I tuned in just in time this week to catch Ward's act of betrayal again, followed by the HYDRA symbol instead of the SHIELD one. I'm less convinced now than last week that Ward is faking anything. Those three bullets he put in Hand at close range would seem to be fairly inarguable, and as more back-story was revealed over the course of the episode, it seems like Ward has been garbage since frame one.
That's cool. That's the version of the story I hope they're telling. If he turns out to just be faking everything, it's going to really irritate me. Right now, Ward suddenly got a personality, and he's suddenly an interesting character with some actual dimension to him. If they try to wrap everything up this year by just making him a good guy again, it's going to feel like it's just not playing fair anymore. There are only so many times you can have characters switch sides and only so far you can push them when they're working undercover before it becomes ridiculous. They're in a very interesting place for the story and the characters right now, and I'm hoping they push forward without trying to eventually roll everything back to the status quo.
More than anything, what last week's episode reminded me of was the Super Bowl episode of “Alias” where they blew up SD6, the covert agency that Sydney Bristow worked for. It was a great move, but it also started the show down a creative path that it never quite recovered from, and I think it may have been a mistake in hindsight. If you're going to blow up the premise of your show, you'd better have a great plan in place for how to build from there.
Considering the frantic pace of this week's episode, not much actually happened. I guess they had to catch their breath after everything that they piled on last week. Basically, we watched Coulson and his team scramble to find a place where they were safe and we watched Ward and Garrett as they gathered the various resources they need for the next step of whatever the master plan is going to be. The biggest introduction of the week was of Agent Eric Koenig, played by Patton Oswalt, and he's evidently a guy who was in Fury's inner circle. In the comics, he was a former HYDRA agent who defected in the early days of SHIELD, and while I doubt that's the exact backstory for this version of Koenig, he's obviously someone who is very important to the organization. The secret base where he works could easily turn out to be the new headquarters for Coulson and his team, and I'm curious to see if Oswalt is a guest star or if he's going to end up playing a more important role as the series progresses.
Garrett uses the raid on The Fridge to put his team back together, bringing back guest stars we've seen all season long. Raina and Ian Quinn may not believe in The Clairvoyant anymore, but now that they have a better sense of what Garrett's plan is, it seems like they're still onboard to help him accomplish it. In the closing moments of the episode, we see that Ian Quinn's been given back the anti-gravity matter that was created earlier in the season. It does feel like they're bringing everything back into play that they've set up, and while it doesn't make the first half of the season more enjoyable in hindsight, it does at least bring everything together in a way that I hope is very satisfying in these next four or five episodes that will close out season one.
Next week will be a make-or-break for me. The idea of Ward returning to the team and being welcomed with open arms by people who have no idea they shouldn't trust him anymore is a great set-up, and if they go through with it, that could make for a great cat and mouse. If they try to reset everything with Ward, it's going to drive me crazy. If we've learned anything from the last decade of great television, it is this: commit to the big ideas, and don't be afraid to shake things up. When I watch “Game Of Thrones,” i don't have to worry that characters are going to get back up after I watch them die, and I don't want to have to worry that “S.H.I.E.L.D.” is going to keep characters flipping sides whenever it's convenient.
“Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.” airs each week on Tuesdays on ABC.