Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to surprise in the aftermath of the HYDRA take-over and the declaration of SHIELD as a terrorist organization.
Let’s bitch it out…Last week’s episode coincided directly with the events of Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier, but didn’t do much to indicate where the series was headed. There was the not-so-surprising reveal that Agent Garrett (Bill Paxton) was actually the Clairvoyant, and actually surprising reveal that Agent Ward (Brett Dalton) was working with him, but with the fate of SHIELD up in the air, it wasn’t certain what this meant.
‘Providence’ deals with this question very explicitly and the answer is: far more interesting television.
The action is divided into two fronts: one concerns the fall-out on our small band of heroes, particularly Coulson (Clark Gregg) who struggles to make sense of what to do following SHIELD’s demise and the death of Nick Fury. He begins to act irrationally, prompting everyone on the team, including new de facto member Agent Triplett (B.J. Britt), to question his decision-making. Luckily Coulson isn’t being manipulated by HYDRA (not shocking) – he’s just being led to the titular safe haven by Fury and Agent Koenig (Patton Oswalt). Now that the series has become much more serialized, the answers are being stretched over multiple episodes, so what Providence does or why Fury has sent the team here remains unknown.
The flip side of the episode concerns Ward and Garrett’s infiltration of the Fridge (kudos on the clever entrance ruse). They loot the Sling Shot project for all sorts of banished tech goodies and free all of the bad guys, effectively resetting the series by putting the villains back on the streets for Coulson and co. to re-engage with in the future. This includes Flower Girl Raina (Ruth Negga), who is immediately put to work sussing out the details of the T.A.H.I.T.I. project and Coulson and Skye’s (Chloe Bennett) ‘Jesus Juice’, and – in the coda – David Conrad’s always douchey Quinn, who takes ownership of the Gravitron. In this way we have some very firm battle lines being drawn up with what remains of SHIELD vs the HYDRA villains and their new super / alien tech.
Caught in the middle are Ward and Skye. In a minor miracle, it is revealed that Ward is not a double agent and that his infiltration of SHIELD was actually just a cover (if his abrupt shooting of the SHIELD guards at the Fridge isn’t indicative of this, he also withstands a very specific inquisition by Raina on the subject). While I wouldn’t be surprised if Ward eventually switches back to the good guys, for now we have every reason to believe that he will act on Garrett’s request to do whatever it takes to obtain the password for the encrypted hard drive, including killing the team within 24 hours. All of this is very good news because it means that the stakes remain high and the imminent danger remains palpable.
Let’s just hope that the writers don’t blink and try to rescue Ward from the dark side. He’s far more interesting this way…
- I quite liked the brief scene when Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) tries to convince Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) that he doesn’t want their relationship to change and she misunderstands that he is talking about a possible romance. These two are never going to figure their stuff out…until they do (because of course they will).
- Patton Oswalt is slightly less amusing than he usual guest roles, though his banter about Providence’s underground windows and his ability to catch up on non-fiction keeps things light.
- Coulson and May (Ming-Na Wen) still have tension. She doesn’t help things by questioning his judgment, but in reality their wintry trek across the Canadian wilderness is being driven by some pretty shaky logic. As much as I like the relationship between these two, I hope that the ice between them thaws slowly since their trust issues make the show far more realistic.
- Finally, Adrian Pasdar swings by ever so briefly as a bald/mustached Colonel Talbot, a military man whose orders immediately sends the SHIELD team on the run. I imagine we’ll see more of him to come, but for now I can only assume that this guy is bad because of his eeevvvviiiillll hairstyle.
- Fitz (to Triplett and Simmons): “You need to shush. Both of you shush.”
- Skye (after Talbot contacts them): “He’s lying definitely for sure.”
- Ward (when Raina suggests he doesn’t seem like May’s type): “I’m everyone’s type”
What are your thoughts on the revamped SHIELD? Are you surprised that Ward appears to be legitimately evil, or are you unconvinced that it’s a ploy? Are you happy to see Patton Oswalt guest-star? Should Triplett join the team full-time? And what does Quinn want with the Gravitron machine? Sound off below
Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 8pm EST on ABC. Next week: Whedonverse regular (and all around amazing actor) Amy Acker guest stars!!