Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S2E14 Review: Love in the Time of HYDRA
This week’s episode is all about catching up on those things they’ve been dangling in front of us for the last few episodes. We finally get a glimpse at the opposing successors to SHIELD, and a window into just what Agent 33 and Ward have been up to since the midseason finale. Heck, we even check back in on old Talbot!
So, as it turns out, this splinter faction of SHIELD isn’t associated with Stark or Maria Hill, as I’d been speculating before. Rather, it seems like the leadership of a SHIELD carrier were left out on their own after the organization they belonged to was destroyed, leaving them without support and on the run from relentless enemy Cylon– I mean, HYDRA. Right, Director Adama? Sorry, Director Gonzalez. Totally different character.
Jokes aside, while there is definitely some deliberate allusion to Olmos’ previous role here and we haven’t seen much of him yet, I feel confident in saying he’s his own character. He doesn’t seem to be much of a bad guy, and on the contrary, his stated goals are downright laudable–let’s not forget, one of the things that really bothered Skye when she was first pulled into SHIELD was the level of secrecy at work and just how dangerous some of this stuff that was being kept from the public really is. Of course, I bet she feels rather differently on that point now that she’s become one of the secrets. Funny how that works out. The other SHIELD doesn’t seem to be behaving in a way that’s consistent with their stated goals, however, running around with spies, trying to wipe out their opposition and kidnap Skye… but they do have every right to be suspicious of Coulson, based on what they know. It’s not exactly common knowledge that he’s no longer under alien control, after all, and his actions (like searching for the city and activating people like Skye there) could easily be construed to look that way. Hopefully, the conflict stays this gray for the future, even if we all know how it has to eventually shake out.
BSG wasn’t the only thing to be referenced today, which brings us to 33 and Ward following up from their Pulp Fiction-lite heist early on. A lot of people assumed that what he wanted with her was a second chance with “May,” and it seems like 33 was under the impression he was looking for knockoff love interests as well, as she puts on a (very creepy) Skye disguise once the mask is fixed. Everything surrounding them is thoroughly uncomfortable, and quite deliberately so. Ward is getting someone who looks up to him as the Hero™ he feels he is, while still treating her in almost all the same abusive ways that Garrett treated him (except with this gross romantic element laid on top). While at first it appeared that they were getting out of the spy business, that clearly couldn’t last forever, so now it’s back to being the wild card with this Bakshi scheme. I gotta admit, I wasn’t expecting to see Bakshi again, at least not this season. I have no clue what they could possibly be planning, so I’ll definitely be watching this story arc closely.
Last but certainly not least, we have all the character bits. Hunter’s finally wising up–Bobbi just isn’t ever going to be a trustworthy partner. Coulson and May prove they haven’t been totally asleep for all this suspicious behavior on Mack’s part, and the way that they said it leaves me some hope about Morse’s true intentions. Coulson’s behavior throughout the episode made both excellent examples of the kind of behavior the other SHIELD fears (keeping Skye’s location secret from Fitz, the references by Skye of his “typical SHIELD guy” behavior, etc.) and counterpoints (the twizzlers, the gauntlets) to the same. The best character moments in the episode likely were those involving Fitz and Simmons, as so often seems to be the case these days. Fitz makes the comparisons drawn between himself and Skye explicit, and calls out Simmons on her fearful and changed attitudes as of late. On the other hand, Mack running off after him… that can’t be good news.
I also found Talbot’s bits hilarious, although I don’t know if making him into a comic relief character is a good idea. Let’s leave that to Koenig, since he’s played by the established comic (speaking of, where’s he been lately, I wonder?). His actions didn’t cross any lines, in my opinion; I just don’t want to see General Talbot and his organization made into a joke, that’s all.
All in all, it’s a decently good episode with some strong moments in it. We didn’t check in with our other bad guys like Cal (probably for the best, after last week), nor did we hear from any Inhuman characters. Yet it feels a lot like this week was mostly a buildup to next week, where the previews have made it seem all the real action will take place. So, check in next week for “One Door Closes.”