In last week’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC, titled “Love in the Time of Hydra“, the focus of the main plot shifted to catch viewers back up on the adventures of Agent 33 and Grant Ward. Meanwhile, Bobbi and Mack introduced Hunter to what they call the “real S.H.I.E.L.D.” and the episode served purely as setup. Everyone in Coulson’s team is somewhere else, working for someone else, or learned something else and it’s all seemingly building towards the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
In this week’s Agents of SHIELD episode, “One Door Closes” , the origin story of this other S.H.I.E.L.D. faction is explored and the series wastes no time pitting them against Coulson’s team while Skye (Chloe Bennet) has to make a tough choice to save herself and understand her newfound abilities.
No Cal and his team of enhanced psychopaths; no Hydra (at least, in the present) and no Ward-Agent 33 splinter cell. This week’s episode is all about SHIELD, what’s left of the organization, who leads it, and what they stand for after it was torn apart during the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and without Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) at the helm.
1. When S.H.I.E.L.D. Fell
Lucy Lawless returns as a badass knife-wielding warrior Isabelle Hartley as viewers get a glimpse (via flashbacks) into the events surrounding Hartley, Mack (Henry Simmons) and Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) fighting to take back a S.H.I.E.L.D. aircraft carrier after Hydra initiated their Coup d’état (as seen in Captain America 2). We see how ruthless Hydra are despite them again playing down their Nazi origins.
The group recovers Robert Gonzales (Edward James Olmos) as we find out why he needs a walking Cane and according to him and Bobbi a.k.a. Mockingbird (rocking her field outfit), Fury gave them orders to save S.H.I.E.L.D. as well. But first, they need to sink the ship to protect unknown precious cargo from falling into the hands of Hydra. This is another curious revelation towards the mystery of why this group is not in touch with Coulson if Fury also assigned him as director and if Coulson looked for Gonzales (as he explains later in the episode).
2. What Real S.H.I.E.L.D. Is After
Back in the present, Mack and Bobbi’s plan is underway. Bobbi returns to Coulson’s base, sabotages a vehicle and their base’s security network and immediately goes for the “Toolbox”. Again, Fury gave the Toolbox (the little black vibranium cube) to Coulson as a roadmap for the new S.H.I.E.L.D. – again raising the question of why “real S.H.I.E.L.D.” needs to steal it if they claim to be working for Fury. They can’t be working for Fury anymore despite the flashbacks emphasizing their loyalty towards him since they believe Fury’s dead (just like The Avengers still think Coulson is dead – more on this later).
It’s also revealed that Robert Gonzales’s crew is after Skye. They are either trying to gather “supers” or know that she’s Inhuman. Is Gonzales actually working for Hydra (maybe Baron von Strucker?) who we know is experimenting on special people, Inhuman people, in Europe? Or is the Hydra twist overused already?
3. S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. S.H.I.E.L.D.
Episode 15 moves quickly from a heist into a full-blown assault as Gonzales’ forces come blasting in after gassing Coulson’s base. Mack shows his good heart in saving Fitz during the incursion, risking his own life in the process. Inexplicably, the “real SHIELD” leadership comes in wearing suits and formal attire instead of some sort of field outfit to go with their gas masks and firearms. How far away is their ship from Coulson’s base?
Bonus: Fitz and Simmons are a trusting pair again and both show their undying loyalty to Coulson. Simmons even tricks Bobbi (and anyone thinking she may flip sides!).
4. Inhuman Rescue
During the episode, we learn a little more about the safehouse (apparently built by Bruce Banner) where Coulson is hiding Skye. Skye tries on the power-dampening gauntlets Simmons made for her, and the blind, teleporting Inhuman named Gordon pays her a visit, inviting her to join him and his people so she can be safe, embrace her powers, and be with people who welcome her and give her freedom (unlike SHIELD who are treating her like a prisoner or experiment). Gordon tops off the sales pitch by saying she’s free to choose and can call him at anytime.
But then Agent Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) sends a warning message to Skye telling her to get out…
It doesn’t take long for S.H.I.E.L.D. to make Gordon’s point for him as Gonzales’ right hand, Agent Tomas Calderon (Kirk Acevedo), takes a team to the safehouse to capture Skye. Mockingbird knows they’re going a little too far and feels for Skye. It’s clear both her and Mack are still “good guys” and are playing for the bigger picture. It’s who they’re working for that could be the problem.
Skye a.k.a. Daisy a.k.a. Quake drops a shockwave surprise on Bobby and Calderon in self defense, just as she’s about to be shot. The blast wipes out a chunk of the forest and the revelation of her power set has Skye call upon Gordon to go “home,” where she can learn to embrace and control these abilities in a safe place, with her own kind, instead of with the clearly – and as usual – untrustworthy SHIELD.
6. Civil War
Two factions, with different ideals, both battling for the future of S.H.I.E.L.D. and how to handle people with superpowers… sounds familiar? Agents of SHIELD is not only leading to the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron – which it will connect to – but it’s also laying groundwork for next year’s Captain America: Civil War.
Edward James Olmos hints of Gonzales’ major secrets (“mindblowing twists” he calls them) in a chat with THR and teases the Avengers: Age of Ultron connection: “When you see Ultron, you’ll start to realize how well this show is connected.” His SHIELD believes in transparency – is there any chance they could be working for Tony Stark? Knowing they aren’t associated with Hydra from the flashbacks, how else are they able to operate without funding from the world council and keep an aircraft carrier? Could Maria Hill be overseeing this S.H.I.E.L.D. for Stark?
Keep in mind: Hill knows Coulson is alive so Stark must know as well. Stark doesn’t like S.H.I.E.L.D. or Fury’s super secret ways so maybe we’ll learn what we was really up to during the events of The Winter Soldier…
A few other observations and notes:
- We enjoyed seeing Coulson’s S.H.I.E.L.D. represented as being larger than just the core cast. A dozen other agents were used to spring a trap on Mack when Coulson confronted him during the Lola scene.
- Banner (Mark Ruffalo) built the safehouse Skye is at. It’s yet another movie namedrop but a curious one given that this same safehouse was used by Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) when he first was unfrozen. Why would Banner have built S.H.I.E.L.D. facilities if he was in hiding when we meet him in The Avengers?
- Edward James Olmos tells E! that he’s very excited for what his role entails, that it “is going to be one of the high points of [his] career.”
Now that you’ve watched the episode and digested the new character introductions and revelations, share your thoughts and theories in the comments below!
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns next Tuesday with “Afterlife” @9pm on ABC.