‘The Only Light in the Darkness’ is a strange episode to have at this point in the first season. On one hand it continues to tell the story of the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the machinations of the villainous John Garrett (Bill Paxton), and on the other it feels very adventure of the week as Coulson (Clark Gregg) must revisit a piece of his past.
We’ll deal with the more out of place plot first, the mysterious cellist that who was mentioned as a romantic interest for Coulson way back in Avengers when he recruited Iron-Man onto the team. Whilst this may seem like a very small thing, and something most people wouldn’t even have remembered, it would appear that there was a small and dedicated Coulson fan-base online who wanted to know more about this woman he was romantically attached to before his death.
The series Executive Producer Jeffrey Bell spoke about this plot point, saying that “It’s so funny how one line in a movie… it tells you the power of Clark, and the power of the character, that there’s that one line and suddenly it’s who is this person? And what is this person? And when are we going to see this person? And we talked about it a number of times over the season, and we had different versions and different ideas how to get there. But when the Fridge was emptied, suddenly we had a real legitimate reason to go there and bring him back. At a time when he’s at his most vulnerable, it seemed to be a good choice for us.”
Despite initially seeming like the kind of story that would be better suited in the early part of the series, before things became as dire for the team as they are right now the fact that Coulson is having to revisit a painful piece of his personal past whilst his whole world is falling apart actually makes this a great time to do so.
The cellist herself is a woman named Audrey (Amy Acker), who Coulson saved from a deranged powered individual, Marcus Daniels (Patrick Brennan) months before the events of Avengers. Now that Garrett has released a load of prisoners from The Fridge Daniels is once again focused on Audrey.
It’s a touching little side story, one that explores the impact that dying and secretly coming back to life had on Coulson from a personal perspective, something the show hasn’t really done before. It shows that his life outside of S.H.I.E.L.D. is pretty much non-existent now, that the one piece of happiness he had outside of work is long in his past. It actually shines a light on just how much our hero has had to give up.
The other main story in the episode is the return of the evil Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) to the team. Unable to access encrypted information thanks to Skye (Chloe Bennett) Ward has been sent back into his old team in order to get her to help him. Now that we know Ward is Hydra it’s interesting to see him interacting with a team who has no idea, how things that wouldn’t have been out of place for him before are now clearly his being a bad guy.
His complex feelings for Skye become a big point in the episode as Ward almost has his cover blown when being questioned. His declaration that he came back for Skye, because he has feelings for her might be a clever cover in order to hide his true intentions, but feels a lot more genuine. How these apparent emotions will play in once his true allegiance is revealed is anyone’s guess, but thanks to the dark turn of events at the end of the episode it’s looking harder and harder to see any kind of redemption for the character.
‘The Only Light in the Darkness’ is definitely an episode of two halves, with stories that don’t really feel connected, but have a similar theme in regards to characters having to hide who they really are as they give up on an important piece of their past.
Are you a fan of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D? Let us know what you think of this episode.