It’s hard to complain about last night’s Agents of SHIELD because though it wasn’t nearly as good as the game-changing episode a couple of weeks back, it was certainly better than episodes prior to it. With the prisoners having escaped The Fridge, the series might actually have a decent framework for a few monster-of-the-week episodes, if only it weren’t so close to the end of the season (there are now three episodes remaining) and if only they’d create better monsters.
Because as episode villains go, Marcus Daniels (a.k.a. Blackout) was not a particularly compelling one. He could absorb energy, which made him capable of sucking the life out of people, or simply turning out the lights on a city block. There could’ve been some decent possibilities with that character, but unfortunately, Blackout was mostly a wasted vehicle to highlight Agent Coulson’s past relationship with Audrey (Amy Acker), which admittedly was a more successful storyline because it gave us a glimpse into Coulson’s past and suggested that, at one point, there was more to his life than being an agent. It also meant lots of soft Coulson eyes.
Acker (a Whedon regular) was a nice piece of casting, as the subject of Blackout’s stalking, though the backstory there certainly could’ve been more interesting than, “Hey! This guy really liked the way I played cello, and said that I was his ‘light.’” And there might have also been more interesting ways to extinguish Blackout other than basically pointing stage lights in his face until he exploded. Maybe their saving their budget for a proper finale.
Still, Blackout was really mostly a side diversion to the Agents of Shield’s main storyline, which moved its focus this week to the series’ weakest characters, Cardboardonium and Evil Ward, whose budding romance was derailed when Skye found out that Ward was HYDRA. The means with which she found out, unfortunately, entailed the death of Agent Koenig, which was just a cruel trick on viewers. I mean, of those three — Skye, Ward, and Koenig — the latter is the last corpse you want to find in the ceiling dripping blood. He was the best part of these last two episodes, and if anything, Skye should’ve been killed and Koenig should’ve taken her place both on the team and as Ward’s love interest because at least there might have been some chemistry.
That said, Skye was not terrible terrible in last night’s episode, only terrible, and her ability to shine it on after she found out that Ward was HYDRA provided the glimmer of Linda Cardellini-ness that probably got her hired in the first place. Unfortunately, instead of finding something with which to attack Ward with, she ended up going on a plane ride with him to Peru to decrypt a hard drive in order to get HYDRA access to a plasma ray. Ultimately, the tension the episode had successfully created after Skye discovered that Ward had killed Koenig fizzled out, as we head into next week’s episode, which will likely involve a mission that won’t bear any interesting fruit until the final seconds.
Speaking of the final seconds, however, the tag on Agents of SHIELD did introduce an exciting possibility, as May ditched the team because Coulson didn’t trust her, only to end up hitching a ride with her mother to meet … Agent Maria Hill, who we haven’t seen on the series since the pilot. Welcome back Cobie Smulders. Stay awhile (or forever. Please?)