Welcome back, true believers! When last we left the Agents, the team had a few new members including Bobbi Morse, aka Mockingbird. Also, once good guy now Hydra goon, Agent Ward had escaped from custody and is on the run from the team after being told for the umpteenth time how much Ward and co. hated his guts. While chasing after their former colleague, the team also begins to discover bodies, with the alien language Agent Coulson has been etching on desks and walls etched into them. Will the team be able to juggle both of these problems while also juggling their ever growing cast members? Will it be revealed that Skye’s father is in fact Calvin Zabo, aka Mr. Hyde and she is in fact, Quake? Will Dr. Doom appear as a nefarious blogger who plagues the team with negative yelp reviews? Hit the jump for some of these answers and more in my recap of “The Writing on the Wall”.
Our episode begins with a creepy scene of the villain of the story revealing he has the alien language, revealed recently to in fact be an alien map, drawn on his chest, then proceeding to kill the woman he picked up at a bar. While this scene was effective in introducing the threat, we swing back around to the ever persistent storyline of whether or not Coulson is still fit to lead the team. It’s a plot that has run its course for me in so much as we explored this idea a lot through the first season, with a lot of the team questioning Coulson’s ability to lead following his resurrection. I can understand that it’s presented in order to add a bit of tension to the team and the dynamics of each of the cast, but the well has run dry and we’re not going to really see Coulson turn into a raving madman, never to return. The season’s done a good job of introducing a lot of new elements and characters, but its a bit disconcerting to see this season fall into the trap of it’s predecessor in this respect.
Meanwhile, the strongest part of the episode was definitely the team tracking Ward as he stayed twenty steps ahead of them. Tripp’s initial surveillance of Ward revealing that Ward had seen him the entire time and was packing a “dead man’s switch” was fantastic. It’s another example of what I always did like about the show, and the idea of S.H.I.E.L.D. in general, espionage and spy tactics. Having Ward also immediately determine that Mockingbird was following him by seeing that she hadn’t actually been reading the book she was holding was also a nice little nod that Ward has been a spy for both the good guys and the bad, making him a legitimate threat to be dealt with.
Swinging back around to Coulson and crew, we were at least able to explore a lot of pretty new creepy ideas, in that S.H.I.E.L.D. apparently had a history of injecting folks with GHD-25. This of course being the injection that both Coulson and Skye received, causing Coulson to go bananas on his off hours and making the remaining test subjects lose their minds as well. Coulson jumps into his own head using some tech acquired in Season 1 and reveals that each of the patients was forced to forget everything they learned as part of the organization. The best way to do this is to crack open their heads and use a “spider-esque” robot to fiddle with their brains, sans anesthesia apparently. Yikes. Coulson’s leap into his mind was a nice unsettling scene though I do feel sometimes that the show tends to get a bit too wrapped up in creating questions rather than providing a good balance of answers. With the good though, must come the bad as Coulson traps Skye in the original cage holding Ward, because this is something he has to “handle alone”. This just seemed like another method of creating drama for the team but sacrificing organic storytelling in order to do so.
Coulson gets kidnapped and manages to take the killer head-on while protecting a family, the father being a former member of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well. Coulson manages to defeat said villain and learns that the map was in fact a blueprint…which cures him somehow. The new director then tells his squad that he’s totally a-ok now and the team goes along with it. This was a bit disappointing as once again, as was the case with some of the lesser episodes of season one, we’re left with no repercussions for the actions that were taken. Not one person chews Coulson out for risking himself and the team? Not one person takes him to task lying to them again? It’s a little frustrating to be honest and it’s a pitfall I wish the show would avoid.
At the end of the day, this episode was the definition of a mixed bag. I thought everything revolving around Ward’s half of the episode was fantastic, while the events of Coulson’s side were mediocre at best, making for an overall average episode. Hopefully we can get move past the alien subplot and get into more of the meats and potatoes.
Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.
–Microchip reference! For those who don’t know, Microchip is the sidekick of a certain Frank Castle, aka the Punisher. It was alluded to by the directors of Captain America: The Winter Soldier that the Punisher may have in fact been working in the background throughout the events of the film. Perhaps he’ll be making an appearance in one of the Netflix/Marvel shows coming next year?
–Ward mentions Baron Von Struker, who will be one of the villains in Avengers: Age of Ultron and is currently mucking around with “the twins”, aka Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.
–Couldn’t resist saying, “Hello, Mr. Thompson” when the once S.H.I.E.L.D. agent’s name was revealed.
–Looking sharp Ward! That final scene of the night makes me think he could have shouldered the role of the lead antagonist of the season without a problem.
–“What’s Burning Man?”
–“This is an Everlasting Gobstopper of firewalls.”
–“Corpse Diam – Seize the Dead.”
–“How are we gonna find him?”
“You’re going to have to torture it out of me.”
–“Bullet in the head…on the rocks.”
–“I like my bosses un-jumbled at all times.”