Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Turn, Turn, Turn


Warning: this review contains spoilers for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. So don't delay, see it today.

"Hail HYDRA."

It may have took 17 episodes to get us to this point, but that signal flare is finally going up. I hope you’re looking eastward, Josie.

Remember how I used to go on about how Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. suffered from being too predictable and that nothing the show ever did really shocked or surprised? Well, I guess someone running the show must've read my reviews and others like it and thought "Ha, we'll show them" because HOLY. FUCKING. SHIT. That is what I call a game changer. In the space of two episodes the entire series has been turned upside down, given a good shake and stuffed into a blender. This is what the show has been building to all along. The Winter Soldier was already shooting when production of this series started so the writers and producers would’ve known going in what would happen.

To recap, S.H.I.E.L.D. has been revealed as a front for HYDRA. They infiltrated the agency after it was founded following the war and have been slowly taking it over ever since. Our heroes have been working for the bad guys all along and didn’t even know it. Seemingly friendly agents like Sitwell and Garrett have been revealed to be traitors. As a result of HYDRA coming crawling out of the woodwork, S.H.I.E.L.D. as we know it is no more. The entire agency has been effectively shut down. That fancy badge Skye was so happy to receive last week is now as worthless as shares in MySpace.

The big question now is where does the show go from here? How can it continue to call itself Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. when there is no long a S.H.I.E.L.D. for anyone to be an agent of? Will this mark the beginning of a newer, smaller, better S.H.I.E.L.D. consisting of just Coulson and his team? Whatever happens, this is exactly the sort of kick up the backside format change the show needed. The old “roaming the earth investigating shit” one just wasn’t working out too well. Far better to have a small team of rogue agents, with limited resources and some serious trust issues (it’ll be a long time before Coulson trusts May again), roaming the globe, battling HYDRA operatives, many of whom were once friends and co-workers (even lovers in the case of Ward and May).

What impressed me most about this episode (and there was a lot to be impressed about) was how easy it was to follow. What we're basically seeing here is the ripple effects of much larger event taking place in theatres near you. References to the events of the film are smartly kept to a minimum. The episode is constructed in such a way that you don’t need to have seen The Winter Soldier to understand what is happening, although it does enhance the experience if you have. The focus was always on the team and how they all reacted to this revelation and how it tied in with everything else that has happened in the series so far.

After last week I was kind of expecting Agent Garret to be the Clairvoyant. The more they tried to make it look like Hand (R.I.P. Vic) was guilty the more obvious it became that Garrett was the real culprit. What I didn’t see coming was Ward also being HYDRA and then killing Hand and her men. I was expecting something bad to happen. He and Skye had just kissed and this is a Whedon show so tragedy was soon to follow. I really hope this isn't some kind of ploy and he is in fact a traitor. It would make Ward a far more interesting character than he has been so far. I doubt he’s undercover. He shot both those guards in the head and Hand three times. It is possible he's being controlled. He did look pretty cold and robotic during those final scenes. Well, more than usual. Maybe the writers just want him to appear ambiguous so we keep guessing as to where his true loyalties really lie.

But I really want him to be evil. Hail HYDRA.


Intel and Assets

--Skye gave the drive with all the information they didn’t want to fall into HYDRA’s hands to Ward. D’oh.

--Tying the action in with The Winter Soldier didn’t give the show the ratings boost the network was no doubt hoping for. Interestingly, if you take DVRs into account, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a rather healthy audience of around 9 million. I hope networks are slowly starting to wake up to the fact that Nielsen ratings are no longer a clear representation of a show’s popularity.

--Next weeks episode will be on an hour later so ABC can see how well the series does against the lesser NCIS.

--Loved Coulson just shooting May and Skye and Fitz’s shocked expressions.

--Garrett may be a psycho, but he has great taste in classic rock music.

--We must all be vigilant, HYDRA agents are everywhere.

--Ward taking down all those agents was damn impressive.

Hand: "They hide in plain sight. They earn our trust, our sympathy. They make us like them."

Coulson: "So we fly in there and face the music, even if it is the HYDRA theme song."
--What is the HYDRA theme song and did Alan Menken help write it?

Coulson: "No, John. This is you being a psychopath..."

Triplett: "You're a surprisingly bad liar, Agent Simmons."
Simmons: "I know, but I'm getting better at it."

Coulson: "Boo-yah."

Four out of four Hail HYDRAs.

12 comments:

sunbunny said...

I can just imagine the writers reading critiques of Ward as being boring and chuckling to themselves.

Great episode. It is interesting the Cap 2 tie in didn't give them a ratings boost. I wonder if people haven't seen the movie yet and are worried about spoilers.

I thought the thing they used on the Winter Soldier in Cap 2 was strangely reminiscent of Dollhouse tech. Maybe they used something similar on Ward? The way he looked after killing three people was weird. If he was a true villain, I feel like he would've been happy or smug or something not just 'Battery low. In need of charging.'

Patrick said...

