Finishing Strongly: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Contains MASSIVE spoilers for both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the latest episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’.

Well, I didn’t see that coming. And no, I’m not talking about the stunning revelation in The Winter Soldier that S.H.I.E.L.D. was infiltrated years ago by the alternative universe Third Reich, HYDRA. (I didn’t see that coming either, it’s just not what I’m talking about.)

The revelation was the initially disappointing, then recently fairly solid Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. suddenly being THIS GOOD.

We learned in the previous episode ‘The End of the Beginning’ that season nemesis The Clairvoyant was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, and the final scene seemed to set up Victoria Hand–seemingly straight-laced no-fun senior agent, but with distracting red streaks dyed in her hair OMIGOD RED IS THE COLOUR OF HYDRA–as said Clairvoyant. I was somewhat skeptical, given this is a Joss Whedon show, and surely it couldn’t be that obvious?

EVIL! Maybe?

Then the weekend rolled around, and Mrs. Dan and I went to see the new Cap’n USA, and by golly if it wasn’t the best film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe yet! Also OMIGOD HYDRA etc.

But back to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I impatiently waited for Tuesday to come and bring the new episode–the first time that’s happened for this series, by the way–and hell yeah was it worth the wait. From the Blue Oyster Cult soundtracked cold open, to the ‘Hand recruiting Simmons and Triplett for HYDRA’ fakeout, to the very satisfying reveal that Bill Pullman Paxton was the real Clairvoyant, it was all excellent stuff. Garrett is on his way to the Icebox and a future of never seeing daylight again, and the audience breathes a satisfied sigh of relief.

But wait.

Offered the chance to pop a cap in his former mentor’s proverbial ass, our very own Agent Wooden Top Ward generates more interest in four seconds than he has in the previous seventeen episodes by APPARENTLY offing two S.H.I.E.L.D. redshirts and Ms. Hand herself. (Cue the excellent if slightly on-the-nose shot of a bloody hand above. Get it? BLOODY HAND?)

Which sent Mrs. Dan and I off on a fifteen minute conversation after the show about whether Ward is really a double agent for the Nazis HYDRA or whether he was bound for an exciting life of triple agenting. Our collective money is on the latter; for one thing, Garrett doesn’t say anything like ‘well done, just like we planned’ and actually looks pleasantly surprised at the development. Plus, a risky and possibly suicidal gambit to infiltrate HYDRA and see just how deep the infestation goes is right up Coulson, Hand and Joss Whedon’s alley.

However the story unfolds, I’m just delighted that this series has–after a distinctly underwhelming start–finally and somewhat surprisingly turned into the show we all hoped it would be. There are five episodes left, a bold new story arc for a character we’ve been waiting for something from all year and cameos to look forward to from Robin Scherbatsky and this guy:

And I find myself fervently crossing my fingers for a renewal and a second season. (Current chances: fifty-fifty.) Quite a turn around. Altogether now: HAIL HYDRA!

Wait, wrong team.



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