Welcome back, true believers! We join our heroes, after having been shown that Simmons is in fact deep undercover in the depths of Hydra, as Coulson and Agent May must go undercover themselves by cutting the dance floor. This episode promises to uncover some of the secrets that “Coulson has been looking for”. Will Coulson find the answers that he’s looking for? Will Hydra put a stop to his search? Will Civil War really take place in the Marvel cinematic universe? Two of these questions will be answered as you hit the jump for our Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Recap.
Our episode begins with another macguffin placed in the path of our heroes as a painting has emerged from the bowels of a burnt down church. The painting itself is of little consequence, rather it’s the alien text inscribed on the back that has the agents in a mad dash against Hydra to find it. This episode is probably the lightest of the season so far, allowing for some good bonding scenes between Coulson and May and even gives the rest of the team some time to kick back and get to know some of their newer members a little better. I am growing a tad tired of the macguffin dictating what actions the characters in the show take, as it seems the painting has just replaced the season’s bigger prize, the Obelisk. Ultimately, I wish that either the protagonists or the antagonists would be a tad more direct with larger goals than tracking down objects A and B, but I digress.
The episode revolving around Coulson and May was a nice change. Clark Gregg and Ming-Na Wen are able to play off one another quite nicely, not only as themselves but also in the roles they take infiltrating the party where the painting may be being held. Snappy one liners and jokes were the soup de jour and the episode was better for it. In between the banter, Coulson kept trying to address the idea to May that he may very well be going off the deep end, and it may be up to her to finish Coulson off should he go the way of Bill Paxton. The pair is discovered by General Talbot, and attempt to find the painting in a comical scene of the two coming across some laser grids…why does it always have to be laser grids?
Meanwhile, back with the rest of the team, we get to know some of our new recruits a little better. Hearing newer characters Hunter and Mack regale the team with their stories of past exes was a nice way to display their characters in a light hearted way. I do feel that with the inclusion of these two characters though, Agent Tripp doesn’t exactly seem to have much to do here. He seems to be pretty much a tool to ask Skye how she’s feeling or what she’s up to, because nobody else really seems to want to. I know Skye is supposed to be the character that the audience is supposed to most bond with as the most down to earth, having an origin outside of the S.H.I.E.L.D. ranks but there has to be a better way to do it.
Speaking of the group, let’s swing back to one of the strongest parts of the season so far, Fitz. Iain De Caestecker has been hitting it out of the park this year, exploring how Fitz’s brain damage has affected his role on the team and his inability to not only assist, but apparently do many rudimentary tasks. That’s why I found this episode to be a bit disheartening in that it seemed as if Fitz’s brain damage was pushed to the side in order to have him bond closer with the team in the end. In previous episodes, Fitz couldn’t put two words together and they were extremely nervous about having him around in general in fear of him really flipping out. The tables seem to have turned however in more ways than one with Fitz remembering all his science know how with little to no difficulty and complaining about how he can’t put two sentences together in a long monologue where he strings dozens of sentences together!
The rest of the episode sees May being kidnapped by two Hydra agents, one of which was formerly a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent now brainwashed by the terrorist organization. The action scenes between May and “Fake May” were one of the main highlights of the episode and I dug the use of the cloaking technology and disguises that allowed the baddies to infiltrate the team. Ming-Na got to put her talents front and center here and hopefully we can see more of the spotlight put on her and Coulson as a pair in future episodes.
While I appreciated the lightheartedness of the episode, I thought there were a number of flaws it had running throughout. Too many moving pieces and players don’t give us enough time to really stay rooted with some of the characters. I feel like the stakes need to be made higher in this season and we may be back to a time when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. needs another shot in the arm like Winter Soldier to be great again.
Seriously, where did Patton Oswalt go? He’s been away for the past three episodes and the show is missing something with his absence in these episodes.
Talbot is…ok. Honestly, I think at this point he could be cut out entirely to focus on Hydra and Skye’s father and Raina for the most part. They need to do something drastic with Talbot rather than just having him be a stuffed shirt pestering the team.
Again with Hydra putting their logo on everything! S.H.I.E.L.D. suffered from this a lot last season, but this time, with Hydra, it makes even less sense. The real strength of Hydra is to be able to work in shadow and be secretive, as Arnim Zola said in Cap 2, to be a “glorious parasite”. It makes them less threatening when they slap the big Octo-Skull on everything. Hydra file folders? Really?
“Notice the car? I worked on it myself.”
“I noticed, still not letting you work on Lola.”
“In time sir, in time.”
“This is fun right? Look! Cufflinks!’
“She whispered it in my ear…if you know what I mean.”
“Yes Hunter, everyone on the planet knows what you mean.”
“If I wanted someone to take jabs at me, I”d still be married.”
“She just said more words than I’ve heard her say in a year.”
“Maybe Talbot’s still pissed cause we kidnapped him that one time?”
“You liked it.”