Welcome back, S.H.I.E.L.D.-ites! Starting this week, its a one way ticket to the season finale as ABC/Marvel has promised no more breaks between weeks until the end of the first season. In tonight’s episode, “End of the Beginning”, Bill Paxton, as Agent Garrett, returns on a mission to discover the identity of the Clairvoyant, but with the big bad in his sights, can the newly established Deathlok be far behind? Will Agent May’s apparent heel turn be further explored? What about the naked blue man in the tube? Hit the jump for my full recap.
Our episode begins with Agent Garrett and Trip unloading their bags in an empty hotel room, only to have Deathlok, J. August Richards, burst through the door, guns a-blazin’. Before I go into further detail, let’s talk about the look of Deathlok. Whenever there’s a translation of a comic book character to either the big or small screen, a decision has to be made as to whether or not they’re going to stick closely to the comic design or go in an entirely new direction. In the light of day, that suit Richards wears as Deathlok looks less than appealing thanks in part to the color scheme and the bulkiness of the whole thing. To be fair, the red and yellow get-up Deathlok sports in the comics isn’t exactly winning any awards for best costume, so this is an instance where I wish they hadn’t gone with any big bulky body armor for the character. When he’s in the dark and the light from his cybernetic enhancements is piercing through the shadows, it looks pretty good, but in the light of day? Yikes.
Anyway, Garrett and Trip manage to get the drop on Deathlok, causing him to make a quick retreat. Garrett goes to the heavy hitters of SHIELD, one rung below Nick Fury including Victoria Hand, Agent Sitwell, and Agent Blake, and its decided that an all out investigation is the best way to go about finally nailing the Clairvoyant to the wall. The big heads of SHIELD play well off one another, especially Coulson and Garrett, who share war stories with one another like the oldest of friends. I could watch an entire episode with Gregg and Paxton chewing the fat, but we’d hardly get any action from that now would we? This leads into a complaint I have in that the ancillary characters are putting forth such great performances, that it makes the performances of some of our main characters, such as Skye, Ward, Fitz, and Simmons, pale in comparison. We know as much about these characters on a personal level as we do the guest stars, and that’s not really the best place for a show to be.
The team gets a bead on Deathlok after Agent Blake puts a tracking slug in him, subsequently getting his ribs crushed in the process, and has a quick encounter with the cyborg as he flees the scene. Chasing him to the basement, the agents come across Thomas Nash (played by the great Brad Dourif of Deadwood, Lord of the Rings, and Chucky fame.) who reveals himself to be none other than the Clairvoyant himself. Words are exchanged, and right as you start to think that we’re going to have a Silence of the Lambs scenario on our hands, he’s instantly lit up by Agent Ward! Ward is placed into captivity after killing the Clairvoyant, and Coulson begins to question whether Mr. Nash was even the head of Centipede at all. Its a pity that we had to lose Dourif so soon since he is such an amazing actor, but we’re looking at a world where two of our protagonists have already come back from the dead, so who’s to say we won’t see him again?
In our home stretch, everything falls apart as May attempts to fire upon Agent Simmons, who had found her secret communique to the outside world to report to persons unknown about Coulson and Skye. Coulson gets the drop on her and angrily questions her as the “Bus” begins changing its course and an angry Victoria Hand states that upon arrival, everyone on the plane should be killed, save Coulson. Our episode ends with a scene straight from Captain America: The Winter Soldier of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), being pursued by assailants poised as cops, and finally encountering the masked man who is the Winter Soldier. For next week’s episode, it’s been strongly suggested that viewers watch The Winter Soldier to understand what exactly has changed in the Marvel-verse and how this will directly affect the agents. Since I’ve seen the movie myself (and trust me, I think its the best thing Marvel has done to date. It tops The Avengers for me.), I strongly recommend you find a showing this weekend and enjoy, keeping in mind that things will be EXTREMELY different moving forward for the show to say the least.
In summation, really strong episode. Things moved fast and furious, questions were answered, more questions presented, and our protagonists were placed into quite the pickle. There’s a looming darkness that you can feel grow as the episode moved on, and its great to see that the show is no longer “playing it safe”, and really doing a good job of throwing out a lot of surprises for the audience. I had a few minor quibbles here and there, Deathlok’s look and our heroes being overshined by the acting chops of near everyone else, but overall things really came together and I’m excited to see where the show goes from here.
Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.
– For comic book fans, the X-Ray look at Deathlok at the halfway point revealed about a pitch perfect rendition of the comic book version. For those who hasn’t seen him in the funnies, he looks more like a zombie with a bunch of metal extremities slapped on him for good measure.
– Skye officially becoming an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. was great for the other characters, but for her, I wish they had shown some hesitation. Yes, she’s grown to see those closest to her as family, but she’s still skeptical of the agency at large, especially after Coulson implored her to keep everything regarding her resurrection a secret from the top brass.
– “Just hope its not the Amazing Kreskin. Used to love that guy.”
– “Taking plays from our playbook.”
“It’s pissing me off.”
– “I like how you think. I like how she thinks.”
– “Garrett says your family is the cable version of the Kennedys.”
– “You don’t believe in the Clairvoyant, but you believe in astrology?”
– “Damn, I must be getting old. Either that or I drank more in my 30s than I thought.”
– “Don’t call me Vic, its condescending.”
– “We ringing the bell?”
“Knocking, of course!”
– “Go to hell!”
“No matter where you go, or what you do, I will always *get shot*”
– “Bet the Clairvoyant didn’t see that coming.”
– Again, cannot stress enough, go see Captain America: The Winter Soldier this weekend. Amazing movie.