Agents of SHIELD
came back from its winter hiatus with a vengeance this week, giving us an action-packed episode that was heavy on both plot and character development. "The Magical Place" kept up a pretty fast pace, and the mission at hand -- to locate and rescue Coulson -- was a rousing success thanks to teamwork and strength maximization.
Ward Provides the Muscle
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Agent Grant Ward took on a leadership role during this mission, but in reality his most important contributions came from his fists (and feet, and elbows, etc.). Sure, he took control of Skye's dismissal, tipped her off as to when her escort was arriving, stood up to Agent Hand when it came to the team's motives and confronted Agent May when he thought she literally threw Skye under the Bus.
But he led the assault that netted Vanchat and the Chitauri artifact (though that was also a team effort), and he single-handedly took on a super-soldier at the nuke site to give Skye and May time to find Coulson. And he did it all with a less than three-day-old gunshot wound to his shoulder.
FitzSimmons Offers Tech Support
During the opening raid, as Vanchat fled toward their presumed location, Agent Fitz indicated it was time for the science duo to take the next step in their SHIELD agentdom and get involved in some physical altercations. But then Vanchat ran into a bunch of flying drones (one awesomely named Sneezy), so they're still letting their gadgets do the talking. Though they do the actual talking because this pair gets some of the best one-liners week after week.
In addition to the Batteries Not Included flying saucers, FitzSimmons also designed a one-time-use SatPhone for Skye, punched a hole in the roof of the plane to get Vanchat to talk and developed the anti-supersoldier bull-riding-like night-night bracelet.
Coulson Scratches His Head
This was a big episode for the SHIELD team leader, even though he didn't contribute much to the mission itself since he was the bucket of gold coins at the end of the rainbow. He did manage to smuggle some tweezers, pick his handcuffs and take out a guard, but it didn't get him anywhere since he was immediately captured again.
His best contribution was actually not doing anything, as he was being tortured for information and kept his mouth shut. He later went back into the machine willingly, but he told Raina he only saw darkness when he was actually in a ton of pain watching a giant robot go to town on his exposed brain.
Coulson capped things off by removing Skye's anti-hacking bracelet.
May Takes the Reins
The defacto leader with Coulson missing, Agent May played some head games, made some gutsy calls and, as usual, kicked some ass. She contributed significant muscle to both the Vanchat raid and the final fight at the nuke site, but this episode was more about her "mom" role in the group.
She trusted Skye to carry out important parts of the mission without letting anyone, particularly Agent Victoria Hand, realize she was doing so. Then she and Ward stood up to Hand and announced they were following Skye's tip regarding Coulson's location whether they had backup or not.
Skye's the Limit
The real MVP of this mission, however, was Skye, who was forced to rely on her creativity and adaptability to manufacture her end game. And the innovation was very necessary since the bracelet impeded most of her natural hacking skill set.
Despite the fact that she couldn't get her wrist anywhere near a computer or other piece of electronic equipment, she managed to:
Stumble across the crooked lawyer in a magazineSteal his SUV and crash it to get OnStar to tow her to his houseCall him at the office using a golf clubConvince him to come homeSomehow learn everything about him personally without the aid of a computerTrick him into thinking she was Agent MayOffer him immunity in exchange for informationKnock down the rent-a-cops to maintain her ruseConvince everyone to get on board with following her paper trailFollow said trail to link Vanchat to Raina's locationCall FitzSimmons (safeword: manscaping) to pass on the coordinatesArrive first at the nuke site even though she needed the muscle to get to Coulson
Got all that? And all this was after she hacked into the building mainframe to direct the elevator to the roof so they could catch Vanchat in the first place.
I also think it's very telling of Skye's role that she was the one to knock out Raina and free Coulson from his traumaculate (invented word to describe an incident so traumatizing that it transcends earthly understanding, and if seeing your exposed brain being poked by a robot isn't traumaculate, I don't know what is), begging-for-death trance.
It could've been Ward. Could've been May. But it wasn't. They gave that to Skye. She also shared a little father-daughter-type moment with Coulson after his rescue, and their bond and how they view each other is becoming more relevant each week. And for that, Skye, you get a gold star. And a trophy. But everyone gets trophies these days, so don't read too much into it. Just keep up the good work, now bracelet free.
You can watch Agents of SHIELD every Tuesday at 8pm on ABC.