[This is a REVIEW of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Episode 20. There WILL be SPOILERS.]
As Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. closes in on its first season finale, Maria Hill drops by and provides everyone with some much needed information, while Ward and Skye’s relationship becomes even more complicated. You want to know about T.A.H.I.T.I.? Ask Coulson.
In this week’s episode, "Nothing Personal", written by Paul Zbyszewski & DJ Doyle, Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) successfully tracks down Agent Hill (Cobie Smulders) who - after S.H.I.E.L.D.’s fall - is now part of Tony Stark’s new privatized security force. Elsewhere, Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) discover Ward’s (Brett Dalton) allegiance to HYDRA, while Skye (Chloe Bennet) is whisked away by the traitor and coerced to decrypt the team’s hard drive. When Deathlok (J. August Richards) threatens the life of someone Skye may (or may not) care about, it’s up to Coulson (Clark Gregg) to save the day before HYDRA obtains the information contained on the drive. Meanwhile, May robs a familiar grave, and Coulson finds out the truth about T.A.H.I.T.I.
Agent Ward has been the series’ superstar ever since the Captain America: The Winter Solider tie-in episode, and in this week’s episode the double-agent goes above and beyond and now has viewers confused as to his allegiance. At times he’s cold, angry and aggressive, pushing Skye to decrypt the hard drive - while other times he decides to waste precious time to reassure Skye of how he feels, even after he’s been discovered to be HYDRA. If one were keeping score, Ward still likely falls on the villainous side; however, with the status of Victoria Hand still unknown, there’s a very good chance that she could still be Ward’s chance at redemption. Even so, at this point, is it worth bringing Ward back to the “good” side? And if he does, who will ever trust him again?
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may have set up Ward to be a strong nemesis for season 2, yet the series has always been more than a TV show, and as such Ward’s rank – or anyone’s, really - in HYDRA can only go so high, as the Marvel Cinematic Universe will need to be able to seamlessly takeover the story without having to think about how ABC’s Grant Ward is going to step into their expensive productions. Even so, this week’s episode does a terrific job at progressing the MCU post-Captain America 2, going as far as (perhaps) revealing Tony Stark’s future role in S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.0 which, if anything, may be a clue as to how Marvel will keep Robert Downey Jr. around after his Iron Man days have come to an end.
Right now, it’s absolutely clear that the producers of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are attempting to close the gap between their theatrical counterparts as much as possible. Agent Maria Hill may not be Nick Fury, at least in the theatrical sense; however, on TV, she’s an exposition machine, and her appearance, while perhaps not carrying as much weight as Fury’s, is able to delve into the mechanics of this ever-growing universe without having to worry about coming off calm, cool and collected while wearing an eye patch. When Fury does finally make an appearance in one of this season’s final episodes, it’ll be interesting to see how much his broad strokes to the story help propel a series which has put in much work to right itself.
This week’s tale is very much a Skye and Ward episode, and next week’s episode will largely be Ward-only - so it makes sense for them to attempt to build up the relationship of the series’ (formerly) weak characters by toying with their emotions, allegiances and generally making what is known – Ward’s betrayal – now not so clear. If anything, Ward and Skye’s heavy-handed pairing helps create enough doubt in the character of Grant Ward that viewers will now be interested in seeing the past of the used-to-be Boy Scout. Of course, like anything on TV, one episode can change everything - for better or worse.
The big reveal in this week’s episode is Coulson’s Total Recall moment with T.A.H.I.T.I., where “former” Coulson reveals to “new” Coulson that it was he was behind the T.A.H.I.T.I. experiment. More so, the “former” Coulson reveals that T.A.H.I.T.I. - originally created to heal mortally-wounded Avengers - is too dangerous to use and that the side-effects of its use can cause you to go insane, especially if you are aware of the tampering. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. now has quite a bit to play with, thanks to this bit of information.
Is Coulson justified or insane? Both? What about Skye? This week’s episode poses as many questions as it asks, and it won’t be until the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 1 finale that viewers will know whether what all being showed is actually important to the overall story, or what direction they’ll take in season 2. No matter what, Nick Fury has much explaining to do.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns next Tuesday with “Ragtag” @8pm on ABC. You can check out a preview of next week’s episode below: