The alien writing has been the cornerstone of this series. And yes after reading that sentence I realise that this series should be fluffy drivel fuelled by flammable nonsense. Coulson’s urge to channel his inner Garrett and carve the alien writing into any wall-like surface, like walls. He can’t even sleep now and Skye encourages him with her support to discover what it means.
Coulson and Skye as if by the convenient magic of marvel hear about a body that has the alien writing carved into her flesh. Wow, way to grow up marvel TV! To discover the next target Coulson uses the fantastically named Johnsons memory machine which does exactly what it says on the tin, this is the same machine used by Reina to torture the information out of Coulson. The group are split on whether to use it as the moral compass spins wildly around like the arms of a confused linesman. Coulson remembers the faces and names of people involved in project T.A.H.I.T.I, then when Skye tries to place him in a cell for protection he escapes her and goes to the last surviving target of the killer.
Coulson finds the last patient and save shim from the killer and in doing so discovers that the alien writing is actually a 3D map of a city, upon this discovery the urge to carve stop in Coulson and the murderer.
Agent Ward as a side storyline straps himself with C4 and evades multiple members of the team following his escape from Shield on transit to his brother. He arrives at a bar to me Hydra agent Bakshi but when Shield enter they find that Ward has escaped again but leaving Hydra agents dead and Bakshi incapacitated. The episode ends with agent Ward contacting Skye and claiming he will leave Shield more “gifts” like Bakshi and that he will see her again when he’s finished some business which is villain slang for murder. Then he places down a paper contains a story of his brother the senator hunting for him.
This is an impressive week for Agents Of Shield, the movement of the alien writing storyline has been steady but this is a big leap but it’s imaginatively done with Coulson paying a heavy emotional price through the torture of the memory machine. The memory machine though does need a cool comic book name quicker than the Flash needs new pairs of shoes. This technology is nice and messy though, they do a great job of making it look painful and the scenes of him wading through murky memories of the patients in T.A.H.I.T.I slowly falling apart. The patients merge into a collage of torment and the shot him seeing himself being gagged away screaming is a little predictable but effective.
The actual concept of the murderer carving the signs into his victims is incredibly grizzly and the show deserves extra credit for highlighting that the victims are alive at the point of carving. So there you go show, enjoy your extra credit. This is mature content, braver writing than expected and gives the villain extra credibility as well and making Coulson’s project of T.A.H.I.T.I seem even more sinister in its effects on its patients.the group at base also fall out constantly and the harrowing torture causes them to bicker and undermine. Simmons makes cutting remarks to Mack at every opportunity and Mack sheds his cuddly image but questioning Coulson while he replaces Simmons in Fitz’s recovery. The Halo therapy and Fitz’s self analysis is also a nice scene. This is balance out by a slightly annoying error when Coulson claims to Simmons that he isn’t affected by the chemical GH-325, but then Skye yells at him that he’s getting worse in front of Simmons to no reaction. This is a rare but obvious error that dilutes the drama and subterfuge.
Coulson fight at the end is tidy enough and the conclusion of the symbols being a map is a tidy progression in plot. Agent Ward evading Shield is nicely played as he exhibits his charm to strangers and his methods in sniffing out Coulson’s pawns. It also gives Bobbi, Hunter, Mae and Tripplet plenty to do as the show continues to spin the plates of its many main characters with surprising ease, keeping them mostly relevant and busy. And Trip whose trigger finger apparently “needs some love” is still a walking missed opportunity. The last patient who Coulson saves is debriefed and it’s always nice when the team are shown dealing with the human fallout, the thank you he gives Coulson to validity his project is a little heavy handed but does the job in a generally well acted plot thread.
Agent Ward strapping himself in C4 is a brave move for an American TV show in this age but moves the story along without making him super powered but just driven and desperate. I’m glad they didn’t keep him at Shield as Hannibal Lector-lite for too long and it’s good to see him still manipulating Shield with his “gift” of Bakshi. His call to Skye is well played in its heartfelt but creep factor and he makes her a much better character for it, unlike her being an alien which makes me cry a little inside and unless it is executed perfectly will no doubt disappoint.
The verdict: a very good, active and grim episode that gives the most intriguing plot line a healthy shot in the arm and keeps us invested in our broken team of lost heroes.