Saturday, November 8, 2014

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.06: "A Fractured House"

“He’ll smile, bare his soul. It is all manipulation. He is a master at it. Look, I know what I am. But my brother? He’s worse.”
-Grant Ward

This episode felt like the beginning of more long-running stories on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Now that Simmons’ undercover Hydra mission is over, Skye knows more about her dad, and the mercs are more fully integrated into the team, we needed other things to drive the show forward. This episode closes yet another story of the first few episodes, in the sense that S.H.I.E.L.D. and Talbot reach an accord, for now at least. We learn a little more about Ward’s past, or at least we meet one of his family members. Both of the Brothers Ward are so manipulative that we viewers can’t possibly know what, if anything, that either of them said is true. It really was a relationship-themed episode, as we also spent some time learning about Bobbi and Lance’s past and watching Fitz and Simmons try to reconcile with the new normal. The latter just made me sad. Sad FitzSimmons makes me sad.

The episode opens with Talbot giving an anti-S.H.I.E.L.D. speech at the United Nations. Conveniently, the U.N. is attacked in the middle of Talbot’s speech, and the attackers are all wearing S.H.I.E.L.D. uniforms. Clearly, it’s a frame job, and most of the government and public are gullible enough to believe it. Word of the attack gets back to Team Coulson. Simmons recognizes the weapon that was used in the attack from some files she saw at Hydra. Bobbi also seems to know a bit about it too, and we soon find out why. It is something that a Japanese scientist named Toshiro has been working on, so some of the team is headed for Japan, naturally. This results in Hunter and Bobbi having to go on a mission together, and neither of them are thrilled about it.

In this episode, we are also introduced to Senator Christian Ward, who is Grant Ward’s slimy older brother. Even more importantly, from my perspective, he is portrayed by the fantastic Tim DeKay. I have enjoyed his performances on “White Collar” over the past few years, and I enjoyed this performance, too. The character might have been a bit overwritten as an evil, manipulative jerk, but DeKay certainly did what he could with it. Senator Ward is on the warpath over the UN attack, especially when anyone brings up the fact that his brother was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.

Since Skye is the only person Ward will talk to, she is given the task of asking him questions about his brother. To say it doesn’t go well would be an understatement. Ward kind of freaks out when Skye mentions his brother. He talks about what a horrible, horrible person the Senator is. He blames Senator Ward for goading him into torturing their younger brother at the well. We see later that the Wards each tell very different stories about their past. Senator Ward wont’ admit to goading his younger brother into anything. Each will tell you that the other is evil and incredibly manipulative and can’t be trusted. I’d say they both are probably very manipulative, and it may not even be productive to argue over who is worse. They’re both pretty terrible people (although Tim DeKay is still awesome). Grant Ward, of course, just keeps trying to redirect Skye to talking about her father. Which kind of makes him even more of an asshole. Skye, however, just insists her father’s a no good murderer.

There’s a significant amount of FitzSimmons awkwardness in this episode, which really just made me sad. They really haven’t figured out how to communicate with each other since Fitz’s injury, and it’s just heartbreaking. I used to just adore their goofy banter. They were the most classic Joss Whedon banter-y characters on the show, really. Simmons keeps trying to talk to Fitz, but he stumbles in his responses, and Simmons isn’t really sure how to handle it. The high expectations make me kind of pissed at Simmons. Mac calls her on it at one point. She seems to be nostalgic for the Fitz that was instead of really focusing on how she can be there for the Fitz who is here now. At first I thought it was kind of nice that Mac and Simmons could kind of compare notes on how to best help Fitz become functional. Mac had been doing a pretty good job of helping Fitz feel useful again. He pissed me off, however, when he told Simmons that Fitz only gets worse when she’s around. I have to believe these two can figure out how to be partners in crime again. If not, then all is not right with the world!

Because Bobbi, Lance, and May were on a mission together in this episode, we learned a little more about Bobbi and Lance’s past, but mostly we get to see them bicker in a rather uninteresting way. The team visits Toshiro, the guy who invented the weapon used in the U.N. attack, and Bobbi goes in first. She already knows Toshiro, and it’s obvious they have had some sort of relationship, since, you know, they pretty much immediately start with the making out. This kind of pisses Lance off. Anyway, Bobbi finds out Toshiro is in league with Whitehall, and that’s when things get messy.

The team is headed for a safe house in Bruges (alas, no Colin Farrell is there to greet them). Unfortunately for them, Hydra gets there first, and they kill all the S.H.I.E.L.D. folks who were already there. That particular scene made me want to do an Admiral Akbar-stlye, “It’s a trap!” When the team arrives in Bruges, Lance is the first inside the safe house, and he plays it as if he’s a mercenary (which he is) who has joined Hydra (which he hasn’t). The Hydra folks believe it at first, but then the rest of the team attacks, and that’s that, as it were.

There’s also one additional matter to attend to before I close out this blog post, and that’s the rather important matter of the Ward brothers. In one of the creepy Clarice/Hannibal Lechter-style interrogation sessions, Skye tells ward that they’re transferring him into his brother’s custody. It appears to be a deal Coulson did with the Senator to get him off S.H.I.E.L.D.’s back. There’s just one tiny problem. While he’s being transferred, Ward silently escapes. That won’t end well for anybody, I have no doubt.

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