4 March 2015

Ragtag

Episode: 21

I know series 2 has restarted in the States, I'm likely going to wait until the UK broadcast. (Why won't they announce a date? It's bad enough they didn't pick up Agent Carter!) I would appreciate no spoilers for the new episodes.

What Happens
With Agent May returned and Maria Hill withdrawing any official support, Coulson briefs his team on their next step using a flip chart in a motel room. Skye's hard drive is in the hands of Garrett and Ward, but if she can plug her flash drive into one of their computers she can hack their systems.  Everything they're facing is connected to Cybertek, so they go after the tech company using Trip's grandfather's old tech. On TV there are news reports of Deathlok killing a Colombia drug lord.There are flashback scenes of Garrett busting a young Ward out of juvenile detention and forcing him to be self-sufficient in the woods. Coulson and May go to Cybertek for an interview, pretending to be scientists with help from Fitz and Simmons. Skye can't hack the system as everything is in physical files, so the agents steal some. The files reveal that Garrett was the first subject in Project Deathlok and is partly cybernetic. Raina has managed to recreate GH 325 using the info on Skye's drive but only has one vial. Garrett is dying and Ward has to temporarily restart his failing tech. The Shield team figure out Garrett is in Havana and track down the barbershop hideout, but it's already been abandoned. Fitz and Simmons find the plane and see the Hydra team preparing to leave. Ward finds them and takes them prisoner on the plane. A flashback shows Garrett telling younger Ward about Hydra and recruiting him to work secretly within Shield. Garrett's systems fail, he's dying and instructs Ward to kill Fitz and Simmons. The young agents initially escape, but Ward traps them in a container and despite pleading ejects it into the ocean. Raina has to inject the GH serum into Garrett's system to save him. In the seemingly abandoned barbershop basement Skye finds a computer and hacks into Garrett's system. The team are surrounded by Centipede super soldiers, one with an Asgardian beserker staff. Ian Quinn approaches US military type in Washington, offering them sell them a small army of super soldiers, Deathlok's high profile activities were an advert.

Coulson's Alive!
Coulson is determined to track down and stop Garrett and Cybertek. Coulson geeks out over Trip's old-school spy kit, he's really into that stuff. A nice, happy moment between him and Trip. Gets into Cybertek playing pseudo-Fitz in the interview, made tricky (and hilarious) by having to ape Fitz's words. Chucks filing cabinet out of Cybertek's window to escape with intel. Realises how long Garrett's been augmented and working with Cybertek. Tells Skye that Fitz's defence of Ward is just what he needs to hold on to.

The Cavalry
May is back on the team and Coulson says he missed her. Coulson and May in the field together are great. She's pretending to be psuedo-Simmons and has a slightly more sensible audio guide. Skye suggests May doesn't feel anything, due to her calm exterior. May makes clear that she is furious about Ward, but she'll save her anger for when it's useful.

Grr, Ward
In prison as a youth for trying to burn down the family home with his elder brother inside, there's no forgiveness from the Ward family. Garrett offers a chance for Grant to escape, though it'll be hard. Ward is left in wilderness to survive, he's angry at Garrett but proves himself and becomes loyal to him. Agrees to be in Hydra. Garrett orders Ward to kill his dog to overcome his weakness, but watching again it seems like he did but I don't think it's confirmed. It's clear that Ward has been helping and maintaining Garrett for years. Even when he's angry at Garrett he's still loyal and scared when it looks like Garrett might die. Killing Fitz and Simmons pains him and (like with the dog) he can't look them while he does it, but he's determined to overcome the weakness their affection brings out in him. It's all pretty twisted.

Science Hermione
Simmons tries to convince Fitz that Ward isn't worth his attempts to defend or justify his actions. When they're captured by Ward, she understands this is bad and accuses him of never caring for any of them.

Monkey Boy
Fitz is now getting on better with Trip, impressed by the old spy tech (though in a more technical and less giddy way than Coulson). He keeps trying to defend or understand Ward's betrayal. He can't accept that a friend would do that and suggests brainwashing and manipulation, though everyone else rejects his suggestions. After being captured by Ward Fitz tries to get through to him, clearly imagining Garrett as the evil manipulator and Ward as his victim. Fitz doesn't understand the extent of Ward's betrayal until right at the end when he's begging for his life.

