Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Season 1, Episode 10
If this week’s episode proves anything, it’s that Agents of Shield is a series that has made good progress in its attempt to tell ambitious genre stories. Having cottoned on to the fact that the best way to keep its audience coming back is to make its central characters suffer, this mid-season finale is heavy on trauma, and tries to wring all the emotion from your heart like water from a flannel.
It’s not completely successful with that, but the show remains entertaining Friday night viewing, increasingly confident with its growing mythology. It’s still clear that the real goodies are being withheld for the latter half of the season, but at least we’re having a little more fun getting there.
It opens with a brief but well-staged escape sequence (it’s basically Prison Break in 60 seconds) that reintroduces Eddison Poe, a villain first encountered in the post-credits sequence of episode five. Aware of Poe’s escape and realising that something big is on the horizon, Coulson turns to Mike Peterson (first introduced in the Shield pilot), who temporarily joins the team to help them put things right. But it quickly becomes clear that Poe is not working alone – he’s teamed up with the beautiful and mysterious Raina. The two proceed to begin ‘Stage Three’ of their plan, and strike at the heart of the Shield team in the process.
In recognition of the devoted fans that have supported the show, this week’s episode is a bit of a treat for long-term viewers and makes the smart move of featuring the return of some of Shield’s greatest (or most despicable) guest stars. Think of it as a super villain reunion that sees the series check in on its most twisted characters. Thankfully they’re all alive and well – they might be the incarnation of evil, but Poe and Raina in particular make an enjoyable duo. They’re a match made in hell, and have a somewhat demented Bonnie and Clyde style chemistry that keeps them and their malicious schemes interesting.
There’s also some great continuity with the return of the Centipede technology, now newly improved so that it doesn’t turn its host into a human bomb (and also with added shininess!). The optical/mind control technology is also featured, and helps to contribute to an episode where the mythology and the developing story arc feel like they’re finally starting to work in harmony.
Of course, the best moments of the episode focus on the emotional struggles of the central characters we have come to care about. From May’s brutal words to dissuade Skye from pursuing the truth about her birth parents to Mike’s reunion with estranged son Ace, there are plenty of these incidents throughout, touching moments that develop the characters and explore the conflicts that arise when their personal lives brush up against the supernatural.
While there’s been some disagreement from Shield fans over some of the central characters, everyone accepts that Agent Coulson is the lifeblood of the show. As such it makes sense that the cliff-hanger of the episode sees our beloved AC/Man from ‘Tahiti’ placed in jeopardy, a great way to unite the team for one common purpose. It leads to a series of moody reaction shots (May looks like she’s trying to put out the fire from the explosion just be glaring at it), and it’s a promising hint that the next arc is finally going to start providing us with answers to all those on-going mysteries.Tagged in: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D
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