Agents Of SHIELD: 2.04 Face My Enemy
When we heard that Joss Whedon was playing a part in the development of a new SHIELD-centric TV series set in the Marvel cinematic universe we were all expecting action drama, fun and quippy dialogue. The most dissapointing aspect for many was that we had a team that didn't have any spark. This was no Scooby gang. This was certainly no crew of the Serenity. Half of Coulson's unit had no in-the-field training and the two actions stars, Ward and May, seemed void of any personality.
It's a different story a year later. This week we saw a unit that quipped, had banter and most importantly, personality. They're still no Scooby gang but then this isn't actually a Joss Whedon TV show. It's his brothers and sister in law's and despite a number of bumpy starts they have crafted a show this is different to Buffy or Angel or Firefly. But they have also created a show that has finally become must see television.
So the new group; we saw a proper connection this week between Skye, Tripp, Lance and Mac. There is already a shared history between them - Lance's tale of how he met his demonic ex-wife was something they had all endured before. I can't wait to meet her! Poor Fitz continued to remain isolated with only his imaginary Simmons for company. But yet again he found a way to save everyone, even though this time his connection with 'genius engineer' Lance meant he found a way to become part of the group in the end.
I'm still a little torn on Fitz. I don't want his condition to be fixed too quickly but the scenes where he discusses his exclusion from the group with Simmons seems a ploy to give Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge weekly screen time. It might be better for both to be used sparingly (Simmons in her undcover role) if they want to keep his situation believable. But at the same time, Fitz became central to little action side plot and his bonding with Mac and Lance at the end over his 'ex' was a lovely moment.
Of course this was really Coulson and May's episode and Face My Enemy had a lot of fun taking them out of their stoic leadership roles and put them into a fun, action-packed mission. There was a lot to love about this story. May's undercover role in particularly. I loved how the team asked if she was okay when she began laughing wildly at the party and their dance was brilliant too. There was very much a touch of True Lies about that scene, with both agents eyeing up security as they spun and flipped around each other on the dance floor. I also loved the high tech gadgets - particularly the way they managed to get the optic print they needed to break into the storage room.
Better still were the scenes with the imposter May, AKA the brainwashed Agent 33. It was fun trying to figure out how long it would take for Coulson to suss out that the woman in the sparkly silver dress was not his old comrade. The final battle between the two Mays delivered one of the best fight sequences the series has delivered to date, Almost Arrow-worthy! My only gripe was that the promise of Agent 33's brainwashing last week seemed a wasted opportunity. With the arguably brilliant face-changing masks, any HYDRA agent could have impersonated May.
The scenes with Talbot were a blast too. From his unusual drunk conversation with Coulson at the party to the final conversation over the comms where he viewed his time tracking down SHIELD and HYDRA as worse than six months spent in an enemy prison camp. Like the fake May, it was revealed that the Talbot at the party was in fact HYDRA agent Bakshi, though there was gasp moment half way through when you thought Talbot had been brainwashed or was HYDRA all along. Regardless of this fake out, Talbot has become another great recurring character on the show.
The mystery of the writing on the payment was obviously set up for more to come and the idea of someone else creating the alien writing only enhances the mystery of what will happen to Coulson in the long run. Will May fulfill his promise and kill him if he turns into another Garret? I'm sure there's plenty of drama still to come on that front.
And finally that post credit scene. Daniel Whitehall was as ruthless as ever, planting the device on Maya that would kill her if she didn't bring the obelisk to him in 48 hours. I'm most intrigued by where this Nazi HYDRA agent from the 1940's is up to. The stakes are getting gradually higher and Agents Of SHIELD has fast become must see television worthy of its big screen superhero counterparts.