Hacker Girl
Skye's Trojan Horse needs activating, so computer connected to Garrett's system must be found. When she can't find any digital signals she checks the building's specs and realises something is being protected on the fourth floor. Her skills are of less use when dealing with paper files. Raina asks Mike about Skye and tells Ward that she heard a story that might be about Skye's family. A whole Chinese village killed, Raina's story suggests the baby's parents were the killers.

New Boy
Trip gets his grandfather's old spy tech from his mum. The gadgets hidden in innocent looking objects are treated as an old style of tech. Trip works well with the team, following orders and finding stuff out. He's the one who figures out where Cybertek are hiding.

Weirdness of the Week
Garrett is the original Deathlok and has had cybernetic upgrades since 1990. His work with Cybertek has all been to extend his own life, GH 325 was just the most likely of the avenues he's investigated. The Centipede serum has been all that's keeping him arrive, but his system is so bad it doesn't make him strong. Raina seems disappointed that Garrett doesn't share her interest in powered people, but just wants to preserve himself.

Villains of the Week
Garrett's corrupting/recruiting of Ward is a major focus of the episode. Raina's success in creating a version of the GH 325 makse her one of the most effective of Team Evil. Both Ward and Garrett are unnerved by Raina. Quinn's the charismatic, public face of the enterprise, his ruthless business skills are put to selling their super soldiers to the US military.

SHIELD LOL
Coulson: I'll be damned if I'm gonna let Garrett and Ward get away with murder... and I want my plane back.


After a Cybertek interviewer comments that Hydra scientists tend to be younger Simmons overcompensates over the comms. "May looks barely a day over... thirty. You're gorgeous."

Coulson and May cosplaying as geeks (with additional glasses that their in-house geeks do not wear)
"Does your sweater itch?" "A little."

Coulson: Skye, Trip, get ready for a large file transfer.
Skye: How large is it?
*Filing cabinet is thrown from 4th floor window*



2 March 2015

Nothing Personal

Episode: 20

They remembered they have a flying car.

What Happens
Maria Hill has been caught up in Congress hearings and is talking to Pepper Potts about it on the phone, she sees that those tailing her have been taken out. May approaches her in an alley and asks about who was running Tahiti, Hill doesn't know but says Fury buried it when he decided not to bury Coulson, which seems to be a riddle. Hill is apprehended by the FBI, but as she's workign for Stark Industries no one can do anything to her. At Providence base Coulson, Fitz, Simmons and Trip piece together what happened. Base cameras have been wiped, but hangar cameras show May left alone (Coulson confirms he sent her away), then Ward and Skye took the plane while holding hands. Fitz sees the image-change window is mismatched in a bathroom, Skye jammed it in place and left a message saying Ward is Hydra. Looking for pancake ingredients Simmons finds Koenig's body. She examines it and determines that Ward killed him. Fitz can't accept that Ward did it, so Coulson gets him to focus on finding the plane. Turns out it's in L.A., but as they trace it Agent Hill brings General Talbot and the US military to the base. She tries to talk the agents into handing themsleves over as she did, but Coulson explains that Ward is Hydra meaning Garrett's alive and Hand is dead. Coulson and Hill evade the military and go after Ward. Skye takes Ward to the diner where she met Mike Peterson in Pilot and pretends to decrypt the drive while distracting Ward. She contacts the police about him, but he notices the law enforcement attention. Skye runs out and tries to get arrested for safety, but she's intercepted by Deathlok and taken back to the plane. She lets Ward know what she thinks of him and refuses to say anything. Deathlok and Ward argue about what to do with her and Deathlok follows orders by stopping Ward's heart in front of Skye until she tells them the hard drive can only be accessed at a certain altitude. May digs up Coulson's empty grave. Hill confronts Ward on the runway, buying Coulson time to get on the plane. He didn't realise Deathlok was on the plane, and send Skye to the cargo bay, opening the door and fighting off the cyborg and Ward. Coulson and Skye get in Lola (the flying car) and fall over L.A. just managing not to crash land. The team hide in a motel, Hill tells Coulson she's staying with Stark Industries and suggests Coulson's team disband after they've got Ward and Garrett. May is in Coulson's room and shows him a video she found in his coffin. It's a video of him saying he cannot run project Tahiti any more and recommending it is shut down.

