Marvel’s AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Recap: “Providence”

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War has changed and so too have the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Following last week’s episode and the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the agents are left without the resources of which they’ve become accustomed.  The series has begun to turn itself around with traitors, espionage, and revelations coming fast and heavy, throwing some unexpected curveballs our way.  Did I also mention that this episode sees the arrival of Agent Eric Koenig, played by comedian extraordinaire Patton Oswalt?  Can the agents defeat Hydra that have taken over S.H.I.E.L.D. bases across the world?  Will the show continue its hot streak moving forward?  Has Ward turned heel for real?  Hit the jump for our recap.

marvels-agents-of-shield-adrian-pasdarObviously, once again, just as a warning, this episode will spoil events that had taken place in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, so be warned true believers.  S.H.I.E.L.D. is dead and the corpse is decaying as the effects of this ripple through the team.  The agents get substantially weaker, while the villains gain strength and man, is it fun to watch their side of everything going on.  Ward kicks things off by freeing Raina, the woman in the flower dress, and guys, if you didn’t know, she REALLY loves flowers.  The once former agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. now turned Hydra smiles and laughs his way through the story, bringing a life to Ward that had hardly been seen in any of the previous installments.

Meanwhile, the Scooby gang decides to skidoo out of the “Hub” as the U.S. Army informs them that they’re coming to start taking all of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s property and sell it at auction, well not really but they’re taking it all the same.  Coulson and the rest have reached a point where they no longer have the backing of a huge espionage organization and it’s made rightfully apparent from the get go as their plane is falling apart, tension is high between the agents, and their internet is just barely working!  Skye and Coulson decide that the team needs to have their identities erased and their former badges destroyed in order to become ghosts, to become “Agents of Nothing”.

This direction is one that the cast needed to stretch their legs, to take away the safety nets of being a part of something that has an inexhaustible check book to cover any problems that may have arisen.  Not only this, but for each member to realize that what they had worked for throughout their lives is over and that they can no longer call themselves agents of anything is a great dynamic.  Coulson especially had a touching scene where he broke down and appeared to lose his mind to the rest of the group as he put all of his faith into what could have been a wild goose chase, being Fury reaching out to them, potentially from beyond the grave by leading them to their new HQ, “Providence”.  Enter Agent Koenig, played by Patton Oswalt, who watches over the base and informs the team that Fury set up the secret base in case an event like this were to take place, insuring them that Nick Fury is indeed dead (until, of course, he takes Coulson aside and lets him know that Fury is alive! Wheels within wheels folks.)

While the episode is moving in the right direction from last week, that’s not to say that there aren’t cracks in the armor.  How many times can we have a scenario of Fitz being jealous when Simmons is approached by a guy?  It got old the first couple of times that it happened and it’s only getting worse with each passing instance.  It almost feels like a fallback to insert some drama into Fitz and Simmons by having Agent Tripp join the team, as he also seems to take the place of the “milquetoast agent” that Ward previously filled.  Fitz and Simmons being suspicious of Coulson is enough, and adding in this extra drama with a forced love triangle seems tacked on.  Speaking of relationships, back to Ward and Skye as they continue to talk to one another over the phone as Ward is busting into S.H.I.E.L.D. facilities and Skye does whatever Skye does.  Certainly, Ward seducing Skye as part of being an agent of Hydra was a much needed touch, but Chloe Bennet isn’t selling this as well as it could be sold.  It screams of drama for the sake of drama and was never given the necessary push required to really sell the audience on a.) them being a couple and b.) having any chemistry to speak of.

agents-of-shield-bill-paxtonBut enough about these shortcomings, back to Bill Paxton! Every second with Paxton as Agent Garrett on the screen is fantastic as he chews scenery with the best of them, and convinces you that even though he was secretly a criminal mastermind, he’s still a guy you’d want to have a beer with!  Garrett as the main antagonist facing our heroes works so well from nearly every aspect as he obviously has links to S.H.I.E.L.D., knows all their weaknesses, and really had their trust, shattering it when he revealed himself as the Clairvoyant.  The chemistry between Garrett and Ward comes across amazingly on screen (why couldn’t they be the couple??) as they infiltrate the “Fridge” at the halfway point of the episode.  Hurling witty banter at one another, the two undo nearly everything accomplished by the agents by releasing all the previous villains and acquiring all the weapons confiscated, as the episode’s final stinger is Garrett showing a now freed Quinn the element Gravitonium from a previous episode.

Overall, it was a solid episode this week.  Not on the same level as last week’s entry but there really wasn’t much chance of that as you need an episode to cool down and reflect on all the revelations which took place prior.  This direction was what the show really needed so if you had given up on it from earlier episodes, come back and give it a shot, you may find something you like.

Grade: B

Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.

- MARVEL COMIC REFERENCES!  This episode has them in spades.  First, starting with the army rep, Glenn Talbot (played Adrian Pasdar of Heroes fame), who is an old enemy of the Incredible Hulk in the comics. Also, later on in the episode, Garrett mentions a former agent who had his hands turned to paws and grew wings, which is actually a reference to a Z-list villain named John Horton, aka The Griffin.  Finally, the re-emergence of Gravitonium most certainly means we’ll see Gravitron, along with the other villains we’ve seen along the way now being freed.

- Cannot stress enough how great the Clairvoyant and gang were, as the Bizarro S.H.I.E.L.D. barbershop and Raina being shaken by the fact that the Clairvoyant was anything but were two points that I didn’t mention that were nice touches.

- Could not stop laughing at the scene between Garrett and Kaminski. Both actors sold the hell out of that exchange as you realize the Hydra salute is pretty goofy when it’s done by yourself.

- Speaking of “Hail Hydra”, that’s become quite the meme, eh? Seeing it everywhere.

- “Sorry Flowers, hate to disappoint ya, I never had any gifts. Just a high security clearance and a great personality.”

- “Skye, tell me something good.”
“We have internet.”
“Yay.”

- “Agents of Nothing”

- marvels-agents-of-shield-providence-clark-gregg-patton-oswalt“Tom Brady? You hate the Patriots!”

- “Thought these might contain whatever Jesus juice brought Coulson back from the dead.”

- “Hail Hydra!”
“All right, all right, put your arms down Kaminski. Look like a West Texas cheerleader at a pep rally!”

- “A little warning next time?”
“I couldn’t resist. It was too good a line.”

- “We are not Agents of Nothing! We’re Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!”

- “Lanyards for others will be distributed on a case by case basis.”  [Editor's note: And probably at Comic-Con.]

Watch the promo for next week’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “The Only Light in the Darkness”:




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