Agents of SHIELD seems to be moving in reverse these days, with the current arc so focused on building anticipation for whatever is going to happen in Avengers: Age of Ultron that it’s hard to get fully invested in the actual events that are transpiring.
Now, don’t get me wrong; the crossover tie-ins are cool as hell. But when you have a movie written and shot so far ahead of when the small-screen franchise fully maps its course, you end up working backwards from an endpoint, figuring out how to get there instead of where you’re going.
And while we’ll have to wait to see how the universe will be shifted by the mechanized supervillain battling the world’s greatest known heroes, there’s good news in “Frenemy of My Enemy.”
The characters are starting to pick up what I’ve been laying down all along — that there are bigger fish to fry than each other. So as Marvel fans gear up for the movie premiere, it seems we are finally starting to put back together what we’ve spent a good chunk of season 2 tearing down.
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New SHIELD Uncertainty
Before we get to the meat of the tri-converging plot, let’s get the side stories out of the way first. Agent May, with the gaps in her Cavalry backstory now filled in, is still rocking the pretend questionable loyalties, even complaining to Simmons that all Coulson left them with are secrets and lies.
Simmons comes clean to her about duplicating Fury’s toolbox and letting Fitz sneak it out, and May passes the info on to Morse but pins it on Fitz to keep Simmons out of a jail cell. Simmons isn’t a fan of said strategy, but May says it’s not about sides, only finding the truth. Then she orders Simmons to hack into the Deathlok technology to try and get a ping on Coulson’s location.
Back in Afterlife, Skye has just finished her first-ever family dinner, under the premise that mama Jiaying would get rid of papa Cal afterwards. But instead, she empathizes with his particularly unstable brand of crazy, since she grew up breaking rules to find out anything she could about her parents.
She initially argues to keep Cal around, but Jiaying points out that she’s responsible for all the Inhumans stationed there, and they don’t tolerate those who aren’t “one of us.” So he has to go for everyone’s safety. He believes he’s just going on a supply run to pick up his stuff, and Skye offers to travel with him to the mysterious homeland of Mee-lee-walk-ay. Yes, the one in Wisconsin.
She plans on letting him down easy that they won’t ever be a family, with promises to visit occasionally, but they get caught up in the trip down memory lane and what her childhood could have been for all of them. They end up at his old office, where he presumably hasn’t regularly been since Skye was born but remains intact because he owns the building, to show off the tools he used to put Jiaying back together after Whitehall was done with her.
There are also flashes of his anger throughout the day, so a worried Skye phones May and tells SHIELD to come get him and keep him safe. Bobbi and Mack are dispatched to collect both.
Oh, and her identity is fully revealed for the first time when she sees Cal’s door and realizes her last name is Johnson. Who would have thought the revelation of the last name “Johnson” could make so many fanboys happy?
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The A-Hole A-Ward Goes To…
Coulson and Hunter help Fitz lose his tail, and once they’re all safely in the cloaked airplane they stole from the “new” SHIELD, they head off to make a deal with the devil. They find Ward and Agent 33 in Tijuana, where they’ve been reverse-transitioning HYDRA head Bakshi.
Coulson offers Ward a clean slate for help infiltrating HYDRA because, as we learned last time, Dr. List and Baron von Strucker — two HYDRA heads who survived the SHIELD-inspired civil war — are even more obsessed with collecting and experimenting on gifted people than Dr. Whitehall is. Deathlok has been shadowing them, and Ward could be their ticket inside.
But Ward’s new start comes with a condition — he must enter the T.A.H.I.T.I. program to have his mind erased after the mission is complete so he can start fresh without any of the baggage. He’s not really on board with that aspect, but it’s okay because everyone is using everyone else anyway, and there’s not much trust involved.
A Mexican Standoff
The apparently-brainwashed Bakshi sets up a private meeting on Dr. List’s plane, with Deathlok accompanying him to make sure there’s no backstabbing. Naturally, List is skeptical as to how Bakshi emerged from the HYDRA infighting unscathed, and both sides speculate that the other was behind the assassinations. So as a sign of good faith, Bakshi offers Deathlok — a technology HYDRA spent pretty penny developing — a “compliance upgrade.”
This was not part of the allied plan, and so everyone on the SHIELD plane screams sabotage and pulls knives and guns on each other, and we’ve got quite a predicament. The standoff continues until Deathlok sets his phasers on “kill” and locks onto his targets.
It honestly might not be a bad idea to take out List and Bakshi in their tracks, but everyone agrees to lower their weapons and believe, for now, that Ward is correct in saying Bakshi is trying to convey loyalty. And so Deathlok will play along.
List explains that HYDRA is in pursuit of a superpowered person who can manipulate “quantum entanglement” to create a bridge between two different places, and they just got a ping. They take off, and Coulson and Co. covertly follow.
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Three Plots Become One
Everything converges on Cal’s office, as Lincoln emerges to cut daddy-daughter fun day short. Cal catches wind of what’s really going on, and he attacks Lincoln. But before that fight can play out, HYDRA rears its ugly head.
Cal takes out the initial wave of bad guys, with Lincoln protecting Skye. But he encounters Deathlok, and despite the fact that they’re technically on the same side (and Mike Peterson says he’s a friend of Skye — to which Lincoln responds, “Yeah, and I’m the Hulk”), they duke it out to a draw. Bakshi then uses some device to knock them both unconscious, while Simmons hacks the Deathlok technology just in time for her and May to see Coulson fighting alongside Ward.
Coulson, Hunter, Ward and Agent 33 also battle HYDRA forces, with Hunter taking a bullet and 33 coming to his aid as Coulson and Ward go medieval. And those don’t look like icers. They eventually find Skye, who appears both confused and happy to see them, but then Gordon warps in and grabs her. Cal latches on, and the three of them vanish.
Outgunned and outnumbered with only Fitz as reinforcement, SHIELD flees. But Coulson doubles back and waits for Morse and Mack. As they enter, he puts up his hands and drops a “Take me to your leader.” Drop mic. The end.
SHIELD and Ultron Converge
There’s just one episode left before the rest of season 2 gets its direction on the big screen, and one can only expect the factions of good (and Ward) to put aside their differences and fight their common enemies. I’s about time.
And I, for one, welcome the return of a focused Grant Ward. Is he a likable character? Um, hell yes. The evil Ward is so much more entertaining than the “just good” Ward, and reintroducing him while also pairing him with Dealthlok is a win-win for everyone. He’s always been seemingly conflicted anyway, though I don’t see how having his memory wiped is a desirable endgame for anyone — character or viewer.
Do you like the way the season is shaping up? Or do you think the show would be in better shape if it focused on itself over the crossovers that seem to take precedent? And will you be seeing Age of Ultron on opening weekend? Or tuning into Agents of SHIELD to witness the aftermath before you see the blockbuster?
You can watch Agents of SHIELD every Tuesday at 9pm on ABC.
(Image courtesy of ABC)