This one was a bit of a mixed bag for me to be honest. While I was watching the episode and immediately afterwards I was extremely happy and almost jumping up and down on my seat in excitement, but after sober reflection – well I’m a bit sadder to be honest. I’m sure if you’ve stuck with SHIELD as I have you’ve probably gone through the same range of emotions – especially since Season 1 and then the huge reveal during Captain America : The Winter Soldier which flowed into SHIELD and to some extent completely changed the direction of the show – that I have? While I was willing to stick with the show, I was also getting bored at the lack of direction prior to this grand reveal and it very much revitalized my flagging interest into Season 2. It was a move that probably saved the show as it suffered from a disjointed plotline and steadily lowering ratings. I personally agreed with some of the criticism but upon viewing the early episodes again I also think expectations were too high.
Season 2 started out extremely strongly with the continuing HYDRA storyline and ended on the cliffhanger of Skye’s transformation with HYDRA still very much in the picture, however in the latter half of Season 2 things have somewhat changed. While Skye’s story is (very) slowly progressing, HYDRA it seems is no longer in the picture or at the least, no longer such a significant threat and they have somewhat gone back (it seems to me) to the villain of the week formula that they utilized in the early part of Season 1. In the past three episodes we’ve had Skye’s dad leading a team of evil villains, Grant Ward breaking into a high tech Airforce facility to “rescue” a former HYDRA chief and most recently Edward James Olmos as Rober Gonzales attacking Coulson’s team as the “real” SHIELD. It gets confusing and it’s hard to maintain a sense of interest if the story keeps on changing as while there are some underlying elements of continuity – Skye’s transformation for example – these are subsumed into what else is happening at the same time and they lose their impact. I hope that Gonzales SHIELD and the threat they pose is dealt with soon – but at the same time, I also hope that they do not dispose of them too quickly as I want to invest myself in their story and motivations before they are conveniently disposed off!
If you recall from last week’s episode (read it here) Hunter had managed to escape from the Aircraft carrier where Gonzales and the other members of the REAL SHIELD had propositioned him (they really need to come up with a different name for this group as it is not really distinctive enough and will get awfully confusing if they stay around for awhile!). While expectations were for a glorious battle between differing groups of SHIELD agents (I’m sure you were thinking the same thing as I was – namely this would be a great strategy for HYDRA to use to soften up their opposition by having them attack each other and wouldn’t it be a great way to reintroduce HYDRA as the leaders of the REAL SHIELD) this didn’t happen at all.
In fact Coulson and May immediately realized that Mack was lying and while they didn’t suspect Bobbi, Coulson laid a fairly elaborate trap to capture Mack and get him to confess to who he was working with/for. Within minutes of this weeks episode he had Mack surrounded by a half dozen guards after he confronted him about the little electronic device Mack implanted in the model of Lola meant to spy on his office. Despite the confrontation Bobbi manages to steal Fury’s cube that supposedly will help rebuild SHIELD.
May again has a fairly spectacular fight sequence (again one that is only trumped by the May vs. May fight from Episode 4 – Face My Enemy) with Bobbi, but she (Bobbi) is able to implement some of the plans that she’d obviously been preparing for just this eventuality and via an EMP pulse knocks out a majority of SHIELDs internal defences. Fitz’s betrayal – you can really feel the pain that he is going through when he realizes/meets Mack … the caring between both of them is genuine but you can almost see Fitz thinking that once again someone he cared for, someone that he almost thought of as a brother has again become a villain … you can almost see his heart breaking. When a tranquilizing gas is pumped through the ventilation, our hero’s are captured and while Simmon’s trick to knock out Bobbi is very well executed it is all for naught.
Skye meanwhile has been living in the cabin in the woods which we learn is one that Banner (The Hulk) actually built for himself and while she still doesn’t trust herself she is willing to trust that Coulson has her best interests at heart. At the cabin she is visited by the Inhuman Gordon (the guy who basically acts like Nightcrawler and who helped to save Raina) who tells her that there are “others” like her and that when she is ready she should join them. He also informs her that her power is based on vibrations and that everything, everywhere is vibrating and she can actually control this. When she is contacted by May who has managed to escape the knockout gas, May tells her that she needs to escape as SHIELD is coming for her (I really didn’t like this part … I know they needed to do it to force Skye to go with Gordon and continue that storyline as she wouldn’t otherwise leave Coulson, but seriously couldn’t May have said HYDRA is coming or a bad version of SHIELD or anything like that? By stating it is SHIELD coming for her she’s just pushing her away and it doesn’t make any sense … its not like she didn’t have enough time as in last weeks episode the cabin was quite a ways away from the main SHIELD base, based on the amount of time it took Skye and Coulson to arrive there). Skye manages to make her way out of the cabin but she before she breaks out of the protected area she is confronted by Calderon and Bobbi – Skye attempting to protect herself deflects the bullet and simultaneously sends out a huge blast that decimates the trees in front of her, knocking down Bobbi and Calderon in the process. One of the slivers of wood from a tree actually impales Calderon – which I’m sure is something that will come to haunt Skye in the future! Skye manages to escape with Gordon to the sanctuary he promises.
The entire episode is interspersed with flashbacks of how Gonzales, Bobbi, Mack and Hartley (Lucy Lawless – really good to see her back as I always thought she went too quickly) take back their aircraft carrier from HYDRA several months back. I suspect to a large extent this influenced my feelings of euphoria as I was always quite confused at the fact that a supposedly small group of HYDRA cells within SHIELD managed to destroy the organization. I wondered how this had happened as while I understood that it would have been a confusing time, in numbers alone, SHIELD would have had 10x as many agents as HYDRA prior to the events of Winter Soldier. At first they merely attempt to escape from the fighting after Gonzales determines they are outnumbered. Bobbi reveals she has been sent on a suicide mission by Fury, she has been ordered to sink the carrier. Gonzales agrees it has to be done but tells her he will join her. This leads to opposition form the others who openly disagree with Gonzales and state that any new SHIELD should be more democratic. Gonzales overcomes his strict sense of duty and agrees to take back the carrier from HYDRA. This is how the REAL SHIELD was born and the other agents that we see came through a similar fight for survival and rebirth.
The episode ends with Coulson escaping from SHIELD with the help of May (not sure why she didn’t go with him as that would have made a lot more sense to me) and he is joined by Hunter who agrees to become a member of SHIELD. Between them, they need to somehow take back the organization from Gonzales and also get Skye back on side.
Well I’ve already given you some of my thoughts on this episode at the beginning of this post and I think you’ll agree that most of them are valid. This show has flashes of brilliance but can also be quite confusing and irritating by people not doing/saying the obvious. Coulson only has Hunter and the new SHIELD is not exactly an evil organization … in fact while they don’t necessarily it seems have all the facts and data and perhaps their approach is incorrect, their underlying motivation is not necessarily wrong. The flashbacks were really interesting and enjoyable but the story it seems hasn’t really progressed as it seems that we are back to when HYDRA tried to destroy SHIELD just without the HYDRA this time.