Coulson's Alive!
Trying to piece together what happened when they were away from the base Coulson is guilty about May leaving, and defensive when Trip dismisses her. Coulson analyses what they know trying to figure it out, best scenario is that Koenig has extra info, but Coulson starts to suspect he's got a traitor just before Fitz and Simmons make their discoveries. After Simmons makes her report Coulson tries to keep Fitz together by getting him to focus on tracking the plane and reassuring everyone (himself included) that Skye is playing Ward. He's really worried about her, but is reassured as he and Trip suss out Ward's motives and realise he needs Skye alive to decrypt the hard disk. When the base is breached Coulson is ready to defend it, but when Hill turns up he's angry that she's sold them out to improve the deal she's made with the US government. He's also angry that she's still trying to protect secrets while working for the private sector. When Hill hears about Ward she helps Coulson escape from the General's custody. Coulson sneaks onto the bus alone, assuming he's only dealing with Ward, so he's alarmed to hear Deathlok is there too. Coulson thinks Hill will keep supporting them in something like their old role, but she refuses, suggesting Coulson should work with Stark as she does. She describes the crusade against Garrett and Ward as a vendetta, since there aren't any official missions any more. At the end when May shows Coulson the video of himself describing Tahiti and it's flaws all Coulson can do is make a small shocked noise. Seems he's missing more memories than he realised.

The Cavalry
As stated at the end of the previous episode May is tracking down Agent Hill. She takes out the operatives following Hill and questions her about Tahiti. May points out that as Fury was taking orders from higher up, and the only one higher was Alexander Pearce, who was Hydra. Hill doesn't have answers either, but gives May the riddle that Fury gave her. Fury decided to bury "that intel when he decided not to bury Coulson." Hill maintains that Fury is dead, but May doesn't believe her. Later May is digging up a grave, scaring a lone mourner. It turns out it's Coulson's grave (though until we saw that I'd assumed it would be Fury's). At the end May does her thing of silently lurking in people's rooms and Coulson's glad she's back. Though the intel she's found is a huge shock to both of them.

Grr, Ward
He's impatient with Skye's delays but still pretending to be good. He notices her tension, brushes off her suggestions and talks to her about going undercover. When Skye reveals that she's reported him he takes out law enforcement and tries to chase her. He's angry that Deathlok got so publicly involved, and that Garrett felt he needed watching. Though Deathlok has a point about Garrett's fears that Ward's soft spot for Skye will affect his judgement. Ward tells Skye about his feelings and claims all the betrayal isn't personal, Skye is disgusted. Ward is furious at Deathlok for the nearly killing him, but the cyborg says it's nothing personal, it's almost funny except things are pretty grim. Ward makes  a sexist crack at Hill, suggesting people (probably a lot of them Hydra) lost respect for Fury when he promoted her to his lieutenant and saying that Black Widow is better eye candy. This doesn't phase Hill in the slightest and she says she'll tell Romanov that. It occurs to me that so far perhaps all the Hydra agents I've seen are men, figures. Ward wants to go back for Skye after Coulson rescues her, Deathlok won't let him as they have the hard drive now.

Science Hermione
Simmons just wanted to cheer everyone up with pancakes, but finds Koenig's body in the store cupboard. She does a quick post mortem and is distracted by Fitz's freak out. Keonig was garrotted in a hurry, after May left and by someone taller than him with the strength to lift his body into the ceiling. Only Ward could have done it. Simmons is defiant to General Talbot, ignoring his insistence that they're taken in and make themselves useful by explaining they need to rescue a friend from an actual Hydra agent. Simmons gives reassurance to Fitz at end that she'll never be Hydra.

