Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “The Dirty Half-Dozen” Review

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Posted May 1, 2015 by Kenneth Rodriguez in Comic Books

If you would like to catchup on last week’s episode, you can find that here

 

Holy Moley!!!!! This week’s AoS really pulled out all the stops and delivered the kind of episode that shows it is worthy of being called part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was full of fun, interesting, and worthy payoffs to some of the plotlines that have been bubbling for a while now. Bringing back the original team we were introduced to in the pilot felt like an organic and meaningful reminder of how far we come, it felt truly earned after all the growth we have season these past two seasons. Was it a little contrived how they managed to make sure it was only the original six who went on the mission? Yeah, probably but it was worth it for the fun we experienced along the way. Compared to last year’s tie in to Captain America: The Winter Soldier this season’s reaction doesn’t seem as game changing for the team, but if its implications are true than this is a serious moment of elevation for the team’s status. But before we get to that end, we have to start at the beginning.

 

Fitz figures out his best strategy

Fitz figures out his best strategy

We begin with a confrontation between Gonzales and Coulson, the latter trying to convince the former of letting go of their personal vendetta to team up in their efforts against Dr. List. He figures the best way to take down HYDRA is to take out their best advantage before it becomes viable, which Gonzales reluctantly puts to a vote. “real S.H.I.E.L.D.” cronies Weaver and Oliver disagree with Coulson’s plan, while Bobbi and Gonzales agree with him. This leaves May with the tie breaker, and she isn’t deciding until she has a word with Coulson about his latest activities. She cannot believe he brought Ward back into the fold, and lying about his overseas trips, not to mention the tons of money he funneled into Theta Protocol. She isn’t too happy about him seeing her Ex-husband either, which Coulson tells her is for counseling about his alien writing problem, which isn’t enough for her to excuse it. He agrees he shouldn’t have kept things from her and promises a long apology later, but she realizes there are bigger fish to fry and agrees to his plan.

We are introduced to Lincoln and Mike’s current situation at Dr. List’s lab, getting ready to be experimented on and he hopes they will be able to survive his tests. So far, the only people to survive these “experiments with alien DNA” are “the twins” (that’s Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver if you didn’t guess, direct Age of Ultron tie in!).  Back at Afterlife, we see Cal is mighty upset with having been abandoned last time but Jiaying calms him with promises that he can stay. Skye is insistent that Gordon take her to save Lincoln, but he considers it too dangerous. We see Gordon try to get him on his own, but comes back bloodied, the HYDRA facility is to strong to get through on his own. They are trying to devise a plan when Raina shows up, (there is a great burn by Skye about Raina’s usefulness, “I thought your only purpose was to spin really fast and collect gold rings…” A Sonic the Hedgehog joke about her … spiky condition? I never would’ve thought) informs them that she is having visions, and sees what is happening to Lincoln, and only Skye can save him.

 

Yeah, its a bit awkward

Yeah, its a bit awkward

So, five of the originals are back in action, but just as they are about to leave, we see Skye convinced them well enough, and Gordon teleported her in. They are ecstatic to see her, but she can’t answer their bombarding of questions while Ward is around. With Ward put in charge of the debriefing, they are all staring at him they are all a little taken aback by the turn of events, and he dicides to talk about the elephant in the room. He caused most of their issues, from nearly killing Fitz and Simmons, to betraying them and breaking up the solidarity of their unit. He seems to be genuinely, heartbreakingly sincere in his apologies… until they realize that he is a master manipulator and break that spell (Skye quips “I’m still glad I shot you” followed by a chorus of “me too” and “should’ve aimed for his face”, wow.. appropriately harsh). Simmons is not taking this opportunity to get back at Ward lightly, and tells Fitz that if they get the opportunity, she has a splinter bomb with his name on it, and she has a look in her eye that says she would do it too. And so they end up in the arctic, in a cloaked Bus ready to infiltrate the base, but the radar picks them up anyway…

