An immediate continuation of "...Ye Who Enter Here", "What They Become" follows Skye as she meets her father after being kidnapped off The Bus by Ward while May, the Koenigs, Triplett and Hunter try to survive a surprise Hydra attack. Meanwhile, Coulsons attempts to access the city have proven unsuccessful, and with the loss of Mac into the city they have withdrawn for the moment, attempting an attack on the Hydra base nearby after rejoining with the agents on The Bus. It feels like a conclusion to a lot of what has been building for the last 9 episodes, while setting up future events and leaving some plot threads dangling in true mid-season finale fashion.
The long awaited scene between Skye and her father, The Doctor, is really well done, each character both excited and nervous to be finally reunited with their only remaining family, and constant references to Skye's true identity in previous episodes are confirmed in this episode in what is sure to be a big moment, not just for the show, but for the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole, drawing on ideas from a future MCU film that isn't due to come out for years yet. It's an interesting development in the way that Agents of SHIELD interacts with the films, and I am hoping it is indicating that the events of the show will tie in further with the films from now on, rather than the show simply reacting the films when it needs to.
As well as the pay off of Skye and her father meeting, we also get loads of little moments that will mean a lot to long time viewers of the show. Skye's interactions with Ward are interesting and take an unexpected turn that really feels cathartic as you see it happen, not just for the characters involved but for the audience too. And the episode is filled with these little moments of pay off, moments that might not seem like a big deal to casual viewers, but mean a lot to the audience members who have been investing into the show - an example of this being the rebuilding of the currently rocky Fitz/Simmons friendship.
The only real bad part of this episode is the mishandling of the final moments. A scene which should have been both moving and exciting for viewers came off as rushed, the score doing all the work when we should have felt a greater connection to the characters and what they are going through. It looks like a tough scene to handle - without giving too much away, it's a pivotal moment within both the show and the larger MCU, so the fact that it failed to land properly is a real shame. But this is made up for by the work the show does in other areas, setting up the future of the show in different ways, my favourite being the direction that Ward and the crazed Agent 33, still stuck with the half burned face of May, seem to be heading in.
As a standalone episode, "What They Become" is no better than the last few weeks of Agents of SHIELD, which has been of a consistently high quality, but as a conclusion of sorts to some aspects of the show, while also setting up new directions for the show to go in when it returns in March(ish), "What They Become" is grade A TV. Agents of SHIELD is far past its admittedly rocky start, and when taken in week on week by viewers that are willing to give it time, provides a consistently entertaining, well written, constantly developing show, a show that I'm hoping will soon be as necessary to the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the films from which it spun off.