There’s a few storylines in this week’s Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD 1×21: Ragtag but I found most of them dull. It’s the last episode before “the epic season finale” and I feel like I’m writing homework right now. Same as back in school, I’m just going to power through but leave some snarky comments on the side. My teachers didn’t love those.
Very much like the last episodes, there’s two stories running side by side. One usually leads nowhere and the other one is the one the show wants to tell. The big problem is that both stories are for the most part filler. Wisely, we are given a third option with Ward’s origin through flashbacks.
Coulson’s team is tracking Garrett. Skye has an ace, a classical virus tactic that she left along with the unlocked hard drive that Garrett’s Hydra fanclub now owns. But the virus is asleep because (insert drama license here) she didn’t have time to finish it properly. So she needs a link to a Hydra terminal to plug in this magical usb key and wake it up.
This requires Coulson and May to become an older version of Fitz and Simmons and infiltrate Cybertek. Of course they have to talk tech and science geek lingo which means we get Fitz and Simmons bickering instead of guiding Coulson and May on their interview. Eventually things get back on track and Coulson and May can go do their operative stuff and find the files which turn out to be printed files in a filing cabinet.
The big secret is that Garrett was actually the first beta version of project Deathlok. He’s also very close to his expiration date, something that we discover as Ward has to jumpstart his old hardware. The idea of discovering the secret behind the Tahiti drug is not only creating super soldiers but saving his own ass. Rayna will soon be able to come up with a very close approximation to the drug based on the research that Simmons did on both Coulson and Skye.
A nice touch was Triplett breaking out some old school Howling Commando toys, including a joy buzzer that delivers an EMP and knocks everything off line. You can see a mile away that this gadget will be relevant later.
But as we traverse through both storylines, we are also given a flashback tour of the life and tribulations of Grant Ward. Garrett apparently approached him in his youth as a juvenile criminal only to offer to train him up for SHIELD – and Hydra. Young Ward gets a lesson in survival as he’s left alone to survive with only a dog for company. I already guessed what that dog’s fate was going to be. Apparently Garrett refers to emotional attachments as “weaknesses”. It’s a grown up Ward that chooses to fire in the air instead of killing Buddy the dog. Unfortunately for the poor canine, he appears in the crosshairs of a telescope later.
Eventually the former agents of SHIELD track down Garrett’s movements to Havana, Cuba. There the team separates, with Fitz and Simmons discovering the bus at the airport and Coulson and the rest finding the barbershop. Fitz and Simmons get captured and are brought to Garrett. Fitz has a shining moment as he activates the EMP buzzer and shuts down Garrett’s old beta-level Deathlok systems.
So, we stop here. Why didn’t the EMP shut down the plane? Realize that I’m not discussing science here, but SHIELD episode-specific science. Sparks fly around inside the place and Garrett seems to go into cardiac arrest, prompting him to tell Rayna to use the only vial she has to save him. Why doesn’t the plane go into a nosedive at that moment based on the parameters of the device that Triplett explained earlier? Even if the Bus has redundant systems, or backup stuff the EMP should have caused the plane to lose all power at least for that minute.
But it doesn’t go that way. Instead the plane keeps flying. Fitz and Simmons somehow slip their captors and end up inside one of those containers like the one the Bus used to bring up Skye’s medical pod. It’s basically an escape pod that can be jettisoned from the aircraft. We get Fitz trying to turn Ward back to the light side of the Force and Ward pressing the eject button. The escape pod /container is seen dropping from the plane to the ocean. Apparently the plane was flying low. Although I’m sure Fitz and Simmons are fine we are supposed to dread the fall because that impact could really kill them. I’ll be very surprised if they don’t come back for the finale.
Back under the barbershop, the team discovers a secret panel and a Hydra terminal. Unfortunately, they also seem to awake several centipede soldiers. One of them has that asgardian berserker rod.
Highs: Fitz using the EMP buzzer on Garrett. Rayna remains a strong character, now even more disappointed with Garrett after learning that he’s been doing all this to save himself. Triplett bringing out the Howling Commando’s old school gear.
Lows: I found the storylines dull throughout. Ward’s backstory had some promise but becoming a survivalist doesn’t turn you into a SHIELD or Hydra operative. Garrett is getting really boring to watch. The EMP buzzer should have shut down the plane. Too much filler in the episode.
Finale is up next. Not really excited here. Seems we’ll get a cameo from Samuel L. Jackson as Fury, which I hope is a cue for the writers to beef up on their stuff for the last hurrah. Hopefully we’ll get some stuff resolved and not just filler and a cliffhanger. It’s not that I like cliffhangers but something has to happen in a season finale, not just running around and a standoff.
That will do for now.