It seems the base’s anti-air defenses were strong and two missiles take out the Bus (no!! You served us so well), seemingly with everyone inside, but it seems this was part of the plan all along. They escape the wreckage in a Quintet that was inside of the Bus and make it to the ground dodging firey steel along the way (a fantastic VFX shot).  They make it in and split up, using Bakshi to take Coulson, May and Fitz to the missile defense system to shut It down, and Skye, Simmons and Ward go to rescue Deathlok and Lincoln. Here we get an AMAZING unbroken, John Wick/The Raid style tracking shot of Skye kicking some major HYDRA butt, showing her training influences by combining May’s brutal close-quarters combat and Ward’s pinpoint pistol precision. It feels like we are watching a scene out of Splinter Cell: Blacklist from the3rd person, the camera weaving around her chaotic but controlled, its

Bakshi's compliance wasn't rewarded

Bakshi’s compliance wasn’t rewarded

easily the best thing AoS has out on screen in its entire run.  She gets to Lincoln, who seems to be dead, but she uses her vibration abilities along with Lincoln’s body’s static charge to jolt his heart back up. While this is happening, Simmons decides she has had enough of seeing Ward free and tries to plant a splinter bomb on him, but Bakshi jumps in the way to intercept it, losing his life in the process (his compliance was never rewarded… sigh). Ward is freaked out, but simply says he is disappointed in her, rather than accepting he has pushed her to this. In this scenario, Ward proved himself to be the bigger person by not retaliating against Simmons, and that is certainly going to eat at her, it seems the writers have been slowly revealing that Wards attack broke Simmons as much as it did Fitz, but in a very different way. She seems surprisingly ok with the fact that she killed Bakshi, and if we can see Simmons slowly slide into the “end justify the means” utilitarian way of dealing with dangerous people, it could be scary (but a very compelling plot point).

While all this is happening, Coulson May and Fitz shut down the missile defense system, and get ready to evacuate the base. Coulson stays behind though, mining some data from the HYDRA servers, which May is not too happy about. She is concerned he is going off on his own secret mission without informing them again and compels him to stop at gunpoint, but he assures her it is something that is necessary and they leave. We see them back at HQ while the base is blasted by S.H.I.E.L.D. bombers, having successfully rescued Lincoln and Deathlok. Ward goes off on his own, letting them know he still wants to atone, and thinks leaving Kara (the former Agent 33 that has been hanging with him) with S.H.I.E.L.D. would be better than him trying to rehabilitee her himself. Coulson agrees and we see them part ways, but something tells me we are going to be seeing a lot more of Ward in the future, and I have to say,  the writers have finally convinced me it makes sense to keep him around, good job by them.

We see Gonzales is more interested in finding intel on the powered people they have now than releasing them, something that Bobbi isn’t too pleased about. They run into Coulson, who holds up his part of the deal, opening Fury’s toolbox with a simple touch. He tells him to have fun, but Fury will surely be back to claim it soon, eliciting a shocked look from all of them (oh yeah, none of them know he is alive), and get some grade-A Coulson snark in its delivery and we can see how scared Gonzales is when he realizes his whole plan for “real S.H.I.E.L.D.”

This scene is fantastic

This scene is fantastic

falls apart with Fury still in the picture. Coulson excuses himself, saying someone important is on the line, showing them its Maria Hill. After showing Gonzales who the real director of S.H.I.E.L.D. is (it’s a mic-drop moment and gets an approving smirk from Bobbi), he conferences in with Hill on video chat (yay, Cobie Smulders!!). They make fun of how Gonzales puts everything up to a vote, because really in a military organization the chain of command should eliminate that as a necessity, and he debriefs her on the intel he gathered. It seems Theta Protocol is ready, seemingly initiated by Fury (and I can only hope is a Secret Avengers-style safe house for powered people that will be needed in the wake of Civil War. With the intel gathered at List’s HYDRRA base, they  discovered that Baron von Strucker is in possession of Loki’s staff and is using it to experiment on powered people and his location in Sokovia (something we already know from the Captain America: The Winter Soldier end-credits scene). He finally gets to say “It’s time to Assemble the Avengers” and we now realize the mission they are going on at the beginning of Age of Ultron is only possible because of Coulson’s team, a great way for him to still be helping them out, even if they still think he is dead. In another tie-in, we see Rainia trying to angle herself against Jiaying, questioning why she has all the say about what happens in Afterlife. Suddenly, she receives intense visions of Loki’s scepter, death destruction and how “men made of metal will tear our cities apart”, that sounds a lot like Ultron to me.

