to bring him back into the fold. Please find a way to bring him back into the fold.

Next: Agents of SHIELD Character Review: Lance Hunter

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