Welcome back, true believers! Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s “The Dirty Half Dozen” started off back in the “Afterlife,” where Raina is seeing new glimpses into the future. I always found it funny how random powers are for some super-powered folks in the Marvel Universe, as you wouldn’t think that being a weird, porcupine creature would coincide with the ability to prophesize things to come, but that’s neither here nor there. Cal and Skye return only for Jianying to chastise Cal and order him around like a dog back into his kennel. At first, I thought this was out of character for Cal to not snap and start tearing the place apart, but it makes sense with the relationship developing between himself and his daughter. Cal breaking limbs and hurling Inhumans into the ether wouldn’t exactly help win his daughter’s affections.
Meanwhile, we get a nice conversation between Coulson and Gonzalez. The two actors command the screen here, as Clark Gregg and Edward James Olmos seem like two titans clashing, and it’s easy to buy that these gents would run two opposing factions of a major spy organization. Speaking of partnerships, Deathlok and Lincoln (the young Inhuman) are currently being held by Hydra, experimented on to further their nefarious goals. The scene of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team watching Deathlok’s eye being taken out, from the perspective of Mike Peterson, was shocking and fairly gruesome. Honestly, though Hydra does allow for a nemesis that brings both warring factions together, and manages to slip in an Avengers: Age of Ultron reference for good measure, List is hardly the compelling antagonist that Whitehall and Agent Garrett were. I understand the need to include Hydra to bring things in conjunction with the Marvel Cinematic Universe at large, but again, we have enough moving pieces on the board without throwing in Hydra on top of everything.
The smaller character moments were where this episode really shined, with nearly every character having a reunion of sorts and burying the proverbial hatchets, to an extent. Coulson’s encounter with Agent May was justified, however the idea that May was really only mad that Coulson had contacted her ex-husband was a bit ridiculous. It just seemed so out of character for her — who had been the stalwart rock of the team — to be angry at Coulson for that, and not the thousands of over-the-line things he had pulled throughout this season. Why couldn’t she accept this the same way she accepted the secrets he withheld from the rest of the team? Matters of the heart I suppose. Mack and Ward becoming friends once again seemed like the right call, as two guys who live in this world would understand that hey, stuff like this happens. It was even a nice scene to have Bobbi talk with Agent 33 and chat about how she was, at one time, not completely insane.
The real crux though were the “Dirty Half Dozen” themselves, the original Agents of S.H.I.E.LD. coming together for a new mission, despite everything that’s been happening this season. This made for a great reunion, especially with the fact that Ward is still crazy, and is attempting to apologize to everyone regardless of his many past transgressions. The characters here seemed extremely fleshed out, and a strength of the show is that they have been able to keep everyone quite three dimensional throughout this season. There was also some fantastic snappy banter, some of which you’ll see in my notes below. The big surprise was the ruthlessness of Simmons in this episode, concocting a plan with Fitz to permanently off Ward. Later on in the episode, Simmons takes her shot, fails (killing Bakshi in the process), only for a stern faced Ward to tell her how disappointed he was in her. It made for an extremely effective moment, and probably my favorite of the whole season so far, as Simmons breaks down and you almost feel as though killing her would have been a lighter punishment!
Another surprise of the episode was Skye. Fresh off her training from the Inhumans’ camp, Skye goes into the Hydra base with guns blazing. Seeing her being able to effectively control her powers, as well as fire off bullets with the best of them, really went a long way to show how she’s changed since the start of this season. Also, the choreography in her scene, taking down Hydra agents with various head shots, was a sight to behold. I feel like someone at S.H.I.E.L.D. was taking notes from Daredevil’s second episode with that one.
Finally, the revelation that Theta Protocol was, in fact, the Avengers themselves made for a genuine shock, and I would be lying if I didn’t get excited when Phil proclaimed: “Bring in the Avengers!” Honestly, it’s a really neat way to tie into the movie, something which I thought would just be relegated to brief mentions of the “twins” (Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch) here and there. We won’t be seeing the Avengers showing up in the next episode, of course, but it was a nice little diversion for the bigger machinations at work in their world at present. This was one of the strongest episodes of the season, and with just three episodes left, I’m hoping we can keep up this tempo until the season finale.
Episode Rating: ★★★★ Very good
Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.
– I’m somewhat conflicted on Ward’s redemption arc. I much preferred Grant as an insane dark horse, but this episode leads one to believe that it could very well be possible that he returns to the fold at some point. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how they pull it off.
– I’m really hoping they steer clear of Gonzalez being full-on evil here. I am interested to see what he has hold up in the bowels of his ship though.
– I’m also interested to see if Maria Hill makes any acknowledgment of tonight’s conclusion in Age of Ultron.
– Coulson: “Well, it’s good to see my bus, anyway.”
– Deathlok: “My name’s Mike, I think we got knocked out together.”
– Fitz: “Focus on your wound, it will be less unsettling.”
– Ward: “We finally have the team back together!”
– Skye: “He’s like Candyman.”
– Coulson: “Really starting to wish I hadn’t eaten that hot pocket earlier.”