Following the complete game changing events of the previous episode ‘Providence’ continues to apply pressure to the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, whilst also giving the evil Agent Ward (Brett Dalton) a chance to finally shine after nearly a season of being one of the blandest characters in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Carrying on from the shock reveal in the final moments of the last episode that Ward has actually been a Hydra agent since the beginning of the show, the episode makes it clear that this isn’t a ploy, a triple-cross, or even Hydra brainwashing. This is who Ward is, a cold blooded killer.
Assisting the series villain John Garrett (Bill Paxton) to attack a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility called The Fridge, where he uses his status as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent to willingly kill the staff stationed there. Whilst he doesn’t seem to take any joy in killing people he clearly doesn’t feel any kind of compunction in doing so. It’s interesting to see him opening up about his time in with Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team, where he reveals that he jumped out of a plane to save Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) simply because it’s what his cover would do, and that he started a sexual relationship with Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) because she was the biggest threat.
These explanations go a long way to explaining some of his character. He was bland because he wasn’t trying to stand out or draw attention to himself. He never made big moves to form strong friendships where he opened up because these were people that he was prepared to kill. The revelation that his feelings for Skye (Chloe Bennet) are genuine is a little surprising, and makes me wonder what about her has drawn him to her other than her looks, as there’s not much that I remember from the season that stands out as a real bonding moment between the two.
Whilst the episode showcases the villains coming together, including the return of Raina (Ruth Negga) the rest of the episode showcases Coulson and his team on the run as the worlds government move to arrest any remaining S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Now joined by Garrett’s former right hand man Agent Triplett (B.J. Britt) the team head out for a set of mysterious coordinates found within Coulson’s S.H.I.E.L.D. badge to discover an off-the-books facility manned by the odd Agent Koenig (Patton Oswalt).
Koenig is a great new addition to the show, bringing a sense of fun and humour to events that have become quite dark compared to the start of the season. He has an air about him that reminds me of Coulson way back in Iron Man, when he was the deadpan guy there to give exposition in a way that made him instantly charming.
The episode also introduced us to another new character, Glenn Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) a military officer tasked with capturing Coulson and his team. He’s a great addition to the series, with an over-the-top bravado and swagger to him. The fact that it’s another new character to the MCU from the comics, this time the Incredible Hulk, is just a great little bonus.
Not a huge amount of action happens in this episode, but it does a lot for the world building of the new status-quo of S.H.I.E.L.D. on the run, considered criminals and terrorists by the government whilst they try to combat Hydra. It’s a bold new time era for the series, and it’s already off to a strong start.
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