‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’ Continues Its Upswing & Revives Coulson’s Love

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agent of shield season 1 episode 18 coulson audrey Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Continues Its Upswing & Revives Coulsons Love

[This is a REVIEW of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Episode 18. There WILL be SPOILERS.]

It’s now been three weeks since the Captain America: The Winter Solider tie-in and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. still shows no signs of slowing down from its much-needed push. In fact, this week’s episode perfectly balances the recently established cinematic universe with the need to touch upon some of Marvel’s TV-cleared characters, while at the same time tying it all together with a successful love story which taps into the heart of Coulson (Clark Gregg).

In this week’s episode, “The Only Light in the Darkness,” written by Monica Owusu-Breen, Agent Phillip Coulson goes after the recently-released Blackout (Patrick Brennan), which leads him back to his beloved cellist, Audrey (Amy Acker). Elsewhere, Ward (Brent Dalton) continues to attack S.H.I.E.L.D. from within, while May (Ming-Na Wen) ditches the group in order to track down someone more “in the know.” As Skye (Chloe Bennet) turns secret agent on her dastardly beau, Coulson reunites with his lost love one last time – but not before showing Blackout “the light.”

When fans say that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been getting better, it’s absolutely the truth. However, when a forceful push from a hit film gives a reason for the series to now exist, it can become difficult to judge whether or not this experiment is simply riding the waves of its theatrical sister. Fortunately, at the heart of this episode lies the true form that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. can take, where overarching stories are paired with an immediate threat, and the strength and personality of the cast is able to carry the weight during the episode’s weaker moments.

agents of shield season 1 episode 18 cellist Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Continues Its Upswing & Revives Coulsons Love

It is with a heavy heart that we bid farewell to Patton Oswalt, who has helped this series find its 8pm, family-friendly heart and charm. Although, before he left, a line of questioning and a reminder of security protocol helped propel the story forward, while at the same time allowing a Doctor Who reference to slip in because, you know, “the kids.” Skye may have been Ward’s loophole during this extensive lie detector test, but it at least allowed viewers to see the logic that’s driving the face-shooting, S.H.I.E.L.D. slayer.

Skye and Ward, Ward and Skye – two would-be secret agents, as least in the beginning. Ward has made a complete turnaround and now is one of the more fun characters to watch on-screen, so it’s not surprising that producers are looking to use Ward as a way to elevate Skye, as HYDRA elevated Ward. Skye’s transformation into spy-Skye was off-putting at first, like most new things, but anyone would be lying if they didn’t say her newfound strength and confidence didn’t immediately change the character for the better.

agents of shield season 1 episode 19 simmons cellist Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Continues Its Upswing & Revives Coulsons Love

Blackout’s use in this episode was an excuse to get back to Coulson’s love story, if we’re all being honest. That’s not to say his appearance wasn’t worthwhile – it was, in the sense that viewers were able to follow along Coulson’s emotional journey, as we’ve known about his love interest for quite some time now. However, Blackout, Deathlok and every other super-powered entity drawn from Marvel comics continue to feel as if they’re a part of the show that producers are still working on, unfortunately. Their inclusion is interesting, if anything, yet there’s never a real reason to care about them outside of being able to put specific characters at specific locations for a specific reason.

Outside of the acknowledged awkwardness of the super-powered, Coulson’s hidden reunion with Audrey is as successful as one could have expected from any series, let alone one still finding its way. It was profound without being over the top, and Clark Gregg carried himself as one would have expected of Coulson, which includes his painful reactions when hearing her speak of him. Sure, it could have been more – and perhaps it will be in the future – but for a series still wondering about a second season, they made great use of one of the few “aces” they have up their sleeve.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t perfect, and it likely will never be. After all, fans will remember that Fringe was anything but perfect. What Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has now, though, is a reason to exist, and after this week’s episode revealed what an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series will look like long term, there’s a very good chance that the series’ ever-growing heart will be enough to carry itself into the future.


Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns next Tuesday with “Nothing Personal” @8pm on ABC. You can check out a preview of next week’s episode below:

Follow Anthony Ocasio on Twitter @anthonyocasio
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  1. Blackout has ties in the comics to Hydra, Avengers, and Zemo so maybe he will return.

  2. Or is it von strucker?

  3. Excellent episode, this show has been fantastic in recent weeks.

  4. I was hoping to see more Oswalt.

    I thought the mom/daughter thing with May was funny.

    I don’t know why people don’t like Skye or Chloe Bennet’s acting… she’s one of the best things about AoS (and Simmons too).

    Poor Fitz, I think Gemma sees him as a lil bro and nothing more. What did she say would be in the box on the island?

