I’ll admit that I wasn’t exactly anxious for this week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. after seeing the last episode, but I’m really glad I tuned in tonight to watch. Although it’s hard to top the Season 2 premiere, I think “The Writing on the Wall” was one of the best episodes in the entire season, mainly because of how much it revealed about the overall Marvel Cinematic Universe. (spoilers ahead!)
As you can guess from the title, this episode delves deeply into the writings that Coulson has been toying with since forever. The “A” story focuses on a mysterious man who suffers from the same condition as Coulson, where he has a compulsion to carve/write the symbols out on anything he can find. Unfortunately, the man is unstable and not only tattoos the symbols on his body, but also carves them into his victims’ skin.
The episode really picks up when Coulson decides to go into a machine to help retrieve his erased memories from T.A.H.I.T.I. Using the knowledge gained from this experience, Coulson tracks down the mystery man and has a nice little brawl with him before subduing the assailant. Finally, after a long time of waiting, we find out what the symbols mean. Skye had proposed that they were a map of some kind. Well, they weren’t exactly a map.
They were blueprints… for a city.
The past few weeks, I’ve been pressing the theory that Skye was actually an Inhuman, and I think tonight’s episode coupled with several other clues finally reinforce this notion (I also think that Coulson may be an Inhuman as well!).
The blueprints suspiciously look like Attilan, the secret Earth-bound city of the Inhumans. I won’t give much away from the comics, but Attilan plays a major role in the Infinity War storyline that Marvel Studios seems to be leaning towards. What Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. appears to be doing is very ambitious, but if the pieces fall correctly into place, it will make for an outstanding future for both the show and the movies.
The “B” story of the episode revolves around the rest of the agents following Grant Ward, who escaped S.H.I.E.L.D. custody and is on the run. I didn’t think I would be too thrilled with this storyline because it seemed so minimal, but I was surprisingly engaged. I thought it was bad-ass how Ward kept dodging the agents and proving that he was always one step ahead of them. He pulls off a Jason Bourne in this episode and really demonstrates how he is not going to go down easy. I wouldn’t mind seeing him become a main villain in future episodes. However, for now, it looks like his sole mission is to take down his senator brother. Other than that, I don’t think he’s concerned with what S.H.I.E.L.D. does as long as they stay out of his way.
Another thing I loved about the episode was the two hidden easter eggs. During a discussion, Ward casually mentions a “Strucker,” and I’m 95% sure he’s referring to Baron Strucker. This villainous character was briefly seen in the credits of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and will have a role in the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron. I’m curious as to whether he’ll make an appearance in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; perhaps at the end of the season and right before the movie release?
The other easter egg, which I’m way more excited about, was Skye mentioning a fellow hacker under the pseudonym “Micro”. Marvel fans can probably agree that this was a reference to Microchip, a close friend and ally of the Punisher. The Punisher is one of my favorite Marvel characters, so this reference really made my night. I’m just hoping that it wasn’t some throwaway line to appease the fans. I really want to see the Punisher come back to the screen, especially after Marvel Studios dropped big hints that he had a cameo in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. But for now, I’m satisfied with the passing nod at one of my favorites.
Now, here is where things get a little strange about the episode. Remember the obelisk? Remember how it had the same symbols etched into it as the ones Coulson was carving into the wall? If we put two and two together, then we can definitely assume that the obelisk is of Inhuman origin. But what exactly could it be? Is it another Infinity Gem? Is it a bomb containing the Terrigen Mist? Who knows?
The episode was great, albeit a little hectic. Everyone on the show did a great job with their performance, particularly Coulson while he was reliving his memories from T.A.H.I.T.I. He goes a little crazy in the memory machine and starts experiencing a guilt-ridden panic attack that nearly drives him insane. Coulson is usually so calm, cool, and collected on the show, that it was surprising to see him in this state. Bravo, Clark Gregg, on yet another awesome performance.
I’m hoping that next week’s episode and the rest of the season carry this momentum. We had a rough patch in the last couple of weeks, but now Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has really broken into a steady pace. Let’s keep it going.
Final Grade: B
+ The reveal about the symbols was well-done and properly executed.
+ Clark Gregg gave his trademark great performance.
+ Loved the Easter Eggs.
– It took a little time for the “symbols” plot to gain traction.
– Even though it was fun watching Ward outsmart the agents, I feel like his subplot isn’t really crucial to the over-arcing story of the show. At this point, I’d rather just focus solely on the symbols and the obelisk.
What did you think of tonight’s episode? Any thoughts on what the obelisk could be and how it relates to Coulson’s symbols? Let us know in the comments or reach out to us on Twitter!