It’s been a few weeks since Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. last aired, but it’s finally back, and it’s back with a vengeance. When we last left off, S.H.I.E.L.D. had figured out that HYDRA was not only running the ATCU, but also that they were connected with an ancient order that’s been using the monolith to travel to the alien planet for a very long time. In the meanwhile, Ward was taking the initiative and impressing one of HYDRA’s still-living heads, Gideon Malik. This week, there’s a showdown between S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA and the fate of the world is at stake. Check out my review for ‘Closure’ below.
We begin with Coulson and Rosalind having a nice dinner together. Despite everything that’s gone down between the two, they’re talking HYDRA problems and coming up with solutions. Rosalind is ready to head back into the ATCU and infiltrate in order to find out more information, but the conversation is interrupted by a bullet – right into Rosalind’s neck.
Shortly thereafter, Ward calls Coulson to gloat. What’s more, he’s sent in a group of HYDRA thugs to take out his former boss. Only a combination of ingenuity and a bionic hand saves the director of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s butt. So he heads back to HQ and gets seriously pissed about the death of his girlfriend. He starts interrogating anyone and everyone who’s ever had contact with Ward, seeking out a weakness that he can exploit. Eventually, he figures something out…
Meanwhile, the science team of Fitz and Simmons joins up with Rosalind’s second-in-command, Banks. They make haste to explore the old HYDRA-connected NASA facility in hopes of finding another portal or some more clues to lead them to their enemy. Unfortunately, HYDRA is waiting for them and the telekinetic Inhuman guy makes short work of the team. Aside from Fitz and Simmons, of course. Those two they capture and drag back to HYDRA HQ.
As it turns out, HYDRA needs something from the pair of science geeks. They’ve never had anyone be able to return from the alien world and if they want to get their super-weapon Inhuman back through the portal, they need a bit of expertise. Thus, the need for two of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s best. The most effective way to find the answers they seek? A little old-fashioned torture, of course.
So then it turns into a race against time. Coulson grabs Hunter and Bobbi and heads out. He puts Mack in charge while he’s gone. Team A finds Ward’s brother and turns him into bait. Lucky for them, Ward’s brother is on board with the plan. He lures the new head of HYDRA into chatting with him long enough for the team to trace the call. And then they’re off to do some damage.
As everything breaks down, Mack gives the go-ahead to form the first official Inhumans squad. He’s convinced that Coulson is marching into a trap and so he lets Daisy, Lincoln and that metal-melting guy into the field. HYDRA finally convinces Fitz that helping them is better than them torturing Simmons to death, so he agrees to do what they want. Then a HYDRA team, led by Ward, jumps into the portal and sets out to find their target. But, little do they know, Coulson snuck in (via a little creative air-dropping) and followed them through the portal.
I have to say, it’s rare that a show jumps right into the action as well as this week did with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. They started with a huge bang and didn’t let up for even a minute. I started watching, I blinked, I said “Oh shit!” about 10 times and then the episode was over. A truly magnificent showing from S.H.I.E.L.D. all-around and one that I pray continues again and again.
The best part for me was, as much as I loathe to say it, the effect that Rosalind’s death had on Coulson. I was originally very much against them killing her character off simply for the sake of driving Coulson’s motivation. But the end result was an excuse for actor Clark Gregg to push his skills and really let loose. Naturally, they had to have Ward himself shoot that fateful bullet, but it still works out fine. Coulson is now on a path of pure rage and we can expect some pretty amazing confrontations for future episodes.
My other favorite part was that the show took some time to delve a little deeper into Ward. The kidnapping of Ward’s brother to lure him out was one thing, but they had no need to spend air time to explain their relationship. The writers chose to do that in order to justify their decision and let the audience in on some more of what makes Ward tick.
I’ve said it before, but Ward is easily the best villain that this show has produced thus far and the fact that they don’t just let him lie in the background for the purpose of being the villain and nothing more is a testament to how much effort those involved with S.H.I.E.L.D. are willing to put in. He’s evil, somewhat relatable, easy to hate with all you’ve got and – dare I say it? – one of the most dynamic TV villains since Hannibal. It’s only a shame that they can’t spend more time following him around and showing us just how fucked up he can be during his everyday life. It’s by far the greatest reason why Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has turned from mildly entertaining rubbish into one of television’s most tense and interesting super-hero-centric shows.
So now that I’m finished raving… Next week brings the mid-season finale and even more action as Ward, Fitz and Coulson wander the alien world. Back on our planet, the Inhumans go into action against HYDRA, Malik and all his lackeys. The big question is – do they rescue their lost companions and risk letting the “ancient evil” into our world? Check out the trailer for ‘Maveth’ below.