I’ve been meaning to check back in on Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. for the last few episodes, but – like many viewers – I was particularly interested to see what happens considering the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Let’s bitch it out…
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been steadily improving since the episode Skye (Chloe Bennet) was shot, mostly because there’s been a renewed sense of urgency and danger. Last week’s episode, leading up to the reveal that something had gone very, very wrong within the team, was its best yet. And then The Winter Soldier dropped a bomb on the entire S.H.I.E.L.D. organization, killing Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and revealing that HYDRA had infiltrated the agency’s highest ranks. By the end of the film, Fury was alive and HYDRA had been defeated, but S.H.I.E.L.D. was still essentially disbanded and sold for scrap parts.
Naturally my first question upon leaving the theater was what does this mean for Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.? If the entire premise of a television series is to document the adventures of a group of agents and then the agency they work for is destroyed, what happens to the group and the series?
Turns out we’ll have to wait until next week for those answers because ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’ is too busy double-dipping in the same events as The Winter Soldier. While Captain America is off defending heli-carriers, our ragtag bunch of agents are trying to survive a death trip to the Hub, where Victoria Hand (Saffron Burrows) plans to execute them all. The insinuation is that Hand is a leading HYDRA agent, which actually means that she actually isn’t. In fact most of the episode is actually dedicated to posing the question “who’s a HYDRA agent”? We go through several more rounds before it comes out that Bill Paxton’s Agent Garrett is the real baddie – and the Clairvoyant to boot. Perhaps more shockingly (or not, depending on how quickly you can sense a twist), it is also revealed that Brett Dalton’s Ward is also eeeeevvvviiiiillllll.
The former reveal is actually pretty disappointing since Garrett has had all of the hallmarks of an evil character since his introduction. In hindsight it feels like the writers were working over-time to convince us otherwise, only to doubleback and admit that he’s a baddie after all. Obviously Ward is a more interesting choice (it was never going to be Ming-Na Wen’s Melinda May! Come on!). Dalton is often singled out as one of the worst elements of the show because he’s so bland and one-note. This reveal has all of the tantalizing possibilities of making Ward interesting and multi-faceted (and hopefully once again kicks any potential romance with Skye to the curb). Admittedly the vacant stare that ends the episode doesn’t suggest he’ll be much more engaging, but hopefully Dalton has been hiding a reserve of talent that will come out now that the character is given more to do than simply be the muscle.
Overall ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’ is a very successful episode: the action hits a series high for both Ward’s hallway and Coulson (Clark Gregg) and May’s fight scenes. The mild sexual tension between Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) and Triplett (B.J. Britt) makes their suspicions of each other’s motives more impactful when HYDRA takes over the Hub and, for the first time since Simmons’ near death, the series hits an emotionally salient point when May pleads her case to Coulson about how deeply she cares for him.
This folks is the Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. that I think many of us hoped we would be watching when the show was announced last year. It’s taken a windy road to get here and there have been speedbumps along the way, but these latest episodes show an increased confidence in both the storytelling and execution of late. I’m fully back on board.
- Ward shoots Victoria Hand three times and we see blood dripping from her body, but I’m still hopeful that she isn’t dead. Saffron Burrows played the character cool as a cucumber and I’d like to see her return for more action.
- Speaking of action, Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) finally gets some…in the line of duty, of course. Just when May looks like she might bite it, Fitz shoots a HYDRA agent to save her life. It’s cliche, but still nice considering how aggressively non-action hero-y the character is.
- The episode opens with a CGI plane action sequence that actually looks pretty impressive. Good to see the FX budget has gone up / is being used more wisely.
Your turn: what have you thought of recent Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes? Did you enjoy The Winter Soldier tie in? If you didn’t see the film, did this episode make any sense? Are you hoping Victoria Hand has survived? Surprised that Garrett and Ward are evil? And where does the series go next? Sound off below.
Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays on ABC. Next week’s episode is on at a special time of 9pm EST and here’s a look