Agents of SHIELD is clearly best when its storylines intersect with the Marvel movie world, as they did last night when Nick Fury’s number two, Agent Maria Hill, came to the aid of Agent Coulson and Co. (kind of), revealing that she had left SHIELD to go into the private sector to work for Stark Enterprises, which basically seems like a private version of what it already is. That revelation either gave SHIELD a potential new future, or isolated them even more. Coulson’s SHIELD team is currently on an island, with neither the backing of Nick Fury and The Avengers, nor the United States government led by Adrian Pasdar’s video-game caricature, Major Glen Talbot.
Cobie Smulders brought some excitement to the episode, too, and her exchanges with Coulson and, especially, her face off with Evil Ward, demonstrated just how badly the series needs another charismatic actor on the show, a distinct personality in a sea of bland.
That said, I was fairly impressed with Skye and Agent Ward’s cat-and-mouse scenes together. Chloe Bennett, dare I say, is actually starting to come into her own a little, and the revelation that he was in Hyrdra was the best thing to ever happen to Brett Dalton’s Agent Ward. Even Deathlok, who has been mostly wasted this season, served a legitimate purpose in the episode.
A week ago, the idea of Agent Ward’s evilness being ambiguous would’ve perturbed me, but I think he did an admirable job last night of toeing the line between villain and hero, although it appears that next week’s storyline will explain his conversion into Hydra in such a way as to either make it possible for him to rejoin SHIELD (or whatever it is at this point) or bring some sadness to his death, probably a sacrificial one to save Skye and demonstrate that underneath it all he really wasn’t the worst guy. Just a brain-washed one with good hair.
The Project T.A.H.I.T.I. storyline also seemed to create even more confusion. In the tag we learned from a video that Agent May unearthed that Agent Coulson actually recommended pulling the plug on the project, noting that the only way it might work would be with complete memory erasure, which is indeed the method employed on him. But we still don’t know how it got from that point to being used to bring Coulson back to life, nor what the consequences will bring to both Coulson and potentially, Skye.
The episode was not without its flaws, however. There was some cheap special effects on display, particularly the scene in which Coulson and Skye fell from the plane in the hover car, which looked liked something about of a Herbie movie. I’m also not sure how excited I am to waste much of next week’s episode in flashback, unless Ward’s backstory is really compelling.