Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: End of the Beginning

“I bet the Clairvoyant didn’t see that coming.”

If next week's episode is as good, or better than, this episode, then the signal flare will finally be going up.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has really come into its own lately, which has only made ABC’s stop-start scheduling all the more annoying. But it turns out there was a purpose behind it. The network needed the airdates of these final seven episode coincide with the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. These next few episodes are going to tie in heavily with that film so I strongly recommend everyone go out and see it before next week’s episode.

Agents Garret, Triplett, Hand, Blake and Sitwell were all brought in to assist with the search for that elusive Clairvoyant and his cybernetic foot soldier, Deathlok (the construction worker formally known as Mike Peterson). With so many recurring characters showing up ‘End of the Beginning’ felt like the first part of the two-part season finale. Makes me wonder what they have in store for the actual finale.

They had me fooled with the reveal of Brad Dourif as the Clairvoyant. He is exactly the kind of respected character actor you would expect them to cast in such a role. The second I saw his name in the guest credits I thought to myself that he will be playing the Clairvoyant. I should’ve realised something was up at that point. When Ward shot him that pretty much signalled that Thomas Nash was not the Clairvoyant. No way they would spend so much time building up this character only to dispatch them so casually.

Poor Nash was just another scapegoat. Another victim of the Clairvoyant’s scheme, chosen simply because he had no way to defend or explain himself. This means that Ward killed an innocent man. I hope that isn’t dropped or forgotten about. Like Coulson, I thought that Ward killed Nash because he was ordered to do so from on high. It made more sense than him losing his cool and killing him to protect Skye. I don’t think Ward is at the stage yet where he would do something so irrational for her.

So, if Nash wasn’t the Clairvoyant then who is? Coulson and Skye believe that they are a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent with access to everyone’s psych files. Right now they are pointing the finger at Hand (which is an odd sentence to type). She is a reasonable suspect. As a Level 8 agent she would have access to everyone’s files. Also, when Coulson was missing she wasn’t all that keen on rescuing him. But she is a little too obvious a suspect. If not her then who? Blake may be the human form of a malevolent smoke monster, but he’s currently on death’s door so we can rule him out as a suspect. It’s not Sitwell. I can’t say how I know it is not Sitwell, only that it is not Sitwell.

That’s leaves Garret and Triplett. This episode just made me love Agent Garret more and more. So much so that I really hope he doesn’t turn out to be a bad guy. Or get killed. Or turn out to be a bad guy and then get killed. Triplett is still something of a blank slate. I can’t figure him out yet. That talk he had with Ward in Milton Keyes (really?) was suspicious convenient. Triplett effectively planted the idea of killing the Clairvoyant in Ward’s head.

What side is May on? She is reporting to someone else about Coulson. I don’t think for a second she is working against the team for the Clairvoyant or anyone else. She went after Fitz with one of their stun guns. She meant to incapacitate him, not kill him. And the way she questioned Fitz and Simmons about Coulson and Skye displaying any side effects from the serum makes me think she was put on the flying boat simply to monitor Coulson and report back to Fury, the only one who knew the truth about Coulson.

Wherever her true loyalties lie, there’s no getting away from the fact the team is starting to fall apart. And believe me when I say that things are going to get so much worse. I will say no more for now, spoilers an’ all (seriously, go see The Winter Soldier). So I’ll leave you with three words a dying man passed on to a sceptical FBI agent in days gone by that are really relevant to what is happening right now - trust no one.

Intel and Assets

--Since Simmons is in the Hub I’m betting she’s going to somehow stop Hand’s people from killing everyone on the Bus. Unless she’s the Clairvoyant. Now that would be a twist.

--Skye has graduated to Level 1 agent. She’s become a lot more likeable now that the writers have seen sense and toned down her general Skyeness. She’s changed so much that it freaked out Fitz and Simmons.

--The ratings are still worryingly low. Hopefully this upturn in quality will be enough to convince the suits to commission a second season. The new and improved Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a series I’d be sorry to see go.

--I like the character work they did with Agent Blake. He was sceptical of psychic powers but believed in astrology. He tried to reach out to Mike’s humanity even as he was strangling the life out of him. And he was smart enough to switch the regular bullets for Fitz’s trackers. Fingers crossed he makes a full recovery. More Titus Welliver is always a good thing.

Hand: "You realize, Agent Coulson, they have these things called teleconferences now?"

Simmons: "So you're saying we should obey the rules?"
[Skye nods]
Fitz: "Who are you and what have you done with Skye?"

May: "You don't believe in the Clairvoyant, but you believe in astrology?"

Simmons: "Yes. Brilliant deduction, Dr. Watson."
--Of course Jemma sees herself as the Sherlock of this duo.

Coulson: "The clairvoyant doesn’t have abilities, he has security clearance… He’s an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Four out of four double bluffs.


Anonymous said...

Indeed; excellent episode. This show gets better and better.

drnanamom said...

Loved this episode. Lots of twists and turns. I wasn't going to go see Captain America but I will now - what an excellent selling strategy. I'm betting on Agent Garrett just because we were made to like him although they certainly were singling out Hand. I agree that this felt like the first of a two-part finale so I am really looking forward to the next episodes.

migmit said...

Good episode. Although it was strange to see Glenn Childs as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, and, what's more, a competent agent.

You know, I really hate this "tying series to the movie" stuff. I can't see the movie in English, because they don't show it in English in our country, and I don't want to see some poorly dubbed version of it. That ALWAYS makes things less cool (except Pulp Fiction, which was the rock bottom of uncoolness).

Marianna said...

I think it was pretty clear Hand is a bad guy given the whole redirecting their plane and ordering people to kill them all when they get there. Although that doesn't necessarily make her the Clairvoyant. She could be working for the Clairvoyant. (By the way, I totally called her being evil back in The Well.) =)

I don't think May would intentionally help the bad guys, but it's possible she did so without knowing because she was ordered to keep tabs on Coulson.

I think Ward did in fact lose it and shoot Nash not because he was ordered to but because he was manipulated into doing so with the whole being in love with Skye thing.

Saffy said...

I became quite paranoid after what Joss did in Getting Closer. Now in almost every show I watch (not just Whedon ones) I expect a sudden but inevitable betrayal from someone of the good guys. During this episode, after I realized, some time before Coulson, that Clairvoyant is someone from S.H.I.E.L.D. I kept thinking "It's Ward!", "Maybe it's Fitz." Then I decided that it could be Simmons - she is way too interested in that drug they gave Skye. Ugh! I know it's probably not one of them - but once paranoia sets in, there's no getting rid of it.
One person I never once suspected to be a bad guy was May. I don't know why, it's just seems too obvious to be real.

Aly said...

Great review!

I was wondering in the whole operation segment and splitting the info in pairs and teammembers - wouldn't the clairvoyant easier just read Skye's mind?

Can one go see Captain America and understand it, if not having seen the previous movies? (Plus aside SHIELD, nothing else in the Marvel universe)