Monkey Boy
Fitz sees the message Skye left about Ward, smart of her to do so. He freaks out completely, refusing to believe it, wanting to find another explanation. When Simmons makes her report he smashes up things in the kitchen until Coulson gets him to focus on fixing the communications. At the end Futz tries to rationalise what Ward did, figuring he's been brainwashed or something. Unlike Simmons he refuses to believe someone could be just evil.

Hacker Girl
Skye manages admirably in a difficult situation, able to convince Ward she's fine, while delaying him and trying to react to his lies and control. She makes conversation to distract Ward and try to find out his motives. When escaping she tries to get some cops to arrest her so she's away from Ward, she has to shove them before they'll do anything. Ward takes them pout immediately, so Skye tries to take the cop car, but Deathlok stops her. She's disgusted by Ward and his justifications about following orders. She's also disgusted that he's still interested in her and seems to think there could ever be anything between them, what with him being a murdering traitor. She beats him up as best she can, which doesn't do much to stop him but is nice to see. She accuses him of being a Nazi, which throws him, but this isn't a Godwin's Law thing since his evil organisation was founded by a Nazi. Though I can see that Hydra is a different thing to Nazis, but that kind of nuance doesn't seem necessary here. She almost falls out of Lola in mid air because she didn't buckle up, or even keep the parachute she was trying to put on.

New Boy
Trip comments to Coulson that Fitz is like a ninja with the comms, respecting his skills even though Fitz has been dismissive of him. Trip supports Coulson, talking things through with him and quietly checking in on how he is. With Ward and May gone Trip is definitely Coulson's new specialist, as he's the more experienced agent than Fitz and Simmons. At the end Trip declares his loyalty to Coulson. Of course he wants revenge on his betraying mentor Garrett, but he's already proved he's willing to die for Shield and Coulson seems to be the only person still committed to the fragmented and disgraced organisation. Only 2 episodes ago Coulson didn't want Trip on the plane because he didn't know him, but now Trip is part of the team.

Weirdness of the Week
The video about the Tahiti project tells us Coulson was running things and reporting to Fury, he remembers none of this. The project was designed to possibly heal a mortally wounded Avenger, but seems to have had multiple subjects (presumably from Shield) who were given the alien biology. In all cases it has led to terrible side effects on mental health though whether it's the cure itself or the knowledge of what they've been through isn't clear. Video-Coulson says memory wipes are the only thing that's helped, but not always successfully. Coulson didn't feel he could continue doing this and recommended for the whole project to be discontinued. This is why May was ordered to observe him and as he'd come to object to the whole thing it's very clear the Coulson would never have consented to what was done to him.

Villain of the Week
Ward and Deathlok. Skye tries to reason with Mike, telling him he's not a murderer, pointing out he refused to kill her in Italy and insisting they can help him. Mike refuses, he seems to have given up hope, though that's probably the only way he can cope. He also accuses Skye when the subject of his son comes up, he left Ace with her and told her to keep him safe. None of us ever saw Ace again, so Skye did kinda fail there a bit.

SHIELD LOL

Maria Hill (to FBI agents tracking her): 3 minutes and 20 seconds! Really? If you were my agents you wouldn't be for long.

Coulson: Finally, some good knows
Base Security: Perimeter defences activated
Coulson: I should have knocked on wood just then

Coulson: If I come out, will you shoot me? Cos then I won't come out.



Spoilers From The Skies (for the remains of this series and series 2)

Coulson's leadership of Tahiti is shown in more detail and has consequences in series 2. The hypographia he mentions on the video is particularly significant as we'll see more of the writing very soon.

Coulson and General Talbot never have positive encounters, here Coulson beats him up. Later there will be kidnappings.

My thanks to @AlasdairStuart and @runalongwomble for the spoiler pun suggestions.

