Agents Of SHIELD: 2.06 A Fractured House
The attack on the United Nations that kicked off this week's episode certainly continued the grand global war between HYDRA and SHIELD, proving that there was far more to this conflict than just Phil Coulson and Daniel Whitehall sitting in their respective head quarters. For a show that is always going to suffer with a reduced budget to its big cinema counterparts, it helps that events like this make Agents Of SHIELD as epic as possible.
It was a thrilling attack too, with a number of hapless delegates and guards burned to a crisp as a result of the latest weapon in HYDRA's arsenal. After moving slowly from antagonist to unwilling ally, you had to wonder if this was where General Talbot was going to meet his end too. Thankfully he lived to fight another day and is surely coming round to Coulson's way of thinking. Talbot even tried to convince Senator Christian Ward (played by White Collar's Tim DeKay) that HYDRA was the real enemy and they had tried to frame SHIELD for it.
As yes, senator Ward, who was revealed to be Grant Ward's 'evil' older brother. The groundwork was laid last year with Grant recounting how his brother forced him to trap their younger brother Tom down the well. Talbot also mentioned the senator in his back pocket back in the second episode of season two Heavy Is the Head. It was still a surprise when both unseen characters were revealed to be the same man.
The scene where Coulson met with Senator Ward while Skye interrogated Grant Ward was a brilliant piece of storytelling. Christian dismissed his younger brother's claims while Grant told Skye his older brother reveled in his lies. By the end end we still didn't know who was telling the truth. I loved the double bluff too; Skye's conversation followed Coulson's and it was revealed that Grant was being given up to his brother to stand trial for his crimes under HYDRA in exchange for the senator calling off his vendetta against SHIELD.
There was pure hatred in Coulson - and later Simmon's - actions as Ward was marched out of the SHIELD head quarters, though I still don't know what to feel about their colleague turned murderer. Is Grant Ward telling the truth about his brother or is he still playing Skye? Is he doing both? Ward was instantly made a far more interesting character after his shocking murder of Victoria Hand last season but it isn't until this year when he's become a really intriguing character in his own right. I've loved his Hannibal Lecter moments with Skye and Fitz but I'm also excited to see where he goes next now that he has made his daring escape from custody.
Elsewhere the expected fireworks between Lance and his ex wife Bobbi began as they were sent on a mission to locate the creator of the weapons used by HYDRA at the United Nations. Poor May got caught up in the middle of the squabble and immediately shot Lance down when he started to confide in his anger towards his ex wife.
The conflicted relationship between Lance and Bobbi was nicely underplayed this week, not over heavy on the laughs but enough to break up the drama and action when needed. There is a nice balance to the episodes this season that early season one in particular failed to find. These exes obviously still care for each other deeply even though they can't stand each other too. Bobbi doesn't like Lance saving her. He doesn't like that she vouched for him to Coulson. I hope he chooses to stay though after their final conversation though. SHIELD might be her arena but he has a place there too.
Oh and Bobbi and Lance turning and both shooting Toshiro Mori mid-argument was priceless.
They also worked well with May when it came to the final take down of the HYDRA agents in the SHIELD safe house in the Netherlands. They might have failed to save the six agents from the dangerous Marcus Scarlotti but they certainly proved themselves in taking him and his unit out. Bobbi was back in full blown Mockingbird mode this week but it was May's epic battle with Scarlotti that proved to the most exciting, action packed moment of this week.
Yet again, there was a lot packed into this episode, showing that Agents Of SHIELD is in no danger of dropping the pace of this second season. Simmons confiding in Mac over the issues Fitz is facing. Skye learning more about her father and mother from Ward. That final reveal of the tattooed stranger with the same markings Coulson and Garrett were drawing - my money is on the Wards' younger brother Tom.
My only grumble is that yet again Mac and Tripp seem to be wasted. The show has gone from not enough dynamic characters to too many. Trip was a blast of fresh air towards the end of season one but with the likes of Lance and now Bobbi in the mix, he's become a virtual chauffeur for other members of his team. Interesting though that we haven't learned more about Mac's true HYDRA nature since his conversation with Daniel Whitehall way back in the season opener Shadows.
So yet again, another strong episode. I've said it before; Agents Of SHIELD has quickly become must see TV. Please keep serving us more greatness each week. It is now well and truly the TV accompaniment to the Marvel cinematic universe it always had the potential to be.