It saddens me that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t place higher in the ratings. This season continues to climb to great new heights, and it deserve to be watched. The show demonstrates it’s excellence this week by setting the alien writings and the obelisk/The Diviner to simmer, and focusing on the tense struggle of the people/public vs. S.H.I.E.L.D., S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. Hydra, and Coulson & Co. vs. themselves.

I don’t want to give Marvel too much credit, but on the day where Kevin Feige (Marvel Studios President) announced the lineup for Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), we get this episode. An episode to drive home the importance of this particular cog (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) in the MCU Machine. Yes, on occasion, this show features people who possess super powers, but AoS isn’t about super powers, or even super heroes. It’s the “real” world. It’s Spy vs. Spy, Good vs. Evil and everything that falls in between; namely politics.

A Smear Campaign

We see Hydra construct some bad press for the rebuilding agency of S.H.I.E.L.D. during the opening of tonight’s episode. Some Hydra thugs carry out an attack on the United Nations, as General Talbott gives a speech, and make use of some new weaponry that makes people crumple into ash. Talbott’s speech gives us a “Hey, remember the Avengers” moment by mentioning where he was on the day the Chitari attacked NYC. It’s a strong parallel to 9/11 here in our real world. It’s a smart move on Hydra’s part. It seems that the general public fears S.H.I.E.L.D alone and doesn’t make the separation. I’m sure that’s the work of the media and what’s been fed to them by patriot’s like Talbott, and politicians like Senator Christian Ward.

O’ Brother, Where Art Thou? In a basement

We got to meet Agent Ward’s older brother, Christian. He’s a Republican Senator, and if you recall, he’s “allegedly” responsible for making Agent Ward’s childhood a nightmare. My, how their parents must be proud. They’ve got a politician and a traitor in the family. Agent Ward seems to be very frazzled by the mention of his brother. He claims that “he gets joy from one thing, hurting people.” I couldn’t help but to ask myself: Who do you trust? The Politician with an agenda, or the double-crossing (possible) sociopath? Senator Ward is hell bent on igniting a witch hunt against S.H.I.E.L.D., but due to some swag-laced negotiation with Coulson, a deal is struck. Just when I think Coulson is a bit too gullible, he continues to demonstrate that he seems to know what he’s doing. The Senator has a golden opportunity to play up the story of a younger brother who was a traitor, and the older brother who loved his country so much, he was willing to punish his own blood for threatening it. Skye said it best, “I guess being a douchbag runs in the family.”

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Agents in a Barrel

This weeks macguffin (look it up) is Julian Beckers, a perceived ally to S.H.I.E.L.D. However, just like everyone these days, turns out his loyalties lie with Hydra. He gives up the whereabouts of all S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives/agents that have taken up refuge in the Netherlands.

As annoying as the Agent Morse/Lance Hunter ex-couple bickering got, and it got there real fast, it was great to see them work together so well. I think that the perk of this show has been these complicated and layered characters. It’s the mark of a true good guy when all rivalries, or petty tiffs, are insignificant when it comes to doing what’s right for the greater good. Agent May continues to get the best fights, and who would have thought that there once was a Mister Agent May?

Agent Morse expresses some doubt on “where she fits” to Hunter. So far, it seems she’s fitting pretty nicely with the rest of the gang. And, dare I say it, I think Hunter is as well.

After the Senators speech, and getting S.H.I.E.L.D. off the hook, it was nice moment when Talbott and his men showed up to clean out the safehouse of Hydra thugs. “It’s always a shame when a good soldier falls.” Perhaps now Talbott and Coulson are on the same team. After seeing Ward put down those soldiers, I wonder how long that will last?

And another thing …

  • I admit, Skye had me fooled. With each passing week it seems she becomes a better agent and matures. I was perplexed at her behavior towards Ward, but once she turn off the water works and whines (at the drop of a dime), I was relieved. I’m not sure if I can handle a step backwards for Skye.
  • It appears that Agent Ward is now on the loose, but where will he go? To kill his brother? To join back up with Hydra? Or will he set out to aid the team and redeem himself?
  • FitzSimmons is killing me. Now that the two of them are back together, it drives home why Gemma left in the first place. As Mac informs her, “The only thing that makes him worse is you.” The complex relationship between Fitz and Simmons is painfully wonderful. Once friends, never lovers, but Fitz’s feelings (and the confession of those said feelings) have complicated things. He feels that Simmons abandoned him when he needed her most, but seems like she couldn’t have helped him in the way he wanted her to. “I am different, and I’m trying not to be, but I am.” Is their relationship fixable, or will Simmons leave the first chance she has?
  • This weeks epilogue showed a gentleman tattooed with the alien markings. He seems to enjoy the pain, because it helps him “remember.” Remember what? Could it been this gentleman has visited T.A.H.I.T.I. ?

That does it for this weeks review. If you have not viewed the new Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer, you need to go a do that now. What’s wrong with you? Do it.

Also, the Phase 3 lineup of Marvel is also plastered in all the corners of the Interweb. Where do you think Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fits in the puzzle? Do you think there will be a big tie in to the films? Comment below on that and your thoughts on this weeks episode, and beyond.

Daniel J is a writer living in Baltimore, Maryland. He’s spent a lifetime compiling an impressive backlog of pop culture knowledge. He comes in handy at bar trivia.

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