Wow, this one was cool. Like, a lot of new tricks on both sides of the line, some nice character moments, concise clear storytelling (which helped for such a confusing story to tell). Suspenseful, entertaining, and quite a ride.
And if you haven’t seen it, stop now.
Face My Enemy: Recap
We get a nice little “last time on Agents of SHIELD” recap, to remind the viewers of important backstory they need for this episode, then on to a church that was practically blown up and only one 500-year-old painting was spared – with alien etchings on the back. Coulson and May infiltrate a fundraiser to rebuild the church, at which the painting will be displayed. They reminisce, they tango, they talk about a plan to kill Coulson if he turns evil. Well, Coulson tries to talk about it and May refuses. They notice Talbot at the same party, and realize their cover is in jeopardy and they have to expedite the mission.
They break into the secrety vault far too easily, except there’s a laser grid. There’s always a laser grid. In perhaps my favorite moment ever, Coulson gets ready to do some ninja-style river dance to avoid the grid, and May just walks straight through it because everyone already knows they’re there. Unfortunately, there is no painting in actuality. It’s been taken by the government for who knows why. We see Talbot on the phone with dun-dun-dun Hydra.
As May and Coulson escape from the party – there are alarms sounding, after all – Talbot confronts them with a fairly nice offer, given the circumstances. He needs Coulson to help figure out that writing (that’s what he DOES), so he’s willing to work with Coulson, in a secret military lab of course. The three split up – Talbot back to his lab, Coulson to the bus to give orders to the team, May to investigate. She peeks in and sees someone reviewing a file on her and Coulson, with a Hydra logo on the front. PROBABLY CAUSE! She busts in and the fight ensues. It’s May vs ex Agent 33, now working for Hydra. Talbot joins in, but is actually a biometric mask on Whitehall’s crony Bakshi. The two of them incapacitate May with some super strong taser, and phase two begins.
Agent 33 takes some of May’s blood, and a recording of her voice, and makes a mask that transforms her into a fairly convincing copy of May. She boards the bus and instantly goes for Coulson and no one else. They get in the car and head down to where “Talbot” wanted to meet, but not before Agent 33 sabotages the plane. She and Coulson awkwardly reminisce, and little cues tell Coulson something’s up. He invites her for coffee and gets a very sincere “sure, I’d love that” and he punches her in the face because May hates coffee.
Meanwhile, Bakshi is trying his darndest to intimidate May into talking, but gets distracted and turns his back just long enough for May to un-restrain herself. Bakshi makes the one smart move possible in a fight with May – he runs. Suddenly, in the hallway, there’s Coulson and the fake May, followed by Bakshi and the real May. The Real vs Fake battle ensues, and Coulson reluctantly follows Bakshi, who has the painting (Reluctantly because come on, who doesn’t want to watch a fight between May and herself?).
The bus starts sparking and exploding with the team trapped inside, and Fitz and Hunter head off to try to stop the sabotage virus from spreading. Fitz admits he has trouble with words and with using his hands, so he needs someone else to do the things, and in this case it is Lance. The two save the day, almost miraculously in time.
I will not recap the May vs May battle, because it was epic and needs to be seen. Needless to say, the battle ends with Bakshi and Agent 33 down, and Coulson and May back on the bus with the painting, and a disturbing finding. The painting is 500 years old, but the writing is new. There’s someone else with the Coulson / Garrett thing going on. They tell the real Talbot about the imposter, and that the painting was destroyed, and cuts off the secure line before it can be traced.
Coulson and May finally have somewhat of a heart-to-heart about that contingency plan if Coulson’s brain gets too awful – May has to kill him and take over SHIELD. May has zero intention and has spent a long time figuring out how to take Coulson off the grid, but A.C. steadfastly refuses. Living in a shack won’t change his brain, she has to kill him.
Bonus moment: Raina has a very serious conversation with Dr. Whitehall where he gives her 48 hours to give him the obelisk, or else he will basically operate on her for a solid week or so, while she is still awake. This is probably the most sadistic, driven, determined villain I have seen in quite some time.
Half the fun of this episode was seeing Happy May, both during her cover and as the fake version. The entire team was uncomfortable hearing her laugh, and it was so much fun to see her out of character and hating it.
We also got a lot of good Fitz moments that let us see right into his brain – difficult because of the communication issues. Luckily, there is a great mechanic in play to hear his inner dialogue. He’s ticked that they moved HIS lab – because it was his and they didn’t ask him. He’s ticked that Ward is a more valuable asset than he is. But when push comes to shove, he saves the day using Lance as a proxy. He gets to bond with the team and rattles off the most perfect sentence he has said this season, which is all about Simmons leaving after he told her how he felt for her. Heartbreaking moment, for us and the team that’s listening to him, and they all raise their beers and toast the guy and “moving on”. Here’s hoping this helps Fitz’ recovery further.
The most worrying thing to me is this whole person mask thing. It makes me question every person on screen at any time because they could easily be a disguise, or brainwashed, or who knows what else? It sucks when identities are called into question, because Hydra was ON THE PLANE. Thank goodness they only tried to sabotage it instead of thinking “wait a minute, we’re here with basically all that’s left of SHIELD, let’s just blowdart these people, recruit them and brainwash them and season over.” For starters. Trust is really the only weapon that consistently works against this team.
The preview for next episode was just as worrisome. Obviously, we need an answer to the obelisk. Either Raina gets destroyed or the obelisk gets into enemy hands. Skye’s father is going to come up, because he has the obelisk, and is scarier than Hydra, apparently. There is a direct threat that “Either that, or Simmons dies” so there’s something with which we must deal. Meanwhile, there’s potentially another Clairvoyant on the loose, although it will probably manifest differently, you know, for interesting storytelling reasons.
All in all, this was a fun week to watch, next week will be one where every commercial break has me screaming at the TV. Sorry, Mr. DAPs.
Until next week, Agents.