The rest of the team learns of Ward’s (Brett Dalton) Hydra status as Skye (Chloe Bennet) fights back in a supremely satisfying way.
Let’s bitch it out…A lot of my arguments about how well Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has dramatically improved over the last few weeks applies to “Nothing Personal.” In fact the more the Ward-is-evil storyline plays out, the more enjoyable the series has become. In fact, this episode may be one of its best.
That’s largely due to Brett Dalton and Chloe Bennet and eight months ago, if you had told me that these two would be killing it come season finale time, I would have laughed my ass off. It’s a very pleasant surprise to eat crow on this particular front. There’s no denying it: these two are a huge part of why ‘Nothing Personal’ works. As much as I love a good Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) cameo, this episode lives and dies on its Skye / Ward scenes. I’m thinking of those specific scenes when Skye counters Ward’s particular brand of crazy with some choice words and a well-deserved headbutt. It’s so rare to see characters just go off on each other and after such a long period of time it’s almost cathartic to witness (I had a similar reaction to The Blacklist last week when Lizzie and Tom re-enacted the house fight scene from Mr. & Mrs. Smith).
What we’re seeing in these confrontations is the apex of a season’s worth of pent-up issues, specifically Skye’s isolation/abandonment issues and Ward’s confusion over his feelings and his “mission”. After being on her own for so long before finally accepting SHIELD and this ragtag group, Ward’s reveal completely upsets Skye’s entire universe. She’s betrayed, but more than that, she’s frightened and pissed. And that’s what makes her scene with Ward in the coffee shop and then later on the Bus so energizing: she knows that Ward and Deathlok (J. August Richards) won’t kill her because they need her, so she can unleash everything she’s feeling. And that’s awesome because we’re right there with her.
The scenes with Coulson (Clark Gregg) and the rest of the team back at the bunker are okay, but Colonel Talbot’s (Adrian Pasdar) appearance is too brief and underwhelming. It feels more like an excuse to bring Coulson and Maria together so that the gang can organize a rescue mission for Skye. The pay-off at the end of the episode reveals that it’s more than that, of course; just like Skye, Coulson has learned that his shiny, happy perfect family is nothing more than a dream. Ward is a traitor and SHIELD is gone, not just lying low until Hydra has been hunted down. That desolate motel that everyone ends up at is the perfect metaphor for their position: it’s drab and a little pathetic. All that’s left is them…and vengeance.
- May (Ming-Na Wen) doesn’t get much to do, but her scene at the graveyard is a nice injection of comic relief and thanks to her we finally get to the bottom of the T.A.H.I.T.I. mystery: Coulson himself was behind it, but he recommended that the experimental treatment never be used because of how damaging it was. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) used it on him anyways, just to get Coulson back.
- Of all the well-done action sequences in ‘Nothing Personal’, the one I was most impressed with was Deathlok’s leap onto the police cruiser and Skye’s frightened scream as he punches through the windshield. It’s a nice capper on the coffee shop fight and Bennet’s scream sounds surprisingly authentic.
- The FX on Lola’s escape from the Bus isn’t great, but the hair on Coulson and Skye when they land is pretty amazing. That is one hell of a tease-job by the hair and make-up people!
- Finally, Fitz’s (Iain De Caestecker) temper tantrum after Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) offers irrefutable proof that Ward is Hydra is surprisingly affective – his anguish was almost palpable. The scenes between the two ssuggest that we’re inching closer to a romantic relationship, even though Triplett (B.J. Britt) is still kicking around. My request: please don’t let this turn into a love triangle.
- Coulson (to Colonel Talbot): “If I come out, will you shoot me? Because then I won’t come out.”
- Skye (when Ward suggests he can handle her): “Can you? You haven’t so far”
- Skye (calling Ward a Nazi): “You know you always had that Hitler—youth—look—too, so it’s really not that surprising.”
- Ward (baiting Maria): “A lot of us lost respect for Fury when he picked you for his second. If he needed eye candy around, he could have at least picked Romanov.”
- Coulson (after watching proof that he is the architect of the T.A.H.I.T.I. video): “Huh”
What are your thoughts on ‘Nothing Personal’? Did you enjoy the Skye/Ward scenes as much as me? Did you feel Talbot was a bit superfluous? Did you like having Maria Hill back? Sound off below
Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 8pm EST on ABC