After a number of episodes that felt stand alone and unconnected, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. finally begins to show just what the series is capable of. This could be down to the fact that this was originally the mid-season finale and the show wanted to go into its break with a bang, but it’s more likely due to it actually starting to embrace more serialised sense of story, rather than an outdated ‘adventure of the week’ structure.
Centipede rears its head once again as Raina (Ruth Negga) returns with a mission to assist sinister scientist Edison Po (Cullen Douglas) in finding a way to stabilise their soldiers. In order for Coulson (Clark Gregg) and the team to stop them, they call upon the help of one of the newest agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the super-powered Mike Peterson (J. August Richards).
The return of Mike Peterson is one of the best things that the series did. He’s the first character to work with the heroes that actually has powers, which is something that a series set within the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been sorely missing. He’s also a better example of a regular person becoming a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent then Skye (Chloe Bennet). The two of them joined the organisation at pretty much the same time, yet where Skye has found it difficult to become a member of her team or know what her role should be, Mike has embraced his new life. He seems relatively happy, eager to be the best agent he can be and even aspires to become a hero like Captain America.
With how pleasant Mike comes across and his interactions with Coulson being some of the best in the season so far, it’s a shame that he didn’t the team in a full time capacity. Unfortunately, this was not to be as Mike is forced into betraying Coulson and the team in order to protect his son.
In what has to be one of the most dramatic moments in the series to date, ‘The Bridge’ ends with Coulson captured by the villains and Mike appearing to die in a huge explosion. Whilst this isn’t be biggest of twists (even by latter Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. standards) it is a bold choice going into the show’s first break.
This is the point the series really begins to change, where it starts to connect with the wider Marvel Universe, revealing that previous story threads were connected all along; and it introduces several exciting supporting characters. Suddenly the show has heard the complaints of its audience and has started to take things seriously.
The performances are all solid, though J. August Richards easily stands out. Skye will go on to become an amazing character as the show progresses, but at this point it really does feel like a shame that she was chosen as the entry character rather than Mike. Why not use Skye and Mike? If he was around as a regular for the first 10 episodes, the moment of his apparent death would have held much greater impact. As it is, the shock not as effective as it could have been.
The episode is far from perfect, but after some of the previous entries, it feels like a huge jump in quality. Sadly for many of those watching week by week when the show was first airing, many had already given up by this point.