In this weeks episode we had a couple of different storylines playing out simultaneously and while at first blush there isn’t too much correlation between them, by next week at least two of them will combine (quite spectacularly) and hopefully the third will also start to play a factor. While we don’t really have any major closure (or even progress) to the question of Skye and her powers arc … is she going to start training herself to use them? … one very cool comment from Fitz gives us an idea of where she could eventually end up.
The third arc while having some pretty significant screen time – namely the return of Grant Ward and Agent 33 – doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Coulson‘s SHIELD and the “real” SHIELD, but I’m guessing there is something there that they’ve glossed over or not really mentioned … the title of the episode does somewhat imply that HYDRA is back so quite possibly the whole conflict between the different groups is being orchestrated by them.
Well lets start with Hunter and his arrival at the real SHIELD where he is introduced to Robert Gonzales (Edward James Olmos) and the leadership council (to be honest these guys are all a bunch of suits and remind me of nothing more than the shadowy council in Avengers and Captain America: Winter Soldier … basically politicians!) who claim that they are the original founders of SHIELD & are extremely dissatisfied with the way it is being run by Coulson. They go on to discuss his apparent change since being brought back from the dead by Fury and his apparent fascination with alien technology (leading to Tripps death) as well as the changes to Skye. While Hunter agrees that there have been mistakes he doesn’t in my opinion state the obvious:
- HYDRA was pursuing the hidden city anyways and regardless of Coulson’s motivations he stopped them. If he hadn’t the consequences would have been significantly worse!
- If this team had HELPED instead of hiding on the sidelines, perhaps Tripp wouldn’t have died in the first place! Coulson made many comments to the fact that SHIELD was under-resourced while HYDRA by contrast seemed to have an endless supply of combatants.
- Finally while Coulson did seem to be influenced by the writing (OK, lets rewrite that … while Coulson was influenced by the alien writing) he actually handled it quite well and ensured that May was in the loop and able to “manage” him. Also when the alien city was discovered, the compulsion went away and was no longer a factor.
Regardless the mission of the “real” SHIELD is nothing more than a shakedown of Coulson’s operation by the looks of it and as soon as Hunter gets a chance he breaks out of the hidden base (turns out its on an aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean … reminds me a lot of Resident Evil actually) and steals a sub to get back to the mainland. Gonzales sends Bobbi back to SHIELD to set the stage for their takeover before Lance can get there and warn Coulson but it looks like the warning might be unnecessary as Coulson and May definitely don’t trust the story that Mac is spinning about Hunter’s absence/disappearance.
While all of this is happening we have the reappearance of Ward and Agent 33! Yay!! Although its only been a couple of weeks (how did he recover from multiple gunshot wounds so quickly??), I’ve missed his homicidal tendencies (!) and his character with his messed up motivations only gets better and better. Ward is still hanging out with the disfigured Agent 33, whose nano-mask remains stuck in “Messed-Up Agent May” mode. They both kidnap a former SHIELD scientist who can fix the mask (in quite a cool sequence with pumpkin pancakes no less!) and while he’s unable to remove the mask, he is able to repair it so that she can take on up to 3 different faces.
Unfortunately Agent 33 (by the way, am I the only one who thinks of Agent 99 from that classic show Get Smart?), has had all of her memories wiped and while she can now change her fact to look like anyone she wants – the person she can’t match is herself as she no longer knows who that is! She does however transform herself into Skye to “thank” Ward for all of his help, but Ward manages to resist the temptation and guides her to information on Bakshi (the HYDRA leader that helped brainwash her). Bakshi is being held captive at a US Air Force base, but using the mask, Ward and Agent 33 manage to infiltrate the facility and extract him. By the end of the episode we see Bakshi tied up in a chair while a brainwashing program is running on the TV … Agent 33 has at least been given back her name although the question remains what else will Bakshi tell them!
What about Skye?
Last but not least is our favorite damaged SHIELD agent (there are actually quite a few to be honest so this list could get rather long!) – Skye. While we learned last week that she was simply internalizing her powers (causing the bone fractures), Coulson had given Simmons an assignment to find a way to “deal” with it and it seems she’s created some gloves that can help Skye “limit” her powers. The question of course is that with Simmons’ acknowledged prejudice, will the cure end up causing more damage than good, or even, is she being totally honest with regards to what the gloves can do?
- Also as more of a question than anything else, since when is Simmons the inventor of the physical stuff … isn’t that more Fitz’ bailiwick than anything else while she’s concentrated on the biological? I wonder if this is just a red herring or another clue?
Anyways, Coulson takes Skye to a cabin the woods where she can learn to get a handle on what’s happened to her. Supposedly this safe have is a place that Fury built for powered individuals and its where Captain America spent some time post Popsicle.
- Coulson: Earlier today, with Skye… just didn’t feel right.
- May: You made the right call. There’s just too many things in play right now for her to be here.
- Coulson: Yeah, maybe. But you ever get that feeling… like you mishandled something important?
Now that’s foreshadowing if I’ve ever seen it!
Overall much better than the previous two episodes in my opinion. While I’m not in love with the whole SHIELD on SHIELD civil war that’s about to erupt, the casting of Edward James Olmos can’t be beat and I’m glad to see that they’re moving (slowly) forward on Skye’s powers. I realize that they can’t establish her identity/power/ability too soon as the Inhumans movie is still many years away, but at the same time I really don’t want them to drag it out forever either. Ward’s return is very welcome and I’m curious to see if in some ways the possible resurgence of HYDRA is due to his influence or if his intentions are completely different.