You know, it only took most of a mediocre-at-best season and an almost completely unrelated movie, but Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. may have just finally found its groove. This episode was the best yet, which admittedly can seem like a backhanded compliment until you see it.
Essentially, this episode is about building a new status quo. Coulson and his team are on the run, as the United States military has decided, not unreasonably, that maybe bringing the potential superterrorist organization to heel is a good idea. Coulson gets some coordinates in his badge as the team argues over about whether they need to be practical or show some faith in the man with the eye patch.
It turns out, of course, that they should: Fury has set aside a secret base, complete with Patton Oswalt as host, to keep Coulson supplied and allow the show to continue to use its sets. Clark Gregg finally gets to act a little, even if it is in the shouty middle manager mode the show refuses to let go of.
Meanwhile, we get to meet Ward as he actually is. And refreshingly, he’s a big old bag of douche! While John Garrett is the mover and the shaker, it’s Ward who anchors the HYDRA cell here. Watching him mock his performance over the last season, right down to repeating his monologue from the first episode with a smirk, is kind of great. Similarly, the payoff that all the supposedly dangerous items they’ve blasted into space or the dangerous people they locked away are being set loose is also a lot of fun, even if it’s not the mass supervillain breakout we were hoping for. Hey, the supervillains are still loose and that’s what matters.
Another welcome change is the return of Ruth Negga as Raina. Raina is happy to be out of jail, but substantially less so when she discovers “The Clairvoyant” is actually a good ol’ boy from HYDRA. Negga doesn’t get much screen time, but she does a lot with it.
It ends, of course, with Ward going back undercover, as he needs to crack Skye’s encrypted hard drive. And, for once, we’re excited to see what happens next.
Some more thoughts:
- One place this show is kind of getting killed is the set budget. Why does every S.H.I.E.L.D. facility in the last few episodes look like a generic office park? There’s even a generic corporate coffee setup in Coulson’s secret base.
- Fitz is kind of a jackass this episode. Oh, the woman you waited years to develop feelings for has decided to move on? Grow a pair and deal with it, Fitzy.
- Coulson can be shouty about it all he wants, May’s got a point. HYDRA may have messed with Coulson’s brain.
- Oswalt’s casual delivery of some serious news is great. Pay the man what he wants to become a recurring character, ABC.
- Garrett, sticking to the comics, has metal parts. This should be interesting.
- Where’s Deathlok in all this?
Any thoughts yourself? Let us know in the comments.