What They Say:
Frenemy of My Enemy – Coulson and hunter form a dangerous alliance as they turn to someone unexpected for help; Lincoln and Skye are drawn into a conflict.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Though there were a lot of good emotional moments and measures to the previous episode with May, why she is the way she is, the actual event of Bahrain itself left me a bit underwhelmed. I found myself far more interested in her pre-Bahrain life with Andrew, the interactions with the two of them and Coulson and other pieces. But the episode provided some good background material and allows the audience to go forward more with a greater understanding. And we got the same with Skye in the episode as we got to see the things she’s learning and doing with Jiayang, the dangers that exist for her there and the way her life seems to keep repeating these cycles of family and distrust that ends up isolating her and keeping her alone. There was a lot in motion overall in the episode, but the big pieces worked well and you certainly came away from the episode with a greater appreciation of different aspects of the characters and their interactions. And you had to love the whole Hunter and Fitz bit towards the end.
The cold open here takes us to San Francisco where we see a suited up Fitz doing what he can to shake the tail that’s on him, which we saw a bit of in the previous episode with the fun bathroom bit. It moves in a comical way that has him connecting up with Coulson, Hunter and Deathlok with a clean getaway, though one that does make it clear that Fitz has connected with them and that’ll have a repercussion. Bringing Fitz into the fold adds a bit more mental mind power to things and Coulson is intent on figuring out more of what’s going on. There’s a little name dropping with Strucker and List, with List being used within the show and Strucker kept to the upcoming Avengers movie. All of it is to move this team to hooking up with Ward to see if they can find a little common ground for at least a little bit after all that’s happened.
Coulson’s definitely a skilled player, which we can forget sometimes, and seeing how he and his group get the drop on Agent 33 quickly and put her into a holding pattern, which they use to draw Ward in for further talks, is definitely fun to see. It was a little disconcerting at first since we’ve not seen Agent 33 looking this way, but the sequence plays well to move things along while providing for a laugh. There’s even some humor when Ward comes in and we see how he and Deathlok get along and a nod to Deathlok’s abilities.
With a deal made with Ward, that has Coulson doing what he needs to do in order to find Skye, though it doesn’t sit well Fitz considering what he thinks of Ward after what happened after the fall of SHIELD. Using Bakshi as an intermediary, they’ve got a bead on Dr. List and are enroute there, though that’s not without its tension as Fitz is ready to shoot him after what Ward did to him and Simmons. It’s good to have that come to the surface and dealt with on some level rather than it all being just below the surface. It’s not given a lot of time, but it’s enough to reinforce things that aren’t easily fixed.
The meeting with List is pretty amusing to watch as it’s all shown through Deathlok’s eye to Coulson and his crew while Bakshi organizes things. Bakshi doesn’t go according to Coulson’s plan though as what he’s setup is actually more Ward’s plan, which leads to some fun chaos on the Quinjet since there’s no trust given to Ward. Ward’s making a decent play of things here, but Coulson has no trust for obvious reasons. There’s some good tension to it with the way the pieces are moving and I especially liked that the meeting with List is on board a private jet from Echidna Capital Management, which has been a part of the comics for a bit as a Hydra front company for its ambitions.
While we had a good dinner sequence with Skye and her family the last time around, things can’t last like that forever simply because Cal doesn’t belong here and it raises too many problems. That has Jiaying setting things up for his departure without him being aware that he’s not coming back, but it’s a given based on how things work here. Skye’s trying to do what she can to figure out how to get Cal to be taken care of in the right way because having him out in the wild, especially after being cast off by Gordon, is going to cause him to go crazy and there’ll be casualties because of he. Jiaying certainly makes it clear that she’s like Coulson in some ways in that she sometimes has to do things she doesn’t like to do, but for Skye, she still considers herself a SHIELD agent above all else and is looking to stop something bad from happening because of it. Between that conversation and some time with Cal about home and his life, it definitely plays well for the complicated situation she’s in.
With Skye convincing her to let her go with Cal for a bit to soften the blow about what’s really going on, they end up in Wisconsin where he used to work as he wanted to show her some of the places they they lived before, some of what he wanted to do with her and a kind of normalcy that’s really sweet in a lot of ways as it’s like a father/daughter date. It’s also a little confusing for Cal, playing to his personality well, since the place has changed a lot since he was last there and it’s disconcerting to him and that has her feeling more sympathy for him. The time between them is really well done as it progresses, even if she’s calling in for help to deal with Cal when he snaps, and as we see Cal with his old haunt with the office building and talking about his wife, there’s some really good stuff with it as Cal hits some strong emotional moments that really resonate well.
Having this arc and the one with Bakshi and Deathlok cross over into each other as Bakshi is caught up in List’s mission to grab Gordon because of what he represents, it’s the kind of craziness that you’d expect since it also involves Lincoln trying to make sure Skye is safe and Cal realizing that he’s being given the big goodbye here rather than heading back with Skye. What it offers is a good blend of elements with Hydra coming for Gordon and getting Cal instead, Lincoln throwing a little power into things and then Coulson’s side in the mix as well. Lincoln going up against Deathlok has a good kind of surprise for both of them, with a little cute name dropping, but just having Coulson being able to go after a couple of Hydra agents while working with Ward and Agent 33 for a bit is the kind of strange bedfellows moment that definitely makes things like this fun. Throw May into the mix after Simmons hacks into Deathlok’s ocular feed? That’s another situation that’s not going to spin well for Coulson since she gets to see him and Ward together.
Agents of SHIELD has a good episode here overall, though some pieces of it just felt a bit off or forced when it shouldn’t be. There’s some really great stuff here with Cal and Skye that makes it really fun to watch as it shows us some very good sides of both of them. Skye’s definitely come into her own her and working off of Cal definitely has helped to make it work really well as even some of the scene with Jiaying hit the right note as well. The action component of the episode is far strong here overall than it has been for a bit as we get a lot of movement in following Coulson’s team and seeing those pieces come together and then land smack dab in the middle of Skye’s storyline was unexpected for the most part as I really figured they’d keep separate for another couple of episodes before the final two or so. There’s a lot of things in play here and I’m really curious to see how it’ll unfold in the next two weeks with the pre-Avengers: Age of Ultron episode and the one after it if there’s any fallout of note that will impact the course of the show going forward.