    • The TARDIS. Poor, poor Fitz.

      Totally agree on Bennet’s acting, the scene where she learned Ward was HYDRA, and the one where she lied and went with him were both well done. This show has finally found a way to bring some legitimate tension to bear.

      • @Steve:

        The TARDIS… ahh thanks. I was wondering what the review meant by a Dr. Who reference. Darn British accent! :) But that makes sense and even funnier than Fitz saying “Simmons”.

        Also, got to love the Easter Eggs. Like Arrow, AoS makes me google stuff and when looking up who Trip’s Howling Commando relative could be… I find that “Eric Koenig” was a Howling Commando… hehe.

  5. the show has been amazing since its break at christmas. they were slow to get going because they had to introduce the characters and there are so many and they also have to establish themselves in this mcu.

    i also think this ep told us how next season will go. they are gonna be going after all the villains that escaped the fridge and maybe they will revive shield too.

    • To be fair, this show had a lot more problems than just being slow to get going. The first half of the season was cringe worthy. We’re not out of the woods yet, but they have come along way since the “Berzerker” episode.

  6. Ward being tracked by his lanyard showed that he is incompetent and therefore an official Agent of HYDRA.

    • Don’t forget that he didn’t know that the lanyard could be used to track him and it’s possible there were areas he couldn’t get into without that lanyard. He probably thought it was still his badge.

  7. Things I’m surprised at which, about four months ago, I would have considered impossible:

    – I’m seeing Coulson more as a standalone character instead of “that guy from the Marvel movies”.

    – I’m interested when Ward is on screen.

    – May has a personality.

    – I find myself pulling for Skye.

    – I’m eager to see the next episode.

    – Fitz & Simmons…well, they still need some work. Other than that, this series has made an astonishing turnaround in a short period of time. It owes a lot to Winter Soldier, sure, but they’re doing a whole lot more now than making lame references to the Avengers and plugs for the Thor movie. The characters finally feel involved in the Marvel universe. I’m very optimistic right now.

    • Agree with most of your points, except I always liked Coulson, and I still don’t care for Skye so much.

      Plus, I wish they would not have killed off Agents Hand or Koenig. I enjoyed seeing them on the show and felt they made good additions to it.

  8. another excellent episode, this show is really becoming a must watch for me. I was totally screaming at the TV for Skye to kick Ward in the short hairs repeatedly, that mofo killed Patton Oswalt he must pay :)

    I’m stuck in between caring about the Fitz/Simmons thing and not, i thought they went about it well in this episode, but I’m not sure I want to see this steal screen time from other more important developments.

    I personally have always enjoyed the character of Skye, I get she isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but for me she is one of the more interesting female heroines on TV right now.

    I don’t know if I’m the only one, but does anybody else get the sense that Ward is working deep cover for Maria Hill, if that does end up being the case I will be a little sad because Bret Dalton has really excelled at being the Villain.

  9. I wonder what the end scene with May and her Mom was about. I don think there was anything said or something else that explained the scene unless I missed something like small detail, but what could be the organization her mom is a part of. The only organizations I can think would be Hydra, AIM or 10 rings but I don’t which if any. Any one have any theory’s from that scene?

    • I didn’t catch what agency her mom was with. I’m assuming not Hydra since she said her agency isn’t being investigated (like Shield and Hydra). I think it was another scene for a movie name-drop that is supposed to cameo in future episodes…Maria Hill.

      • Her mother is probably just retired CIA. That seemed like the impression I got. I’m sure it’s not important as it was just a through away line to indicate her mom is in the business but not shield.

    • It was about locating Maria Hill. I wouldn’t pay any attention to organization that her mom was a part of. That was just to show us that May is second generation spy I would assume.

      So is Hill in Canada? May met her mom in Ontario.

      • The secret base was in Canada. She called her mommy for a ride.

        • Aaahhh. Thanks prof.

      • Well, Robin Scherbatzky is Canadian. :)

        • #itsallconnected

          • hahaha. That’s awesome.

    • I think it’s implied that she is CIA, FBI, NSA etc. She could actually be CSIS (Canada’s CIA) since she says she drove 5 hours. A 5 hour drive in Northern Canada isn’t really gonna get you far. You can drive North for days and still be in the same province.

      • She could also be ex-Chinese Intelligence (MSS).

        It would make sense that since Hydra has infiltrated an American agency, May would trust 1) her mom and 2) someone who has connections to a non-American agency.

      • She was picked up in Ontario, and her mom is from Pennsylvania (Look at the license plates on the car). I am assuming her mom used to be CIA, but thats just a guess.

        • Could be a rental car?

