Okay, that’s two weeks in a row that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has kept its momentum going with decent plotting, okay scripting, and pretty good performances. This doesn’t really surprise me, as this was the penultimate episode to the original finale (the original order was for a 13-episode run that was bumped up to 22 after most of the episodes were already either complete or fairly locked story-wise). As such, we got some answers regarding the mystery of Skye’s origins, but they were the same sort of “wrapped up in one episode” manner as Coulson’s reveal last time.
I can understand the pacing issues, but the rush to tie up loose ends – at least enough to have been a satisfying stopping place if necessary – hampers the emotional impact. Especially since it turns out that Skye (Chloe Bennet) was found as a baby on a response to an 0-8-4 (object of unknown origin) call, and SHE WAS THE 0-8-4! Somehow, an entire village of people was killed, as was almost the entire S.H.I.E.L.D. response team that found her.
As far as revealing mysteries go, that’s so much more intriguing than Coulson’s, it deserves a lot more attention that there’s just not enough time for here. Although it does lead to a very nice emotional resolution for Skye as well as a change of heart for Coulson (Clark Gregg) regarding his own newfound secret. It could have played a lot better with more build-up over the season, but it works well enough and should provide an excellent base to build from for future episodes.
While Coulson and May (Ming-Na Wen) were off in Mexico finding all this out, the rest of the team were at the SHIELD Science Academy investigating a possible murder attempt using advanced technology to freeze an indoor pool while students were swimming in it.
It’s a great opportunity to help humanize everybody, especially Agent Ward (Brett Dalton) who shifts into more of a Big Brother mode (familial, not Orwellian) and even gets a few good lines. The highlight though, is when Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) ends up befriending an isolated loner student named Donnie Gill (Dylan Minnette), and if you know your Marvel Comics you know what’s coming.
What wasn’t really telegraphed was the involvement, however slight, of evil businessman Ian Quinn (David Conrad), a baddie from earlier in the season. Which means that at the end of the episode, after an accident with the freezing tech gives Donnie ice powers, Quinn has been responsible for the creation of Graviton and now, Blizzard. Then, in the final moments, when confronted over the phone by Coulson, he drops the news that he’s in league with The Clairvoyant, too.
And with that, pretty much all the random plot threads from throughout the season are pulled together into a nice little knot, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has made it clear that Centipede is the only Big Bad to worry about, subsuming all the minor players into one united front just in time for the (original) finale.
That’s a pretty classic Whedonesque move right there. And it’s one that I like.
Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor/editor for Comics Bulletin. His first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is available at Amazon US & UK, along with his collection of short stories, Coffee, Sex, & Creation (US & UK). He recently contributed the 1989 chapter to The American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1980s (US & UK) and has kicked off Comics Bulletin Books with Mondo Marvel Volumes One (US & UK) and Two (US & UK). Paul is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy.