If You Haven't Been Watching Agents Of SHIELD, You've Cheated Yourself

Last night’s episode of Agents of SHIELD was a terrific action movie, a major gamechanger for the TV show, and a prelude to Avengers: Age of Ultron, all rolled into one. But it was also a huge present to those of us who’ve been watching the show since the beginning, proving that it was all worthwhile. Spoilers ahead...

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In “The Dirty Half-Dozen,” the original team from the first season comes back together to do One Last Mission, and take down a Hydra base in the Arctic Circle. But nobody trusts Ward and his puppet Bakshi, and Simmons actually plots to kill Ward. Coulson and May are having trust issues, and meanwhile Coulson is having to work with the “Real SHIELD.” And meanwhile, back in the Inhuman Day Spa, Jiaying is struggling to cope with Raina and her ex-husband.

The big arc of this episode has to do with our team taking down a Hydra base, where Mike Peterson and Lincoln (aka John from Tomorrow People) are being experimented on. I bet John wishes he still had access to the Three Ts. Surprisingly, Bakshi remains loyal to Ward even after he’s back in the bosom of Hydra, and Coulson’s original team is able to rescue the prisoners and gain critical intel — which leads to the Avengers being able to attack Baron von Strucker, in Age of Ultron.

Illustration for article titled If You Haven't Been Watching Agents Of SHIELD, You've Cheated Yourself

I continue to think that Hydra went down too easy, unless it turns out that Gonzales is a Hydra mole. This season started out with Hydra triumphant and SHIELD in tatters, and Hydra was built up as an unstoppable foe. And then, Hydra sort of got treated like the Borg on Star Trek: Voyager. Turning points included the attack on Puerto Rico, when Coulson and a handful of others managed to take down a Hydra army, and then Lance Hunter and Coulson’s sting operation, which went way, way too smoothly.

That said, it’s awesome to see the assault on the secret Hydra base, which is full of badassery including Coulson getting his beloved jet blown up on purpose. As soon as I saw that this episode was directed by Kevin Tancharoen (brother of producer Maurissa Tancharoen and director of those awesome Mortal Kombat shorts) I was primed for some great action scenes — and “The Dirty Half-Dozen” did not disappoint. Just check out the GIF above. This easily held up to the May-on-May fight scene from the last episode Tancharoen directed.

Illustration for article titled If You Haven't Been Watching Agents Of SHIELD, You've Cheated Yourself
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This episode also paid off a lot of long-term plotlines in a pretty satisfying way. Skye gets to use her superpowers in the field, unleashing the Quake on a couple of Hydra goons. Mike Peterson’s journey as an “enhanced” person reaches an interesting point, both with him having alien material used on him and with him getting to bond with Lincoln over being two very different superpowered people. Lance starts to repair his bridges with Mac over the fact that Mac choked and kidnapped him — but absolutely won’t speak to Bobbi, his ex.

And meanwhile, Coulson and May have a really interesting dynamic. May really appears to have drunk the “real SHIELD” kool-aid, and is now a full voting member on the SHIELD council — and she’s pissed at Coulson for keeping so many secrets from her. (Including Theta Protocol, which is still a secret, but is apparently something that Maria Hill gets to know about.) Coulson tells May he was meeting with her ex-husband purely for therapy visits about his alien writing compulsion. But he also doesn’t tell her that his real reason for wanting to attack the Hydra base is to get intel on Strucker’s location so the Avengers can take him down. Coulson believes that if May knows his real agenda, she won’t support it — which seems weird. Why not?

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But the most satisfying thing in this episode is the way that nobody lets Grant Ward off the hook. This moment, in particular, is just pure beauty:

This comes right after Skye says that Ward is “like Candyman,” because he shows up when you mention his name. Ward wants to rejoin the team and have it be like old times, but nobody is letting him forget that he betrayed them and tried to kill Fitz and Simmons. Thank goodness.

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And then Simmons hatches a plan to kill Ward, using one of those nasty disintegration bombs, which Fitz doesn’t entirely approve of but also doesn’t try to stop. Simmons actually goes through with it, but Bakshi sacrifices himself to save Ward — who doesn’t try to kill her back, but just says he’s disappointed in her. And with that, Ward disappears, realizing at last that the team will never forgive him because he doesn’t deserve forgiveness.

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And just when we’re ready to write Ward off entirely, we see that he actually does have a decent side to him — thanks to the storyline involving Agent 33. We sort of assumed he was using her, or that his plan for her involved some kind of nefarious power grab. But no — he really does want to fix her, and he thinks that the way to do that is to bring her back to SHIELD and help her to rediscover what she’s lost as a result of Hydra’s brainwashing. Only Bobbi Morse is willing to give Agent 33 a chance and treat her like a person, but the scene where Ward asks Coulson to help her rediscover herself as a SHIELD agent is actually quite moving.

Meanwhile, the move from Coulson and SHIELD being enemies to teaming up is pretty lightning-fast — in keeping with the traditions of spy stories. But the one fly in the ointment is Gonzales, who only goes along with it to capture Skye, Lincoln and Deathlok. Gonzales still sees “enhanced” people as the enemy, and is determined to study them in much the same way as Hydra was doing — and he’s still going to clash with Coulson, who warns him that Nick Fury will probably show up to ask for his toolbox back.

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Illustration for article titled If You Haven't Been Watching Agents Of SHIELD, You've Cheated Yourself

Meanwhile, back in the Inhuman Day Spa, Raina is having more prophetic visions, predicting that Skye will save Lincoln, and also predicting the storyline of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Raina is like, “There’s a staff... and it’s going to lead to the creation of an android, called Ultron. I think... you might be able... to buy action figures... as well as see him... in theaters... Possibly, there will be other merchandising... as well.”

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Raina’s being awfully useful, but Jiaying’s ex-husband Cal warns her that Raina’s a manipulative psycho — something that turns into a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, since that warning brings out the control freak in Jiaying, who in turn inspires Raina to start challenging her.

And meanwhile, Cal is acting a lot like Ward — in denial about how much has changed, and how impossible his dream of getting his family back together again is. For some reason, instead of dropping Cal down a deep hole, Jiaying tells him that he can stay in the Day Spa for now. That’s not going to be a decision she winds up regretting, at all.

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DISCUSSION

Cool_Breeze
Cool_Breeze

TIME TO BRING IN THE MOTHERFUCKING AVENGERS

This Episode was in the top two episodes of the show so far. EASILY top 3. Argument could be made for either Turn, Turn, Turn, and The Dirty Half Dozen. I personally think this was the best episode of the series SO FAR. God this is beautiful.

Some of you have probably seen my post history, but I will assure you that I have NOT seen Avengers Age of Ultron yet. I’m seeing it May 3rd come hell or high water. Therefore, everything I post below this is pure fangirling and speculation, because I’ll find out if I’m right this weekend.

Last week, I assumed Coulson and the gang would lead a mission against List and Strucker, and fail in the overall plan, requiring the Avengers to intervene. I did mention that it wouldn’t surprise me if Hill tells the Avengers where Strucker is, based on Coulson’s information. Boy did I underestimate that information, though.

Not only did Coulson give the location of Strucker, but he also found Loki’s Scepter (same location), and he freaking said “Time to bring in the Avengers.” HE SAID IT.

NOT ONLY did we get that humongous nugget, but List actually REFERENCED THE TWINS.

WHAT.

My only gripe: Raina got to see Age of Ultron before us. NOT COOL. (But seriously, really fucking cool).

I’m ranting, but I’ll sum up this part with this: Joss has been on the circuit a lot lately (a little movie is about to come out Stateside...) and has said that he thinks Coulson should have stayed dead and the show doesn’t affect the movies. This makes sense, in that most people go to the movies without having seen the past two seasons of AoS; whereas most people who watch AoS have seen all of the MCU movies.

But shit, this show did a wonderful job of connecting itself to the movie universe, and reminded us all that it’s really all connected. No matter what Joss said, us fans of the show know that Marvel is making one cohesive universe, and the Avengers will eventually cross paths with the show, be it Infinity War Part Two or Avengers 53: HULK COLD.

On to the rest of the awesomeness that we saw last night:

