Last week on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Simmons finally made it back from her undercover operation. She also happened to have a little help from Bobbi Morse, AKA Mockingbird. Now, with one returning and one new addition to the team, Coulson sets out to fight H.Y.D.R.A. once again. This time, however, H.Y.D.R.A.’s main plan of attack is a PR move that could have the world hunting after Coulson’s team with a vengeance. Scroll on for a review of ‘A Fractured House‘.
We begin with Coulson’s apparent enemy, Talbot, giving a speech at the United Nations. He’s bad-talking S.H.I.E.L.D. (as usual) and in come some villains to ruin the day. They’re dressed like S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, but they’ve got some crazy weapon that turns people into ash and they start putting the kill on everyone in the room. Naturally, we can expect this to come back to stymie Coulson’s efforts to regain the trust of the nations of the world.
So it’s off to Okinawa for the S.H.I.E.L.D. team. They need to track down the assassin that H.Y.D.R.A. sent to the UN and the first stop is the guy that made the crazy disintegrating weapons. Of course, things don’t go down as planned and the first action scene of the episode ensues. But the team does, at least, come away with another clue as to what’s going on.
As Coulson hunts down his prey, the government makes moves to set up an anti-S.H.I.E.L.D. task force, urged on by an official that just happens to be Grant Ward’s older brother. So it’s up to Skye to once again talk to her former-almost-boyfriend and see what he knows. As agents across the world are forced into hiding until things blow over, it becomes apparent that H.Y.D.R.A. has already laid a trap. Once again, it’s Coulson and Team S.H.I.E.L.D. to the rescue.
In the meanwhile, Simmons and Fitz try cracking the hard drive that she managed to snatch when escaping from her undercover work with H.Y.D.R.A. Fitz, still a bit scrambled in the brain, finds the real Simmons to be much less accommodating than the imaginary one. And Talbot, much to everyone’s surprise, not only disbelieves S.H.I.E.L.D.’s involvement with the attack on the UN, he also happens to have some sort of deal going with Coulson…
‘A Fractured House’ had many things to praise it for and a few areas where it really fell flat, but overall it has, like every other episode this season, raised the bar from season 1 of the show. The fight choreography is proving to be entertaining, if a bit over the top at times. I’m enjoying Coulson’s cold logic in dealing with all the problems that S.H.I.E.L.D. has to face on a day-to-day basis. He’s becoming more and more a proper director of the agency with each passing episode.
My favorite bit, however, is the Ward mystery. The writers of the show have been playing a balancing act on whether they’ll be officially redeeming Ward and trying to turn him back into a good guy or whether he’s secretly a nasty bastard that’s still playing everyone (and Skye in particular). This episode upped the ante on that story arc, bringing Ward’s brother into the mix and creating conflicting stories about whether or not Grant is what he seems. And even though the episode ends on a note that would suggest the little brother Ward is indeed a manipulative psychopath with an evil agenda, nothing’s been set in stone. I’m eager to see how this plays out and whether the writers can surprise me with the direction they finally choose to take.
As far as the bad things go, there’s just one major flaw I saw in ‘A Fractured House’ – Mockingbird. So far, they’ve given her virtually no personality. Or, to be more accurate, they’ve given her a generically likeable personality. She’s a bad-ass lady who can fight H.Y.D.R.A. and has, as far as we can see, no real flaws. But she also has no real personality. This is further exacerbated by the ‘cute’ tension between her and Hunter (a far more interesting character at this point). Even a small amount of “we used to be married” bickering is annoying. This episode put in an extra helping of the plot device and put my teeth on edge. It’s far too reminiscent of the way they handled characters in the early half of the first season and I was hoping those days were far behind us. But alas, there’s still some of that B-grade camp left over.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be gone next week (and thus, there shall be no review), but the week after is promising us a closer look at what’s going on in Coulson’s head with all that crazy alien writing. It also, hopefully, will provide us with some more information on the Ward story arc. Until then, check out the trailer for ‘The Writing on the Wall’ below.