This review contains spoilers (but takes place before Avengers: Age Of Ultron)
2.18 The Frenemy Of My Enemy
So, the tie-ins to Avengers: Age Of Ultron have begun, though maybe not in as overt a way as you might have hoped for. Still, bringing back Dr. List was a lot of fun for those who pay eagle-eyed attention to the MCU.
The great Henry Goodman’s HYDRA head, List, was last seen on TV while Coulson sneakily orchestrated a trimming-of-fat within the HYDRA upper echelons, while on film he showed up during the credits of The Winter Soldier discussing experiments on powered people – using Loki’s sceptre – with Baron Von Strucker.
We got a little progress with the Avengers-relevant experimentation strand here, proving the worth of having a HYDRA head who is willing to appear on TV. While having Strucker along would have been more thrilling, List hunting down Gordon for his powers was a nice alternative. Also, the scene where he orders experiments on a cadaver was skin-crawling stuff. We wanted to see a bit more of that strand, if we’re honest, but maybe it’s a bit too dark for ABC. If the ‘next time’ trailer is anything to go by (it promised an ‘exclusive clip’), though, we’ll have an even bigger tie-in to the Avengers next week.
Other than List’s return, The Frenemy Of My Enemy will probably be remembered as the one where Grant Ward re-joined Team Coulson. It’s a shame there wasn’t much made of this (Fitz jumps at him, Simmons looks scared), and to be honest Brett Dalton seemed to be holding back on the creepy charm that we were praising on his last appearance. He came across a little bland here, which is making us hope that he’s building to something bigger.
After all, the division in S.H.I.E.L.D. is now very clear, and it still feels like they’re teasing Civil War as much as Age Of Ultron. Uneasy alliances were the theme of the episode, with Coulson now working with both Ward and Bakshi (both of whom have ‘HYDRA – several years’ on their CVs) to try and get what he wants. It’s a far cry from the time he seemed desperate to get all of HYDRA in the ground, which is an interesting change, and will seemingly have big consequences.
Some other strands felt a little rushed in attempt to make space for Coulson, Ward, Bakshi, Mike, List and Fitz to get their necessary screen-time, though. Simmons giving up her secrets, Skye’s daddy date (“who doesn’t love pastry?” / “RIGHT?!” was pretty funny, though) and a brief discussion of Raina’s powers all made The Frenemy Of My Enemy feel like an episode that had more to say than it had time for. As a result of fitting all this in, nothing quite achieved its full potential.
Thankfully, then, there are still four episodes left. Maybe cramming all of this in now was a necessary evil in order to set things in place for finale time. Perhaps, when the DVD box-set is available for binging, this will feel like a solid connective episode between the better ones.
As it stands, we enjoyed the scenes with List, and would have liked more time with him, but instead spent too long watching other plot points being squeezed in at every turn. Here’s hoping for more Ultron stuff, and a bit more cohesiveness, next week.
Read Rob’s review of the previous episode, Melinda, here.
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