The wit, tension and action we’ve come to love from this crew was on full display. Fantastic performance from Kyle MacLachlan. Enough surprises to keep us on our toes. And the confident, witty Coulson we’ve loved from the beginning.
A little wooden on the acting in places, but plenty of action and good moments to forget the ones that weren’t stellar.
Could Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. be more fun? We watched from the edge of our seats and lost count of the wows that just kept coming.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — Desperate to find Skye (Chloe Bennet), Coulson (Clark Gregg) offers Ward (Brett Dalton) a clean slate in exchange for leads to the heads of Hydra. Seeing a chance to reach their own goals, Ward and Kara (Maya Stojan) agree to use the brainwashed Bakshi (Simon Kassianides) to help, but no one, especially Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) is happy about the arrangement. Meanwhile, Skye, who is beginning to empathize with her father’s desperate road, intervenes with Jiaying’s (Dichen Lachman) plan to banish Cal (Kyle MacLachlan) by volunteering to go with him and soften the blow. As the two talk, they realize they have more in common than they thought. Back at the Playground, May (Ming-Na Wen) outs Jemma’s (Elizabeth Henstridge) deception about the Toolbox to Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) and an indignant Simmons agrees to hack Deathlok’s (J. August Richards) eyepiece in order to find Coulson and finally reach the truth.
Meanwhile, Dr. List (Henry Goodman), who has been tracking Gordon’s (Jamie Harris) movements and experimenting on Inhuman potentials, accepts Bakshi back into the fold in exchange for Deathlok, causing gun-drawn tension between Coulson and Ward. Before everyone can catch their breath, a new signature for Gordon appears and everyone ends up converging on Skye and Cal’s location where bullets flying, superpowers unleashed and unexpected deception put everyone in harm’s way. More craziness happened in the last ten minutes than we could have hoped for and when the dust settled, everyone’s next move was up for grabs. With questions, tension and sentiment running at an insanely high pace, let’s zap our way into this week’s discussion!
A deal with the Devil who knows you.
Coulson really is fun when we don’t know exactly what he’s planning to do and that made the sit down with Ward worth the wait. Clark Gregg was his causal, cocky self we love. Ward was naturally skeptical, but Brett Dalton brought his own brand of cockiness. The idea of erasing all Ward had done was intriguing. Was it genuine interest or was it playing along because Coulson really gave him no choice? We’ll have to see. Coulson was right about one thing, Ward came back for Kara, so maybe there is a little good in him after all.
We don’t blame Fitz for his anger at the deal. Seeing him finally healed a bit has been refreshing. It’s taken a season, but we seem to almost have our Fitz back. But wouldn’t we all have the same reaction as Fitz? We loved Hunter putting his hand on Fitz’s to calm him from going for the gun. By the look in Iain De Caestecker’s eyes, Fitz looked genuinely ready to inflict bodily harm. Ward took everything from him. And Fitz was right. Neither Ward, nor Stepford Bakshi could really be trusted.
“Bakshi, sir. Bakshi no, he is–he is–he’s the exact same as Ward. So he will double-cross us the second that he’s with HYDRA.” ~ Fitz
Everyone seemed to be playing everyone. The question would be who could gain the upper hand in the end. Ward certainly saw Coulson as a means to an endgame we don’t know about and Coulson didn’t want to tip his hand too heavily about Skye. Has Ward really changed a bit because of Kara? Or is he as devious as he’s always been, but just on his own terms now? With help from great writing, Brett Dalton played it close to the vest to keep us in the dark. We can’t tell and that makes it fun.
Speaking of fun, throughout the Ward and Coulson team-up, Simon Kassianides stole the show more than once. Between his eagerness to comply from the trunk and his creepy conversation on the quinjet, Bakshi had us rolling. And is anyone more slimy than evil Bakshi? But just when we were enjoying Bakshi, Ward’s seeming betrayal and the group gun-pull on the quinjet created fantastic tension right in the middle of the episode. We knew everything was building to something bad, but the five-way standoff might have been the most sweat-inducing moment of the night. That was some intensity, but intensity that made complete sense. Ward should have come clean on his real plan. After all, that last step out of the quinjet at 20,000 feet is a doozy.
No matter how hard you try, some things just can’t be put back together the way they were.
No one is being pulled in more directions at the moment than Skye, who’s loyalties are being tested seven ways from Sunday. A long-lost mother in Jiaying, unwanted super powers, a potential love interest in Lincoln (yeah, we saw that look), seeing her ex she shot four times, her sense of duty to S.H.I.E.L.D., her respect for Coulson and finally empathy developing for a father she’d come to hate, but now pities. Did we miss any?
The most interesting was certainly Skye’s developing relationship with her father. Jiaying didn’t anticipate Skye’s empathy, but she should have. Skye broke laws, did questionable things to find even a small shred of her mother and father having never known them at all. Cal did know what he lost. In that way, Skye is like her father; a bit of a big over-doer.
