Episode: The Bridge
Original airdate: 12-10-13
After a week off, S.H.I.E.L.D. Is back for it’s midseason finale before taking a month or so hiatus. Which made me wonder how long has “midseason finale” even been a thing? But that’s a topic for another day. Anyway things ramp up and a bunch of threads finally start coming together before leaving us with a slight plot twist and a cliffhanger ending. As a “midseason finale” there are some expectations more or less that it is going to be a big episode and I do think that it delivers on pretty much all counts. There’s also quite a bit of recapping which makes this episode a good jumping-on point if you’ve been avoiding the show before now. The action is better, the villains are interesting and not a “freak of the week”, the callbacks are nice choices, and there’s even time for a little bit of character development and progression of lingering mysteries. If the rest of the season can keep up this quality, then we’re in for a good ride.
One of the biggest problems that I’ve had with this show is very little progression on an overarching villain. There have been hints of “Centipede” here and there and a couple minor threads coming back again, but nothing serious. At least until now. This episode brings back Rayna, the girl in the flower dress as well as her mysterious boss who was in prison and gets busted out at the beginning of the episode. He has a bit more personality here, but he feels like they’re trying too hard to make him a quiet badass akin to Kevin Spacey’s John Doe in Seven, but the actor is no Kevin Spacey. Centipede now has three super soldiers at their disposal, with some extra centipede implants all over their bodies. They’ve fixed the exploding problem, but the effects are still temporary. Except, of course, for Gunn. I’m sorry, I mean Michael who has kept his powers, his centipede, is now training to become a S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent, and is coming along for the ride. This was a much better thread to see and it also gives a chance to give the agents a little super powered action for a change.
There are also quite a few quieter moments that help drive the characters forward. I haven’t been a fan of Skye’s storyline where she is searching for her parents which has been covered up by S.H.I.E.L.D., both Coulson and May know what the truth is and they are hiding it from her on purpose. There are also some hints that Skye may actually be Coulson’s daughter, but it’s too early to tell if that’s the direction they are actually going or if it’s merely a red herring. Coulson talks to Ward about his previous love that he had to leave behind after his return from the grave. She was a cellist. He also has a poignant conversation with Michael about his son that he has been avoiding ever since he was overcome by rage in the first episode. Coulson tends to get a lot of these kinds of speeches, but I’m not sure if I’ll ever get tired of them because he is so damn good at delivering them. And the final cliffhanger is pretty climactic and leaves quite a few questions as to how they will be resolved. I do hope that Michael survives because I think he would be a good addition to the cast, even though there are already two heavy hitters with Ward and May, and things don’t look too good based on previews for the rest of the season. And I mention Declassified here a lot, but this time around there’s actually a full half hour episode that includes a fun talk with some Q&A and some silliness with some of the cast and a couple behind the scenes women including Melissa Tancheroen, Joss Whedon’s frequent collaborator and co-creator of the show. If you haven’t been watching it, now’s a good chance to check it out at ABC.com or on Hulu.