28 February 2015

The Only Light in the Darkness

Episode: 19

What Happens
Ward arrives at Providence base and as his wounds are tended he tells the team that Hydra raided the Fridge. He says he managed to kill Garrett before he escaped. His story is interspersed by clips of him and Garrett raiding the Fridge. Coulson is worried about the release of dangerous prisoners and asks Koenig to check on a specific one. Keonig refuses to let anyone leave until they've been through 'orientation', which means answering questions in a specially-built lie detector chair. May, Skye, Simmons, Fitz and Trip are questioned, and we learn that Trip's grandfather was a Howling Commando (from Captain America). Ward is questioned, but his pain skews the results and though Keonig gets suspicious he eventually lets Ward pass. Coulson makes clear he doesn't trust May and suggests she leave. He takes Fitz, Simmons and Trip to Portland to track down an escaped prisoner who can absorb energy, he's obsessed with a cellist there. Coulson caught him before by overloading him with light, but that doesn't work this time as he's gotten stronger during imprisonment. Skye focuses on finding the Fridge escapees and convinces Koenig to let her hack the NSA satellites. She also discovers Koenig can track everyone in the base using the lanyards he gave them. Ward asks her to decrypt the hard drive (as Garrett ordered him to), but she says the encryption is location-based, so they'll have to leave to do so. Ward is about to take out May, when she tells him she's leaving because she can't stay while Coulson doesn't trust her. Ward quietly kills Koenig, then tells Skye how he feels about her and they kiss. It turns out the cellist, Audrey, is the woman Coulson was seeing when he died. He gets Simmons and Trip to speak to her, she still thinks he's dead. Audrey is used to lure her stalker out and the team blast him with spotlights Fitz has altered. At first it doesn't work, but Coulson helps from the shadows and the stalker explodes, knocking Audrey out. Coulson comforts her until she wakes, but leaves before she can see him. Skye tracks Keonig's lanyard to a storeroom, where Ward hid his corpse, she realises Ward is Hydra and freaks out. When Ward finds Skye she acts natural and agrees to go with him when he pretends the team have summoned them. Coulson and the others return to find the plane gone. May, having crossed the snow wastes, is picked up by her mother, a retired agent from a different agency. May is going to talk to Agent Maria Hill.

Coulson's Alive!
His concern about escaped, super-powered prisoners is general, and he intends to track down as many as he can, but his motivation is also very specific and personal. He immediately has Koenig check for the obsessive physicist and knows he'll go after Audrey. May knows the history of Coulson and Audrey and tries to talk to Coulson about it, but he refuses to confide in May, or listen to her. He tells her that it was wrong of her to withhold the answers from him, the support group is broken, they're no longer friends. He tells her to leave. Coulson's concerned for Audrey, but also holds himself away from her aware that the revelation will change her life and that he can't offer her anything stable. He loves her (though he never says it) but his loyalty is to Shield, especially now. At the end Coulson admits that he was too harsh to May and should forgive her as he hopes Audrey might some day forgive him.

The Cavalry
May tries to talk to Coulson about Audrey, but he won't have it. She explains herself again, insisting that she had orders and he would have done the same, but he won't have it. Just as Ward is preparing to take her out May leaves, she knows she isn't wanted. She's tried to apologise and explain but he won't see past her betrayal and now she's hurt. She doesn't want to stay where she's not wanted. She leaves with purpose, though we don't know what she intends to do until the end. Her relationship with her mother seems interesting. Melinda has called her mother as a last resort because she needs someone she can trust, but she's scolded for not saying thank you straight away. Mother May seems almost smug when she points out that her own agency hasn't fallen apart.

Grr, Ward
Ward's lies and ability to think on his feet allow him to pass orientation by increasing the legitimate pain he's already in to skew the results. When Koenig is suspicious and pulls a gun Ward admits to having feelings for Skye, this apparently guilty/embarrassing secret prompts Koenig to pass him. Ward doesn't have to take out May as he plans, which is lucky for him. He takes Koenig out before the images from the Fridge are revealed. He admits his feelings to Skye, and his vulnerability about her not liking the real him seems genuine, though he mentions his terrible family history, rather then being evil. When Skye finds blood on his neck he covers by pretending one of his cuts has reopened and goes to clear up, cleaning his garrotting wire at the same time. When he can't find Skye he gets suspicious and goes after her, checking on where he hid the body. He comes up with convincing lies for why Skye needs to come with him and decrypt the hard drive, pretending he's spoken Fotz about the mission.

