This week’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was…weird. The Secret Warriors stuff was all good, but the political undertones suffered from a complete lack of subtlety. I mean, at one point, it literally just cut to Donald Trump talking for five minutes about making America great again. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with a show having a political message, but–what’s that? That Trump speech wasn’t part of the episode? It was just the New York ABC affiliate constantly cutting away from a really solid episode of television for election updates? Ohhhhh.
In all seriousness, this week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. finally delivered on the promise it has been making since before the season began. Ever since Project Caterpillar was teased at the end of last season, nobody was more excited to see the Secret Warriors finally come together than I was, but it’s been one of the slowest burning stories the usually fast-moving show has ever offered. So with almost an entire season of build-up, was the payoff of the Secret Warriors worth it? Oh hell yes. We’ve had a few glimpses of the team working together in previous episodes, but with the rest of Coulson’s team trapped in Hydra’s evil-cliche oil field bunker, this was the first time we really got to see how much ass the Secret Warriors could kick together. From Joey and Yo-Yo making bets about how many guys there would be in the hallway to Lincoln taking out a bunch of Hydra agents with his lightning, the rescue mission at the beginning of this episode showed that the Secret Warriors are basically an Avengers-level team. In fact, the scene had the same sense of seamless teamwork as the opening assault on the Hydra base in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The rescue easily could have been the finale of an episode, but for The Team, it was only the beginning.
What starts as a demonstration of how great the Secret Warriors can be quickly unravels into a tense, paranoid whodunnit-style mystery that tears the team apart. As soon as Malick reveals to Coulson that Hive can “sway” Inhumans by infecting their minds, every action from every Secret Warrior starts to look suspicious. In fact, I was ready to criticize this episode for making it too obvious that Yo-Yo was infected up until the final reveal. Maybe I’m just slow, but it seemed obvious to me that Joey was set up to be a red herring, while Yo-Yo was the one who was actually infected. After all, she was the one who was shown to be bleeding, she was the one who knew where the grenades were kept, she was the one who kept asking to leave, and she was the first one to steal a gun and point it at a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Despite the supposed hour-long disappearance of Joey, it felt like a really half-hearted misdirect on the show’s part. Even when Coulson accused Lincoln, it still never occurred to me that the infected Inhuman was anyone other than Elena Rodriguez. So the reveal that Daisy had been infected came as a complete and total surprise to me.
Seriously, this is not a rhetorical question: am I just dumb, or was this a really well played reveal? Maybe some of you are like me and thought it was Yo-Yo from the beginning, or maybe some of you suspected Lincoln or Joey. But with three different misdirects, the final several minutes of this episode were a complete shock that I can honestly say I didn’t see coming, even a little bit (and again, I’m totally open to the possibility that I’m just dumb).
Of course, while the Secret Warriors took up the vast majority of the screen time this episode, they probably won’t take up the majority of internet comments. After seasons of prolonging their “cursed” romance, FitzSimmons finally get together for real this episode, and for once, the horrible thing that happens right after they kiss doesn’t immediately tear them apart. Sure, Daisy’s betrayal and escape tears the team (and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s base) apart, but that can’t do anything to silence the giddy squeals of FitzSimmons shippers. And this time, I’m right there with them. Fitz and Simmons have evolved from the two-dimensional “awkward scientist” characters they were in season one, so now they’re interesting enough on their own that I’ve always been somewhat ambivalent about whether or not they should end up together. However, the “will-they-won’t-they” aspect of the show has definitely overstayed its welcome, as far as I’m concerned, so the fact that FitzSimmons seem to be on (relatively) stable ground for the moment is a relief.
All in all, this episode is a great payoff of the previous 16 episodes. The action works because we’ve seen bits and pieces of what the Inhumans can do before, and now we’re seeing it all come together. The character moments work because we’ve spent enough time with these people to really care about them. And the story works because the episode manages to pull off a mystery plot without telegraphing the ending too soon.
4.9 Trump Speeches out of 5. Would have been a perfect score, but ABC’s silly insistence on bringing me news about something as trivial as the future of my country got in the way of some perfectly good television.
Between Nathaniel’s revenge on his brother last week and Ward calling Daisy “Skye” this week, it seems like Hive keeps more than just the memories of those he kills. If he retains their emotions as well, maybe that gives him a weakness?
“SkyeWard” shippers should be pretty happy with this week’s turn of events, although I guess that name doesn’t really apply anymore. So what are they now, Dive? Haisy? Dave?
I’m not missing Bobbi and Hunter nearly as much as I feared I would. In fact, their absence continues to be the best thing that has ever happened to Lincoln.
“I’m in a lot of pain and I hate this hospital gown.”
“Who needs space? I’ve got something magnificent right here…a picture of space”
As great as this episode was, I’ll be awfully disappointed if this is the end of the Secret Warriors.
So Hive wants to spend Malick’s billion dollar fortune? Here’s hoping next episode is just a 48-minute montage of Ward and Giyera getting a bunch of hookers and booze.