[This is a review of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 16. There will be SPOILERS.]
It’s been another lengthy hiatus, but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has finally returned for its final set of episodes. This week Skye becomes real agent; a mole in S.H.I.E.L.D. is revealed; and everything gets set up for the Captain America: The Winter Soldier tie-in episodes.
In this week’s episode, "End of the Beginning,” written by Paul Zbyszewski, agents Blake, Hand, Sitwell, Garrett and Triplett team up with Coulson & co. to track down the Clairvoyant, and Deathlok receives an upgrade to help protect his handler's identity. When the investigation leads to a vegetative man named Thomas Nash, who is said to be psychic, Skye receives a deathly prophecy, while Coulson turns on his own team in order to find out who the traitor is.
In terms of story, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. touched upon more story-arcs in this week’s episodes than much of the previous episodes combined. Whether it’s Skye becoming a full S.H.I.E.L.D. agent as a character convenience, or to call upon Hand, Blake and Sitwell to be thrust into situations which will pay off in the future, this week’s episode successfully rounded some of the series’ edge and helped establish some intriguing storylines which could smartly connect to Captain America: The Winter Soldier and deliver a truly entertaining tie-in. If fans of the series are looking for a clear sign that AoS is making an attempt to right itself, this episode most certainly accomplishes that feat – more than any surprising tag-line shift of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Uprising” ever did.
Now 16 episodes in, the strengths and weaknesses of the series are more than apparent, and it’s interesting to see how the producers are attempting to juggle everything they have to work with, shifting things around until they find things that work. Initially, the B-list agents – Garrett, Hand, Blake, Sitwell – meet-up and subsequent pairing off for the mission felt stiff and unnecessary; but the more the characters spent time together the more enjoyable they, as well as the story, became.
Even so, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. still appears to overextend its characters by forcing them in to multiple, overly-emotional scenes which puts the entire adventure on hold. Sure, Skye was a part of each one, but it’s unfair to point to her as the problem. Yes, Skye needed to become an agent in order to make her a more complete character; however, it’s highly unlikely that anyone expected it to happen with an “official” ceremony and one-on-one with Garrett. Of course, if Nash’s premonition is correct, then it doesn’t matter.
At this point, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. appears to be setting itself up major reveal during the Captain America: The Winter Soldier tie-in episodes, and for all intents and purposes it could realistically prove to be a successful shift that will propel the series up the hill it's been climbing. Deathlok’s costume may look “too Smallville” for Smallville, and the series may sometimes overreach, but there’s something intriguing about what all might occur if Marvel’s synergistic experiment is ultimately successful.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns next Tuesday with "Turn, Turn, Turn" @8pm on ABC. You can check out a preview of next week's episode below: