This week the episode kicks off in absurd fashion when Hydra agents crash into Talbot’s press conference and have weaponised the Obelisk into good old practical throwing discs. With their demonic, ninja starts they wipe out half the room live on TV but Talbot escapes. In a stroke of genius bordering on ridiculous the Hydra agents slap some shield stickers on their chests and therefore frame our heroes.
Senator Christian Ward leaps on this opportunity with the grace of Spider-Man and the fury of Wolverine to condemn Shield and start a reinvigorated hunt for them. Grant Ward at Hydra tells Skye that Christian is not to be trusted as the Senator tells Coulson the same of his brother. Coulson and Christian strike up a deal, the Senator calls off the hunt for Shield and proclaims his sibling a Hydra agent that he will bring to justice. In return Coulson sends Grant Ward to his brother but he escapes in transit to end the instalment. Mae also apprehend the Hydra agents who framed them and hands them over to Talbot who begins to sympathise.
Much of this plot does seem ridiculous like the flimsy gram job that isn’t exactly going to make Moriarty fume in a jealous rage. Also if you were going to weaponise a godly power like the Obelisk then this is probably not the way to it. This is obviously for martial art kicks and slow motion budget, either that or the weaponised plan were drawn up by the 13 year old son of a Hydra scientist.
Otherwise though it’s fairly entertaining and moves the award storyline on nicely as well as revealing the identity of the mysterious Senator, playing an evil wizard of oz character behind the curtain for most of the series. The scene where both Ward brothers plead their innocence and slander the other is great. The scene plays both scenarios alongside each other as you choose who to believe, earnest and shamed Grant or calm and measured Christian? Grant escaping is obvious and robs us of a great dynamic with him imprisoned although at least before it gets stale. It’s obvious as soon as Coulson doesn’t accompany him although Simmons threatening him with murder on the way out stamps his effect on the group again.
Some nice set pieces though, Bobbi, Mae and Hunter track down an old contact to find out about the weaponised obelisk. This leads mostly to a Mr and Mrs Smith mis fight domestic between Bobbi and Hunter which is fine but hopefully short lived material. The story where they track down Hydra agents who are trapping Shield operatives in Holland to trap and kill them, is a nice change of pace. The plot is fairly devious and without adding too much to the main narrative it shows a willingness to tie up loose ends, show messy consequences and use all characters. It’s also a believable and invested way to get Talbot over to the side of the heroes. The fight between Mae and the Hydra agent who may have had the word ‘evil’ shaven into his mohawk, this is another fantastic battle. A great, ambitious and un-rushed fight that is frankly Jason Bourne-worthy, the series is learning how to utilise it. Hopefully this will be a treat every now and again and not leaned upon and diluted too much.
Fitz and Simmons previously of FitzSimmons finally had the show down they should have had last week. It’s cleverly done if a little late, Simmons tries to help him thin but is out of practise and you sense that he is frustrated that she is less in tune with him than his internalised Simmons V.02. Mack then sweeps in like the new knight in shining vest tops and saves the day. He then grills Simmons for leaving and even tells her that she’s the only thing that “makes him worse”. This gives him great edge and new depth other than the cuddly bear of the group. Would still be nice to know where they ordered their own Mack in from though?! He’s totally without origin, other than he sprouted up from pure awesome. Simmons claims her making Fitz worse is why she left and Mack challenges her to put Fitz first and not shut him out.
All in all this sets up some developing character dynamics….while Tripplet watches and “damn”s along hoping to catch someone’s attention, preferably a writer. Poor guy. There are multiple storylines in play, the political element, gathering forces and Skye’s dad plus a cast large enough to handle them as well as making them seem more expendable. The writing will need to stick with a bolder path and keep the risk factor high, trying to steer clear of the more cheesey and lighter elements. Coulson is appropriately cold when trading Grant Ward and Skye playing Ward for her own means shows a group of heroes maturing along with the series at a steady rate.
The verdict: A stable and satisfying enough episode without breaking any large barriers. The series is still an improvement of the first and is carrying on the momentum the Hydra storyline gathered. The script is still mixing light comedy and dark realities that is a difficult balance and one that will be hopefully maintained.