Here’s your only warning. There are spoilers ahead.
We go mid-season cliffhanger with Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD: The Bridge. Finally, we start seeing a little more of Centipede – which depending on who’s talking, seems to be either the name of the organization behind the super-strong enhanced people or the project’s name for creating them.
We start with the same guy behind bars that Raina (the woman in the flower dress) was talking to on a previous episode. He gets broken out of prison by three centipede-enhanced soldiers. Turns out his name is Edison Poe, former marine and a cold-blooded dining machine. Poe comes from the I’m-scary-because-I-eat-slowly-while-people-get-hurt school of villainy. In case you missed it, they show him eating dinner again later on. I bet he’s also a lousy tipper.
I’m having a hard time getting excited about this series in the latest episodes. There’s some good dialog, I’ll give them that. I do like the characters ensemble. The execution sucks though. I get that certain things need to happen. I’m just not buying how do we get from one scene to another.
With super-soldiers on their side, Centipede should be a tough nut to crack. They don’t give that impression. Poe and Raina do a few scenes as their best Dexter/Lecter psychopathic genious impressions, but they kind of fall flat. Specially when they talk about the Clairvoyant, when they seem to go over the top.
Unfortunately, SHIELD doesn’t fare better. Skye says some smart-alecky things, Ward and May seem to be close to getting their secret relationship found out and Coulson is way too much of a father to the point that I’m going to blame him for what transpires in the end.
The team gets some super-powered backup with returning guest star and Centipede-enhanced Mike Peterson, played once again by J. August Richards. He may be exactly what the cast needs, but the character he plays has got something that the bad guys will eventually want: a way to stabilize their volatile soldiers permanently. Also, someone should’ve figured out sooner than once Raina finds out that he’s involved, Mike’s son would be in danger of being kidnapped and put some agents to keep watch. Then again, we don’t want that dramatic license to expire without using it.
There’s one lead as one of the soldiers is identified. The soldier has a sister, so Ward gets to play friendly lottery guy as he tells her that her brother has won the lottery and gives her a card. When the sister calls his brother to confirm it must be a scam, the card is actually a high-tech call tracker. The team tracks the call to an abandoned warehouse (for once I’d like it to be a comic book store or a karaoke bar but abandoned warehouse it is) in Oakland.
Of course, Centipede has taken off and left the three super-soldiers to kick some SHIELD ass by the time they get there. The team is severely outgunned but manage to capture one of them – briefly. Then Centipede kills him remotely the same way that Akela Amador was almost killed (the former SHIELD agent on Eye Spy). This is the time in which Coulson should’ve called in the big guns. He doesn’t and that’s a mistake.
Coulson lies to Skye telling her that she’s asked May to look into her parents’ disappearance. May is having a discussion with Ward after he protects her from harm in the latest scuffle. Sky appears just after Ward storms off, making May wary that she might have overheard something. Skye then asks May about looking into her parents’ disappearance. May, who has been alerted by Coulson about the obvious lie, breaks character and tells Skye that Coulson lied to her and that she should put her personal affairs aside while on a mission.
As a result, Skye turns into Little Orphan Annie and rips out the SHIELD reports about her parents and locks herself to cry in her room/closet. Even Coulson decides not to knock when he hears her whimpering. Too bad, that should’ve happened and that confrontation would have put some guts on that particular plot. Yes, Skye is allowed to have feelings – but she also should’ve had it out with Coulson. This half-hearted attempt is no good and feels like the show holding back.
Instead, Coulson gives a wounded Mike some advice on being a hero. If you didn’t guess what happens next, you can’t sit at the table. Mike calls his son and finds out Raina has him. Rather than turning this into a game of blackmail, Mike tells the team and here’s where Coulson makes yet another mistake. Just as May acts like the voice of reason and insist they call SHIELD hostage experts, Coulson overrides her assessment and decides they will oversee the exchange. This is one of those times in which he’s taken his fatherly role too far.
So here’s basically the worst possible scenario: Mike will walk along with Coulson to turn himself in. Coulson turns down May again when she insists it should be her because Mike has asked that it be him. Mike and Coulson walk along a a bridge between two cement trucks to reach Raina in a car at the other side. Ward is positioned with a sniper’s rifle on a ledge to the side where he’s obviously going to be worthless because he can’t see the exchange. Everyone else is in the SUV on the other side where they’re utterly useless.
I would’ve expected Fitz and Simmons wiring something underneath the bridge or May on the Bus hovering several miles above, ready to drop in. Nothing. Skye with a baseball bat would’ve been more of a plan.
First, Ward loses sight of the exchange. Then Raina informs Coulson that Mike is not the exchange, at which time Mike explains he’s sorry. The big twist is that Centipede wants Coulson – not Mike. Mike tries to change his mind and grabs Raina by the neck, keeping a super-soldier at bay… although he’s just right there so this scene/threat doesn’t work for me. Raina explains her life is not valuable. Coulson tells Mike he understands.
The fact that Coulson seems to want to go peacefully with Raina may seem like it has no explanation. Unless of course, it’s a trap for Centipede and Coulson has suspected he was the exchange all along. We don’t get to know that until January 7, when we get the second part and resolution of the cliffhanger.
Here’s what happens and curiously enough nobody in this scene seems to be brandishing a weapon. Mike gets his kid back and walks towards the rest of the SHIELD team. He hands him over to Skye, making her promise she’ll make sure he’s safe and then he decides to walk back and try to free Coulson again. The purpose of the whole awkward interaction is that Mike walks back between the two trucks and they blow up. Then he’s nowhere to be seen and the car at the other end of the bridge where Centipede is supposed to be blows up too. Then a chopper that nobody has seen, rises with Centipede and Coulson on board and shoots at Ward, who goes down.
In the chopper, Coulson tells Raina that they’ll never get whatever it is they want from him. Raina replies that they want something very simple. They want to know about the day after he died. This is the big cliffhanger.
So, where are we at? Skye ends up with Mike’s kid, and Mike appears to be dead. Coulson is in Centipede’s hands which means in classic spy movie tradition he should be chewing on his cyanide pill, but that’s not going to happen. May is left with a team which is emotionally shaken after losing their leader. Coincidentally, or actually it’s hardly a coincidence at all, May was last told by Coulson she was the second in command – which points to Coulson knowing this was going to happen. Ward’s definitely alive.
Is Coulson doing a big reveal of what happened post-stabbing from Loki during the events on The Avengers film? My guess is no. My guess is they’re going to dance around it and give us some crumbs but never the full story. I fully expect him lying to Skye about searching for his parents to be put on the backburner too. But I do expect at least one big confrontation between May and Skye when she decides to follow protocol (yes that would be May) and call SHIELD for backup as they should have done ages ago.
If it seems to you that I wasn’t too thrilled with this episode, you’re correct. There’s one big twist and we do get to revisit a lot of threads left over from the past episodes but I can’t seem to shake the fact that the way the storyline transitions from setup to conclusion is forced and jarring, specially the final scenes. At this point, I’m not sure I want to follow along. Of course, I will have to revisit my thoughts when the second part airs on January 7.
That will do for now.