This episode just proves that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. should really abandon case of the week plots for good in favour of full time serialised storytelling.
Thanks to a lame villain and dull action scenes, the team’s trip to Portland to save Coulson’s lady love ended up being a disappointment. Audrey turned out to be a fairly bland character, likeable only because she was played by Amy Acker, who is loveable in every role she plays, even the murderous psychos (sometimes especially the murderous psychos). We still don’t really anything about Audrey beyond that fact she’s a cellist that Coulson once dated. It would’ve been nice if we'd been shown some flashbacks of their time together so we could get some sense of what they were like as a couple. All this episode gave us was Fred playing cello while Phil hid in the shadows looking sad.
Sticking with relationship issues, I’m not on board with the idea of Fitz being secretly in love with Simmons. I prefer them as surrogate brother and sister. Can’t we have one TV show where a heterosexual man and a heterosexual woman can be close friends without one of them being secretly in love the other? If Fitz ever does admit his feelings I want Simmons to reject him. I know it might seem cruel, although I doubt Simmons would do it in a cruel way, but Simmons is under no obligated to love Fitz just because he loves her. The last thing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. needs right now is to come down with a bad case of Nice Guy Syndrome.
This was very much a couples episodes. Along with Philharmonic (yes, that's the ship name) and Fitz pinning for Simmons, we had May and Coulson's estrangement becoming a full blown trial separation, and Skye and Ward acting out their own little version of Homeland. How typical of a Mutant Enemy show to accelerate a romantic pairing just as we discover that one of them is a traitor. Before getting her Mata Hari on, Skye’s first, completely understandably, reaction to learning the truth was to lock herself in the bathroom and freak out. I imagine being a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and discovering the guy you like is HYDRA has got to be a lot like being a vampire slayer and discovering the guy you like is a vampire.
Just how deep are Ward’s feelings for Skye? I do believe they are genuine and that he does want to tell her the truth about himself, maybe in the hope he can persuade her to abandon team Canadian wilderness and join team Cuban sunshine. But if Garrett gave the order to kill her would he go through with it? Part of me is worried that the writers will use whatever it is he feels for her to lure him away from HYDRA and back to team Coulson. I think this would be a mistake. At this stage I don’t think redemption is possible for Ward. Even if he were willing to switch sides, he has killed too many people for the team to ever take him back. When May finds out he’ll be lucky if he lives to see season two.
The best part of the episode was “orientation”, where Koenig subjected the team (sans Coulson) to an seemingly unbeatable lie detector machine to test their loyalty. Pass and you get one of his fancy lanyards. Fail and you get a bullet between the eyes. As well as being quite funny at times, this scene revealed some interesting titbits about the various members of the… can we still call it a team? May, as well as being the only one likely to survive alone on a desert island, was once married (to Coulson maybe?). Triplett is the grandson of one of the Howling Commandos. Fitz really can’t function without Simmons. Simmons is a Doctor Who fan. And Skye’s real name is Mary Sue Poots (massive geek that she is I can see why she changed it). Despite Koenig’s enthusiastic claims that the machine was unbeatable, Ward was able to prove otherwise with relative ease. Koenig really should’ve asked more detailed, probing questions like “Are you a HYDRA agent?” or “Who would win in a fight between a caveman and an astronaut?”. How does the egg/rock thing tell you if someone is being honest or not?
Intel and Assets
--I desperately need an entire episode of May and her mother taking a road trip.
--Last time Amy Acker and Clark Gregg starred together they played uncle and niece in Much Ado About Nothing.
--Triplett's grandfather was one of the Howling Commandos.
--Dammit, just when I was starting to like the new Ward he had to go and kill Koenig. I know he's evil and all, but was a garrotting really called for? Couldn’t you have just knocked him out and shoved him in a closet?
--Kieu Chinh (Mama May) previously played Ming-Na Wen’s mother in The Joy Luck Club. The Maria that Mama May mentioned is obviously Maria Hill, Fury’s former right hand woman, next week’s special guest star and Canadian teen pop sensation.
Mama May: "You're not gonna take her out, are you?"
May: "No, mom, I just wanna talk."
Mama May: "Good. I've always liked Maria."
Coulson: "Nothing bad ever happens when you work with something called 'Darkforce'."
Ward: "I am not a good man, Skye."
Skye: "Yes, you are."
--No, he really isn't.
Three out of four lanyards in memory of Agent Koenig.
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