See, was it really that hard to make a compelling evil organization for our heroes to do battle with. Yes, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D can now capitalize on the events of the cinematic universe in the best possible way now, using the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier to in essence reboot the show and get it back to basics. Just a forewarning, there will be major spoilers for Captain America: The Winter Solider in this review so if you have not seen the film yet now would be the time to turn back. One of the core arguments against the show has always been why doesn’t the team really use the resources which are at their disposal, why don’t they just call in for support. Now the team is truly at a loss as their entire organization is in shambles and HYDRA has seemingly taken down S.H.I.E.L.D from within. As Coulson said, they are not seeking to exist or anything like that, all the team can hope to do right now is survive. So let’s dive in.
I just want to say S.H.I.E.L.D did everything in their power to capitalize on the storyline presented in Captain America. I mean all the callbacks and references to scenes in the movie really made this episode work a hell of a lot better than the Thor crossovers. I assume it is because this week there was truly something at stake for our team, but now the team has a goal. Destroy HYDRA and bring S.H.I.E.L.D back from the depths, and damn if that is not a compelling plot line for the last few episodes of the season. Obviously, the writers knew this was coming from the get go, but it does make me sad that it took so very long for the endgame to finally be revealed. It makes most of The Clairvoyant material feel rather meaningless in the bigger picture, even if our Big Bad is part of HYDRA. I mean I don’t know how you would do it but I would have appreciated if HYDRA was revealed as the villain earlier in the season while not revealing they were inside S.H.I.E.L.D the entire time. I feel that really would have helped to strengthen the season as a whole, and sync up the entire narrative. Minor qualm, but a qualm nonetheless.
In terms of the character building material I felt all of the characters good and bad got their moment to shine, with some especially strong material from Ward, Fitz, and Coulson. Brett Dalton, Iain De Caestecker, and Clark Gregg made the most of their big conversational pieces and never bogged down the action in any way. I have to say I am impressed by just how much Fitz has grown since the beginning of the show as Fitz point blank told Garret that he would make sure he suffered for being a traitor. That was hardcore as hell and if Coulson did not have a gun pointed at him he probably would have high five the shit out of Fitz. Similarly the material where Ward admits his feelings for Skye was played out nicely, it could have been forced or cheesy but Dalton really managed to sell that moment of despair before subsequently killing everyone. The only fault of all of this material was the lack of time we were given to process all the emotions, I mean Coulson watched one of his best friends betray him and nearly lost all of S.H.I.E.L.D in the process. You would figure he will need to take a minute to breath and process everything that just happened.
Of course the biggest reveal of them all was not even that Garret was The Clairvoyant, but rather that Ward is a member of HYDRA. This does raise a lot of questions like how and when the team will find out and just how far gone is our favorite former teammate. I mean there is no way that the team can’t not find out that he not only freed Garret but also murdered three agents including Hand. I mean S.H.I.E.L.D has to basically have them on a super kill list now. It will certainly be interesting to see how each member of the team reacts to this revelation and how long it will take for them to find out. It definitely changes everything we know about the show as Ward knows where all of the teams bodies are buried, and also where all the super villains are hiding.
Overall a fantastic episode if not the best of the season.
Final Grade A-
+HYDRA vs S.H.I.E.L.D. begins
+Capitalizes on Captain America storyline
+Ward is HYDRA
+Great performances from everyone
-No real time for characters to process the revelations
-Wish HYDRA was introduced earlier.
-So with Hand dead Coulson is officially the highest ranking member of S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Coulson has a nice ring to it.
-Really thought Simmons or Trip was going to be HYDRA. Guess I lost that bet.
-That HYDRA logo is pretty sweet
-There are so many acronyms now, you have no idea how annoying it is to write out acrynoms!