Episode Title: Love In The Time Of Hydra
Original Airdate: 3-24-15
New characters. New storylines. New conflicts and much else arise in the latest episode of ‘Agents of S.H.I.EL.D.’ entitled ‘Love In The Time Of Hydra’. Although it’s a curious title given that there is no more H.Y.D.R.A. Supposedly. But there are two relationship angles playing out this episode. One of the conflicted one between Nick Blood’s Hunter an Adrianne Pallicki’s Bobbi, and another budding relationship between Brett Dalton’s Ward and the returning Agent 33 played by Maya Stojan. Despite all this, the most interesting elements of the show take a back seat this episode, which is very disappointing.
Opening like the Tim Roth diner scene from ‘Pulp Fiction’, Ward and Agent 33 seem well and fine after the events of the mid-season finale, and are on a mission to fix the Nano Mask that had her face frozen like a disfigured May. After the repairs, 33 can take on any face she wants, however, is unable to remember her own identity due to Bakshi’s brainwashing of her, or something. They play a little fast and loose with how she gets her face back and stuff. To console her, Ward plans to retrieve Bakshi from Adrian Pasdar’s Talbot, so Agent 33 can have her revenge, or something. It’s a weird relationship that Ward and her share. She’s a damaged assassin with no master, while he seems to filling that role with an underlying romantic tone. It’s a creepy sub plot, especially when she takes on Skye’s face and tries to seduce Ward. It’s almost like they realized Chloe Bennett wasn’t doing much this episode, so went with that uber creepy scene just so she gets more screen time. I’m really hoping they don’t attempt to bring Ward back into the fold through some kind of redemption, but instead keep him as a morally corrupt character working on the fringes of the main team and storylines. He’s better as an eerily calm lone wolf.
The reveal of last episode finally gets expanded upon and it’s a power packed bunch. Edward James Olmos heads this… ‘other S.H.I.E.L.D.’ is what we’re gonna go with… with another notable face belonging to former ‘Fringe’ and current ’12 Monkeys’ cast member, Kirk Acevedo. Along with Mack and Bobbi, Olmos’ Gonzalez explains their concerns and disapproval of Coulson’s handling of the agency post the H.Y.D.R.A. fallout, showing some disdain for Nick Fury as well. It was amusing seeing this group critique and berate Coulson’s ‘secret’s, while their entire organization is clandestine in nature as evident by sending in Bobbi and Mack as double agents. It feels like flimsy reasoning, and honestly a conflict that doesn’t seem to hold much stakes.
‘Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘ is now playing in a world where an Alien race called the Kree experimented on a previous generation of humans to create super soldiers of their own, one of whom is apparently Skye— whose powers may be comparable to that of Hulk or Captain America as mentioned in this episode–while other Inhumans like Gordon and Raina are planning… something. So given this, a conflict that basically boils down to glorified inter-office politics seems petty and uninteresting. Especially because it’s a road we’ve already gone down with the twist of H.Y.D.R.A. working within S.H.I.E.L.D. the whole time and then with Talbot’s hunt for Coulson and earlier this season. Now, with Gonzalez’ presence, it just seems like a retread of the same dynamics, a similarity that I mentioned last week. Conveniently enough, a week later Talbot’s character gets a slight overhaul, most likely to eliminate those similarities to Gonzalez’s character. Talbot is shown as a bumbling General annoying his secretary with conversation about lawnmowers, comically pulling the cheeks of a female agent he thought was Agent 33 and making jokes about his marriage. It’s pathetic, given how worthy of an adversary he proved for Coulson earlier in the show.
The ‘other S.H.I.E.L.D.‘ doesn’t seem even seem that different that the current one, as their leadership carries themselves just as casually, and with as much bickering as Coulson’s group. Acevedo’s character seems like the rebel of the group with his snide remarks (like Hunter), while Agent Weaver is the more organized one of the three, (like May) and Gonzalez reins them both in. The contrast between the two S.H.I.E.L.D.s is negligible which makes the upcoming showdown between the two that much more confounding.
I fear that ‘Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ is heading down the same road, as it’s initial season, while the bigger story elements are being ignored. It’s the adoption of the main comic book elements of the world it is based on is what pulled it out of the dregs last season with the body of an Alien, the mysterious elements of Coulson’s death and now the Kree and Inhumans connections… yet their choice of going with plot points that are similar to ones we’ve already seen is concerning.