Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review: “Love In The Time Of HYDRA” (Season 2, Episode 14)


Here’s something I thought I’d never say: what ever happened to that Agent Grant Ward? Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s man of action was as bland as Melba toast, that is until it suddenly turned out that he was HYDRA-ish affiliated, an apprentice of the evil John Garrett. Then, all of the sudden, Ward was complex and driven. He was a character we wanted to learn more about because it turned out there was more to learn. And then he started out the second season as a kind of hunky Hannibal but with less eating people, gently telling S.H.I.E.L.D. everything they wanted to know about HYDRA, but not everything he knew. But after being shot by Skye and left for dead in Puerto Rico, it’s time to ask the question, what the heck happened to Ward?

I’m not sure if the Pulp Fiction allusion at the beginning of the episode was intentional, but it worked. There’s little time for pumpkin pancakes and pecan syrup though because Ward and his new sidekick Agent 33 are on a mission to kidnap a S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist who can fix 33’s nano mask. In case you’ve forgotten, Agent 33 was kidnapped by Bakshi and brainwashed by Whitehall to be a loyal servant for HYDRA before she impersonated Agent May and got electrocuted in a fight with the genuine article, making her a kind of Two-Face May.

Without HYDRA and without Whitehall, Agent 33’s loyalty is left somewhat in the wind, so like a lost dog she decides to make friends with the first person that offers a treat, and that’s Ward. If the cuteness of their breakfast together didn’t somewhat sicken, then the developments later on when 33 tried to seduce Ward by becoming Skye in a bad wig took ickiness to a whole new level. Ward’s obsession with Skye was already uncomfortably deranged, so why would any sane thinking person want to go there voluntarily? Fortunately, Ward isn’t interested, much to the relief of the audience, but he does get an idea on how to make 33 more like herself again.

Enter General Talbot, the one who’s currently in possession of Bakshi after he was turned over by Coulson. I’m not sure if it was the S.H.I.E.L.D.’s intention to make Talbot a kind of punching bag for all kinds of cliched antics of the uptight military man, but that’s how it seemed. Talbot basically became Frank Burns this week, as woefully incompetent and over-the-top patriotic as M*A*S*H‘s favorite punching bag. From his soliloquy about the subtleties of riding versus push lawn mowers to his half-assed interrogation of the potential Agent 33 suspects to mistaking his wife for Agent 33 and making her kiss the carpet, this was not Talbot’s week.

Of course, Talbot’s suffering pails next to Bakshi’s, who is eventually kidnapped by Ward and 33 in what he thinks is a jail break, but is really just a jail transfer. And since turnabout is fair play, Bakshi will now be the one who’s brainwashed, but to what end? Ward, I think, is now reliably unpredictable, so it should be interesting to see what his long-term plan is in all this. Does he think he’s found a kindred spirit in 33 and is now doing for her what Garrett did for him, or is she part of his new grand scheme? Who would have guessed that the former Agent Milquetoast would turnout to be S.H.I.E.L.D.’s most mysterious character?