          • likely is a rental. I doubt a spy would take their own car across the border.

    • Other people have already said it, but I’m responding anyway.

      Her mom is retired from CIA, or a similar, fictional agency. They’re going to see Maria Hill.

  10. Great episode. The show is def worth watching now. I want Sky to die so bad, don’t know why just don’t like her. Ward I hated until he went bad… Now I love him… Poor Fitz, Simmons obviously has a thing for black dudes, and hey who doesn’t? Lol…

  11. That interrogation was kinda weak. That scene should have weaved throughout the entire episode, and Oswalt should have died during the investigation. I like May going solo. After all the dude’s done, I’d prefer If Ward became a bigger villain than being forgiven in the end.

    • I agree, i was expecting much more from the interrogation. The best part of the exchange was when things became tense, but it didn’t pay off because it was too short and Oswald was too easily fooled. As far as Ward being forgiven, i almost can’t imagine them doing that after he has perpetrated so much evil in the last 2 episodes. If they do defy logic and end his character arc with redemption and forgiveness, i think quite a few people, myself included, will stop watching.

      • Technically Oswald wasn’t really fooled. Ward was there for Skye, that’s why the polygraph read it as a truth.

        • Are you serious? And Koenig should accept that as the answer? He’s holding a gun at him and his reason for putting is down is because dude has feelings for a chick???

          Completely laughable!!!

          • That’s not really what happened. He didn’t let him go because it was for love or because it was for a girl. Koenig let him go because he answered truthfully and the machine showed it as truthful.

            • The questions Koenig asked were baseless, and he should not have given an injured man a lie detector test, this episode was not as good as the prior three. It felt like a filler episode.

          • Plus, Ward manipulated the test by screwing with his baseline by inflicting pain on himself (needle under fingernail) when answering some questions truthfully. Thus, when he lied, the results did not come out that differently then when he was telling the truth.

            • yep

            • I know right? It’s like some people aren’t even paying attention to the show.

              A) Ward had that needele in his finger to screw with the test
              B) he answered truthfully about being there for Skye.

  12. They need to retool the show for a later time-slot when/if it comes back next season. Forget the kiddies and just make it an 9pm/10pm show so that it looks like it could possibly have a connection to the greater MCU. Right now the greater MCU (movie-verse) looks like a state college or university, while the tv show looks like it’s at the community college level. Face it, Thor, Hulk, Iron Man, or even Mystique would look totally out of place on AoS. Just sayin’.

    • I agree. How many times can a villain show up and just decide to leave, rather than battle?

      I still love this new Ward but I still feel like this show should be on CW or ABC Family.

      You’re not gonna get Alias here.

      To even promote this show as being a part of the MCU is a joke.

      Can you see Capt. America, Black Widow and Falcon working with these guys?

      I can’t. My wife ask why I continue to watch AoS and all I can say is that there is a great show and premise here. I just wish they would write it.

  13. If AoS could hold on a bit longer, it’d be cool to have a threat bring them to NY and run into any of the characters that’re getting a show on Netflix. The “small-scale” threats that AoS encounters goes pretty good with street-level heroes like the new Defenders

  14. Skye isn’t much of an agent right now. She doesn’t go get a gun when she finds out Ward is Hydra, then she lets herself get captured.

    Bad casting of Skye, too. The actress doesn’t have much sex appeal, bout like a 16 yo if you ask me. The show needed more from that character.

    Didn’t like it, too, when they turned Fitz into a sniveling cry boy when he thought he was going to die a couple episodes back. Fine shield agent he is. Kill off F&S. They’re children.

    • Before I defend him, let me say that Fitz and Simmons are my least favorite characters on the show. But I’ve seen comments suggesting that he was sniveling because he was about to die, and I have to disagree with that. I think he was emotional about the whole Hydra thing, because he seems like a true believer in the SHIELD cause. Not that the others aren’t, but May and Coulson are older, and don’t seem like the emotional types. It was actually one of his better scenes, I thought, that finally gave the character a little weight.

      • I agree. Plus, Fitz is not trained as a field agent and was watching Shield collapse in front of his eyes, not to mention facing a significant period of torture after watching his friends get shot. Regardless, he still did the right thing. Nobody knows how they will react until they are faced with that type of situation, so it makes perfect sense Fitz would have been scared to the point of tears yet he still acted bravely (and saved a friend with a well-placed pistol shot). “Sniveling” would have been if he got on his knees and hugged Garret’s legs while pledging loyalty to Hydra.

