In my third installment of my S.H.I.E.L.D appreciation series, I’ll be focusing on Elena “Yo-yo” Rodriguez, the first Latina superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and the first Latina superhero to have her own series – the Slingshot miniseries on YouTube), portrayed by the amazingly talented Natalia Cordova.
Elena was introduced in season three, upped to recurring character in season 4, and finally joined as a series regular in season five. Since her first appearance, Elena has underwent massive character development, became romantically involved with Alphonso Mackenzie, and solidified her place among the team, until the choices she made in season 5 left her alienated amongst her friends, and she and Mack became estranged.
“Principia” by Craig Titley
Although the episode largely focused on Mack reuniting with an old S.H.I.E.L.D buddy, and searching for a cure for Coulson, and looking for supplies to make prosthetic arms for Elena. One of “Principia‘s” side plots was focused on Elena adjusting to the loss of her arms, plus coming to terms with the fact that what she witnessed in the future may come true and that she could lose Mack.
Elena’s emotional breakdown to Jemma about her fears being confirmed – and Jemma being the source of optimism among the team – is perhaps one of my favorite interactions of the series. How often, especially in the predominantly white-male oriented superhero world, do we see two women having a moment like this? How often do we see one woman break down, and have another comfort her?
The interactions among the female characters in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is perhaps some of the best on television – and I truly hope we get more of it by next season.
On top of that, the episode ends with a still weary, but infinitely more optimistic (and determined) Elena. It starts her down the path of a woman stubbornly determined to save the world… which, unfortunately, distances her from yet another friend group.
“The Honeymoon” by James C. Oliver and Sharla Oliver
The unlikely team-up of Elena and FitzSimmons (or “the Invincible Trio”) was probably one of my favorite things from last season, despite the stress it caused me and my cat (please, Jemma, let’s just stay away from acid).
Elena is pure joy in this episode – infiltrating buildings, cracking jokes about being the third wheel to FitzSimmons’s honeymoon period, and being an all around badass.
Although she is unfortunately sidelined thanks to her robotic arms not being able to withstand the energy it takes to use her superspeed, she quickly makes up for it in the next episode, where she kicks some major ass.
Can we just…have more Elena and FitzSimmons next season please. Pretty please. Thanks.
“Broken Promises” by Brent Fletcher
The first episode in the LMD “pod” of episodes started with a bang – revealing Radcliffe as a no good baddie with the intent on getting the Darkhold (a magical book that really should have led to at least one Mummy reference, but we can’t have nice things, so it didn’t), and Aida as an even worse no good baddie with less of a heart than the Tinman.
However, the best part about the episode was Elena and Mack’s interactions as they fought off Aida’s robot attack, filled with sarcasm, movie references, and a lot of flirting (they just got together romantically the episode before). They make frequent comments about how Radcliffe and Fitz clearly have never watched any ’80s films because robots are never a good thing.
And that fistbump after beheading Aida? Classic.
“Bouncing Back” by Monica Owusu Breen
Elena’s first appearance was a roller coaster of pure, unadulterated fun. After a season and a half of serious spy work (and relationship angst among nearly every character), a little fun was sorely appreciated.
By the time the credits first rolled, I was in love with Elena. She truly stole the show – a passionate, caring, religious woman who knew how to have fun with her powers, yet still remain responsible with them? How rare is that? She wasn’t cold and downright ruthless to her friends, yet she wasn’t confined by anyone. She was her own woman.
Between her first interactions with Mack (all the great love stories start with one half of a ship chained to a sink), and her joy at getting to use her powers with Daisy and Joey to save the day, it was a smashing first appearance. And and it gave me a new ship, so that was a bonus.
“All the Comforts of Home” by Drew Z. Greenberg
After 10 episodes of running about in a post-apocalyptic future space station (ish), the team finally returned to earth in what began as a light-hearted affair that quickly went AWOL.
There’s not much I don’t love about this episode, to be honest. It’s probably my second favorite episode of the season, in no small part due to the quieter moments it gave Elena before… that. It gave us a tender moment between her and Mack as she confessed her fears about the future, and Mack assuring her they’d be fine (if only that had been true).
In a show that is constantly moving, quieter moments like these are always welcome. It’s also a nice balance point to the angst to later come at the climax of the episode, where Elena’s arms are brutally sliced off by Ruby Hale, leading to Elena dazedly proclaiming that everything she saw in the future was coming true while the team rushed her back to the Lighthouse for emergency care.
Next up: we take a look back at Daisy Johnson’s greatest hits! And after that, my fifth and final installment in the series: FitzSimmons’ best episodes.