Agents of SHIELD has crafted an intricate and tight arc over the course of its second season, and as we race towards the finish line of tying our stories together, it’s clear that things are only going to get more complicated – especially with Age of Ultron just around the corner.
But let’s start with troubled Raina finally telling Jiaying about her nightmares, after seeing a vision of what happened in the last episode. (Jiaying is hesitant to believe her.) Cal returns, and he’s upset. He’s losing it in front of the other Inhumans, because he’s Cal, when Gordon shows up and tells Jiaying it wasn’t S.H.I.E.L.D. that took Lincoln – it was Hydra. This prompts Raina, who overhears, to realize her dreams aren’t just dreams. Unfortunately, Jiaying tells Skye they can’t get Lincoln back. Knowing that Hydra wants to take powered people, it’s too risky to send anyone in. Skye wants to go, though, and Gordon is very much against this until Raina reveals herself and admits she saw a vision of Skye successfully saving Lincoln. And it’s a damn good thing she spoke up, because Lincoln and Deathlok are kind of in a crappy place right now. They’re presumably receiving the same treatment the Maximoff twins are (more on that later) and knowing that they’re going to get experimented on soon, decide they need to buddy cop together to get out, if they want to get out at all. At least they’re working together.
When we last saw Coulson, he was asking to be more or less taken to Gonzales. He finally confronts him in this episode, telling him about Strucker and List. The team has a chance to hit Hydra and get Deathlok and Lincoln out, but Gonzales is less than thrilled with this proposal…until Coulson bribes him with Fury’s toolbox.
At base, no one is really happy to see Ward there, but I will say that it is so, so good to see Ward back with the team. It feels like old times, which I love. And I admit, I really like Ward…and I like who he’s become with Kara. I like how they can talk about being happy, and how it feels genuine. Meanwhile, everyone is in a bit of a wary place right now: Simmons and Fitz are reconnecting over their sandwich love, but still unsure about Ward’s inclusion into the team (while Fitz kind of proudly talks about how he took on Ward on the quinjet, Simmons has apparently taken her feelings on powered people to a whole new level: she’s preparing splinter bombs, so she can kill Ward herself. When did Simmons get so damn hardcore?! Talk about a character change from season one.) May’s still not really over Coulson having lied to her, mostly because she’s still sore that he was talking to her ex-husband behind her back. Coulson at least opens up about the fact that he went to him largely because when he was trying to figure out the alien writing, there was no one else he could go to.
And Kara’s not entirely okay with Ward leaving, but Ward wants her to stay and attempt to reclaim her life as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent – it’s the least he can do for her. (Can we say “best boyfriend ever?”) While Bobbi is pissed she’s not allowed to go join the mission, Simmons forces herself on board, which we know is largely so she can carry out her Ward revenge plan.
And then Skye shows up…and just like that, we have our original six back together.
Which, really, is the greatest thing ever. The whole conversation when they’re trying to act like the team they once were, with everyone still hating on Ward, is kind of the best moment of the show. Ward seems to really be trying here, though you never really know one way or the other with him. But for what it’s worth, I believe him. No one else really does, though, because they still hold their grudges…I guess that’s what happens when you try to kill people. (“I’m still happy I shot you,” says Skye.)
Predictably, List sees the plane coming in and blows it out of the sky. And…the plane actually does blow up. But we know there has to be a bigger plan at work here, and there is – the blown up part of the plane is actually real debris, but it’s a ruse to allow the team to land in a smaller quinjet without being seen, and while thinking they’ve been destroyed. While May leads them inside so they can split up, they meet up with Bakshi, who, it seems, hasn’t totally turned after all. And Skye uses her quake powers and totally kicks some ass. Ward is only slightly impressed. (Kidding. He’s very impressed. For good reason.)
They manage to find Deathlok and then Skye goes off to find Lincoln (being a BAMF and killing people and fighting her way through the base), who’s in pretty bad shape. As in, flat-lining bad shape. So Skye uses her controlled powers to zap him back to life via a strange version of CPR. Go, Skye!
Simmons, meanwhile, is attempting to be a BAMF, but in a different way. She sneaks up on Ward and almost gets him with the splinter-bomb, but Bakshi sacrifices himself to save the person he has pledged to comply to. Ward is taken aback by the fact that Simmons would turn on him so much that she would kill him without a second thought, and perhaps it’s a testament to much everyone has changed that Ward doesn’t even feel overly sad about it. Just disappointed, and maybe a little resigned to the fact that what he’s done in the past can never be erased.
Which is why he decides to leave at the end of the episode. I’m hoping this means Ward really won’t leave leave — and I don’t think he will – but he knows where he’s not wanted, because the team will never forgive him. He’ll give Kara his life back, because that’s the best thing he can do right now, and he can’t be a good enough person to give her what she needs to reclaim her identity. But S.H.I.E.L.D. can. I think even Coulson’s coming around to him at the end, and quite frankly, Brett Dalton knocks it out of the park.
Having completed the mission (List escaped), Coulson returns to base, and we find out that for all his annoyance with Coulson’s leadership, Gonzales might not be so pure in his intentions after all. He wants all the powered people on the base, which is something Bobbi seems to not know about given the look on her face. (Wonder if May and Bobbi are going to have more things in common soon.) Coulson does keep his word, handing the box over to Gonzales, with the casually added mention of Fury being alive. And Gonzales’ face is one that I think Coulson will keep in his memory for a long time.
With all the talk about powered people and the fact that we’re a few days out from the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, it would be impossible for the show not to tie into the film in a prominent way. Indeed, our final few moments are a conversation between Hill and Coulson, where Coulson tells her about what they’ve found from their mission – where Strucker is holding his prisoners – and that he’s found the scepter, which Strucker knows can control minds. After sending the information on the base to Hill, she asks him if “theta” protocol is ready. What is “theta” protocol, exactly? What you expect: time to bring in the Avengers.
Meanwhile, ever our seer, Raina sees “men made of metal” tearing the city apart…and notes that “the world will be changed forever.”
I think we’re ready for Ultron, now.
Odds & Ends:
- “User friendly Cal” is my new favorite thing. Also, Fitz thanking Simmons for the sandwich – my heart.
- Hunter and Mack’s apology was a nice touch, and I’m glad we got a few moments of them reconnecting. I also liked Bobbi trying to connect with Kara.
- I guess Cal is staying in Afterlife for now? Which should make things very interesting for Skye when she returns.