Both SHIELD and HYDRA try some very fancy moves to get a mysterious painting this week. In fact, it made a couple of agents look twice at what they were seeing.
**** SPOILERS BELOW ****
When this week’s episode was shown last weekend at New York Comic Con, many people thought it was the best of the season, and it’s easy to see why with the twists and turns the story took. It was written by Drew Greenberg, who wrote for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Dexter and Warehouse 13.
The episode centers on a 500 year old painting that somehow survived a fire at a Miami church. SHIELD is interested because it has those strange alien markings Coulson has been writing for a while. He’s worried the GH-325 inside him might drive him to evil, as it did to Garrett. That’s why he’s trying to arrange a plan with May, in case that happens. She’s reluctant to do that, at least for now.
The mission is what matters: May and Coulson enter a major art auction as Heidi and Charles Martin. While they do moves that could get them a good score in Dancing With the Stars, they make plans to grab the painting. They’re also surprised to see Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) there, and wonder why he’s interested in the painting, too. Coulson and May do get in the vault, but discover Talbot took the painting already. Now it’s getting strange, especially when the general is seen calling Whitehall (Reed Diamond) back at HYDRA. Has the general gone to the dark side?
Talbot offers to let Coulson and May to look over the painting, but only in his secure facility, and they agree to that demand. They still wonder why Talbot wants the painting
Back at the SHIELD Bus, Lance, Triplett and Mac talk about past girlfriends, while Fitz feels left out. It’s bad enough he can’t talk to the other guys, even if it’s about past girlfriends. He tells “Simmons in his head” he doesn’t feel like he’s part of the team anymore, but she tells him he should try anyway.
Meanwhile, May finds Agent 33 (Maya Stojan), who had dumped SHIELD for HYDRA thanks to Whitehall’s brainwashing, with files on our SHIELD agents. She also sees Talbot there, and she attacks them both. Agent 33 knocks May out and it’s shown it’s not Talbot, but Bakshi (Simon Kassianides) in disguise. He’s using the same mask Black Widow used in Captain America 2. He tells 33 to impersonate May, and he plans to make the real May talk abut SHIELD and all its secrets…or else. Obviously he’s never met Melinda May.
Agent 33 does a pretty good job impersonating May, giving her a chance to plant a virus that will eventually destroy the Bus. She also seems to have fooled Coulson. They even talk about that plan, which is good news for 33. At least she can tell Whitehall Coulson is the boss. Then, Coulson mentions they should have that cup of coffee they keep promising each other, which sounds good to the fake Agent May. That’s when Coulson hits her, because May doesn’t like coffee. The distraction gets Bakshi’s attention long enough for the real May to get out of her bonds, setting up one interesting fight between the real Agent May and Fake 33 May. It’s a very good fight, even with 33 telling May to surrender, so she can have satisfaction. That’s from the brainwashing, but May gets her satisfaction jabbing a live electrical wire on 33’s face.
HYDRA’s virus, meanwhile, is wreaking havoc on the Bus. Fitz tries to tell Lance what to do, hoping he’ll finish Fitz’s thoughts, and that actually works. They fix the Bus just in time, which gives Fitz some serious cred with the rest of the guys
So, score one for SHIELD this week. Coulson discovers the painting is 500 years old but the alien markings are new. So, who else is making alien markings, and why is HYDRA also interested? It may be related to that alien obelisk that Reina (Ruth Negga) has now. Also, May finally decides to talk about what to do if Coulson turns evil. Her plan: take him to the Outback with cash and passports. Coulson, though, insists that if it’s necessary, May will have to kill him. As he puts it, hard choices are coming.
For HYDRA, there are no hard choices. Just do anything to get what you want. That’s why Whitehall finds Reina, and tells her to give them the alien obelisk or die. He talks about how he once operated on a woman for a week, and it’s safe to say she didn’t have a disease. Reina has 48 hours, or she might be on Whitehall’s operating table, too. Thing is, HYDRA may not know about the doctor who has the obelisk now, and he could be pretty dangerous. That’s a meeting we’d like to see.
The episode was a good caper story, but also shows what steps SHIELD and HYDRA will take against each other. It also dealt with the possibility of Coulson being driven insane by GH-325, yet it doesn’t talk about the same thing happening to Skye. Interesting.
Next week: Simmons is the target of HYDRA’s Security Director, and Reina wants Skye to meet her father….soon.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesday at 9/8c on ABC. Watch full episodes on ABC.Go.com.