How to describe this week’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in two words: uh….what???
No wonder Captain America’s shield has been seen in the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo in the show’s ads. The show is a spinoff to Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Again, it’s all connected.
Showrunners Maurissa Tanchareon and Jed Whedon created an incredible script that revealed big secrets, including the most horrible secret of all at the end. They did a great job keeping S.H.I.E.L.D. off balance, and the fans guessing, from start to finish. It also referenced a lot of details from CA: The Winter Soldier, including Nick Fury’s fate and the emergence of an old enemy. If you haven’t seen the movie, you should. It’s a great movie, and adds a lot to the experience of seeing this episode. I had said last week that the show is now a parallel story to TWS, with Coulson in the Captain America role, and this confirms it.
***** SPOILERS BELOW *****
The episode begins with Agent John Garrett (Bill Paxton) flying a plane to the sounds of Blue Oyster Cult, only to be chased by two S.H.I.E.L.D. drones ready to attack. Meanwhile, Coulson is still aiming a gun at an unarmed May, thinking she’s hijacked the Bus. She says her private phone line was to Nick Fury to keep him posted on Coulson’s health after the lengths he went to resurrect Coulson. However, only Nick can explain everything to Coulson. She then asks Fitz why he disconnected her. He admits he wanted to communicate with Simmons at the Hub on whether she could figure out what is in GH-325. She, meanwhile, is trying to keep that a secret from Triplett (B.J. Britt) at the Hub. He does suspect her, and wonders why that drug can’t be used on Agent Blake. That’s because she’s not sure what’s in it, but some assistance from the Academy might help.
Coulson, meanwhile, still can’t trust May. After knocking her out with an Icer, Coulson keeps the drones at bay while Skye figures out what message is blocking S.H.I.E..LD. signals. She does: “Out of the shadows, into the light. HYDRA” It’s now the Big Bad in the movies and TV universes.
Not only that, they think Victoria Hand (Saffron Burrows) may be with the wrong side, although Garrett isn’t so sure. While he suggests running away, Coulson suggests they go to the Hub, and ask Ward and May for help. It’s too bad Ward is also accusing May of lots of things. Her response: “We do our job. End of story.” She also points out Ward shooting Nash last week was a result of his emotions getting the better of him.
Back at the Hub, Simmons does reach Agent Weaver (Christine Adams) by hologram, and is told the Academy is being attacked. She tells Simmons “Don’t trust anyone”. For now, Simmons and Triplett must trust each other.
May tries to call Fury, but he is “officially dead”. Of course, if you saw TWS, you know what really happened to Fury. Still, the Bus is still under attack, and Garrett tells Ward to make sure the S.H.I.E.L.D. troops don’t get what’s in the Bus’ computers. While Coulson is removing a bullet from May, she finally admits why she’s been calling Fury. He knew May would be recruited for Coulson’s team. She also came up with the parameters on who should be the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. May decided the crew should include someone who could fix his body (Simmons), repair his mind (Fitz), and someone who could put him down if it came to that (Ward). Skye was Coulson’s choice.
Oh, and May knew about T.A.H.I.T.I., and she did it all for Phil Coulson. However, finding out the truth is still not enough to restore his faith. She’s even handcuffed at one point, which was worse than what happened to Skye.
Meanwhile, Ward says they have to wipe the Bus’ system before HYDRA finds out about all the items their group found, from that weather machine to gravitonium. Skye backs it up and hands it to Ward. Victoria Hand captures Triplett and Simmons and gives them a choice: HYDRA or death. He chooses death, which was the right answer. Hand lets them go, knowing she can trust them. She suddenly accuses Coulson of being with HYDRA because of his unorthodox way of working. She claims Agent Blake suspected Coulson, and Coulson sent Blake to Deathlok. That’s a little flimsy, and even Simmons can see that.
There’s a great scene when Ward and Skye prepare to battle some S.H.I.E.L.D. troops. It’s very romantic, even with a kiss, and the promise of a drink at bar in Dublin if they get out OK. They do, of course.
Meanwhile, Garrett keeps suggesting to Coulson that they kill Agent Hand, “This is a battle for S.H.I.E.L.D.’s soul, and we’re on the front lines,” Garrett says. He goes on to list all the things Hand has done, like making sure Skye was shot, and brainwashing Coulson with the machine that was also used to brainwash Reina, the girl in the flower dress.
Wait, how did Garrett know that? Only Coulson did.
It was Garrett after all. So why would he hail HYDRA? He says he felt the wind changing and swung his sail, and so did some other “top brass” in S.H.I.E.L.D., government and other areas. Those who saw TWS know exactly where HYDRA is hiding. Anyway, he’s about to kill Coulson and May, while Fitz will be “persuaded” to work for HYDRA. However, they’re stopped by a big bomb, and Coulson and May fighting back. However, it’s Fitz who provides some help to subdue Garrett.
Coulson and Hand talk about what has happened, including what HYDRA planned to do with Project Insight at the Triskelion. For now, it’s a scramble for control. As for Coulson and May, their relationship has hit a rough patch, but he still needs her as an ally. They have a new mission: survive. They have a broken S.H.I.E.L.D., and it’ll take a lot of faith and determination to put it back together.
Ward and Hand escort Garrett to the Fridge. They both seem to be eager to make Garrett pay. She even suggests that Ward take care of him another way.
He does: he shoots the guards and Agent Hand, while Garrett is alive and kicking.
The Red Wedding had nothing on this big twist. It’s always the most clean-cut soldiers, or the most committed, who turn out to be the real villains.
Instead of the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo before the final commercial break, we see HYDRA’s logo.
The world has changed.
This was a fantastic episode, and it may get some people to see the movie, too. It may also be enough to guarantee a second season, where we can hear a lot about something called Ultron.
Next week, the agents find a new headquarters…and Patten Oswalt.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesday at 8/7 on ABC. Watch full episodes on ABC.Go, Hulu and Amazon Instant Video.