  1. It was just a matter of time before Raina learned that she could see the future. My prediction: Raina is going to use her new found power to reek havoc and manipulate anyone and everyone. In season 1, she was at the beck and call of Garrett. In season 2, she was at the beck and call of Cal. Season 3 isn’t a question of who she will work for, but rather who will work for her. LOOK AT ME. I AM THE CLAIRVOYANT NOW.
  2. Before I move on, I have to address something. Skye’s jab at Raina regarding her powers (“I thought her gift was spinning really fast to get gold coins”) was one of the best lines of this show. I chortled so hard I choked on my Orange Crush. I literally chokled. RAINA THE HEDGEHOG.
  3. Speaking of chokling, Coulson’s humor was amazing this week. His remarks to Adama (“Glad to see my bus...you look good too”); telling Ward to stop talking ... to people; “I wish I hadn’t eaten that hot pocket earlier” (we all regret it after the fact, it doesn’t take a plane crash...); More of Coulson’s remarks to Adama regarding the Box (“It’s all yours, go nuts, at least until Fury asks for it back ... Ooh, spoiler alert!”); Coulson’s banter with Hill (“He puts everything to a vote, if I told him everything I fear I would have lost the swing vote...”); etc. Oh my god. My sides. They’re obliterated.
  4. May had some god damn zingers this week. When Ward said he wasn’t Hydra and Bakshi worked for him, and she responded “SAID THE HYDRA AGENT,” that was amazing. When Coulson told her he didn’t tell her about Theta Protocol because she wasn’t Director, and she said “NEITHER ARE YOU,” that was brutal. When Coulson was downloading the information on the Scepter (Nice callback to Black Widow and Captain America on the Lumerian Star, by the way...) and she shot those two Hydra agents (I love how Fitz just put his hands up) and said “COME WITH ME NOW OR YOUR NEXT,” I don’t even think Coulson was ready to go. He just went.
  5. Hell, even Ward was funny this week. His excitement (sarcastically, I’m sure) of getting the band back together, man! His speech to the group. It was all hilarious.
  6. Even funnier: The banter between the team while Ward was talking. SHOULD HAVE SHOT HIM IN THE FACE, INDEED.
  7. I felt bad but I laughed when Deathlok said “It’s not as bad as it looks” and when Simmons said “Really?” he responded “Nah it’s pretty bad.” His pain is our gain.
  8. Damn you Hydra for scooping Deathlok’s eye out like that. Eye injuries give me the BIGGEST heebie jeebies. Not. Cool.
  9. Tough Fitz impressing Simmons about attacking Ward (and exaggerating spectacularly) was awesome. Simmons was a bit murdery this episode though, right? I understand her wanting to end Ward (because he took the Fitz she knew away), but she was ICE COLD about offing Bakshi.
  10. Hunter and Mack are back! Woohoo! After this episode, I am 100% sure that Mockingbird is on team Coulson now. Hunter already is, and their combined front will convince Mack to cross over as well. Here’s how this will go down: After whatever happens in Age of Ultron, Adama and Pointier SHIELD will think Inhumans are a threat that needs fixin’, and will try to take out Skye and Lincoln, or force them to reveal Inhuman High School in the mountains. Mockingbird and Hunter will back Coulson up, and when Mack sees that Adama has his own secrets and how brutally he treats Skye and Lincoln, will be the final push to get him to help Coulson’s team. YOU WATCH.
  11. Speaking of Mackingbird helping Coulson, I have a feeling that Agent 33 (Kara) will attach to Mockingbird as well (who WOULDN’T), and be part of the Secret Avengers / Secret Warriors / Cal and the Fightin’ Rebels! spin off, which is lead by Hunter and Mockingbird. Mockingbird wants to help 33, and as easily as 33 attached to Ward, she will do the same to Mockingbird, making the fourth member of their team.
  12. Speaking of Agent 33. DAMMIT WARD THAT WAS RUDE. He straight ditched her. Now, I understand his reasoning and kind of agree; she DOES deserve better than Ward. Did anyone else see the parallel between Skye and her mom’s attempt to release user friendly Cal into the wild, and Ward returning 33 to SHIELD? Ward succeeded in dropping her at SHIELD, wherein Skye and her mom failed, and ended up reconsidering (for now). Clever Marvel.
  13. WHEN COULSON WAS TALKING TO MARIA HILL SHE WAS SITTING IN STARK TOWER / AVENGER TOWER AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  14. Theta Protocol: Is it the new Avenger initiative, which might end up helping the Avengers in the future? Is it something bigger and flyier? What is hiding in Adama’s cargo hold, and what makes it so important that he IMMEDIATELY agrees to send Coulson’s team to their death to protect? How many licks DOES it take? SO MANY QUESTIONS.
  15. This past week there have been some teasers that someone wouldn’t make it past this week. I assumed it was one of the agents. LITTLE DID I KNOW IT WAS THE BUS. As soon as the Bus was shot down, the first thing I thought was “The wheels on the Bus get blown to hell, blown to hell, blown to hell ... the wheels on the Bus get blown to hell, alllllways saving the day.” Maybe the next Bus will finally get that fish tank.
  16. I need to talk about Skye’s take down of the Hydra agents when she was saving Lincoln. That was fucking amazing. That was on par with May’s initial table take down of Agent 33, and was very close to the tracking hallway fight scene in episode 2 of Daredevil. That was BONKERS. She didn’t use a single icer, either. DAMN.