        Although, the whole “I love Simmons but I can’t tell her” thing is wearing a bit thin…

        • Plus, didn’t he say something to Garrett like “You’re going to die, and I’m going to enjoy watching?” That’s not exactly sniveling. And you’re right, he could have just signed on with Hydra and walked away if he was so afraid of dying. Not to mention that at this point he was probably assuming Simmons was dead or being tortured at this point (if I’m remembering the sequence of events correctly).

          I agree with you on the Fitz and Simmons relationship. They spent too much of the early season acting like brother and sister, it’s kind of weird to see him seemingly fixated on her now. When it’s finally released on DVD, I’m looking forward to re-watching the series, so I can see if there were earlier hints of what we’re getting now. I feel like Fitz had a thing for Skye when the show started out. I guess Fitz and Simmons would make more sense together, but I feel like it kind of came out of nowhere. Then again, I could barely understand anything these two said for the first half of the season because of the accents, the way they spoke so excitedly, and the fact that they spoke over each other all the time. For all I know, he told Simmons he loved her every episode, and I just missed it!

          • I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it was pretty well scripted. It was like Fitz was trying his best to act tough, emulating Coulson & May, even though he was clearly scared. It didn’t work because Fitz isn’t tough, and Garrett responded by laughing, “I like this kid!” Fitz and Simmons both still need some work but I think it was a step in the right direction. They have mostly been childish, insulated lab geeks but are now having to grow up thanks to the events in Winter Soldier. I think one of them is probably going to get killed, however. I can see something like Ward killing Gemma and Fitz being the one who somehow lands the killing blow on Ward (especially with Ward’s comment to Fitz in the hallway of the secret base). Hopefully the writers come up with something less clichéd, though…

  15. …isn’t this episode 19?

  16. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but when the team was shooting the “stage lights-gun things” at Blackout I was reminded of Ghostbusters… I thought Ocasio would have mentioned something about it.

    Pretty good episode in all, I would have liked to see Coulson and the cellist actually interact a little bit… but I guess that can be saved for later down the road (assuming it gets a second season)

  17. Blackout and the Cellist were lame as frick, they need to stick to the CAP 2 tie in instead of adding in filler.

  18. Second time I hear that the second season isn’t set, I’m pretty sure they were renewed for a second season after the first week

  19. One of the unsaid reasons I think it’s working better post Cap 2 is it now makes sense for this small team to be operating on its own. Back before Winter Soldier, it felt strange to have an independent team running around without backup as part of some huge organization with power that spanned the globe. They were like the ‘team that SHIELD forgot or something.

    Now it feels right to have them operating in this environment, on their own like this.

    • Maybe we’ll find out that Fury’s suspicion that something was going on within SHIELD, combined with his trust of Coulson, was what led him to bring Coulson back. Maybe Fury wanted someone on the outside in case the worst happened. This could also explain why the agents all seem ridiculously young – because they’d be less likely to have been turned by Hydra – and why he would allow Coulson to bring Skye into the fold – partially because he already knew she was “special”, and because she was suspicious of SHIELD herself. This would still make his decision to bring one particular dead guy back to life a stretch, but no more than most other comic book stories.

  20. It will be interesting to see where they go with how Coulson and his team will function without SHIELD. They seemed only semi-competent when backed by what now know was a totally compromised super-agency, what are they going to be able to do with little or no back-up? Case in point, what did they do with Blackout after they subdued him, leave him for the local authorities to pick up so he could promptly escape ?

    The idea of them flying around in the plane now that SHIELD is defunct and probably in a lot of trouble with every world government also seems prohibitive, since they cannot just wander into restricted airspace anymore or go to other countries and pretty wreak havoc.

  21. The show has always had a reason to exist ! Marvel doesnt do anything without a plan and a tiein to the greater picture,
    . Anyone who knows anything about the infinity gauntlet story line knows that one of the most major players in the story arc is a charactor named Adam Warlock! Awesome charactor but drawn out creation story they already said they wernt making a warlock movie and it would take to long . So the answer was to spread the story out over a couple seasons on a television series and agents of shield was born as a creation vehicle .

  22. [“It’s now been three weeks since the Captain America: The Winter Solider tie-in and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. still shows no signs of slowing down from its much-needed push.”]

    Every time I come across comments like this, I cannot help but feel annoyed. I’m annoyed by the fact that so many people had assumed that “AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.” was supposed to start off as perfect. I’m annoyed that these same people seemed to lack the patience to allow a series to develop in story and characterization . . . over time. And I’m still annoyed that people have this ridiculous demand for “instant culture”.

    “AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.” is supposed to be a serial drama in the sci-fi/fantasy genre. Why on earth would a serial drama jump into the main story right off the bat? Why on earth would anyone assume that it would? That’s just not good storytelling.