Agents of SHIELD Season 1 Ep 17 (TV Show Review)
For the previous four episodes, the show has been on a high and low streak, with one episode being good and the other being not-so good. But still, the show kept me engaged on some level and kept me coming back week after week to watch and see what would happen to these characters who often fluctuate between boring and exciting at the same time. Two weeks prior, the latest Marvel Studios movie Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier was released and it changed the status quo of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a very big way, something on a level where everything that follows is going to suffer through some big changes, especially Agents of SHIELD.
This week’s episode, “Turn, Turn, Turn” is set concurrent to the movie, in that it starts at the midpoint of the movie’s plot and ends where the movie ends. In that regard, this is the biggest crossover of the show with the MCU, but as a viewer I am left dissatisfied and even a bit disappointed since this was an absolute jumble of plots and subplots with an ending that served to only confuse, much as the last episode did. The show really needs to get better with its endings.
Note: Because of the nature of this episode and its tie-in to the new movie, this review contains spoilers about what happens in this episode, and that consequently includes spoilers about the movie as well.
At the end of last week’s episode, we saw that Melinda May had been exposed by Fitz as a spy and double agent within the team. But just when Coulson confronts her about it, the team’s transport is taken over remotely by someone and its course is changed. The final cut shows that Agent Victoria Hand has given the authority for that remote control and that she intends to eliminate the entire team. It was a pretty big WTF moment in the show, and it was all compounded by Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier, when it was revealed that HYDRA had infiltrated SHIELD at its highest levels and that Agent Sitwell, who has been the star of his own Marvel one-shot mini-sode and has featured on the show a number of times, was one of the traitors. So naturally, my assumption was that Hand was also HYDRA and that she was going to destroy all the high-level placed agents within SHIELD who did not and would not conform to HYDRA’s rule, as happened in the movie.
But, things end up not being as clear-cut as that and this episode was all about betrayal and treachery one after the other.
We start off by seeing that Agent Garrett’s regular-joe SHIELD aircraft is targeted by a pair of UAV drones sent out by Hand, and he ends up going to Coulson for help since he is the nearest ally. The two get rid of the drones, but have bigger problems on their hands since the Bus is being tractor-beamed to the HUB, where Hand is waiting with a kill-team. With May’s loyalties in doubt and Ward under handcuffs for murdering the supposed clairvoyant in the last episode, the good guys are already down several allies, and things are not looking good at all.
At the end of the movie, SHIELD is no longer an organisation. The open power-grab by HYDRA has split the entire agency apart and SHIELD facilities all over the world face a tough choice, with the loyalties of everyone under some serious question. This is the environment that the good guys find themselves in and there are long discussions between several characters, especially Coulson and Garrett, about how to approach the matter, and whether they shoot to kill or not.
For someone already struggling with trust issues in the wake of the revelations about how he was brought back from the dead, Coulson’s situation is even worse now. The people he trusted most, the agents he has had a long history with which goes back years, they are exposed as traitors to the cause itself. It is not the same case as with Director Nick Fury, where merely some information was kept from him. This about serving with someone for years and not knowing that they were playacting all along. If the show deals with that angle and presents some mental challenges for Coulson, then all well and good. We didn’t see any of that here, since this was all setup really and little more.
With the other characters, it is very painful to see how they all deal with the situation. Ward and May in particular have a very tense conversation that breaks all the bonds of trust they’d been building up to until now. What Coulson is going through, Ward experiences in miniature but his situation is no less personal than his superior officer’s since Ward and May were close, sexually, and they had maybe started to have some feelings for each other, feelings which the latter had steadfastly refused to acknowledge. What I’m trying to get at here is that this episode was about breaking all these relationships. When there are betrayals afoot, relationships are the first one to go out the window and when it comes to characters I like, or have started to like, then that is painful to watch. And given how this episode ends with its epilogue, we have not only Ward and May’s relationship being irrevocably broken, but Ward’s relationship with every other member of the team as well. Ward is like a deer caught in the headlights. The world he knew and the people he knew are not what he thought it was, who he thought he was, and I think that in this episode more than any other Ward’s character really got to shine. Several layers of the onion that is Agent Grant Ward were peeled back to expose who he is as a character and as a person. What his role in this team is, what he means to the other characters. It was great, but also heartbreaking.
In general, even as we dealt with all the HYDRA espionage twist to the whole meta-story, we also found out just how deeply Nick Fury manipulated Coulson into forming his team. In Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier, Captain America and Fury have a discussion early on about keeping secrets and “compartmentalisation”. That is exactly the kind of talk that happens this week between Coulson and May, another heartbreaking moment. May’s heart was in the right place, as was Fury’s, but the nature of their job and the nature of the agency that they are a part of means that they don’t have simple solutions or simple problems, everything is a web of complexity and this episode typifies and exemplifies all of that.
As much as we had all the betrayals and treacheries and the double-blinds and what not, it was still refreshing that some characters stayed loyal to their purpose and that we still had some constants in this world. Agents of SHIELD finally stepped in to the big boy shoes and while it is regrettable that the story here was messy and twisted, the show has finally truly become a part of the bigger world of movies and television that Marvel is developing. This was something that the show truly needed, and something I really wanted to see after the episode with Lady Sif and Lorelei. While it is still open whether or not events in the show will lead to some changes in the status quo when it comes to the movies, it is nice to see that there is some one-way traffic at least and that the show is being integrated into the larger franchise instead of just truddling along on its merry way.
When this episode ends, some huge changes have happened. Essentially, what remains of Coulson’s team is in a mess and they are on the run now, trying to keep HYDRA off SHIELD assets whenever and wherever possible. Things have been shook up in a big way and the fallout is going to be a long time evaporating. I didn’t like this episode as much as I wanted to, but it was still decent, and had some good parts at least. The actions and the thrills were top-notch, even if some of the twists weren’t. And this just might be the one episode of the entire season so far where every character and actor were finally firing on all cylinders to deliver a cohesive performance. That was much needed to.
More Agents of SHIELD reviews can be found here. I’ve reviewed every episode so far.
Posted on April 10, 2014, in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Review Central, TV Show Reviews and tagged Agent Grant Ward, Agent Jemma Simmons, Agent John Garrett, Agent Leo Fitz, Agent Melinda May, Agent Phil Coulson, Agent Sitwell, Agent Skye, Agent Victoria Hand, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Avengers, Betrayal, Brett Dalton, Captain America, Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier, Chloe Bennet, Clark Gregg, Comics, Comics Tie-In, Double Agent, Elizabeth Henstridge, Espionage, Hydra, Ian de Caestecker, Jed Whedon, Joss Whedon, Marvel, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel Comics, Marvel Studios, Maurissa Tancharoen, MCU, Ming-Na Wen, Movie Tie-In, Nick Fury, Resurrection, Review, Review Central, S.H.I.E.L.D, Saffron Burrows, Spy, Supervillains, The Clairvoyant, Treachery, Turn Turn Turn, TV Show, TV Show Reviews, Vincent Misiano, Winter Soldier. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.