ABC and Marvel were hyping this week of Agents of SHIELD as a lead in to Avengers: Age of Ultron and so it was. Sort of. In a kind of anticlimactic way.
And while I enjoy the story synergy between film and TV, believe me; Age of Ultron will exist just fine if one never watched this episode of Agents of SHIELD. But all in all, it was a rather good episode with a bit of action with and exploration of each of our Agents in a battle that feels like the final conflict with HYDRA.
For a conflict that carried half of last season and all of this season of Agents of SHIELD, it all kind of ended with a whimper. As far as the overall tapestry of the Marvel Universe goes, it all works, the war with HYDRA began with Captain America and the Black Widow in the Winter Soldier film and it will end with Age of Ultron, because, yeah, Coulson sent out the call to Maria Hill and the Avengers to take down the remaining HYDRA lab (you know the one holding those twins), and we will all be seeing the resolution of that conflict this weekend, but what of SHIELD? What of the narrative we have been following since Ward’s turn last year? What of the conflict that brought us Cal Johnson, Whitehall, Bakshi, and Dr. List? What of the epic Agents of SHIELD versus HYDRA violent chess game that has been fueling the show for a year?
It all kind of got brushed off into the main event, to Age of Ultron, and I’m really not sure how I feel about that. All of a sudden, the central conflict of the show is being resolved in another medium. It almost makes Agents of SHIELD seem bush league, but I guess when you have a project as huge as an Avengers sequel, all stories point in that direction. So I’m just not sure if this is well done story synergy or an easy way to wrap up most of Agents of SHIELD’s plot threads, but as of this moment, I feel a bit empty. I kind of wanted to see that main event, the HYDRA take down, happen in the same place that so much of the war was explored. Oh well, as long as the Daredevil/Kingpin conflict isn’t resolved in Captain Marvel or something I can let this sort of thing go for now.
Don’t let my concern fool you, other than the all too neat little handoff to Age of Ultron, the episode flowed nicely with effective character moments squeezed between some intense action. Skye really shined this episode as she was reunited with her team to lead the final assault on the HYDRA lab holding her Inhuman pal Lincoln and Coulson’s missing operative, Deathlok. At first, I totally thought Skye, who arrived a little too conveniently, would turn out to be Agent 33 using the mask to infiltrate the mission team. But nope, it was Skye, or should I say Quake, who kicked some major HYDRA ass with and without her powers. There was even an awesome prolonged, singe camera, one cut action sequence of Skye taking out a shit ton of HYDRA goons to save Lincoln. It really was worthy of a rewind or two. By mission’s end, Skye saved Lincoln from being dissected and was back with her teammates.
As for Coulson, we finally found out what Coulson’s mission was. He has been looking for Loki’s staff this whole time, finally finding its whereabouts this week. It’s in the same place as Baron Von Strucker and the twins so Avengers Assemble, but now that all of Coulson’s secrets are out, what is left for good old Phil? I guess there will be conflicts with Gonzales in the coming weeks as SHIELD discovers more about Skye and the Inhumans so all that seemed pretty cool because I’m not going to say no to anything involving both Clark Gregg and Edward James Olmos going at it. But all in all, Coulson’s secrets seemed rather pedestrian and certainly not enough to drive such a wedge between himself and the rest of SHIELD for this prolonged period of time.
One of the biggest character moments happened this week with Jemma Simmons who had a rather violent reaction to Grant Ward being back in the fold. Dear, sweet, gentle Simmons brought her latest invention on the mission to save Lincoln and Deathlok. She brought bombs crafted out of the obelisk that played such an important role earlier in the season. Simmons tried to kill Ward who was saved at the last minute by Bakshi. So Bakshi and his expensive European suit were reduced to cinders and Jemma can now rightfully be called a killer. Yeah, not many will shed tears over Bakshi but it was interesting to see Simmons go off mission to kill Ward. I guess she will never forgive the damage the rogue SHIELD agent did to Fitz. What we are left with is a very strong, very changed woman who is losing her innocence.
Speaking of Ward, everyone’s favorite traitorous operative made quite the sacrifice this week as he gave up his future with Agent 33 in order to make sure she was safe in SHIELD custody. Ward knew that he was a killer and a traitor, but he had real feelings for 33. He knew that being close to him would lead to her destruction so he abandoned 33 for her own good, hoping that Coulson and company could undo the damage HYDRA did to her. So it seemed that Coulson’s long game was too seek help for a woman he cares about and sacrifice his own happiness to make sure that 33 was safe- a fascinating wrinkle to a fascinating character.
So it feels like moving forward, Agents of SHIELD will focus on the continuation of the Inhumans saga. Even with all the HYDRA vs. SHIELD action this week, we got some Inhumans tidbits. Like Raina’s first precog visions (think of a porcupine and immoral version of Cordelia from Angel), Lincoln’s rescue, and a couple of power struggles, the first being between Cal and Jiaying and the second between Raina and Jiaying. I just hope these plot threads and conflicts are allowed to start and finish on TV and don’t turn into a yearlong epilogue to a coming film.
Once again, I love synergy as much as the next guy, and last year, Agents of SHIELD pulled it off perfectly with Captain America: The Winter Soldier crossing into the show, but this year, it felt like a bit of a cheat. Maybe a balance will be achieved in time for Civil War.
Pretty much anything with HYDRA; I guess see the end of HYDRA in Age of Ultron?
Raina’s vision of rampaging metal men. Doesn’t take a precog to see where that is going.
Always nice to see Loki’s scepter, but do we need another McGuffin?
Hello Maria Hill and we’ll see you again this weekend.