Just a couple of quick notes:

*Kudos to the writers for making Ward a HYDRA traitor. Did NOT see that coming.

*"Hail HYDRA" is absolutely my new favoite Internet meme. :)

*Chloe Bennet asked on Twitter what HYDRA's theme song should be. I suggested Paula Abdul's "Cold-Hearted Snake". It seems the logical choice. :)

*I had an inkling that the thing about Agent Hand was a misdirect, it seemed a little too obvious. I'm going to miss her(assuming for the moment that she is actually dead, this IS a Whedon show, after all). Not so much because the character had been exciting up to this point, but I like the actress, and the new status quo opened up some interesting possibilities for her.

*As much as I admire them for totally turning the world of their show upside-down, I really hope they know what they intend to DO with the world going forward. I've seen shows up-end things like this and then it feels like they did so without a concrete plan. In at least one case, it seemed like the show did it more than once, when it realized the idea they had either wasn't working or ran out of steam *cough*Alias*cough*

Jess Lynde said...

I was definitely reserving judgment on the supposed Hand reveal throughout the episode, and kept waiting for Garrett to turn out to be the real bad guy. It's still a bummer though, because I liked him as a good guy. Oh well. At least we get Ward as a bad guy to make up for it. I hope they stick with it.

They've certainly laid the groundwork for Ward to be working some sort of deep cover twist, but I'm hoping that isn't the case. I hope he really is HYDRA, and that the scene at the end was him starting to have doubts. Maybe after all these months of working with and bonding with his "team," he's questioning his loyalty to HYDRA. They've been talking all season about how he's a solo operative learning to be part of a team, and maybe it really has had an effect on him. I don't know if his romantic feelings for Skye are genuine or a play --- again, I could see that going either way --- but I'm hoping it was the latter. Skye and Ward as a couple does not work for me. I'd rather have his feelings for the team as a whole be what turns him back to good.

If that's the plan, that is. He can also just stay evil and die an evil traitor death. That would be fine. :)

Josie Kafka said...

Flare acknowledged, Mark. Thanks!

drnanamom said...

Whoa! Great episode and great review. We should have known that a Whedon show was going to pull it out of the hat but I'm with everyone else I didn't see the Ward twist coming until the very end. Was I making it up or did Ward and Coulson give a little nod to each other as Ward was leaving? Might give some credence to either Ward not being evil or Coulson being evil too - naw....

danielcw said...

"I hope networks are slowly starting to wake up to the fact that Nielsen ratings are no longer a clear representation of a show’s popularity."

I am sure the networks know that, but it is alos missing the point.
Nielsens tell the networks how many people wathc the ads.
Popularity does not matter a lot.

Patrick said...

Yes, the Nielsen ratings can still be useful for setting the broadcast ad rates, depending on how they decide to weight the DVR numbers(I'm not sure anyone's really figured out how much they should count compared to the live number). But when it comes to the total revenue generation for a show, there's more for the network to consider these days. Not only is there a lot more international distribution(our shows are heading overseas a lot faster now, so that revenue is a factor in keeping a show alive), and of course online streaming(where the user is either paying a fee or is seeing ads when they watch). I suppose there are still folks buying shows on disc, but I'm guessing the numbers on that are down.

So yes, it's not "popularity" that keeps a show around, it's "profitability", but the original point still has merit: the Nielsens are not the sole arbiter they once were.

danielcw said...

"the Nielsens are not the sole arbiter they once were."

They never were the sole arbiter, or at least not in the last 30 years.


"Yes, the Nielsen ratings can still be useful for setting the broadcast ad rates, depending on how they decide to weight the DVR numbers(I'm not sure anyone's really figured out how much they should count compared to the live number)."

The current gospel is C3,
how many people watch the commercials during the first 3 days.

And Nielsens are measuring DVR usage.

"But when it comes to the total revenue generation for a show, there's more for the network to consider these days. Not only is there a lot more international distribution(our shows are heading overseas a lot faster now, so that revenue is a factor in keeping a show alive), and of course online streaming(where the user is either paying a fee or is seeing ads when they watch). I suppose there are still folks buying shows on disc, but I'm guessing the numbers on that are down."

Networks don't make money from interational sales, or discs or any future deals.
I have no idea, if they make money from current streaming deals, like on ABC's website or hulu.

garyb said...

While generally true that "Networks don't make money from international sales, or discs or any future deals." in this particular case, sine Disney owns both Marvel and ABC there is a synergy and money trail beyond what ABC (Disney) can make from the broadcast hour alone.

Chris Lewis said...

The first thing I told a friend of mine after watching this was, "THIS is the episode I told you we'd see!" That point when it reaches level of pure, awesome, classic television. Well done!

mazephoenix said...

Great episode. Finally they are doing what they always should have. I don't think Hand is dead. Ward can stay a traitor.

Doc said...

If Ward is a true HYDRA member, it certainly would inform his murder of the faux Clairvoyant. But he did seem pretty heart-felt about doing it for Skye, so I guess it's kind of a wash!