This review contains spoilers.
3.6 Among Us Hide
Don’t be put off by the cheesy ellipsis in the episode title – this week’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. was something rather special. As the 50th instalment of Marvel Studios’ flagship television project, Among Us Hide… was one of the best episodes yet. And it’s definitely among the most Marvel-y.
To truly earn that iconic red and white studio tag at the start of each episode, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. needs to be a lot of things at once. It needs to have engaging characters, quips that are actually funny, fights that look cool, dashings of heartfelt emotionality when the time is right, and some sense of inhabiting a universe filled with superheroes. Among Us Hide (sorry, I can’t keep doing the ellipsis) achieved all of these things.
Standing out in the biggest way was the comedy element. Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has always tried to echo the Whedon-y zinger-after-zinger scripting style that the Marvel Cinematic Universe thrives on, but rarely has it succeeded at inducing this many chuckles in one episode.
Hunter getting increasingly bored was one of my favourite recurring jokes this week – from questioning Fitz’s spelling, to icing Banks in impromptu style, to punching the unconscious ATCU agent to get a blood sample. Since his arrival, Nick Blood has always been one of the funnier cast members, and here he was given consistent moments to shine.
Skye – sorry, Daisy – also had a bit of a funny bone transplant this week, earning one of Among Us Hide’s heartiest giggles with the line “it’s awesome, so I stole it.” Despite being off on his own tangent, Clark Gregg’s Phil Coulson also found the funny, by ridiculing Rosalind’s selection of Margaret Thatcher biographies.
Speaking of Coulson, his strand – trying to work out what Rosalind’s game is, and finally getting a glimpse at her base – provided the heart of this episode. Although it does seem a little out of character that he wouldn’t immediately try to shut down the ATCU’s ‘horror movie’ way of detaining Inhumans, the time spent delving into Rosalind’s backstory served two important purposes. It humanised Constance Zimmer’s villainous character significantly, while also ensuring that S.H.I.E.L.D.’s fiftieth episode wasn’t without emotion. Marvel isn’t just about the fights, after all.
While we’re on the topic of that, though – weren’t the fights this week brilliant? The scene where May tested Bobbi with throttling and throwing down was both unexpected and well handled, providing Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s downscaled equivalent to the ‘who would win between X and Y?’ moments that the Avengers movies always do so well with. As it turns out, Bobbi bested May this time (who knew!).
Seeing Bobbi back in the field was a very welcome change, as well. Although sidelining her with injury has given Adrianne Palicki more character material to work with this season, we all love this character most when she is kicking arse and taking names. So, when she finally took down Ward’s boring henchman with a nifty electrifying baton move at the end of the episode, it was a real cause for celebration.
The build-up to Bobbi’s big fight scene was fun, too, with the safety deposit box sequence – where Bobbi used Fitz’s earpiece intel to try to diffuse the situation without violence – proving to be as funny as it was tense. It was spy-based, too, tying nicely into an episode where the team were almost-entirely out in the field. Sometimes this show strays too far from its spy-based premise, but this episode focused hard on showcasing what the S.H.I.E.L.D. team’s actual jobs are.
And, of course, we’ve not yet addressed the elephant in the room – Andrew Garner isn’t dead, because it turns out he’s Lash! The rumours I was quite dismissive about last week are actually true. We didn’t believe his “I can’t believe it, the explosion should have killed me!” line for a moment, and Von Strucker’s throwaway line “he’s a monster!” (not actually about Ward, we expect) pretty much gave the game away.
Still, it was an interesting twist, and it’ll be fun to see where the show goes now that May’s potential happy ending and everyone’s mentor figure is actually a monstrous, murderous bad guy. Huge kudos must go to the effects team, too – the transformation scene that revealed Garner’s condition was gorgeous. The movie team would have been proud of that.
Going forward, it’d be really nice if Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. could maintain the brilliant balance of comedy, action, drama and stellar effects work that Among Us Hide showcased. We’re in for a treat if it does.