Really, SHIELD? Like you don’t have enough enemies to deal with?
I’ve been saying for weeks that I’m worried season 2 of Agents of SHIELD is getting too big for its britches, and if “One Door Closes” accomplishes anything, it’s backing up that point.
Look, it’s not a horrible storyline. It’s entertaining. I’m interested to see what happens. I’m invested. But it seems like the last thing the organization needs is more infighting. SHIELD was already devastated after the events of The Winter Soldier, and I guess it’s not implausible that different factions would arise from the ashes. But aren’t there bigger fish to fry than each other?
We’ve put aside HYDRA for the time being, thanks to Coulson temporarily decimating the leadership circle, a point for which Edward James Olmos’ Commander Robert Gonzales seems to lack appreciation. Was his version of SHIELD just hiding in the shadows? Why invest three of your best agents (Mack, Hartley and Morse) to infiltrate a group that could easily be your ally against common foes?
I get that Gonzales and his democratic version disagree with the way Fury ran things and worry that Coulson is some sort of messenger for an alien race, but his SHIELD still strikes me as the lesser of 12 evils. And doing to him what HYDRA did to the unified SHIELD doesn’t seem like the most efficient use of resources in a time of crisis. Couldn’t we have started with a conversation before a civil war?
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The Flashback and Defying Orders
There are three main aspects to the episode, and the first one takes place immediately after the events of the Captain America sequel. HYDRA has revealed its entrenchment inside SHIELD, Fury is presumed dead and no one knows who to trust. Gonzalez is in charge of The Elliott, an aircraft carrier that has been overrun by the forces of evil. And SHIELD is dead to rights.
Mack is facing HYDRA’s wrath, ordered to hand over the ship’s schematics, when Morse and Hartley storm in and kick ass. They then find Gonzales, who took an ax to the leg and barely survived. Hartley is tasked with clearing a path to the deck for a helicopter rescue, with Mack ordered to carry Gonzales out while Morse embarks on a secondary mission from Fury to scuttle the ship and prevent its secrets from falling into HYDRA hands. But screw that, everyone is going with her.
Upon reaching the core server, Hartley informs the group that SHIELD has retaken the top deck and they should choose fight over flight. Gonzales urges Morse to follow orders, but when faced with killing all the agents still battling for good, Bobbi says this is no time to go down with the ship. And the success of that fight, with Gonzales in the wrong, is what prompted him to pick group leadership over having one man at the top.
Back to the Present
Agent Morse goes back into Coulson’s SHIELD to depose her former boss, but our resident parents have grown suspicious of Mack and know he’s working for someone else. Bobbi installs a flash drive into the facility’s mainframe as Coulson confronts Mack, who will only say he remains loyal to SHIELD.
Morse burns through Coulson’s desk to get Fury’s toolbox, and she’s a bit more open about working for the so-called real SHIELD when May catches her in the act. They fight in arguably the most epic battle in series history, and May gets the upper hand before Morse blows some sort of EMP and vanishes in the temporary darkness. Mack uses the cover to escape as well.
Simmons, playing dumb to Morse’s involvement, tricks her into grabbing something that renders her unconscious, but it’s all for naught because May finds a false wall in Morse’s locker that houses a gas mask and realizes the infiltrators aren’t fleeing — they’re coming in. Cue the psssssss of noxious fumes and Mack diving on Fitz to save him as Gonzales and company blast through the wall.
SHIELD vs. SHIELD
Coulson is in cuffs while May hides in the shadows, and Gonzales’ SHIELD uses flight logs to trace Skye’s location to “The Retreat,” built by Bruce Banner as he struggled with his Hulk alter ego. Bobbi demands to be part of the mission to get Skye because having a familiar face can’t hurt. Unless you’re Ward.
Fitz and Simmons are holding hands when Agent Weaver, known to both from the Academy, enlists Simmons to help her open Fury’s toolbox. Meanwhile, Gonzales has a heart to heart with Coulson. He introduces himself, but Coulson is already familiar, having spent months searching for him following HYDRA’s revelation.
Gonzales is giving him a chance because of the good work he once did, but Fury ruled as a king with secrets that brought down the organization, and he brought Coulson back from the dead to create an heir who would run SHIELD in his likeness. And that won’t do.
Gonzales believes Fury had people and objects hidden around the world, and so they must open the toolbox, track them down and make sure they don’t pose a threat. Coulson asserts that it was HYDRA and not Fury’s secrets that burned SHIELD, and then May bursts in and ices everyone before cutting Coulson loose, giving him a suitcase of cash and other goodies, and sending him out of a secret tunnel with Fury’s toolbox. She then surrenders to Weaver.
An Earth-Shattering Retreat
Skye is just chilling at the ranch, bored and reluctant to test out the Simmons-crafted gloves that accelerate healing and dampen the effect of the internally-directed quaking, when Gordon the Inhuman pays her a visit.
He tells her she doesn’t need to be afraid and empathizes over what it must be like to be exposed to the Terrigen mist and transform as an adult with no training or expectation, as it was rough for him as a child knowing what was coming. But the first thing that happened after he was exposed was that his teacher embraced him, compared to basically the opposite reaction from SHIELD.
He reveals that she is not causing earthquakes, but that her ability allows her to manipulate the everyday vibrations that every object experiences by always being in motion, even minutely. He offers to take her to a place where she will be with others who are like her and where she can learn to manage her powers, but she must make the decision. And he’ll find her whenever she is ready.
Take Me Home
Skye takes off her gloves and rinses her bruises when she alters the stream of water into a spiral, as she is starting to recognize what her ability means. Then May calls with a warning to run because SHIELD is coming for her.
She flees through the woods as a helicopter lands nearby, and agents led by Morse and Calderon (the dude who was previously pissed that Bobbi didn’t eliminate Hunter earlier and who praised the non-fatal toxin gas as having “style”) fan out to search. Skye battles an agent with her fists before he fires a gunshot into the air, and the rest converge on the sound.
Morse and Calderon emerge from the brush, and Calderon opens fire. As the bullet flies towards Skye, she turns and reverberates the vibrations back in the direction from which they came, essentially leveling the forest and splintering a tree that shatters around the two agents. With Calderon impaled through the shoulder (non-fatally, it would appear), Skye calls on Gordon and is whisked away.
Coulson is sipping an umbrella’d drink at a beach bar when Hunter joins him, fresh off his escape-pod landfall. Hunter scratches his name on a napkin, which becomes his official acceptance contract to Coulson’s offer to become a permanent member of the team.
“So what’s the plan, boss?”
Prepping for the Future
And with just a few short weeks to go until the Avengers’ (and likely Nick Fury’s) return to the big screen, SHIELD remains in fractured shambles. After it was essentially reunited. And I just don’t get the reasoning.
But as I have in the past and will continue to do, I put my trust in the creators of the Marvel Universe to tie it all together in a satisfactory way. Like after The Winter Soldier, I’m certain the events of Age of Ulton will impact how season 2 ends up, likely with a unified SHIELD working towards a common cause. But with so many different storylines happening at once, I would appreciate unnecessary complications.
What do you think? Are you on board with the mutiny? Or do you agree that SHIELD members proven to be still loyal to the organization, even if it’s a different faction, would likely be greeted as friends instead of combatants — especially with so much evil in the world?
Still, it’s fair to reserve judgment until we see how it all plays out.
You can watch Agents of SHIELD every Tuesday at 9pm on ABC.
(Image courtesy of ABC)