Love in the Time of Hydra: Marvel's Agents of SHIELD S2E14 – Review

Wards2e14

Love in the Time of Hydra: Recap

We begin with our old friends Ward and Agent 33 enjoying a nice breakfast together at some diner.  When another patron gets up to leave, the two rogue agents hold up the place and take the man captive because he is going to fix Agent 33’s face.  He repairs the giant electronic gash in the nanomask and does some diagnostics on the software, so now she can copy any face she sees – up to three at a time, and women’s faces will work better – and it can never be removed.  He also fixes her voicebox so it will stop sounding warbled and robotic, but it will only ever sound like Agent May’s voice.

Ward then removes him from the equation and heads out for another secret purpose.

Bobbi and Mack are trying to get Hunter on their side with the whole “Real SHIELD” thing, and we get to meet some of its leadership, including Edward James Olmos as Robert Gonzales, the head honcho.  A lot of concerns are raised about Coulson keeping secrets (like Fury did), and pursuing alien technology on a wild goose chase that eventually led to a good agent’s death.  The “Real SHIELD” thinks that Coulson needs to be eliminated.  However, Hunter is not, per se, “drinking the Kool Aid”.

Coulson proceeds to take Skye to a safe house out in the middle of nowhere.  He gives her a new set of gloves Simmons made that can help inhibit her powers (so she can control and channel them without injuring herself), but they come with…side effects…which Coulson did not explain, saying that Simmons can explain them later.

Ward comes back to find Agent 33 wearing Skye’s face, still with May’s voice, trying to seduce him.  He pushes her away, stating if he’s going to be with her he wants it to be her, not May or Skye.  She gets angry because there’s nothing of her left.  Ward tells her she needs closure, like when he “reconciled” with his family.

Gonzales talks to Bobbi and Mack about Hunter.  He sends Mack back to Coulson’s base, and questions Bobbi a little further.  She tells him she’s “all in”, but Gonzales decides to keep Hunter on base until Coulson is out of the picture.

Mack shows up back at the plane.  May asks where Hunter is and Mack makes up a “ships passing in the night” story about a drunken ex-husband.  May says that Hunter has effectively gone AWOL, and they need to hunt him down before he says the wrong thing to the wrong person.  Mack plays it off as not being a big issue and walks away.

Ward returns to Agent 33 with intel on where to find Bakshi, and they’re off on a mission.  Specifically, this mission takes them to General Talbot, who is still holding Bakshi in a cell.  Agent 33 uses the mask to pretend to be the General’s wife, which works enough to get her through the door where she immediately changes into a new face and outfit.  She cuts the surveillance and Ward uses the opportunity to take out the desk guard.  Once the General figures out it’s all been a set up (after his wife calls), he calls in all the female personnel to try to identify the culprit.  Unfortunately, 33 has adopted a man’s face, and sneaks Ward in.  They open up Bakshi’s cell and 33 proceeds to knock him silly.  They end up taking him away with them.

Hunter tells Bobbi he’s escaping, and she better not stop him.  Of course, everyone else tries.  He manages to get past the guards, and discovers he’s on a big boat in the middle of the ocean.  He steals a boat and starts driving to shore.  It’ll take him 12 hours to get there, where he can contact anyone and say anything.  Bobbi says she can take out Coulson in 6 hours.

Coulson returns from the safe house and he and May are briefed by Talbot on what has transpired at the military base.  They know the nano mask is back in play, and they know that Ward is active again.  They’ll be monitoring the situation closely, and they promise to catch these guys.  After the call, May and Coulson discuss Mack’s suspicious behavior, and that it didn’t feel right to put Skye away, even though it looks like the best option.

Agent 33 transforms her face into her own – scars and all, and Ward enthusiatically approves, reintroducing himself to her.  They get ready for a long night, which involves Bakshi hooked up in front of a large TV playing very hypnotic imagery.  They’re going to indoctrinate them…but into what doctrine?

Review

In all honesty, the writing really bugged me in this episode.  There was a little bit too much of that heavy-handed exposition.  Things like reminding someone of how they saved your life.  It was done a little more artfully than most of the times I see it, but it felt forced and rushed and I expect a little better of these writers.

Also, Talbot was a little goofier in this episode than I think that character actually is.  From babbling on about riding lawn mowers to getting up in his staff’s face, it seemed like they were going for laughs more than tension the whole time – and he used to be such a formidable foe!  And then at the end, when his first response was to call Coulson and ask him to promise that they’ll catch these guys…whatever happened to “Coulson, your team was supposed to be on this?”  He just seemed weak this episode.

The plot points developed in interesting ways.  Ward and 33 now have a minion that we’ve learned to fear in the past, Mack and Bobbi are accelerating their mutiny (a word which came up in the trailer for next week), Coulson and May are unsure about the right way to handle the situation with Skye, and Skye is unsure how to handle her powers.  This episode was clearly a matter of setting up the dominoes to lead up to a really emotional season finale rushing toward us.

I’m glad Fitz brought up the point that he and Skye were both transformed by external events (lack of oxygen, terrigen crystals), Simmons’ change of heart and attitude is the most terrifying because that was her chosen response to things that happened around her.  She didn’t eat, drink, breath, or touch anything that changed her – she just changed.

Selfishly, I hope that they get that voicebox fixed because it is very difficult to pull off the live action lip-synch, and it pulls me out of the show a little bit every time I see it.  Although it is a little helpful to know that if you hear May’s voice, but don’t see May’s face, that’s probably Agent 33.  Maybe too helpful, though.

Obviously, the confrontation between SHIELD and Real SHIELD is forthcoming, but I don’t feel too worried about it.  Even though they want Coulson removed, they don’t seem to be inherently evil and can, potentially, be reasoned with (as opposed to HYDRA that takes negotiations as a sign of weakness).  Ward and 33 are a small force, but they are Chaotic Neutral so who the heck knows what they’re end game is.  I’m more terrified of those two (plus Bakshi) than I currently am about the Inhumans (which weren’t dealt with at all this episode) or Real SHIELD.

All in all, this episode didn’t wow me, but there were a few good moments.  As with any entertainment that has more than one part, some will be better than others, so I’ll accept this as one of the lower ones.  It all fits into a bigger scheme, though, and I’m still looking forward to where that story goes!

Until next week, agents.

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