Agents Of SHIELD: 2.07 The Writing on the Wall

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Showing no signs of slowing the pace, Agents Of SHIELD took one major step closer to the mystery of 'the writing on the wall', as we learned that the subjects of GH.325 were being given the pieces of a map to a mysterious city. What that city is and what will happen if HYDRA get there first certainly gives us a lot to ponder over. Comic fans have already surmised that this may be connected to The Inhumans...perhaps it is no coincidence that the move is part of Marvel's Phase 3 announcement.

We were offered some fascinating insights into Project TAHITI this week, proving that the long mystery of Coulson's resurrection in season one was worth the wait. He returned to the device which Raina subjected him to last year, a machine that unlocked his stolen memories and revealed the identity of six former SHIELD agents that had been given new life thanks to the GH.325 formula.
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Like Coulson - and Garret - no good came from this grand experiment and it was fascinating to witness the madness evolve as they became consumed by the desire to carve out 'the map'. In this flashback we saw the true danger Coulson now faced and it was a grim one, proving that perhaps May was wrong a few weeks back to suggest she would not let him die should the madness consume him.

Interesting too, was the fact that GH.325 had only minimal effect on Sebastian Derik; perhaps a cold blooded psychopath is perfect material for this alien DNA? Derik stepped up as the main villain of the episode, killing off the former SHIELD test subjects one by one to uncover their pieces of the puzzle. I was surprised - after his cameo at the end of the last episode - how quickly he was defeated, though I guess he served as a means to an end, allowing Coulson to uncover his erased memories and discover what the markings were really about.
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Just as it was fun to see Coulson out in the field with May a few weeks ago, it was great to see the director take matters into his own hands, even going as far as trapping Skye in the cell just to take down Derik himself. The final battle between them in the barn of former SHIELD subject Hank Thompson was suitably thrilling as was the three dimensional discovery of what the markings really meant. I felt quite smug, guessing that the mutli-layered train set was actually the same markings; I wonder how quickly others guessed it too. Either way, it led the revelation about the city and set the scene for the next run of episodes.

The side story - the pursuit of Grant Ward - was strong too. Brett Dalton must be loving finally getting to played a multi-layered character like Ward now. I continue to remain baffled to his true purpose. One minute he seems willing to blow up a bus full of people, the next he hands Coulson a gift in Daniel Whitehall's right hand HYDRA man Sunil Bakshi. Does he have allegiances to anyone now?
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And did anyone notice the Ward's sly reference to another overseas HYDRA head honcho Strucker? Baron Wolfgang von Strucker was previously announced as the secondary villain in Avengers: Age Of Ultron, played by Thomas Kretschmann. Apparently it is also a multi-film role for Kretschmann. Strucker is a big deal in the comics and we've already seen him in the post-credits sequence for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, experimenting on a caged Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Did this episode of Agents Of SHIELD drop a big clue to the events of the next Avengers movie? Perhaps. One thing is certain; like the last Captain America movie last season, the second Avengers film is sure to have some major impact on the events of the TV series later this season.

The rest of the team didn't get masses to do, but what we saw was fun. Lance trailing Ward as a cowboy. Tripp surveying him unsuccessfully in the bus station. Ward 'flirting' with Bobbi and calling her out. Noticing her reading the same page of her book as she watched him was a clever way of showing just how much we underestimated the bland Agent Ward in season one.
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Now he looks set to confront his brother, hero / villain that he might be, Bakshi is a prisoner of SHIELD and Coulson seems free of the madness. The dimensions of the city, if not its location, have been discovered. It was another strong episode, even it was a bit of a plot filler than a self contained event. I remain hooked as to where the show is going to go next.

Bigger still, will Tripp get to do anything or does his continued guest star appearance mean his days are numbered? Needless to say, if you're watching at the US pace, please don't post spoilers if you know. So much of the fun of recent weeks is seeing the clues and revelations unfold. I'm excited for where the show goes next!

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