Despite its flinty and ridiculous sounding title, “The Frenemy of My Enemy” was a highly consequential episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It marked the two-thirds point of the second season, and aims to set up the main goals and obstacles heading into the last run of episodes from the year. As consequence, HYDRA is back at the forefront, the Inhumans idyllic existence is threatened, and strange bedfellows have to be sewn in order to work towards the greater good. With so much going on, the audience should be understandably curious about how all the desperate elements the show is juggling right now add up to the whole, and this week’s S.H.I.E.L.D. levies some compelling hints.
Let’s start with a character who’s gotten the short end of the stick lately, Grant Ward. He’s appeared in only one other of the post-Agent Carter run of S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes, almost like a forgotten ghost barely lingering from the show that S.H.I.E.L.D. was just a year ago, when Ward was so very consequential. In fact, Ward was such an afterthought that when Coulson tracks him down and Ward reveals that he has former Whitehall lackey Bakshi as an “in” into the remaining HYDRA leadership, I had plum forgot that Bakshi was last seen in the custody of Ward and new friend Agent 33.
Coulson, now back in possession of the Tool Box thanks to the fugitive Fitz, wants to use HYDRA to find Skye, and there’s only two leaders of HYDRA left to eliminate: Dr. List and Baron von Strucker. The Baron, of course, will be dealt with handily a week from Friday when Avengers: Age of Ultron opens in theaters everywhere, so for S.H.I.E.L.D. to tease that Coulson and Co. were going to take care of that business was typically season one S.H.I.E.L.D., teasing hopelessly at events they know they’ll never show.
The focus instead is on List, who the brainwashed Bakshi is sent to with Deathlok posing as bodyguard to lead the team to Strucker. Easier said than done given the discomfort of churning emotions for all involved in Coulson’s ragtag insurgency. When Ward innocently asks Fitz how he’s been, it frees the beast in the normally mild-mannered Scottish scientist. It’s a really honest reaction, and really, what was Fitz supposed to say? “Oh hey, Ward. I haven’t been great since you put me and Simmons in a metal coffin and dropped us out of the Bus over the ocean resulting in me getting brain damage in the escape. But I managed to outwit a couple of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to get here, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.”
Speaking of rage issues, Jaiying decides that one family dinner is enough for Cal, and it’s time for him to go. Predictably, one family dinner is all it takes for Skye to appreciate that her father, though menacing and psychotic, was driven there in a sports car by losing his wife and daughter in a single stroke. Skye smartly persuades Jaiying to let her go with Cal to ease him into exile instead of just having Gordon drop him off without a word. But as far as a simple father/daughter outing is concerned, if you send out a guy with extreme rage issues and his earthquake making daughter on a day trip, it’s bound to attract unwanted attention.