ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this Tuesday night took the ball from Captain America, continuing the shocking story set up on the big screen and letting it wreak havoc with Coulson and his team, as they questioned loyalties every step of the way. In the end, who could be trusted?
Well, as promised/warned, this episode was a full-on follow-up to Winter Soldier, running parallel to the movie’s narrative up until the very end. And it was pretty impressive in that respect, as seemingly unrelated threads were revealed to be attached to one element or another of the Hydra infiltration. So even as pretty big bombs were dropped — May’s secret hard line was to keep Director Fury (R.I.P.-ish) apprised on Coulson’s condition, meaning that she has known the 411 on his “death” all along (and in fact basically assembled his eventual team) — the bigger picture concerned Hydra’s takeover of S.H.I.E.L.D., starting with the “top brass.”
Was Hand part of the scheme? Actually, no. Though a series of snippet’s pointed us in that direction, a scene where she captured and confronted Simmons and Triplett at the Hub — then asked them to swear undying loyalty to Hydra — proved to be just a test, expanding her circle of trust by two. The bad news: Hand says that Coulson is Hydra, something Simmons is aghast to consider.
Meanwhile on the Bus, there’s no steering this high-tech ship, which is under Hydra’s control, so all Coulson, Ward, Skye, Fitz, Garrett and a shackled May can do is brave for whatever awaits them at the Hub. Using a “mouse hole” gizmo that Fitz designed (but was never distributed wide, though it got much use in Winter Soldier), the group escapes through the belly of the plane, then uses the old Han/Luke/Wookie trick to slip inside. Ward and Skye peel off to hack (OK, blow up) the controls that are crippling the Bus. When the going gets tough, Ward opens up to Skye, expressing his wish to “get a drink” should they somehow survive this. Skye gives him some proper lip, about the whole May thing and all, but in the end says yes — and then really gives him some lip, a kiss before possibly dying. (“Why the hell not?” she argues.) It’s all for naught, though, as Ward whales on the multiple goons surrounding them.
Unaware that Hand is a friendly, Coulson and Garrett debate their next play, with the latter anxious to get the drop on her and kill her in cold blood. In making his case, Garrett then stumbles into the age-old blunder and reveals something he couldn’t possibly have known, that Coulson saw the Girl in the Flowered Dress in the machine. D’oh! Garrett aka The Clairvoyant is then set to lay waste to Coulson, Fitz and May when Skye’s bombs start ka-booming, dimming the lights in time for a big fight. With more than a little thanks to some bang-bang and then a helpful assist from Fitz, the good guys emerge victorious, then hand Garrett over to… well, Hand, who later reports that “Captain America has defeated the helicarriers at Triskelion.” Indeed.
With Garrett tagged for a room in the Icebox, Ward quite conspicuously requests to be the one to “turn the key” on his onetime S.O.’s cell door — and Coulson, as I did, cast a wary eye as Ward marched off with his mentor. And sure ’nuff, when hand invited Ward to kill the right clairvoyant this time, he instead turned his gun on the two guards and then Hand herself, trading a knowing nod with Garrett. Is Ward in fact Hydra and/or bad, or is this part of some deep-cover assignment cooked up by him and Coulson?
As the hour ends, with the Bus about to pull away, Coulson invites May along, even though he now considers her not a “friend” but merely “an ally, and we need all we can get.” His plan for now: survive.