After an episode like last week’s, which almost single-handedly redeemed two-thirds of a bad-to-mediocre season, I suppose a housekeeping episode was in order. Last night’s Agents of SHIELD didn’t so much move the plot forward as it set it in place for what hopes to be a solid final four episodes.
We didn’t actually learn that much from the episode. It basically assembled the sides. Garrett — the not-so clairvoyant Clairvoyant — managed to spring Raina, the girl in the flower dress, free and collect rich bad guy Ian Quinn and reunite him with his gravitonium (which Fury had lied about shooting off into space). They also freed all their prisoners from The Fridge, which presumably means that Garrett and Ward will have an army to go against SHIELD in the coming episodes.
The unfortunate turn, however, is that Ward is not as pure evil as some of us might have hoped. His loyalty is still to Garrett foremost, but he still has feelings for Cardboardonium (Skye), and maybe feels a little guilty about duping all his buddies in SHIELD. That’s not a great turn, because it suggests that Agent Ward may end up somehow re-aligning himself with SHIELD, which could potentially mean his return next season, which nobody wants. Evil Ward or GTFO.
On the other hand, Garret’s reminder to Ward to not forget who assigned him to this mission suggests someone else within SHIELD is also working with HYDRA, so that could be interesting, particularly if it’s someone from the Marvel movie universe.
Meanwhile, over in the SHIELD side, a few things were established in this episode: SHIELD is now considered a terrorist organization, and they have a new enemy on their hands, the United States government, led here by USAF Colonel Glenn Talbot (the ex husband of Hulk’s wife, Betty Ross, played by Adrian Pasdar, wearing the worst moustache ever). Skye erased all record of SHIELD, allowing them to basically become the high-tech version of the A-Team, and thanks to coordinates Nick Fury inserted into Coulson’s badge, they also have a new battle station in an underground bunker operated by Agent Eric Koenig (Patton Oswalt). He really was the highlight of last night’s episode, as he brought some of that little-man complex from his Constable Bob character from Justified and some much needed comic energy to balance Bill Paxton’s delightful scenery chewing (the perfect end to the season would pit Koenig vs. Garrett). Koenig also let Coulson in on Nick Fury’s secret, that he’s still alive, but forbade him from letting his team know, which may or may not ultimately play into Melinda May’s gnawing, paranoid concerns about Coulson being HYDRA.
Overall, it wasn’t a good episode (except for Patton Oswalt) and it wasn’t a bad episode (except for Agent Ward’s ambiguity). It was a transitional episode, which I suppose is okay, as long as they are transitioning into better episodes.