Agent Coulson got the band back together—though not under the best of circumstances—in the latest episode of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,’ which was also rife with references to Marvel’s upcoming summer blockbuster “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
The Inhumans return Skye (Chloe Bennet) to S.H.I.E.L.D. just in time for Coulson (Clark Gregg) to reassemble his old team to rescue Deathlok (J. August Richards) and Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) from HYDRA.
The theme of this episode was forgiveness, though some characters received it or gave it more easily than others. Coulson came clean with May (Ming-Na Wen) that he was secretly seeing her ex-husband for counseling while he was plagued by the alien writing; Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) continued to rebuild their relationship so that it was closer to what it was during season one; Hunter (Nick Blood) accepted an apology from Mack (Henry Simmons), though he still said he’d have to buy him a lot of drinks to make up for attacking and kidnapping him; and even Jiaying (Dichen Lachman) and Cal (Kyle McLachlan) made amends despite his insanity and her precarious position in Afterlife.
Ward (Brett Dalton), though, wasn’t so lucky. At one point, he found himself in a briefing room on the Bus surrounded by people who hated him—his old team. As usual, he made his excuses (bad childhood, etc.) and admitted that the one thing he regretted was breaking them up, but they wouldn’t hear any of it. This was a smart move on both the characters’ and writers’ parts. Ward has continually shown himself to be irredeemable, and it would’ve been stupid and cliché to simply try to brush all of that under the rug. That was one of the many mistakes NBC’s “Heroes” made in its later seasons.
However, irredeemable Ward still proved to be a complicated villain. His budding relationship with Agent 33 (Maya Stojan) seemed to be (disgustingly) romantic. She truly believed he was a good man, unlike everyone else. Perhaps Ward did love her, but his ultimate goal was to get her in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s care to undo the “compliance” programming done to her by HYDRA earlier this season before he departed. Also, during the raid on the HYDRA facility, Simmons attempted to kill him with a disintegration bomb, but Bakshi (Simon Kassianides) took the bomb for him. Ward looked at Simmons and said he was “disappointed” with how she’d changed. How’s that for irony? A murderer who’s upset that a former friend tried to kill him.
Meanwhile, the Inhumans take a bit of backseat in this episode. Besides taking Skye to S.H.I.E.L.D. and some interaction between Jiaying and Cal, the most pertinent development for them involved Raina (Ruth Negga). Her clairvoyance grew stronger, but Cal warned that she was manipulative and deceptive. She told Skye she saw her save Lincoln, which was what compelled Skye to act. This ability could prove to be dangerous in the hands of someone like her.
With this being the last episode before the release of “Age of Ultron,” there were several references throughout. List (Henry Goodman) alluded to “the twins” (Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver). The most prominent tie-in came at the end when Coulson was contacted by Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) at the end. Coulson told her his mission wasn’t just to rescue Deathlok and Lincoln, but to gather intel on Loki’s scepter. He then said it was time to initiate Theta Protocol (something he’d mentioned in the mid-season finale) and “bring in the Avengers.” What this all entails will probably be revealed in the upcoming film. Finally, Raina has a vision of “robot men destroying our cities” while talking with Jiaying, adding, “our world won’t be the same.” (The hosts of the podcast “Welcome to Level Seven” joked that her superpower is seeing movie trailers). In other words, this was Marvel Studios’ little way of telling fans to go see the movie.
How the film will affect the remainder of the series’ episodes is unknown. The preview for the next episode says S.H.I.E.L.D. will confront the Inhumans, not Ultron’s legion of killer robots. The show’s creators have said “Age of Ultron” won’t affect the series like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” did, but it still seems strange that the Inhumans would make a move on S.H.I.E.L.D. in the middle of a crisis.
Regardless, time to go see a movie!