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REVIEW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 2×04 “Face My Enemy”

So how long do you think it’ll be until Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. changes its name to MacGuffins of S.H.I.E.L.D.? I know that MacGuffins* are commonly used in various forms of entertainment, but it seems like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is getting just a bit carried away with these devices.

*For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, a MacGuffin is essentially an object that drives a plot forward. For example, a MacGuffin in the Marvel Cinematic Universe would be the Tesseract in Avengers Assemble.

As I touched upon a few weeks ago, Season 2 started off with the agents trying to secure an item referred to as “the obelisk”. Few things are known about the item, but it is speculated by many (including myself) to quite possibly be an Infinity Gem. In this new episode, “Face My Enemy”, we’re presented with a new MacGuffin in the form of a painting. What’s so special about the painting you may ask? Remember those symbols that appeared on the obelisk when Raina touched it, and how they were the same symbols that Coulson was hypnotically carving into the walls? Yep, those symbols can be seen once again on the back of this painting. And can you guess what the plot of this episode is? Correct! Retrieve the MacGuf- I mean painting!

Season 2 appears to be having a lot of things going on at once. On one hand, we’re still trying to discover what exactly happened with Coulson and why he’s writing these symbols on the wall. On the other hand, we’re waiting to see how S.H.I.E.L.D. is going to piece itself back together after the HYDRA takeover from Season 1. On the third hand, we’re guessing what the obelisk could be and how it relates to Coulson. On the fourth hand, we’re worrying about Skye and her tedious backstory. And on the last hand, we’re wondering how (or if) this entire season will conclude with a seamless transition into Avengers: Age of Ultron, which is due to come out next summer.

Although this show and its spiderweb of plot-lines seem to be becoming complex and overwhelming, I’m confident that it will work out in the end. All it takes is a little patience and a lot of trust in Marvel Studios.

With that being said, this episode was a step up from last week, but still not as enjoyable as the season premiere. Like I mentioned earlier, this episode revolved around the agents tracking down a painting with some unusual symbols that relate to what Coulson was writing on the wall. Coulson and May decide to go undercover and try to retrieve the painting by posing as a happy, socialite couple attending an extravagant party.

It was fun seeing Clark Gregg and Ming-Na Wen in this different tone. Wen, whose character of Agent May is known for her stoic and composed nature, really demonstrates her acting abilities in this episode. Think about it. Wen, an actress who is known for her lively performances and outgoing personality, has to play this bad-ass secret agent with little to no emotions. But in this episode, she has to play that same stoic character, who is acting as a lively, colorful partier. That takes true talent; acting within acting.

The plot of this episode isn’t too complex. It almost felt like a filler episode until we come back to the obelisk storyline (which is definitely going to return within the next week or two). One of the most intriguing moments, though, is when a HYDRA agent utilizes a special technology similar to what Black Widow used in Captain America: The Winter Soldier to change her appearance to mimic someone else. In this instance, the HYDRA agent decides to copy Agent May’s appearance.

 

This plot-line is pretty predictable, but still fun to watch. The faux-Agent May tries to backstab Coulson but he cleverly deduces her hidden identity. Then, the real Agent May shows up and the two Mays get into a fight. I was impressed at how the show pulled off this concept so well, using steady camera angles and amazing choreography. The fight flowed seamlessly and May (the real one) finishes her opponent off with one of the most epic face-slams I’ve ever seen.

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Aside from the fight, the rest of the episode seemed a bit lackluster. I didn’t care what was going on with the other agents. There is a brief touch upon the Fitz/Simmons plot, but it’s hardly played out. Thankfully, we didn’t have another frustrating tease of Skye’s backstory. However, the preview for next week’s episode implies that we’ll be seeing her father real soon.

In conclusion, I can’t say I cared much for what was going on outside the Coulson/May scenes. Fortunately, Wen and Gregg did such a great job that their performances boosted the overall quality of the episode.

Final Grade B –

+ Agents May and Coulson kicked ass this episode.

+ The fight scene between Agent May and her doppelganger was well done and excellently choreographed.

+ Overall, I just had fun watching Coulson and May interact.

 

– The episode just felt like filler until we return to the obelisk story, which seems to be the main focal point of the season here on out.

– The May/Coulson scenes overshadowed events that were going on elsewhere. I really didn’t care what was happening on the Bus or with any of the other agents.

 

Extra thoughts:

– Melina May Face-Slam should be a trademarked move.

 

Do you feel like the show is already getting stagnant at this point, or are you still feeling engaged with each passing episode? Let us know what you think in the comments or on Twitter!

About the author

Alex Reale

From a young age, Alex knew he was destined to be a writer. He also harbored a deep infatuation with superheroes and comics. Luckily, he was able to combine these two passions through his role with A Place to Hang Your Cape, where he works as Junior Sidekick and Social Media Hero.

When he’s not writing for AP2HYC or working full-time as a content manager for a small business website, Alex is diligently at work on other creative projects including a fantasy novel collection and an independent comic series.

You can find Alex's first book, Dodger's Doorway, on Amazon!