Well, that was a very busy episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. There’s a lot here to unpack, not the least of which is the tendrils between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the other big happening in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What was that called again? Oh yeah, Avengers: Age of Ultron.
The show did not disappoint in terms of leaving breadcrumbs for this Friday’s big release (and yes, I know Avengers has already come out overseas so don’t bother pointing that out), but for the purposes of this review, let’s just assume you haven’t seen Avengers yet.
Picking up on last week’s episode, Coulson has surrendered himself to Nu-S.H.I.E.L.D. with the intention of sidelining one adversary so that he can chase a bigger fish. He convinces Gonzales to allow him a mission to retrieve Mike Peterson and their new Inhuman friend Lincoln from HYDRA. It turns out that Bakshi’s still firmly under Ward’s command, and from his new, surprisingly trusted position under Dr. List, he will lead Coulson to HYDRA’s appropriately exotic Arctic fortress. Gonzales agrees in exchange for access to the Tool Box and on the condition that Coulson’s mission is approved by the Nu-S.H.I.E.L.D. Board. It is, and Coulson puts the band back together as it were. The mission will be him, May, Ward, Skye, Fitz and Simmons. Just like old times.
But the course of this family reunion doesn’t run smoothly. No one trusts Ward, even though Ward wants to let bygones be bygones. Betraying Coulson and his team, Ward says, is the one mistake he regrets more than any other. They were a good team, right? Admittedly, this season’s been preoccupied with sending the original six off in different directions, testing their loyalty to S.H.I.E.L.D. and each other, breaking old relationships and making new ones. But let’s be honest, those days before everything fell apart with Captain America: The Winter Soldier was not a show anyone misses. Even if you liked the actors, the show built around them and the adventures they went on were mostly uninspired. So why pretend that getting the “Dirty Half Dozen” back on the Bus again was such a big deal?
Still, I will admit a touch of fan pride in seeing the the sextet team-up to take on HYDRA. Skye, who is now surprisingly assured in her powers, convinces Gordon to sneak her out of Afterlife to rejoin the team after Raina has another vision of the future in which she sees Skye save Lincoln. Raina’s realization of her own power marks trouble in paradise for Jiaying, who’s secret about being Skye’s mom is out amongst the other Inhumans. Cal, once he’s cooled down, tells his wife that Raina’s deceitful and cunning, and despite the good times they had, Cal warns caution.
Clearly there’s trouble coming in Afterlife, and not just for the newly reunited S.H.I.E.L.D. with whom an Inhuman conflict is inferred in the tease for next week’s episode. Between Cal’s sudden peace of mind, Jiaying’s new conniving streak and Raina’s warnings that maybe there’s a change in leadership coming, the peaceful life of the Inhumans seems likely to be a lot less peaceful. How bloody is it going to get though, and how long will Raina remain in play given that actress Ruth Negga is trading up comic book shows, are good questions. It’s a shame, too, because her Sonic the Hedgehog make-up was really working this week.