Somewhat like old home week, the gang is finally all back together. Skye has returned and with Ward’s inclusion last week our original cast of characters is now all together back on the boat … one thing that needs to be said though is that WOW have they changed. Skye once a bit of a loner is now truly at home with her teammates, Fitz and Simmons with their on again / off again relationship/friendship (who knows what ship) are still just as confused – perhaps even more so and May … once the mother of the group to Coulson‘s dad is now possibly considering a divorce!
The elephant though … well that’s Ward really isn’t it? Who he has become and what he’s done to those he considered his friends … this was his opportunity to really apologize and perhaps start working towards that redemption he seems to so desperately need. The team (including us) would never give it to him – his actions go definitely beyond the pail, but unfortunately Ward’s apology really shows a lack of maturity and a true understanding of the pain and anguish that he has caused his supposed friends.
When Mack apologized to Hunter – it was meaningful … you could see the tears in his eyes (I know this was acting, but it was believable) but perhaps most importantly he said the right words:
I still believe in what I do, but I never meant for you to get hurt and I’m sorry for that and I’ll try to make it up to you in any way that I can.
Ward by contrast however blames all of his actions on how he was brought up, the abuses he suffered at the hands of his family etc… he refuses to take any ownership for his actions and his sociopathic tendencies and while it seems he’s trying to do the right thing by Kara (Agent 33) he’s unable to translate these actions into the necessary changes he’d need to make in himself. While Ward seems to desperately want to be a hero again – he cannot redeem himself, truly redeem himself until he acknowledges and atones for his previous actions and shows true remorse. Right now his only regrets seem to be that he and the team had “good times”
Whereas Captain America: The Winter Soldier had S.H.I.E.L.D being impacted greatly by the events of that movie and us literally being caught blindsided, this time S.H.I.E.L.D is providing us with some foreshadowing by way of Raina and her gifts and while I personally wasn’t that impressed with this (I’ll explain more later) it was to be expected.
OK lets get down to the nitty gritty as there was quite a bit of stuff that happened in this episode including a tie in for the the upcoming Avengers Movie also (as previously mentioned).
*** Spoilers below ***
With the return of Cal and Skye to the Afterlife, Cal literally explodes (verbally) and lets the cat out of the bag in regards to Skye’s parentage. If you recall from a previous episode Jianying wanted to keep this secret so I’m sure this is going to come back and bite her quite badly. Skye wants to immediately attempt a rescue of Lincoln, but when Gordon initially attempts to do so himself he is accosted by Hydra agents and almost captured. With Raina’s “influence” based on her visions, Skye has herself teleported to the bus prior to Coulson and the rest of the gang initiating their rescue attempt.
Coulson as just mentioned has managed to persuade Gonzales of the value of conducting a rescue operation to recover Mike Peterson (Deathlok) and also the unnamed powered individual (Lincoln) that H.Y.D.R.A is experimenting on. While his apparent surrender to Gonzales at the end of the previous episode might have put him into Gonzales’ “power” it is quite apparent that Coulson can literally run circles around him. His comments to Hill that Gonzales has a committee that actually vote on decisions shows the true derision that he feels for Gonzales. The sad fact is that a leader is someone willing to make those difficult decisions and deal with the consequences of them both positive and negative and unfortunately as much as I like the Edward James Olmos – Gonzales is not a leader. He is not the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. OK, I’ll get off my soapbox now and get back to the recap! 🙂
Coulson gathers together the rest of the gang and with Skye’s return to the bus thanks to Gordon, they set off on an apparent suicide mission to infiltrate the H.Y.D.R.A base. When H.Y.D.R.A detects the bus even thought is cloaked and fires two missiles apparently destroying it … our thoughts immediately go to the team … well, no, not really – we all knew they were fine didn’t we? Anyways, it turns out that they were in a quinjet inside the bus and they actually used the wreckage of the bus as camouflage to sneak down. Bakshi it seems has continued to keep them informed and they well knew the capabilities of the base prior to planning their assault. Once they are able to obtain ingress to the base they actually meet up with Bakshi and split up into three separate teams with Skye/Ward and Bakshi on the rescue team. While Skye initially uses her powers (which she seems to be gaining control of exponentially) to disable some H.Y.D.R.A agents, she really kicks ass in an action sequence that is up there with the May vs. May fight from Face my Enemy. Kevin Tancharoen has directed several episodes this season, and once again he really raised the bar for action on this series when he staged an intricate sequence showing what Skye is capable of not just with a weapon but also with her body and the surroundings. I can’t really speak highly enough if this sequence and I definitely want to see more of Skye kicking butt not just with her powers, but also good old fashioned hand-to-hand as this episode shows she’s definitely got the goods and the abilities to allow her to hold her own.