Wow, wow, wow, I never thought this show would get to this level, but holy smokes it did. This episode proved that given the right storyline and character combination; it has the capacity to outmatch even the biggest superhero shows on tv right now. Seeing the original six characters interact was a nice nostalgia trip but also highlighted just how far we’ve come in two seasons. Blowing up the bus was sad, but I have to imagine it was symbolic, showing how nothing will ever truly be the same despite their peachy reunion moment (also, it will be funny to see Fury wring Coulson out for blowing up the Bus, he didn’t even get a chance to drink at the Bar). I have to imagine that Ward is going to have a big arc coming up, my guess is that the becomes Taskmaster, an assassin for hire that will end up training the young heroes Coulson will probably eventually recruit Avengers Academy-style.

Skye really has come a long way

Skye really has come a long way

Speaking of, it seems that Theta Protocol will tie into the end of Age of Ultron, and seeing as it hasn’t come out in the US yet, I will update that theory next week. I have to give props to the writing staff and Chloe Bennett for the progression of Skye as a character, it’s been amazing. She went from the definition of a plot armored pretty face (her legal name at the start was literally Mary Sue Poots) to a badass, potentially Avengers-level superhero in a wholly believable, organic way. She has shown her capacity to be a leader in questioning Jiaying, Cal, Coulson, Gordon, Lincoln and May about the truly right thing to do, and I look forward to her graduating to the big leagues soon. It seems Gonzales isn’t as righteous as he likes to put out, since he is more than willing to hold Lincoln, Deathlok and Skye against their will in order to study them, something that his supposed “real S.H.I.E.L.D.” values wouldn’t endorse. Bobbi seems to realize this, and we can see that she is squarely on Coulson’s side, but is biding her time to jump ship.

As for the mysterious cargo still on Gonzales’ ship, the Iliad, I have to speculate it is something game-changing, since Fury was willing to sink the skip rather than let HYDRA get their hands on it. I imagine it will probably be the remaining supply of Diviners, on their way to S.H.I.E.L.D. custody when the Iliad was taken. Next week, we have been teased with the Inhumans from Afterlife showing up to rescue Lincoln, so here’s how I see it going down. Maybe they come to get him and Skye and find out about the Diviners being held by S.H.I.E.L.D., this, combined with their inherent mistrust for human authorities causes mistrust between them and they stage an attack to recover the Diviners, believing them to be their property. In the season finale (being 2 hours, there is plenty of time for this to happen) the crystals either are released to everyone in Afterlife or are combined into some kind of Terrigen Bomb that affects the entire planet, and we see an explosion of untrained, potentially dangerous super powered Inhumans. This is one of the inciting factors for Captain America: Civil War’s eventual Super Human Registration Act, in an attempt to control the chaos brought about by all of these new super powered people. This would give AoS a huge part in the MCU along with neatly tying up the Inhuman thread of the show. Maybe the new spinoff series that was announced will follow a splinter of the S.H.I.E.L.D. forces, those working for the Pro-registration side with Iron Man (presumably Gonzales and maybe Bobbi and Simmons) and those working for the anti-registration side with Captain America (presumably Fury, Coulson, Skye etc.). I would be behind that 100% and would really give the show some serious stakes moving forward, while splitting the focus in an organic way. All will be revealed in the coming weeks, so don’t forget to watch Age of Ultron this weekend (but really, who isn’t going to?).

 

Next week’s episode”Scars” promises a whole lot of Inhuman action,


About the Author

Kenneth Rodriguez

Kenny has been completing his pokedex since Pokemon Yellow, ever ready for his next test, comics in hand. He thinks Mass Effect is the best game series ever,.. period and loves TV and Movies dearly. Follow him on Twitter @k_rod14