Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.18: "The Frenemy of My Enemy"

“Ward is a psychopath, but for now he’s our psychopath. So we use him to stay one step ahead.”

This particular episode of “S.H.I.E.L.D.” was kind of a mixed bag for me. Early in the episode, I thought the story was becoming a bit to fractured, with characters spread out in multiple locations and on multiple quests, “Game of Thrones”-style. By the end of the episode, however, it all came together in an intense, if short battle. I’m not quite sure where the show is going, and I’m not sure if I’ll be happy once the future is clear, but there’s certainly plenty going on right now to keep me interested in S.H.I.E.L.D. I still wish it was a little less Skye-centric, though. I still find Skye to be an annoying, over-eager puppy (and I usually like puppies) in a Kate from “Lost” kind of way. If the show could focus more on Coulson, May, Fitz, and Simmons, I’d be very happy.

Speaking of Fitz, the episode opens with Fitz running away from the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who were tailing him. Fitz is looking unusually well put together in this scene, wearing a gray suit and glasses. Regular MTVP readers should know that around here we definitely approve of good-looking, glasses-wearing Scottish men. Anyway, just as Fitz is about to be caught, he’s picked up by Team Coulson in the Quinjet. Coulson says that the first thing they need to do is find Skye. Hydra is still looking for superpowered people, so he thinks they might know where she is. To get to Hydra, Coulson thinks they need to make a deal with Ward. This is not a popular opinion among the group, for sure. Hydra, for its part, now under the supervision of Dr. List, is still experimenting on people with superpowers. The more things change, the more they stay the same, I suppose.

The other big plot at play in this episode is the continuing drama of the Johnson family. There’s plenty of family awkwardness happening in Afterlife early in the episode. Jiaying is being outwardly nice to Cal, and she says she’ll let him travel home to get some of his stuff. She also says she’ll plan more family dinners. We all know, however, that she is really planning to send him away and banish him from Afterlife. Skye and Lincoln are playing a game, and Skye mentions her fear that Cal will hurt someone when he realizes he is being sent away. Lincoln suggests she talk to Jiaying about it, considering she’s her mother and all. Skye takes Lincoln’s advice and asks Jiaying to rethink her plan, but it’s no-go.

Coulson’s plan is put into action pretty quickly. Coulson and Deathlok capture Agent 33 (in Mexico, presumably), then Coulson places a call to Ward from her cell phone. When they meet in person, Coulson offers Ward immunity, plus a Tahiti Protocol memory erasing, if he can figure out a way to get his team in contact with List or the other remaining Head of Hydra. After some serious hesitation, Ward says he knows a guy who might be able to help. The person with Hydra connections that Ward is eventually able to produce is the brainwashed Bakshi. Ward assures Coulson and his team that since Bakshi has been brainwashed, he’ll do exactly what they ask. Tensions run quite high on the Quinjet as Team Coulson argues the merits of the plan. Just in case Bakshi’s programming doesn’t hold up, Deathlok will be accompanying him to his meeting with Dr. List so that the team can watch the meeting through Deathlok’s artificial eye. The meet with List goes well at first until Bakshi offers Deathlok to List as a goodwill gesture. This little stunt results in a Mexican standoff on the Quinjet.

Meanwhile, at the S.H.I.E.L.D. base, Bobbi and Mack are sparring. While sparring, Bobbi wonders if maybe they are putting too much effort into tracking Coulson when Hydra is still a threat. I’m not quite sure what made her have such of a sudden change of heart. In the last episode, I thought she was pretty solidly on Team Coulson Could Be Very Dangerous. Mack kind of agrees with Bobbi, which was just as surprising. Elsewhere at the base, Simmons has a rather uncomfortable conversation when she admits to May that she swapped Fury’s toolbox out with a fake and gave the real one to Fitz. Some sort of laser is being brought in that is supposed to be able to crack the toolbox, and she is worried her switch will be discovered. May says she’ll take care of it, although Simmons doesn’t love her solution. May tells Bobbi that Fitz took the toolbox and Simmons was trying to cover for him. Simmons is then asked to try to tap into Deathlok’s visual feed to figure out where Coulson, Fitz, and the gang are. Simmons is pissed at May for throwing Fitz to the wolves, but May insists there was no other way to handle the situation.

Skye decides to take the Cal situation into her own hands, and she decides to go talk to him about how she heard he’s going to get to take a trip home. She asks if “home” is China, but Cal responds that while he was in China for Doctors Without Borders, and that’s where he met Jiaying, his actual home is Milwaukee. He wants to show Skye all his old Haunts one day, and she offers to go along with him on this day trip. Skye then has another conversation with Jiaying, who agrees to let her go to Milwaukee with Cal to soften the banishment blow and promise to visit. Cal’s tour of Milwaukee is more than a little awkward because most of the things that he remembers. A favorite ice cream shop is gone, for instance. Cal ends up showing Skye his office, which, since he owns the building, is still around even though he hasn’t been to Milwaukee for a very long time.

The climax of the episode involves pretty much every major player converging on Milwaukee. Who would have thought so many people would want to go to Milwaukee, of all places, so badly? It all begins when Skye calls May. Unfortunately for Skye, that phone call results in “real” S.H.I.E.L.D. being able to trace her location. If that’s not bad enough, Hydra has also gotten a signal from Gordon’s teleporting Cal and Skye to Milwaukee. So Gonzales’ goons and Hydra are all headed for Milwaukee. Oblivious to all this, Cal shows Skye his old office. Skye is tired of pretending, though, and she starts talking about how they can’t turn back time. Lincoln suddenly appears to make sure everything is okay Everybody’s kind of converging on Milwaukee (ironic). Skye calls May, “real” SHIELD can now trace the location. Hydra has gotten a signal from Gordon’s teleporting (also Ethan is missing). So they’re going to Milwaukee too. Cal showing Daisy old office, she starts to say they can’t turn back time.

Everything really goes to Hell when Lincoln appears to make sure everything is okay with Skye and Cal. That’s when Cal starts to get pissed off, because he realizes he’s going to be left behind in Milwaukee while Skye goes back to Afterlife. Bakshi and Deathlock, quickly followed by Team Coulson, also arrive on the scene. A big battle ensues, and in the midst of it Simmons finally successfully hacks into Deathlok’s feed. Of course the first thing she sees is Coulson and Ward working together, and that’s quite the WTF moment for Simmons and May. Bakshi’s brainwashing wasn’t so great after all, and he turns on Ward, capturing Deathlok and Lincoln (for future Hydra experiments, no doubt). Gordon takes away Skye (against her wishes) and Cal jumps in the teleport, too. Hunter is injured in the crossfire of it all. At the end of the episode “real” S.H.I.E.L.D. arrives on the scene and surveys the aftermath of the battle with Hydra. Coulson is waiting for them in Cal’s office, and he asks to be taken to their leader. He clearly has something up his sleeve.

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