Thursday, April 10, 2014

Agents of SHIELD 1x17 -- Getting Slapped Upside the Head

If you haven't watched this latest episode of Agents of Shield, then I suggest you look away now unless you don't mind getting spoiler-slapped. Which is apparently a lot like getting story-twist-slapped like I did at the end of this episode.
First off, I just have to say that Joss Whedon, bless his soul, is one of the only TV writers who can actually surprise me, which is probably why I love him so much (as well as his innate ability to create awesome characters.) And I'm not just talking run-of-the-mill mild surprise, I mean pick-myself-up-off-the-ground surprise because I just got totally floored by a major plot twist.
Were there some people out there saying that SHIELD wouldn't get renewed, that it was dying a slow death, that nothing was really happening and who would want to watch a plot going nowhere? Well, hopefully this week's episode shut the critics up. I actually prefer Whedon's slow-burn approach, introducing us to all the element to lead us somewhere spectacular, as opposed to most instant-gratification shows these days that shove the obvious down your throat and wring out the drama and action week after week to the point of making things melodramatic.
But back to this week's episode. Last week we were left with the shocking revelation that Melinda May had been reporting on Coulson and the entire team since the start. I thought this was going to be the scandalous secret of the season, and was pretty satisfied with being served that twist, but oh boy, was I wrong.
At the beginning of the episode, this little hook is nicely resolved, May reveals that she's been reporting to Director Fury, but Coulson is still left feeling betrayed and understandably can't trust her any longer. But that has to be pushed aside to consider the bigger problem that HQ has hijacked their plane and is bringing them into the Hub. Through a series of reveals, it turns out Hydra, the big, bad organization that SHILED supposedly stopped sixty or seventy years ago had returned, bigger and more dangerous because they've filled SHIELD's ranks with sleeper agents.
So they arrive back at the Hub with the intention of saving Simmons, who had gone there earlier. The team thinks HQ has been taken over by Hydra, but it turns out the SHIELD agents still hanging onto the Hub think Coulson and his team are Hydra themselves.
So there's some fights, some stuff gets blown up, plus we were treated to a very nice moment between Ward and Skye (see my ships that aren't shipping post, part four for the skinny on these two). This wasn't too surprising, as in the last few episodes, it seemed Ward's feelings for Skye, which he had largely been denying and suppressing, were starting to get the better of him, and I think that began when Skye was almost killed. Anyway, last week he defied orders to kill a guy who he thought was a threat to Skye's safety (turned out it was the wrong guy, whoops!) and then this week, when Agent Garrett asked Ward if there was anything on the plane he didn't want Hydra getting their hands on, Ward pointedly, and very obviously looked at Skye. So all the shippers were probably cheering over that. Except it got better, when a bit later, Skye and Ward shared a moment before Ward had to face a dozen men on his own. Skye agreed to go on a pseudo-date with him if they got out alive,  kissed him, and then threw out the "what the hell, you said you might die" line.

After that, I pretty much thought the episode couldn't get any better. But it did. It just got more and more awesome.
It turned out that the unknown bad guy they'd been chasing for half the season was Agent Garrett, another twist I didn't see coming, but one I could appreciate. This hurt our team, partly becuase Garrett was one of Coulson's oldest friends, but also because he was Ward's SO, which is kind of like an important mentor type person. The devastation on Ward's face when he found out the truth was just done so well by Brett Dalton.
By now, I was pretty much thinking I hadn't enjoyed an episode of anything this much since the days of Buffy or Firefly, but Whedon manage to get one final hit in, and it was the hardest of them all.
Ward volunteered to accompany the flight taking Garrett to wherever he was going to get locked up for the rest of forever, and it all seemed fine and dandy -- well, as fine and dandy as it could be since SHIELD had fallen apart and people the team had trusted most had betrayed them.
This isn't a pic from this episode,
but I think the shirtless-ness justifies it being here
Mid way through the flight, Agent Hand (who now seemed to be the highest ranking surviving member of SHIELD) asked Ward if he thought they should kill Garrett instead of locking him up. Ward stood up and took out his gun, and I was thinking "no, Ward, don't do it, you already killed the wrong man, if you kill another, even the right one, you can't come back from that."
A whole lot of possibilities crossed my mind in the moments when Ward loaded a round into the chamber. But what happened next never even crossed my mind. Ward shot the two agents sitting on either side of Garrett, before turning to shoot Agent Hand.
And that was when my whole Agents of SHIELD world fell apart. The episode ended, and I couldn't believe what I'd just seen. It took a while for my brain to kick the shock and come up with scenarios where things weren't what they seemed. I couldn't believe that after everything, especially considering his feelings for Skye, that Ward would just throw everything away to side with Garrett. Or worse, that it had all been an elaborate ruse and he'd been a bad guy from the beginning.
At this point, I'm hoping (more like praying) that Ward is acting as a double agent to flush out higher-ranking Hydra members, and that killing Agent Hand and her two agents had been a fake to lull Garrett into a false sense of security. Whatever the case, next week's episode looks to be just as heart-pounding as this week's was.
One thing is for certain, I definitely won't be missing any of the few episodes of this season, and as soon as it comes out on DVD, I'll be buying it so I can enjoy every torturous moment over and over again.

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