Agents of SHIELD: Love in the Time of HYDRA

Agents of SHIELD is slipping back into some old, bad habits. Here's the latest review...

This Agents of SHIELD review contains spoilers.

As the very clever and literary title of this week’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD indicates, love is a major theme this week. We’ve already seen how being a SHIELD agent has affected the marriage of Agent May and continues to affect the love life of poor, star crossed Fitz and Simmons, but this week, we got a deep look into how the machinations of SHIELD impacted Bobbi Morse and her estranged hubbie Agent Hunter.

Well, that impact may be seismic for the world of SHIELD as this week revealed there is another branch of SHIELD, one that believed that the actions of Nick Fury (who is still presumed dead) and Phil Coulson are anathema to everything SHIELD stands for- and this newly revealed branch has some killer genre actors. First off, as leader of this new consortium of SHIELD we have Captain Adama hisownself, Edward James Olmos.

While Olmos totally classed up the joint this week, the episode didn’t really give any real clue to Olmos’ Robert Gonzales’ motivations. Yeah, it gave a kind of cursory explanation that Gonzalez was close to the fallen Izzy Hartley (the agent played by Lucy Lawless who died in the first episode of season two) and was angry that such a high level agent like Hartley would fall pursuing Coulson’s alien technology. But this was all told and not shown and so far Olmos’ Gonzalez was just window dressing. The really, really classy kind…but still window dressing.  

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Joining Olmos was Agent Weaver played by Christine Adams (Doctor Who, Batman Begins) and Agent Calderone played by Kirk Acevedo (The Walking Dead, Fringe, 12 Monkeys). Again, none of these new characters really brought anything substantial to the table (and all they did was sit around a table) aside from the admittedly intriguing prospect of there being another branch of SHIELD, one that operates more traditionally and doesn’t go chasing after alien artifacts. One that also has its own Helicarrier I might add.

And all that was the problem with this week’s episode. There was a great deal happening but no progression. There was a ton of wheel spinning. Yeah, Morse and her relationship with Hunter was interesting especially now that it took on this Romeo and Juliet feel since they are both on different sides of this SHIELD feud, but Hunter and Morse began the episode estranged and they remained estranged without the viewer really finding out anything beyond the most surface details of this new SHIELD.

Why were Morse and Mack so entrenched in the organization? If it’s going to be the thing that keeps Hunter and Morse apart, especially after all their missions together against Whitehall and HYDRA, then I wanted to see how and why Morse was so loyal to Gonzalez and NuSHIELD. Maybe the information is coming, but so far, it just seemed like the story is going through the motions.

Speaking of going through the motions. The whole Skye plotline is growing tiresome. She was still bemoaning her fate, Coulson was still worried about her, Fitz was still sticking up for her and everyone was going against Simmons even though she really hadn’t suggested anything shocking or final regarding how to handle Skye Inhuman quake powers. Simmons was all like, “Hey, we should be careful” and Fitz was all like “You cold hearted science harpy!” It all seemed like drama for drama’s sake and this abject rejection of Simmons was not warranted.

So Coulson brought Skye to a cabin where she was not close to any fault lines I guess and Simmons made her a pair of gloves to control her powers. Everyone was being very safe with her but still, everyone was gnashing their teeth and wringing their hands over the unfair treatment of a girl that can cause freakin’ earthquakes. As I said, drama for drama’s sake.

Way more interesting than all that was the return of Agent Ward and Agent 33. First, gotta give props to Ming Na-Wen who pulled double duty this week as Agent May and Agent 33. As 33, Ming Na-Wen was pulling from a very different place than her usually cast iron and stoic Melinda May to portray this shaken and twisted faceless agent. 33 and Ward made an absolutely fascinating pair as they were both used and abused by HYDRA and were now free to pursue their own agendas.

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This week, that agenda was to steal Agent Bakshi, the euro trash HYDRA agent that abducted and turned Agent 33 in the first place. Ward and 33 stole Bakshi right out from under the nose of Glenn Talbot (complete with hilarious performance by Adrian Pasdar who is really bringing the boorishness of the classic Hulk foil to life). Again, what Ward and 33 truly were after is not covered which is frustrating but I can see the two becoming Marvel TV’s Bonnie and Clyde, two unstable agents with their own chaotic agendas causing headaches for both SHIELD and HYDRA.

In conclusion, we had no Calvin Zabo, no eyeless Inhuman, no real plot development or character growth, just a lot of wheel spinning and some window dressing with awesome acting resumes. I’m very happy that Edward James Olmos is aboard, now hopefully, the series will return to that post-midseason break form because this week missed the mark.

Marvel Moments

– It was very cool to hear Coulson, Fitz and Simmons discuss Skye in relation to the known Avengers with Fitz saying she was akin to Captain America while Simmons fears that she may be the Hulk.

– Skye staying at the cabin that Captain America used when he arrived in the modern world. One assumes there is a huge collection of big band records somewhere on the premises.

– There have been a number of story arc over the years with factions of SHIELD going against the edicts of Nick Fury. If this thing gets going, it could be very cool to see that sort of thing play out on TV.

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2 out of 5