This season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has had its ups and downs. Last week’s episode, in which Andrew Garner (Blair Underwood) was revealed to be Lash and subsequently captured, was a fairly dull affair. Fortunately, it paid off in this week’s episode, which finally revealed the connections between the season’s various plot threads. Minor spoilers follow.
So far in the season, we have been following three main storylines: Simmon’s disappearance through the monolith to an alien world and her subsequent recovery, the growing Inhuman problem around the globe and Daisy’s (Chloe Bennet) attempts to form a super team, and Grant Ward’s (Brett Dalton) struggle to create a new Hydra from the ashes of the old. This episode, aptly titled “Many Heads, One Tale” brings all those plotlines back to the one thing that Agents has always been about: Hydra.
The episode opens on Ward as he meets with the mysterious Gideon Mallick (Powers Boothe), who has a plan in motion that Ward isn’t part of. Here it becomes obvious that of Hydra’s many heads, Gideon was never severed. He has kept a division of Hydra alive that Ward wasn’t aware of, or at least not in control of. Ward is forced to fight his way out in a scene that is actually pretty engaging, which comes as a surprise, as Ward’s scenes are usually a snoozefest. Ward becomes a little more interesting in this episode because for the first time in a while, he is stumbling into unfamiliar territory. By the end of the episode he discovers something he wasn’t expecting, and it will be interesting to see how he deals with it moving forward.
In other news, Agent May (Ming-Na Wen) and Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) team up for a few boring scenes of awkward conversations and needless reconciliation. Even though Lincoln has been largely absent this season, the writers seem to be pushing hard for his inclusion in the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, going so far as to orchestrate these stuffy and forced scenes between him and May. They don’t even go into action together – the pair operate as glorified getaway drivers, flying a plane around for the duration of mission and trading awkward compliments/accusations.
Simmons and Fitz finally let it all out in a tense scene where Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) reveals how jealous he is of Will, the astronaut Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) met on the alien planet. Of course, it ends with them kissing, which is, as terrible as it is to say, the least awkward and forced kiss on the show so far. The good news is that Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge are by far the strongest actors on the show, so they carry a weak scene as well as they can.
The crux of the episode is a scene with Coulson (Clark Gregg) and A.T.C.U. director Rosalind Price (Constance Zimmer), in which he reveals that he doesn’t trust her after all, and accuses her of being a Hydra agent. What he finds out is important to the plot of the episode and the season as a whole, but this scene felt unsatisfying. Coulson’s motives are confusing. It’s not clear if he is using sex as a weapon like some kind of femme fatale bond villain, or if he just can’t help himself around beautiful women, and sleeping with Price was simply incidental. Either way, it seems extremely out of character for Coulson. Coulson’s character has always been confused, ever since the show started, but this development seems to defy all reason. Maybe there’s a master plan in place for his development, but right now it seems more like the writers just don’t know what to do with him.
The real star of the episode is Lance Hunter (Nick Blood), who plays the role of computer genius slacker on the FBI’s payroll as he and Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) infiltrate the A.T.C.U. It’s oddly charming watching Lance, who clearly knows nothing about computers (he even yells “I’m bad at computers!” later in the episode) pretend to be a hacker, repeating lingo that Daisy is whispering in his ear. It’s goofy, and I loved it.
This wasn’t the strongest episode of Agents this season, but it is certainly an improvement over the last couple episodes. Every plot thread in the season has been neatly tied together, and it’s clear that the show is picking up the pace heading into the midseason finale. Several character moments in the episode were questionable, but honestly that’s pretty much par for the course with the show at this point. Watching Agents this week was a joy again, and even though I hate to admit it, I didn’t hate the scenes with Ward. And that’s saying something.
Images courtesy of ABC