Skye’s confrontation with her mom was telling. Both were playing a careful game of poker over banishing Cal, but Skye was right. Cal wouldn’t take it well and people Jiaying didn’t seem to care about would be in the middle. Skye set the dividing line she may have to choose between later. The people in harm’s way were her responsibility as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, but so is her new-found home, even as fractured as it is.
Speaking of, some things that come apart can’t ever be put back together again the same as they were before. Jiaying was “repaired” by Cal, but she was never the same and neither was he. Skye was caught in the middle and hasn’t been right since either. There are invisible scars on all three that mirror the visible ones on Jiaying’s face. After all these years, those scars don’t heal. You can try to ignore them, but they never go away.
“As much as you want to turn back the clock to science fairs and father daughter dances–“ ~ Skye
“They’re gone. Yeah–I know. I know.” ~ Cal
But the daddy-daughter time was interrupted by converging story lines. Had Skye been given the chance, she might have softened the blow. But Jiaying sending Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) turned Cal understandably angry. And Cal doesn’t listen well when he’s angry.
Kyle MacLachlan has been good all season, but he was at his best in this episode. We’ve seen Cal as a raving madman and thought him unredeemable, but the writers have done what Marvel often does so well. They’ve created real, human roots for his insanity and troubled mind. He never gave up on his daughter. He was a good man once. One that loved Jiaying. One that looked forward to raising his daughter, but one little line caught our attention. Cal admitted that Jiaying resented him after Skye was lost. Why?
How did Hydra know about Jiaying and Skye? How did Hydra know that Ethan was a potential gifted? Is there a traitor amongst the Inhumans? Or was it Cal that somehow let slip the secrets of the Inhuman world. Is he to blame for all the pain his family has endured? We don’t know, but that small reference made us think. That kind of betrayal would certainly be something you could never come back from and one that might even drive you mad trying to make up for if it wasn’t intentional.
Agendas wrapped in agendas and wrapped in more agendas make for some serious entanglement—the quantum kind included.
Did anyone else enjoy Bobbi and Mack (Henry Simmons) sparing as much as we did? Damn that was good. Kinda rough for sparing, but the conversation was even better. They know Coulson isn’t the enemy. They are both starting to wonder why Gonzales (Edward James Olmos) isn’t going after Hydra with the same zeal as he is Coulson.
That doubt made May’s decision to give up Jemma to protect her more interesting. May was right. Gonzales invaded the base to get the Toolbox. Jemma took a big risk sending it away, but are Bobbi and May taking a bigger one by not telling Gonzales right away? Are their doubts that deep?
“It’s not about sides–It’s about the truth. Coulson left us with a mountain of lies, and the only way to understand his reasoning was inside that box”. ~ May
“Honestly, I don’t care what’s in it. The only thing I know, is that Coulson was just trying to protect Skye.” ~ Jemma
That was an emotional scene. Both women believe in their own agendas, but Simmons had a point, Coulson was absolute unwilling to let Gonzales get to Skye. He’s never lost sight of those he cares about and yet he still managed to do S.H.I.E.L.D.’s job and deal Hydra a deadly blow. We don’t blame Jemma for being upset. Gonzales is fixated on Coulson while the real enemy grows stronger.
Quantum entanglement. We didn’t hate science as much as Hunter, but that sounds complex. How did Hydra become aware of Gordon’s ability? How are they tracking him? We don’t know, but as all the story lines converged in Cal’s building and before Skye could effectively soften the blow, all hell broke loose. Lincoln knocking Mike offline, giving Jemma the chance to finally hack in at just the “wrong” moment was great story weaving. Coulson and Ward together? Guns drawn? That didn’t look suspicious.
And we’re guessing Bakshi wasn’t quite as brainwashed as we thought. Perhaps Ward and Kara took the Holiday Inn Express course in mind tampering. It didn’t seem to stick. Though we have to admit, the EMP to knock out both Mike and Lincoln was a slick move. How did Bakshi know to bring one of those along? How long has he been “unbrainwashed”? That’s not the compliance we expected from the trunk.
As usual, Gordon seemed to know when Skye was in trouble. His Skye danger meter must be highly accurate. We should have expected him to whisk her away, but we certainly didn’t expect Cal to hitch a ride. Coulson’s frustration at that loss however, gave Ward that chance to save his life. Plus put a couple more rounds into the guy for spite. “Your call boss.” was actually a nice thing to hear. Ward is a sadistic son of a bitch, but he’s playing his hand well. But perhaps not as well as Coulson. Surrendering to Bobbie and Mack was a twist. What’s Coulson up to now?
FINAL VERDICT: All the effort and work to bring Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. up to the level fans expected is certainly coming through on screen. Tension, action, emotion and depth make this show a load of fun to watch every week.
