Agents of SHIELD: A Fractured House review

Marvel caps off their big day with an action-heavy installment of Agents of SHIELD. Here's Marc's review.

This Agents of SHIELD review contains spoilers.

So that was a slow day from Marvel, huh?

I’m sure we are all caught up in the future of Marvel at the moment but let us not overlook the present as we had a pretty darn good episode of Agents of SHIELD to enjoy, and yes, believe me, my head is spinning too (Black Panther? Carol Danvers? Inhumans? Infinity War? Ragnarok? Civil War? What the heck, man?). But, right here right now, the central conflict in the cinematic Marvel Universe is HYDRA versus SHIELD and the latest salvo had huge repercussions for Agent Ward.  

I guess we should begin with Agent Ward himself. The deceitful agent has been playing the Lecter/Starling game in the bowels of SHIELD HQ with Agent Skye this season and did so again this episode, feeding Skye more information about her father (and boy, does today’s announcement about the Inhumans flick create some intriguing directions for Agents of SHIELD, huh?) .

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We also got to meet the adult version of Ward’s brother; you know, that little snot that seemingly forced Agent Ward to torture their other brother? Yeah, all the Wards seem like utter scumbags creating layers of mistrust and deceit where Coulson and the viewers have no idea which Ward to trust. Coulson had to trust one of them because a fake SHIELD strike force was committing terrorist acts in SHIELD’s name using weapons they were derived from the Diviner, that alien obelisk thingie that has been the main McGuffin this season. To get the manhunt called off on SHIELD, Coulson had to hand Agent Ward over to his brother.

This conflict took the team to Japan where newly minted SHIELD agent Bobbi Morse, her ex-hubby Agent Hunter, and Agent May took down the false SHIELD squad in a kickass action sequence that featured Morse and Hunter doing some impressive tandem moves that speak to the fact that the divorcees might be a bit closer than they would like to admit. This new dynamic of Morse and Hunter really adds something to the series.

Hunter obviously is a stand in for Hawkeye as Matt Fraction and David Aja played up the divorce angle between Clint Barton and Bobbi Morse to perfection in the pages of the award winning Hawkeye comic series from Marvel. It’s a subtle little homage to the comics and it really works to great comedic effect, but it also gives Morse something to do other than make comic fans happy that a legit Marvel character and Avenger is now part of the show. Speaking of making comic fans happy, props to the wardrobe department for giving Morse a civilian outfit that matched the color scheme and cut of her classic comic outfit. And the blonde hair, I agree with Hunter, gotta love the blonde hair.

As we got used to the new dynamic between Morse and Hunter, we continued to see the tragic evolution of Fitz and Simmons. Fitz seemed to be getting better; he forged a meaningful friendship with Dwayne Johnson doppelganger Agent Mack, once again helped SHIELD in ways only he can, and even his aphasia seemed to be lessening…until he’s around Simmons that is. As the true nature of Ward was explored this week, and the series played with the idea that Ward could maybe be trusted again, Fitz and his pain and his fractured relationship with Simmons served as a constant reminder of the damage Ward has done to such a good soul. Fitz can never be the man that once was, and he is at his worst when she is around. Fans have been awaiting this reunion for some time; little did they know it would be so bleak. All thanks to Ward.

Some other pretty major happenings this week were Glenn Talbot coming around to finally sympathizing with SHIELD, some more clues to the identity of Skye’s father from Ward’s lying mouth, and the revelation that Melinda May was once married. There’s a story there I bet, huh?

But it was all about Ward, his past, and his nature as a deceitful entity that creates chaos wherever he goes. But there is also the wildcard of his brother, Senator Christian Ward. Is the senior Ward any better? Did he turn Agent Ward into a monster or did Agent Ward use Christian as an excuse for his actions, or are they both no good?

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Last season, there were many accusing the series of not reaching depths of character for its players. Not this year, as it is still hard to define whether Ward is a master villain or tragic figure. We might soon find out, as Ward was handed over to his brother by a very reluctant Coulson. This means the flow of information regarding Skye’s father will be cut off but none of that may matter at all because as soon as Ward got out from under the watchful eye of SHIELD, he easily escaped and is now a free agent in the continuing war between Whitehall and HYDRA and Coulson and SHIELD.

It was big day for Marvel. A really freakin’ big day with announcements that will take days to fully absorb, the debut of a new scene from Avengers: Age of Ultron, and the premiere of a TV spot for Agent Carter. It was all topped off by a very enjoyable episode of Agents of SHIELD. “A Fractured House” was a bit convoluted but the exploration of Ward and the action (I will never get tired of Morse and her staves) made it another winner.

Marvel Moments

– Some props sent out to the Red Skull.

– Coulson’s agent in Belgium was named Agent Walters. Any relation to Jennifer Walters, aka She-Hulk? Probably not, but worth mentioning.

– The head merc that invaded the UN at the beginning and took on Agent May was said to have once almost taken down Clint Barton. Hearing Bobbi Morse say the name Clint Barton made my inner nerd very happy.

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3.5 out of 5