Coulson meanwhile leads Fitz and May on a separate mission to disable the anti-aircraft defenses that H.Y.D.R.A has in place so that S.H.I.E.L.D can send in some jets to destroy the base. While Fitz is hacking the defenses however, Coulson seems to have another reason for being there – rescuing Deathlok and Lincoln it seems is simply a cover and a way for him to access the base. In a similar sequence to what we saw with the Widow and the Captain from Winter Soldier, Coulson manages to obtain access to some information while May holds of the attacking H.Y.D.R.A agents. May however is less than pleased at learning of this subterfuge and continues to push Coulson to come clean with her on all of the different secrets he’s holding very close to his chest.
Simmons similarly however had her own reasons for deciding to join the rescue attempt and while her attempt on Wards life fails she does kill Bakshi. While I can understand Simmons’ need to avenge herself on Ward, I really feel that she is becoming more and more unhinged herself and if she’s not careful could end up just as damaged as he is! Jemma is not a killer. I think she’s falling apart so quickly she doesn’t know how to stop it. So much hurt, pain… She can’t deal with it alone. That’s why I really hope she confesses everything to Fitz (including Bankshi’s death and I’m afraid of how is he going to react).
Returning to the base, Coulson hands over the cube but not before letting slip that Fury is still alive. While Gonzales’ might think Coulson isn’t the Director, a phone call from Agent Hill demonstrates quite clearly that there are many others who believe the opposite. While speaking to Hill, Coulson provides her with the information that he’d stolen from H.Y.D.R.A – the location of Loki’s scepter – and also informs her that they need to call the Avengers again.
From the point of view of tying up a bunch of loose ends this episode absolutely delivered and I know I’m probably in the minority in my one gripe, but since this is my post I can state it anyways! While I absolutely was expecting the fact that they’d somehow allude to the upcoming movie in S.H.I.E.L.D I hate the fact that they had to do it. I know that they (the MCU) are all interconnected and I loved what changed in S.H.I.E.L.D after the events of Winter Soldier, but this “plug” for Age of Ultron felt like nothing more than that … an attempt to get more bums in seats. Winter Soldier took me by surprise and the whole S.H.I.E.L.D v.s. H.Y.D.R.A impact along with the changes to some beloved characters … that was good storytelling. This – well we’ve all seen the trailers for weeks if not months with Ultron … we know that these are the metal men that Raina is referring to and unfortunately as much as I enjoy Raina’s character and her thorny new look, her clairvoyance feels too much like a convenient plot device to put certain pieces in place. The impact just isn’t there for these pronouncements which is really sad as the last 5 minutes of the episode removed some of the awesomeness that I felt in the rest of the episode. I absolutely know and realize that the whole MCU is interconnected – I honestly do get that – maybe its just Raina. It’s probably just me. 🙂
Coulson has kept the secret of the Theta Protocol close to the vest as the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., refusing to reveal what it means even to Agent Melinda May (Ming Na Wen). In “The Dirty Half Dozen” Coulson finally lets slip what this protocol entails while speaking to Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders): the Avengers as mentioned below and while I wasn’t too keen on how this was tied into the show, I am very curious to see what happens next week post Ultron and how that impacts S.H.I.E.L.D and the team. While Ward is absolutely not redeemed (thankfully), the question is of course is his actions on/for Kara as genuine as he is making them out to be, or is he still playing another con, this time with her inside S.H.I.E.L.D?
By this point you’ve probably already seen the trailers for the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron. If not you can find one of them at this link. Something else that might interest you however is an overall cinematic for the MCU as presented in the video below. I found it quite interesting and hopefully you will too!