TV Discussion

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1×20 – ‘Nothing Personal’ – TV Rewind

Season one of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to move towards its final confrontation between Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and the villainous John Garrett (Bill Paxton) in ‘Nothing Personal’ as the team discover that one of their own has been a member of Hydra all along and Skye (Chloe Bennett) fights to keep herself alive.

Having seemingly forgotten their previous ‘adventure of the week’ format, this episode continues on from where the last one left off, with Ward (Brett Dalton) believing that he’s tricked Skye into going with him to decrypt the information that Hydra desperately needs. Whilst this in itself would be a good scenario, the fact that Skye knows Ward is a traitor, that he murdered Agent Koenig (Patton Oswalt), and that he could kill her makes these scenes so much better. There’s an underlying sense of dread throughout. You can see that this isn’t Skye being casual, but someone desperately trying to act casual.

These scene are actually some of the best from both actors and takes two of the blandest characters in the series to date and gives them scenes that put them to the test. They’re both putting on acts, both trying to get the upper hand on the other, and both of them know that their futures are riding on the outcome.

It’s not just these two that are given great things to do this episode as, back in the Providence base, Fitz (Ian De Caestecker) finds the message left behind by Skye that Ward is Hydra, and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) discovers Koenig’s body. The reactions from the two of them are bold and two completely different sides of the spectrum. Simmons shuts down, focusing on the autopsy on Koenig and looking at facts rather than getting emotional, whilst Fitz breaks down, unable to accept that someone that he lived and worked alongside, who he thought was a friend, is actually a killer.

De Caestecker is definitely the best actor in the cast and will have some amazing material to work with over the next five seasons, but this is the first time that he really gets something big to work with. He gets to be emotional to the extreme. You completely believe that he’s feeling broken and betrayed, and his desperate cycling through possible reasons why Ward isn’t really evil, including brainwashing, effectively reflect the responses to his Hydra reveal that a lot of viewers had at the time.

Whilst there’s a lot of character development and heavy emotional scenes, there are also some good action sequences in this episode too. We get to see the return of Hulk antagonist Colonel Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) as his team storm the Providence base with the assistance of Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), which leads to Coulson and his team having to fight their way out in order to track down Ward.

The best sequence in the episode though – and perhaps one of the most fun in the show – is when Coulson has to rescue Skye from the Bus, resulting in the two of them escaping the plane mid-flight in Lola, Coulson’s flying car. Whilst the effects aren’t the best, the visuals of the two of them falling through the air as the car fights to stay aloft is a great deal of fun. It would have been easy for the show to simply have them eject out of the plane in Lola and then cut to the next scene with a ‘well that was a close getaway’ kind of comment, but it has the balls to be ridiculous and amazing and really push what they could get away with.

‘Nothing Personal’ continues the trend of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. improving in quality and excitement. It’s got some of the best character moments in the series to date, it moves the story on at a great pace, plus thanks to a tiny namedrop at the start of the episode, it makes Man-Thing a canon part of the MCU. All in all, a pretty damn great episode.

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