I’m going to tell you one thing. ANYONE who has stayed on board for this TV show has been well rewarded. This week’s episode was a tense thrill ride with Hitchcockian elements and the classic Whedon payoff. If you have been watching since the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, then you know that the whole HYDRA story line has taken this show to a new level, creating a total environment of mistrust. It has made the characters question who they are and WHO they have been working for, and has also created a great opportunity for certain character to soldier on, for example Agent Coulson. Coulson still has the “protect” mentality and in the absence of SHIELD, who is going to wear those shoes? The episode is based around hacking NSA satellites, which of course HYDRA is very interested in, and also May deciding to leave the team due to Coulson not being able to trust her. This sets a few different things in motion, including a May side story where she meets up with her mother (who seems to work for another agency) during the end credits scene and they go to hunt down Maria Hill.
We find the team hidden away in the Providence base going over the latest events at the Fridge. Dangerous tech has been stolen and super villains have been released! But the worst part? Ward has located his “old” team and is working to get Skye’s help, one way or the other with his HYDRA plans. As we have come to realize, Ward is not a good guy, and I am pretty sure there’s no coming back from all the murder he has committed, and now he is on the highway to fully betraying his team. The episode is split into two main stories, Ward and Skye on the base, and Coulson taking a team with him to save his “old” love, the Cellist, aka Audrey Nathan. Audrey is played by Whedon alumni, Amy Acker who has been in both Angel and Dollhouse. Audrey is being stalked by Fridge escapee, Marcus Daniels aka Blackout, who possesses the “Darkforce”, which gives him the ability to pull the energy from anything, including humans which kills them in the process. Blackout claims that Audrey is the only light he has in the world, thus being obsessed with her. The race is on to save his old love and Coulson has to do it without letting Audrey know that he is alive. A decent story line here, it is nice to finally put a face to a character who is vital to Coulson’s past life. I really liked the use of Blackout as he was depicted at being a serious threat and of course it’s nice to have a true super-powered villain on the screen. The CGI used for his powers was believable as well, I also liked how Blackout explained what happened to him at the Fridge and that the experiments done on him were to make him stronger. This makes you wonder what else is going on behind closed doors, especially now we know how much HYDRA was involved! In the end, the team is able to put down Blackheart and save Audrey, but Coulson still chooses remains in the shadows.
The other story line this week? Ward and Skye. When Coulson takes the team to save Audrey, he leaves only three people back at Providence, Ward, Skye, and Agent Koenig. This is where things start to get really good. The situation starts off typical, we as viewers know what Ward’s intentions are and we also have been waiting for something good to happen to Skye. This of course is not the direction that we expected when it came to a relationship between the two. Ward has been doing his best at seducing Skye and we are almost convinced that he is going to get what he wants and things are going to go badly. But then we realize that we’re watching a Joss Whedon TV show and that the lead female is always the strongest character of them all, capable of overcoming most devious plots and beating up that bad guys. The whole team was put through Koenig’s “special” lie detector test at the beginning of the episode, and even Ward passes, barely. He is able to convince Koenig that he is there for Skye, and that she is what matters to him. A truth from a certain point of view, right? This of course backfires on Koenig who ends up getting killed by Ward, damn you for killing Patton Oswald, guess that lie detector should be reevaluated! His murder creates the ultimate situation of fear and terror for Skye, and as viewers we suck it right up!! It’s nice to feel this way about a show that hasn’t done the best job at creating “danger” for our characters and testing them, this situation does it all! After finding Koenig’s body Skye comes to the quick conclusion that Ward is indeed HYDRA and that she is in danger. Skye has the choice to cry, run, and hide OR she can do what she does best and manipulate the situation. When Ward finds her, Skye acts cool and collected and plays her cards perfectly by not letting Ward know that she is on to him. Ward lets her know that they have to leave and that the Bus is ready to go, and they go. Later Coulson and team return, and everyone including their ride is gone. The game is on, now we will have to see who plays it better, Ward or Skye.
Giving the characters more meaning and background, even the smallest thing like Fitz’s jealousy over the Tripp and Simmons situation, has opened this show up so much more and this is the path they should stay on. I find myself super excited for the coming week’s episode, and that is exactly what this show needed to do at the end of the season, make connections and get people excited for what’s to come. Speaking of a reason to toon in next week, Cobie Smulders’ Maria Hill returns! Nuff said!
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 8pmEST on ABC!