Synopsis of 2×19: Gonzales and Coulson must find a way to put their differences aside and work together against Hydra, even if it means teaming up with someone they don’t trust.
Will there every be an episode of Agents of SHIELD that I don’t enjoy?
(Let’s hope the answer is always no.)
I’ve been waiting since the premiere of season 2 to see the whole gang back together on the Bus, and “The Dirty Half Dozen” did just that. The best part about this show hasn’t been the Inhumans, or Real SHIELD, or the Hydra reveal, or even Phil Coulson coming back to life. It’s always been the dynamic between the original team, and the evolution of these relationships as the story is taken from start to finish.
And as beautiful was it was to see the team back together, it throws into sharp contrast the difference between this time and the last time they were all together. The shift in their dynamics is because of the adversity and conflict inflicted by the writers and the show is better for it. It was immensely satisfying to see the team air their grievances with Ward, as much as it was for Ward to finally get a word in without someone pointing a gun at him.
But nothing gold can stay, and the reunion feels like a symbolic funeral for the team (at least for now) as the Bus explodes while entering Hydra airspace and leaves the team in the small quinjet to descend into their mission grounds. The utter destruction of their home, the symbol of the good times they had, the place where they all became a team is some heavy handed symbolism to pile onto the fact that this isn’t the same team any more.
And, of course, it’s in large part because of the traitor in their midst, Grant Ward. And it seems that while everyone is still royally pissed at Ward, it’s time for Simmons to own up to the promise to made Ward the last time they met. Seeing Simmons wield the spider bomb in an attempt (albeit failed, RIP Bakshi) to kill Ward would be surprising, had we not been lead through the last eight episodes in a world where Simmons is no longer just the scientist in the lab. Ward took so much from her, and she hasn’t had the proper time to get her revenge.
Ward, for his part, seems shocked but the surprise dissipates pretty quickly as he takes Jemma’s assassination attempt as his cue to leave now that he’s lead the team into the Hydra base. As a fan of Ward’s character, by far one of the most dynamic characters on the screen, it was cathartic to see him finally get to face the team. There might be doubts from the audience about his sincerity in leaving Kara behind, but for me, at least, it feels like a genuine act towards Ward’s promise to Kara, to fix her up. The two might not be the perfect match, but it feels heartfelt that he wants good for her, and he’s not under any delusions about how the team and the rest of SHIELD feel about him, so this was the best of both worlds.
Coulson seems to be fine with this, as he might as well call the mission an overall success. Mike and Lincoln have both been rescued, though both are worse for wear (Lincoln having been actually dead and Mike irreparable). But, it wasn’t just a rescue mission. The spy in Coulson managed to pull the wool over May’s eyes as he takes a side route in the rescue mission to retrieve data from the Hydra computers about the location of Loki’s scepter to relay to Maria Hill in an awesome tie-in to Avengers: Age of Ultron.
For those interested in some specifics about the Theta Protocol, [SPOILER FROM AGE OF ULTRON] it feels like it is not merely calling in the Avengers, but also feeding into the results of Ultron. All those bunk beds that Coulson’s been ordering? We’re betting they go to that SHIELD facility in Upstate New York.
Coulson’s all too ready to throw it in Gonzalez’s face that not only is he still in contact with Hill, but also Fury, who may or may not be coming back for his toolbox soon. While it seems Gonzalez might have the Phil Coulson problem back on his plate, he seems unfazed as he talks about the success of bringing back Skye and Lincoln to the playground. It feels foreboding and given that we’ll see the Inhumans and SHIELD converging in the next episode, we can bet Gonzalez has a large part to play in this.
Speaking of Inhumans, shout out to classic juvenile Skye for the Sonic the Hedgehog reference to Raina. It’s always fun to be reminded that Skye, despite all her positive traits, maintains a certain level of immaturity that she is slowly growing out of. We’ve seen her transformed from a street level hacker into the full fledged SHIELD agent in this episode. Sure, her TKO of the Hydra agents with her quake powers was great (as was Ward’s snarky reaction), but it was her fantastic one shot action scene that blew me out of the water.
It was a fantastic sequence that showed that a Skye without her powers is still lethal. She’s not the girl saying bang after she shoots a gun anymore, she’s able to use the entire environment to her benefit and throw herself into a situation with multiple opponents and come out on top. She’s not just a SHIELD agent in spirit, not just someone chasing after a family or somewhere to belong, the Skye we see in this episode is very sure of who she is.
And it seems she’ll have to make the ultimate choice next week. We see Raina bring in another big tie in as she visualizes Loki’s scepter and the events of Ultron within her mind. As well as Cal reveal to the whole of Afterlife that Skye is his and Jiaying’s daughter. With the season moving towards a close, we’ll finally get to see the Inhumans and SHIELD face off as our protagonist is forced to make a decision about where her loyalties lie.