Bizarrely, this show is never better than when Coulson’s brand of SHIELD is being bullied by another faction of SHIELD. In season one we had to wait for Hydra infiltrators to play their card and wreck the organisation from the inside before the series really started to prove its worth. With this episode season two reaches its highpoint so far, as “Real” SHIELD decide it’s time to take down Coulson and co.
The result is some explosively great viewing – packed with action, great fights, surprises and intriguing characters moments. Not forgetting the most impressive display of Skye’s new powers yet. As “Real” SHIELD moved in and Coulson’s SHIELD reacted, there was none of the under-ambitious ’80s TV-drabness that often plagues the show. The direction, lighting, editing and FX combined to creates a series of set-pieces worthy of the big screen MCU.
Even the show’s obligatory people-nattering-in-brown-offices scenes have more of a sense of urgency and drama than usual, though having an actor of the gravitas of Edward James Olmos may have helped give them a little more oomph than usual.
To be honest, Olmos was in danger of acting Clark Gregg off the screen. Ironically, given that Coulson’s been described as a “door-to-door salesman of a man” by Skye’s dad, it’s Olmos who does the ultimate sales job here. It’s only after he’s delivered his pitch about creating a SHIELD that’s not based on lies that you think, “Hang on… who’s been using spies and subterfuge for months to get what he wants?” The guy is clearly deluded.
On the other hand, the flashbacks – with the image quality graded back so much it borders on monochrome – show how “Real” SHIELD was born from the best intentions. However much you might want to boo and hiss at them for being beastly to Coulson’s crew, those final few scenes from “Real” SHIELD’s origin story complete with not one, but two “let’s go to work” hero shots – have you air-punching before feeling slightly guilty.
But yeah, after that Gonzales could have at least tried meeting Coulson for a chat. Even if he did think the guy was “Fury’s creation” surely co-operating with him rather than spying on him would be a more fruitful course of action?
One of the lockers behind Simmons when she zaps Bobbi has the name-tag “Mimikakis”. Lanie Mimikakis works on the show as an assistant property manager.
Skye’s chats with Gordon are good value too, especially when he points out that the first thing he got after his transformation was a hug, whereas the first thing Skye got was quarantine (though we’re sure Fitz gave her a few hugs, even if they weren’t all on camera). What to make of May’s urgent phone call to Skye, though, when Skye asks, “Who’s coming for me?” and May replies, “SHIELD!” not bothering to add, “But not our SHIELD.” Let’s hope this doesn’t mean weeks of Skye thinking Coulson’s turned evil.
There’s a really sweet exchange of looks between Fitz and Simmons when Agent Weaver asks for Simmons’s help and Simmons looks to Fitz for approval. She also calls his Leo for the first time in the show’s history (we think, we’re open to argument, but if not, it’s still very rare). It’s lovely to the icy relationship they’ve been having this season thaw a little but the fact remains: both of them are more interesting characters when they’re interacting with other people.
For example, the way Simmons stitches up Bobbi and zaps her in the locker room has to be one of the lass’s best moments on the show so far. Shame it was all for nothing, ultimately.
Finally, after a whinge last week about the lack of decent fight, there are a whole bunch of them this week: May versus Bobbi, Skye versus “Real” SHIELD goons, Izzy Hartley versus anything that moves, all great stuff. While getting to see Izzy and her hefty knife in action again in the flashbacks was very welcome it did, sadly, emphasis what a waste it was killing her off in the season premier. We almost winced when she said to Gonzales, “Let’s just hope we live.”
And if you’re worried that, based on past form, this may be a blip in quality, and now we’ll have another few weeks of average episodes, don’t worry. By all accounts, the show will be firing on all cyinders for the next few weeks. Good timing that, since Age Of Ultron may tempt a few viewers back…
Gordon: “What does it feel like, your gift?”
Skye: “I don't know. It's intense. Like a thousand bees are trapped inside of me, and I feel it all the time. It's always there. And I can't stop it.”
Gordon: “Why would you want to stop it?”
In one of the flashbacks Hartley says that "Vic’s going to hold the Hub." Prseumably she’s referring to Victoria Hand, the SHIELD agent who was killed in season one’s “Turn, Turn, Turn”.
What a lovely image to show that Skye’s newfound powers are necessarily all about destruction.
Skye’s powers are similar but a little bit different to her alter-ego Quake’s powers in the comic books. Quake creates earthquakes but Skye, according to Gordon, in is tune with the natural vibrations (presumably meaning on an atomic level) with everything in existence. That’s why she creates a (kind of) wave pattern with the water.
Agent Weaver let’s us know that Bruce Banner built the “retreat” cabin. It’s supposed to be the one Banner stayed in at the end of The Incredible Hulk. SHIELD also used to to house Steve Rogers after he was first defrosted. But why does it have the same wall as the Bus’s interrogation room? Did Banner design that too? Or did SHIELD retrofit the retreat?
Come on, own up – for a moment there in the stinger scene you thought, “Hang on… is Coulson dead again and back in Tahiti? Oh hang, on… Is Hunter dead too, then?” Not sure if this was deliberate but it was a great little WTF? moment.
Skye The Non-Vampire Spayer
Does this remind anyone of another show Joss Whedon was once associated with?
The Return Of Franny’s Saloon
Hmmm, another lingering close up on that “Franny’s Saloon” key ring tag that we last saw in “A Fractured House”. Is it simply supposed to be, “Ah, so that’s how he got?” moment, or is there something more significant about the saloon in question? Maybe we’ll learn in the spin-off series.