The truth about Ward (Brett Dalton) starts to emerge as the team deploys to protect Agent Coulson’s (Clark Gregg) ex-girlfriend.
Let’s bitch it out…
With only a few episodes left in the first season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. it’s become clear that the Hydra tie-in with Captain America 2 has had the best possible influence on the series. ‘The Only Light In The Darkness’, however, proves that the show remains a work in progress as we’re left with what basically amounts to two narratives that don’t really work well together.
After hearing from Ward that the Fridge has been emptied, Coulson realizes that his ex-girlfriend, Audrey Nathan (Amy Acker) is in danger from one of the many freed inhabitants. He assembles a splinter team to go to Portland and protect her from Marcus Daniels (Patrick Brennan) aka Blackout, a man who has the ability to – shocking! – take out the power. As a villain, Blackout is pretty dull: he barely talks and his power is pretty ho-hum once you’ve seen it in action. He’s basically a walking, (semi) talking version of Revolution.
With Blackout a dud, Clark Gregg and guest actress Amy Acker are left to carry this half of the narrative. The pair is required to handle the emotional heavy-lifting and in this capacity, they mostly succeed. There’s a genuine sense that these two characters were good for each other before Coulson’s “death” put an end to their relationship. Acker has an uncanny knack to add gravity to any emotional scene, so watching Coulson listen to Audrey but refrain from interacting with her is appropriately sad and touching. These scenes go a long way to making this half of the story work.
The problem then, isn’t that the Audrey/Coulson bits don’t work; they just don’t work with the other half of ‘The Only Light In The Darkness’.
There’s an obvious attempt by the writers to make the connection between Coulson / Audrey and Ward / Skye (Chloe Bennett). Unfortunately it doesn’t work. Clearly we’re meant to compare and contrast the two relationships since in both cases the men are lying to the women. The fact that Coulson really feels for Audrey is not unimportant when comparing it to Ward’s feelings for Skye. As feared the writers have begun laying the groundwork for Ward’s eventual salvation because of his legitimate feelings for the hacker (barf).
Thankfully the easy way out has yet to be taken. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Ward exposed as a Hydra agent and then pull a 180 and have him come back to SHIELD for her. Instead Ward remains firmly entrenched in the “bad guy” camp particularly when he murders Agent Koenig (Patton Oswalt), whose death is a foregone conclusion the moment the lie detector test enters the picture. What’s exciting is that Skye very quickly puts the pieces together, thanks to a convenient locator device hidden within each of the lanyards Koenig hands out. In just three episodes Ward has gone from bland action hero to secret traitor to exposed traitor so things continue to accelerate rapidly as we head into the final episodes of the season.
Skye’s discovery is a promising development, in that it keeps the stakes high and offers Bennett an opportunity to do something other than crack wise and play eye-candy hacker girl (her breakdown upon realizing Ward’s true identity is surprisingly effective). Unfortunately I think this latest development means we’re heading for a showdown wherein Ward must choose Skye (and SHIELD) or Garrett (and Hydra), which is the worst (and most predictable) of all possible outcomes. Fingers crossed someone realizes that that’s the most boring thing that could happen.
- After another tense confrontation, May (Ming-Na Wen) realizes she’s lost Coulson’s trust and abandons the team. She’s picked up by her mother in the coda and the two are now in pursuit of a woman that May wants to speak to. Initially I thought it might be Maria Hill, but now I wonder if it’s Raina. Of course it could also be someone we have yet to meet…
- In order to prove their allegiance, Koenig puts everyone through “Orientation” – a series of questions in a lie detector that monitors 96 different responses. Ward’s interview is completely ridiculous (if Koenig were a better agent he whould have shot him), but the others are quite humourous. My personal favourite is Simmons’ (Elizabeth Henstridge) response to the desert island question: she would want a T.A.R.D.I.S.! Now that’s a girl a guy can fall in love with!
- Random (hilarious) reveal: Skye’s name in the orphanage was Mary Sue Pootz. No wonder she changed it.
- I had to look up Project Insight because I couldn’t remember what we were supposed to know about it. It’s the SPOILER FROM CAPT 2 program that allows the helicarriers to identify 1000s of terrorists and destroy them. Makes sense that Koenig is interested in this.
- Finally, after the mission, Simmons confronts Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) about his attitude to Agent Triplett (B.J. Britt), which opens the door for Fitz to come clean to Simmons about his feelings. Naturally he doesn’t. <Le sigh>
What’s your take: did you feel like the episode didn’t come together as a whole? Who is May off to see? Are you sad to see Koenig go? Will Ward have to choose between Skye and Hydra in the finale? And if you could only have one object on a deserted island, what would it be? Sound off below.
Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 8pm EST on ABC. Next week, Skye’s no good, very bad day continues.