Sorry I missed you last week.
Before delving into this week’s pre-Avengers 2 episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., let’s do an uber quick recap of “Frenemy of My Enemy”:
- May has apparently turned against Coulson, as every character on the show is determined to change their allegiance every episode. It’s annoying and uncharacteristic for someone like May, to say the least.
- Jiaying, who seemed so wonderful previously, also takes a turn on the bipolar train this week, becoming manipulative and secretive.
- Skye has a wonderfully awkward father-daughter date in Milwaukee with Cal, the most delightful serial killer ever. Seriously, I love Kyle MacLachlan.
- Considering I also love Ward, a murdering psychopath, I might have some issues. But it’s nice to see Ward back, as Coulson, Fitz and Hunter are forced to turn to him and Agent 33, the weirdest love-birds ever, for help tracking down List and Hydra. Enter “Stepford Bakshi,” the now totally brainwashed servant to Ward, and an immediate favorite. They all end up in Milwaukee for a giant clusterfuck involving SHIELD, Hydra, other SHIELD and the Inhumans.
- In the aftermath, Cal fumed that he was going to be abandoned and kicked out of “Afterlife,” hitches a teleportation ride with Gordon and Skye back to the motherland. Coulson turns himself in to Not-SHIELD, while Hydra has captured Deathlok and Lincoln, while Bakshi appears to not be as brainwashed as we’re led to believe.
When Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was first announced, we had a dream of a show that would play in the Marvel sandbox, that would affect the ever-growing Cinematic Universe. In reality, the Cinematic Universe affects AoS, and not the other way around, but this week, Raina has a dream (several, in fact) that that could change.
It doesn’t, not really, but “The Dirty Half Dozen” is the first part in SHIELD’s tie-in with the forthcoming (tonight/tomorrow!) Avengers: Age of Ultron and provides a glimpse into how the show is connected going forward. But more exciting even than that, for me, is the joyous reunion of the original team. It’s weird that I would get so excited to see a group that’s more associated with the weaker half of the first season of the show, but I found myself grinning at “The Dirty Half Dozen” getting back together: Ward, Skye, May, Fitz, Simmons and Coulson, for what could be the last time. Since, you know, Ward’s a psychopath murderer and nobody likes him. Except the audience.
But back to that dream: Raina sees Lincoln being experimented on, Skye there to help, a bloody Gordon and a Hydra body bag. She gets immediate confirmation, when Gordon teleports back to save Lincoln, and returns empty handed with the same bloody face that she saw in her vision. Raina has discovered her gift. And that might not be such a great thing.
Skye wants to go after Lincoln again, but Jiaying refuses: it’s too dangerous, essentially willing to let Lincoln die. I wouldn’t mind that outcome either, and neither would Lincoln, who hopes that his people don’t come and rescue him. Mike Peterson knows his people are stupid enough to try, but in the meantime, Deathlok and Lincoln are on their own. Hydra has deactivated his rocket arm and they’re essentially helpless, as Hydra knocks them out, Bakshi and List getting their Mad Scientist on. Later, they bemoan that nobody has been able to survive their enhancements and experiments, save…the Twins, an obvious reference to Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, two new and massive players coming in Avengers 2 you’ve probably heard about.
Coulson allowed himself to be captured to pitch a shared mission to recover their “Enhanced” people (Deathlok and Lincoln) from the Hydra base. Gonzalez is skeptical, making a big deal about how he can’t trust Coulson, because of his secrets. Coulson points out he has secrets as well, referencing something in the cargo of his ship. Coulson promises to open Fury’s Toolbox if he helps.
Hunter’s nauseous, not because of his bullet wound, but because of whatever is between Ward and Agent 33. I think it’s sweet, in like a Charles Manson and his followers sort of way. They all get called into the Bus, both SHIELD’s finally coming back together, certainly under tenuous circumstances.
FitzSimmons are back to their wonderful selves…well, except Simmons wants to kill Ward, brandishing a briefcase o’ bombs. Even Fitz, who was nearly killed by Ward, is startled by the suggestion.
Coulson and May are not back to normal. Coulson’s mission is put to a vote, and May is the swing. She wants to speak with Coulson “alone” (but I mean, we know there are cameras on the base, right?) and we’re supposed to believe May had a sudden change of heart because Coulson started working with Andrew behind her back. Coulson needed a therapist, and shouldn’t have lied, he agrees, but then he talks for everyone watching: Can we put this behind us? PLEASE.
If there’s any doubt that Gonzalez is pretty much Villain SHIELD Director, it evaporates when he admits that you have to make sacrifices to the greater good. Hot Fuzz has ruined that phrase for villains forever; they can no longer hide behind that crap sentiment.
Simmons argues her way onto the mission, noting that they need her medical assistance with Deathlok. But she has other plans, packing a bomb.
Ward, May, Coulson, Fitz and Simmons are prepping for the mission. Who are we missing? Pop, in comes Skye, who convinced Jiaying that she needed to go on the mission to save Lincoln, thanks to Raina’s dream. “This is great, we finally got the team back together,” Ward says, my favorite line in the entire episode. Ward’s the only one psyched by the reunion, and it makes for great TV. I think I’m in danger of joining the Cult of Ward.
