[SPOILERS ahead for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2, episode 7.]
After a brief hiatus, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns with its most poignant episode to date, revealing the truth behind the writings caused by the GH-323 serum. More importantly, a new direction for the team is set, and a truly powerful television show continues to emerge, ratings or not.
In this week’s episode, "The Writing on the Wall", written by Craig Titley (Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief), Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Skye (Chloe Bennet) investigate the death of a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, which reveals a series of T.A.H.I.T.I. patients previously unknown. As Coulson enters his own memories to reveal the truth, the lone survivor goes after his final victim, and all is ultimately revealed. Meanwhile, May (Ming-Na Wen), Morse (Adrianne Palicki), Triplett (B.J. Britt) and Hunter (Nick Blood) track Ward (Brett Dalton) as he makes his way to an unknown safe house, and Ward proves his allegiance lies... with no one.
It’s very easy to focus on all the terrific reveals that were contained in this episode, and in many ways it’s quite deserved. After all, the T.A.H.I.T.I. storyline is taking a surprising turn and is being transformed into a surprisingly complex addition to Coulson’s character, and the memory machine returns and provides many satisfying revelations behind what S.H.I.E.L.D. was working on, and to what lengths they were testing the serum, before the agency’s fall in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Fans of the comics saw the exciting potential of what the future could now hold for this series. Still, this episode’s success is much more than revelations. For all of the many sweeps-worthy unveils, there is also an extremely well-crafted and truly compelling adventure that’s accompanying them.
The group is evenly split between the essential and supporting cast (with Agent May), and each team is given a story which compliments their strengths. May’s team is essentially all personality and action, and their target, Ward, has become much the same. Together they help dictate the momentum of the episode while Coulson’s main storyline is still getting off its feet with Skye in tow.
However, as rewarding as Coulson’s storyline is, one does wonder when the next time we’ll be able to see such spy fun from this series. Skye and Coulson are quickly becoming partners in crime, and the one-time rookie of the team has benefited greatly from the pairing. Coulson’s controlled cadence helps to carefully focus all of Skye’s skills and energy towards a single purpose, which helps viewers appreciate how the character has matured from her origins. Even so, it is somewhat unsettling to recognize that Skye is essentially stepping into the role May previously held.
As far as what the future holds for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it’s anyone’s guess; its potential, however, is palatable. Coulson’s drive is gone and the location for... has been identified. A goal for the series has now been established, and the upcoming limited series Agent Carter is going to delve further in to the many elements that this series will be using in the future.
Agent Carter is looking to be a strong series from the start, which will only help Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continue to grow. With a relatively mediocre fall television season still in full swing, it’s safe to say that there are few network shows this year which have been able to deliver as many fun and enjoyable adventures as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2. This episode is not the moment the series turned itself around, as that happened long ago – but it does represent the best of what happens when a television experiment is full realized and perfected.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns next Tuesday with "The Things We Bury" @9pm on ABC. You can check out a preview of next week’s episode below: