Agents Of SHIELD: 2.14 Love In The Time Of HYDRA
Had this been a season one episode, I would have been raving at how good Love In The Time Of HYDRA was. But the first half of season two set such a high standard it is starting to look - four weeks in from the mid-season break - that the show is coasting along a bit, teasing and teasing and teasing some more, without ever really getting to the point.
Take the reveal of a second SHIELD, which Mac and Bobbi have aligned themselves to. The idea of this new organisation is fascinating. Suddenly audiences are presented not with an enemy they can fight back a group of people who just think very differently to they way our heroes do. The episode ended with May and Coulson 'suspecting' that Mac was lying to them but yet again without ever actually learning the truth. I suspect that might change next week, but then I though this might happen this week too, and the week before that. We need some momentum.
Maybe it is because the show is juggling several plots now. HYDRA is still out there, albeit weakened. Raina and now Calvin Zarbo are now connected to the Inhumans through the eyeless Gordon. But here again, the reveal of Gordon's leader was teased last week only for this subplot to be forgotten entirely this week. Skye is still adjusting to her powers, General Talbot is still working loosely with Coulson and now Grant Ward is back with Agent 33. Perhaps the show is suffering with too much build up and not enough delivery? I imagine the upcoming The Avengers: Age Of Ultron is sure to add something to the mix too.
On the flip side, perhaps we just need to wait a little longer. Agents Of SHIELD has proven itself for much of this season with a third year renewal not only likely but deserved too. ABC are even considering a spin-off, which proves how much the show turned itself around from its early season one days.
And there was a lot of good stuff in play this episode too. Battlestar Galactica alum Edward James Olmos made his debut as Robert Gonzalez, leader of this new, no-nonsense SHIELD and there is an element of truth in what they are saying; Coulson was compromised by his resurrection by alien DNA and the pursuit against HYDRA to find the ancient Kree city did result in the loss of Agent Tripp and the changes to Skye. Can Coulson effectively serve as leader of SHIELD? As an audience we are rooting for him but it is hard not to agree, like Lance, that there were issues to address. Gonzalez's people did seem a little too righteous though, particularly Kirk Acevedo's Agent Calderon. His anger at Bobbi, and her love for an escaped Lance suggests she might turn back to Coulson's side before the season's end.
The title of the episode referred to the relationship between Agent 33 and Ward. There was a strange bond between them; how much Ward cares for her and how much he is using her to his own ends remains to be seen. As she struggled to remember her life pre-HYDRA, Ward had a twisted moment where he talked about he dealt with his own family issues. Even more twisted was her decision to wear Skye's face in an attempt to seduce Ward.
Agent 33 struggle to find her identity mirrors Ward's own early this season. His suggestion that she took out her retribution on Bakshi, the man who turned her, was a suitably dark one, but it also led to some amusing scenes where they infiltrated General Talbot's base to break out and torture the former HYDRA middle man. Talbot has become a fun addition to the show and I loved his interrogation of the female officers under his command and holding his poor wife at gunpoint when he suspected she was Agent 33 in disguise. His alluding to Coulson that his marriage had 'survived' suggested that this was something Talbot's wife would not easily forget even if she had forgiven him.
Again, the episode ended with the promise of big things to come. Lance had escaped Gonzalez's helicarrier, we assume to head straight back to Coulson and warn him. May and Coulson had clocked on to Mac's lies about where he had been. Agent 33 and Ward were attempting to turn Bakshi as he had turned her. The promise of SHIELD vs SHIELD, good organisation versus good organisation suggests a very different war to that against HYDRA. Let's hope next week really starts to deliver.