FitzSimmons want to gossip with Skye, who’s afraid to say anything with Ward in earshot (“he’s like the Candyman“). With the whole team gathered round, Ward addresses the “elephant on the plane.” That he’s made a lot of mistakes, and done a lot of bad things, but the only thing he regrets is that he ruined this family, that “my actions destroyed this. I’ll regret that forever.” After a beat, Skye says, “I’m still happy I shot you,” and a chorus of “Me too’s” follow. “No more talking to people,” Coulson finishes. I know it won’t happen, but Ward should never leave. He adds too much glorious conflict; he’s this show’s Spike, except far more unforgivable (which seems like an essay for a different time).
Back at Afterlife, Jiaying meets with Cal and apologizes for her actions, allowing him to stay for now. She then asks after Raina. Cal calls her dangerous, deceitful…”we had good times.” He warns Jiaying that she has to look out for her.
Because the new members of the SHIELD team are conveniently injured/squeezed out, they have to do something. Hunter makes up with Mack, who apologizes, and Hunter forgives his buddy for laying him out. I don’t know if I would’ve forgiven him so easily…but then again, Bobbi is going to be the hard part. Speaking of, Bobbi offers Agent 33 help in the transition, though like everybody else, she’s weirded out by Cara’s fixation with Ward.
But enough talk: the action begins. Despite being cloaked, Hydra sees their jet, and promptly blows it out of the sky. And all of our heroes die.
Kidding! That was all part of the plan, as May pilots a smaller plane, falling to the ground, pretending to be debris in the aftermath. Interestingly enough, the plane that was gunned down was numbered SHIELD-616, a reference to the universe in which Marvel Comics’ primary continuity takes place. One might infer that because Coulson is so willing to sacrifice 616, that it could be seen as a signal that the MCU is about to veer away from Marvel Comics big time. If you want to take it one step further, the plane that they now inhabit, SHIELD-218, is a comics reality in which the President is…Red Hulk.
After they’ve landed, they quickly break into the base, thanks to Bakshi’s help, who totally is in compliance mode after all. As the team split up, Ward comments it’s “just like old times,” clearly nostalgic. “Not exactly,” Skye says, unleashing her quake powers on a few unsuspecting Hydra red-shirts. I don’t know if I like Ward knowing that Skye has powers.
But who cares: Skye goes full-on May badass in the next scene to get to Lincoln, with a terrifically shot action sequence from Kevin Tancharoen. It’s awesome, AOS’ answer to Daredevil. She gets to Lincoln, who’s flatlining, but because her quake powers can do anything, she kick starts his heart, which better not be a metaphor for love.
Simmons, meanwhile, activates the bomb, and is about to kill Ward, when Bakshi intercepts it, sacrificing himself for his new Master, disintegrating away. RIP Bakshi.
Given the chance to kill Simmons, Ward’s merely disappointed in her, “you really have changed.” You know something’s wrong when Ward is right. What the hell is going on with Simmons? This season she’s gone from abandoning Fitz to work undercover in Hydra, to ignoring Fitz, to going Hitler on Powers people, to a ready and able murderer? It’s one of the travesties of AOS’ second season.
Because Hydra at this point is fairly ineffectual, SHIELD makes quick work of everyone, and rescue Lincoln and Deathlok. After they’ve escaped, Gonzalez blows the base to smithereens. Of course, List has escaped, because we’re not done with this subplot yet.
Ward also escaped, but before he disappears until next season, he calls Coulson about Agent 33. She deserves forgiveness; he tried to fix her, but there’s not enough good in him, he’s not the right man. She deserves better, and Coulson promises she’ll get the help she needs. It’s touching.
Gonzalez got what he wanted: enhanced people on the base, his ulterior motive the entire time. This is about the 14th time Bobbi has heard Gonzalez say an evil, morally wrong thing, and you think eventually she’ll realize she fucked up. Maybe it’ll take another fourteen times.
Coulson relinquishes the toolbox to Gonzalez and cracks that Fury will want it back. Oops. “Spoiler alert,” Coulson jokes. There’s the Coulson we know and love. Then he gets a call from Maria Hill and walks away, leaving Gonzalez with his dick in his hand. It’s wonderful.
Any time Cobie Smulders makes an appearance, it’s a great episode of AOS, as she wonders if Coulson has “found it.” Found what? LOKI’S SCEPTER, which apparently has fallen in Hydra’s hands. How’s “Theta Protocol” coming along, Phil? Apparently it’s ready. “Time to bring in the Avengers.” Read: it’s about to get way too important for this TV show.
At Afterlife, Jiaying comes to Raina and drops the hammer down: any decisions made based on her gift will be made by her. Raina, already recovering her devious and confident self now that she has a purpose, wants to know why she’s in charge. Her sass is rudely interrupted by another vision: that of the scepter. Once she snaps out of it, she has a warning for us all as we walk into the theaters tonight or tomorrow or this weekend: “Consequences are upon us…men made of metal…the world will be changed forever.”
Ultron’s coming, folks. And it’ll be interesting to see what it does to the last three episodes of the show’s uneven second season.