Spoilers and ranting ahead.
You might be wondering why I stick with this show if I see so many flaws in it. It’s because I also see potential… and the fact that I don’t want to stop a Series Issues feature when most of the season has had a recap. I still think the show could be salvageable, but after we learned that basically they’re kind of the supporting show / promo op for the cinematic universe, I sincerely doubt they will do much to save the show. Perhaps next season. The recaps end with this season though.
Some things were good about this week’s Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD 1×19: The Only Light In the Darkness. Unfortunately, the main plot was pretty terrible, which is too bad because you don’t bring Amy Acker to just play the damsel in distress. You give her some time to flesh out into a more three dimensional character.
The apparent main plot is Coulson going about this super-powered foe Marcus Daniels that escaped from the fridge and can absorb energy blah blah blah – it’s a minor baddie called Blackout but we just don’t want to say his codename (really?). The point is that he’s going after this woman called Audrey, played by Amy Acker, who turns out to be (oh that one you knew right away, come on!) Phil’s cellist – the girl that Phil loves but that believes he died (well, technically he did). We know how it’s going to go from the start. Although Phil wants to stay in the shadows a-la-Phantom-of-the-Opera he will eventually have to “risk it all” to save her. Without actually facing her because that would be crazy, right?
But first, Koenig wants to play 20 questions by strapping everyone to a super lie detector. I’m not sure if this was supposed to be a funny bit but if it was it just ends up falling flat. The only scene worth seeing is when Ward is strapped to the machine and gets asked his reason to be here. He plays at evasives long enough until he has to say Skye – giving us the ambivalence that he means to steal her away and that he might still have some feelings for her. Yeah, basically they’d still have us think Evil Ward can be Dull Ward again.
Everyone’s cleared and now it’s team Coulson to the rescue, minus Ward, Skye and May. Coulson still treats May like crap. Coulson team goes off to do what ends up becoming a completely disposable plot.
I know the whole point is to do the star-crossed lovers thing. Anybody who lives in the real world would man up and go up to the girl and face the music. Sorry, but Coulson doesn’t get a pass here just because he wants to play secret knight in shining armor. It’s actually just an excuse to have the team out of the way while Ward gets to Skye. Too bad, because it would have made for much better TV to have Coulson facing Audrey and confronting his feelings for her instead of running away.
But there’s a surprise, and one I actually called last week as something I’d want to happen but never thought possible. Miranda May just gets tired of Coulson’s shit and leaves. Yes! Of course she’s still going to try to help him without telling him, but at least she’s free to make her own calls now.
Meanwhile, we get some cat and mouse games with Ward. Skye hacks into the NSA satellites to discover more on “the raid on the Fridge”. Unfortunately – or actually luckily – this means Ward has to take out Koenig. Thanks for visiting, Patton Oswalt. Then there’s an seduction scene with Ward in which Skye obviously considers he’s moving too fast. They only shared a kiss, goddammit. Skye discovers Ward has blood on his face, which he claims is from some of his wounds. As he leaves to clean up, Skye finds the iPad where Koenig can track people’s lanyards from earlier in the episode and tracks him down to find him dead.
It’s now up to Skye to convince that everything’s ok, that she’s getting seduced by Ward and that she suspects nothing as he insists they need to take the Bus and go help the others by decrypting the hard drive. The only problem, is she already has guessed he’s Hydra.
Coulson and company return to find the Bus gone. Miranda May is walking somewhere in Ontario, Canada when she gets picked up by her mom? Turns out May has a plan and she’s going to need to talk to Maria. That has to mean Maria Hill, Nick Fury’s second in command of course. And that means Colbie Smulders will probably guest star in the next episode.
Highs: Ward actually killing Koenig. Either he’s evil or he’s not, you can’t dodge that one. Miranda May finally having enough and ditching the team. Seeing Amy Acker. Looking forward to the next episode with Colbie Smulders. That’s about it. Update: I forgot to mention Simmons choosing a Tardis during the lie detector scene.
Lows: Marcus Daniel aka Blackout made for a very lame bad guy that couldn’t even use his codename. Amy Acker not getting the chance to develop Ashley into a more solid character. Coulson barking orders at May. The whole Fitz trying to one up Tripp. The whole plot of the cellist being used as a distraction so that Ward can kidnap Skye.
Details: After Skye discovers Ward is Hydra, she’s trying to figure out what to do next when she gazes at one of the screens. Chances is she figures out a way to leave a message for Coulson. When Fitz talk about the device to trap Marcus Daniel, he name-drops Bruce Banner. During everyone’s interrogation, Koenig asks them if they know about Project Insight and if they’ve ever talked to Alexander Pierce. Both are references to Captain America: The Winter Soldier (shameless plug: I reviewed it during the long weekend).
In short, it seems that the show still has some markers to hit (the cellist storyline) but other ones that actually move the plot forward (Ward taking Skye). Because of having to do both in one episode, the whole cellist plot got simplified to a forgettable degree. It’s a shame.
That will do for now.