The deeper we get this year, the more we realize we’d have flipped out in the writers’ room as the key elements of the season were kicked around and finally laid out. What a ride Season Two has been for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. We’ll say one thing, this show has perfected the art of juggling more characters than we can count. Everyone gets their moments and that’s saying something with all the fantastic characters this show has in play at the moment. We’ve also got to hand it to the writing team in general. They’ve also perfected the art of ramping up to the last 10 minutes of an episode with a slow intensity and then ending with a burst of craziness. So many cool things happened in the last 10 minutes of this episode, we were in awe.
We shouldn’t be surprised that this episode was as good as it was. Veteran writers as Monica Owusu-Breen and & Paul Zbyszewski have had a hand in some fantastic episodes in this show’s two year run. It seems like they roll out fantastic dialogue and action to move character arcs with ease. We know that’s not the case. They work hard at it and it shows. We get our money’s worth on Tuesday nights with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and this episode was no exception. The crazy part would have to be shifting around and writing so many characters at once, but if this show has done one thing exceptionally well, it’s creating depth and layers to their characters that help us completely understand where each is coming from and why they do what they do. That’s a sign of a maturing series that understands who it is and writers who have lived with these characters long enough to truly know them. It’s also a hell of a lot of fun for us to watch.
Anyone who signs up to direct an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. better be ready to juggle a slew of actors, locations and still find time to get each moment just right. We don’t know if Karen Gaviola knew what she was getting into when she signed up for her first episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but we suspect so given that the award-winning director has a list of directing credits a mile long. Name a show in the last 15 years and she’s probably directed an episode. She brought her A-game to this one and did all the right things to find the quiet moments of revelation between Skye, Jiaying and Cal, but she also knocked it out of the park with the tension filled moments that eventually spilled into a free-for-all and everyone ending up in the same location where craziness ensued. This was a fantastic episode. She should be proud.
Despite all the amazing moments for so many and all the action, Kyle MacLachlan deserves a special nod for this episode. Owusu-Breen and Zbyszewski gave him multiple moments to show a much deeper part of Cal and MacLachlan was amazing in his subtle, child-like wonder. Cal’s humor makes him lovable despite his propensity to overdo to the extreme, especially when he’s angry. But all those layers came to life through MacLachlan’s fantastic performance. We were stoked when we learned he’d be joining Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Season Two and we haven’t been disappointed.
We’ve been treated to so many good episodes this season that it’s hard to imagine we’ve seen 18 already and have just a few to go. With a two-hour finale on tap, we have a sneaky suspicion that things could perhaps get even better. This series has found itself and despite all the complexity and with so much happening, we’ve been treated to tight, cohesive episodes packed with things that both make sense for all the characters and have entertained us along the way. We still don’t know what all is about to go down before the season ends, but the writing team has earned our trust and we won’t dare miss an episode if we can help it. Did you notice all the question marks in this review? That means we’re sucked in. We want to know!
Questions, Comments, Concerns and My Reaction on Twitter…
- Run Fitz Run!! #CouldntResist
- Opps. Who parked that there? Oooo
- Hail Hydra. Um and Ick?
- I see tha “stink eye” form everyone. Haha! At least that.
- It was ‘nice’ Translation: He didn’t kill anyone or let loose with TOO much of the crazy eyes.
- Damn. Bigger they are, harder they fall. Bobbi kicks some ass.
- You’re the only one I can trust here. Is she still?
- Hey baby. Hey sweetie. I’m gonna mark this under the “never thought I’d see that convo” category.
- Coulson enjoyed every second of that phone call!
- That mask on your face. Got any more of those? Deathlok with a mask? #LethalComboThat
- Oh shit. TAHITI. Now THAT is an interesting twist I didn’t SEE coming…
- Wait! I want the fake Toolbox!
- You think you’ve seen him at his worst? You haven’t. We’d like to?? #BeenWaiting #Hyde
- I’m more than happy to comply. Someone’s eager. lol
- Mainland. Where are we? Island?
- I love that. #StepfordBakshi
- Oooo he almost #FitzedOut #MiniTurboHulk
- Yeah. It’s weird. Totally weird.
- No buttery goodness from the currency exchange. Well that’s a disappointment.
- Memory lane isn’t always that fun to visit. Neither will goodbyes.
- He’s a SHIELD Agent .. with rockets in his arms. He’s a blast at parties.
- Dammit. A Swiss, American, Scottish, British standoff. That was tense. Wow.
- Someone snatching potential Inhumans?? Wow.
- Daisy Johnson!!! Ahhhhhh!!!!
- Uh oh. Little vials of Green Juice. #NotGood
- Lincoln, there’s ONE thing he really gets upset over. Her name is DAISY!!
- Everybody meet at Cal’s. We’re gonna have a blast!
- Oopps. That wasn’t a good first look through Mike’s eye..
- Our only back up is Fitz.. I’m insulted. But seriously, run like hell. #LoveYaFitz
- Anyone who gave up on this series needs to start catching up..NOW. This is intense. I’m gonna sooo be in withdrawal after S2.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review: 2×18 “Frenemy of My Enemy”