“They scratch my paint, I’m gonna be pissed.”
While the last episode was one of the show’s best, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hasn’t aired a new episode in a month. There’s still a question of whether or not the gap halted the show’s momentum, but was the introduction of two new agents and a guest starring spot from Bill Paxton enough to keep the ball rolling?
In the wake of the events seen in “T.R.A.C.K.S.,” we pick up almost immediately following Skye (Chloe Bennet) being shot twice and left for dead. S.H.I.E.L.D.’s medical team goes to work on her, but when their best efforts aren’t enough, it’s up to her “family” to try to uncover the secret to what brought Coulson back, and find if it can be used on Skye. If last week’s episode was the most exciting to date, then “T.A.H.I.T.I.” is the most emotionally powerful. Even if the episode didn’t really manage to make me care about Skye, it did make me care about those who were trying to save her, and about their struggle to do so.
Coulson (Clark Gregg), in his assuming the role of Skye’s father figure, makes it his mission to save her life by any means necessary. When his search for the doctors that brought him back to life and refusal to hand over Quinn to S.H.I.E.L.D. puts him in his own organization’s crosshairs, though, we get a glimpse of both Ward and Coulson’s past in the form of John Garret (Bill Paxton) and Antoine Triplett (B.J. Britt), who are ordered to take custody of Quinn. Coulson doesn’t let that happen, needing Quinn to ensure Skye’s survival, so he works out a deal with his old partner, who has also been tracking their prisoner.
Paxton’s performance is probably one of my favorite things about this episode, as the character’s portrayal is incredibly entertaining. His protégé, Trip, on the other hand, is a different story. The guy is given the FitzSimmons treatment, and aside from getting his ass kicked by Ward and a little flirting with Simmons, we don’t really hear from him. Although they didn’t have a major effect on the show, they are definitely welcome additions, and will hopefully be back soon.
Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) really continues in her role from last week, and, similarly to the show itself, has found her footing as a character that can be a bad ass, but has deeper layers that we can actually relate to. Maybe she’s just growing on me as a character, but I think there have been some distinct personality traits that have been overhauled here. She isn’t a by-the-book vet anymore. She’s got motivation in what she’s doing, and when you consider that in addition to her relationship with Ward (which still hasn’t really been touched) and newfound bond with Skye, it makes her interactions with Coulson that we’ve been getting since the beginning that much more enjoyable. We clearly get to see this in action in this episode, as she beats the high hell out of Ian Quinn (David Conrad) on pure anger over what he’d done to Skye, and not because it was the tactical or correct thing to do.
Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) has largely been a supporting character in recent episodes, and considering how those episodes have gone; I think it’s for the best. As much as I liked him in the beginning, he became stale pretty quickly. Frankly, he makes a good supporting character. He can fight, shoot, and do all of the super special training that S.H.I.E.L.D. agents do, and that’s where he’s needed. His relationship with May could be insanely entertaining, I feel, but they only barely touched on it in “T.A.H.I.T.I.” Granted, new characters and Skye’s storyline took up much the of the time, but I’d have liked more than the subtle comment Grant made about May letting her emotions out. Other than that, there really isn’t much to see from Agent Ward here.
Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), while actually given something to do this time around in examining Coulson’s file, are still largely left in the shadows. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is to the Marvel Cinematic Universe what Fitz and Simmons are to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I’m beating a dead horse here, but giving these two agents, who really shouldn’t be extraordinary, a chance to be heroes should be what this show is about. Hell, Ward and May aren’t really that much different from Black Widow, really, but this is supposed to focus on those who are ordinary, and I think FitzSimmons come the closest to fitting that bill. Add that to the fact that they’re extremely likeable characters, and I’m left scratching my head as to why this isn’t already the premise of the show.
The next section contains pretty major ****SPOILERS****, so if you haven’t watched this episode yet, and are reading this review for some reason, turn back now. With a show that was born with so much potential that slowly faded, we’re given another heavy dose of it in this episode. While things seemed to be said and done with Coulson’s revival, they’ve managed to open a whole new can of worms that will no doubt have ripples through the rest of the season, if not the series and entire MCU.
After sending Fitz away with the GH-325 in order to save Skye, Coulson dives deeper into the facility, and finds something that even he wasn’t ready to face; some big blue alien body, seemingly responsible for his own resurrection. Many theories have been going around, the primary one being that the body is that of a member of the Kree. Regardless of its origin, the drug that looks to have been produced from this corpse was injected into Skye, despite Coulson’s objections. Though she looks to be saved for the time being, just what is this GH-325, and what other effects will it have on Coulson and Skye? Will Skye’s status as a 0-8-4 come into play in reacting to the GH-325? There’s no doubt that we’ve now got our primary story for the rest of the season, and it’s an intriguing one, for sure.
For the first time since the show started, three good episodes have been strung together, and the future looks bright. While the gaps in the show’s schedule has been undoubtedly jarring, the show has never been in a better spot than it is now, and that’ll surely continue with next week’s Thor crossover when Sif pays Earth a visit. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. seems to have finally found its footing; they’ve worked out the format, the characters are becoming layered, and with a new mystery looming, it’s becoming the show that it should have been all along.