Science Hermione
Simmons patches Ward up. In orientation several of her answers are similar to Fitz's. When asked which one thing she would choose to have with her when alone on a desert island she thinks for a moment and chooses the TARDIS. This is why I love her! She tells Audrey they're from the CIA (her English accent no doubt selling that lie). Simmons asks Fitz why he has such a problem with Trip and vouches for his loyalty again. Fitz pretends he's having trouble with the changes.

Monkey Boy
Resentful of Trip, Fitz tries to use his intellect against him, but Trip is fairly smart. Fitz complains to Ward about Trip, and Ward suggests it may actually be about Simmons and that if Fitz wants to tell her something he should soon. Fitz pretends he has no idea what Ward is taking about, though in the rest of the episode it's clear Fitz is thinking about/noticing Simmons more. I'm distinctly meh about this subplot. There's nothing wrong or unusual with Fitz and Simmons being close, platonic friends. This isn't the first time Fitz has been put out when he sees Simmons notice another man, it eas subtle before, but he's downright hostile to Trip. Plus it seems like Fitz is suddenly interested in Simmons (whose been by his side for years) because he sees someone else likes her, making me uneasy that it's a possessive thing. I get that he's not very in touch with his feelings and would cling to Simmons with all the changes happening, but it feels like a bit of trope to me. He nearly says something to her after the operation, but doesn't.

Hacker Girl
In orientation Skye reveals how much Shield means to her, and we discover the name she was assigned at the orphanage. Skye convinces Koenig to let her hack the NSA satellites, teasing him for his play-it-safe attitude. When Ward says May has left Skye is quick to think the worst of her, assuming she didn't care enough to say goodbye. She reassures Ward he is a good man when he opens up about himself and his background. When Skye find Koenig's body she's terrified and freaks out a lot, frantically searching the bathroom for anything to help. However she keeps her head enough to conceal what she found. She's able lie to Ward and even kisses him to distract from her nervy behaviour. This is where Skye became more interesting (previously it seemed like her circumstances were more interesting than she was) and though I like her character much more on this rewatch, she really comes into her own in this situation. It's so interesting not only seeing Ward's lies, but seeing Skye try to react to them and behave normally while trying to figure how to escape.
Weirdness of the Week
The 'orientation' chair is a bit intense. Koenig says Fury wanted something that Black Widow couldn't crack, but of course the Director wouldn't tell anyone if she did or not. Ward is understandably wary of it, but he seems to trick Koenig more than the machine.
Darkforce is some weird physics thing and it gave an obsessive physicist the power to absorb energy, meaning he can knock out electronics, kill people and stop bullets. While in the Fridge it seems he wasn't being contained but was being trained to use his powers, possibly due to Hydra influence? Now he can shoot out beams of cheesy-looking dark energy.

Villain of the Week
Ward - evil, bastard Ward. Also the obsessive physicist, he's not particularly impressive or nuanced, but the focus is on the team and what they're going through.

SHIELD LOL
Coulson: Nothing bad ever happens when you work with something called Darkforce

Koenig: You want to hack the NSA? ... Why poke the bear, the bog scary waterboarding bear?
Skye: Oh, I thought you were a comms agent, not agent of playing video games while hiding in a bunker.

Coulson: Who did you say created this technology again?"
Fitz: Bruce Banner
Coulson: Then I'm sure it'll go off without a hitch.


Spoilers Will Be Issued On A Case By Case Basis  (series 2)

Koenig mentions that he and his brother (singular) used to give each other nicknames. Eric was called "lightening foot". We're going to learn that the Koenig's are an odd family. There are at least 2 brothers (Bill and Sam) but are they brothers? The Koenigs seem to be identical and in series 2 it's a running joke that no one knows what they are and they mess with people about that.

26 February 2015

Providence

Episode: 18

To talk about this episode at all means spoiling events in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as this episode references events in the film.

What Happens
Coulson is at the Hub monitoring the few Shield bases that haven't been compromised by Hydra. He's contacted by a US general who is coming to the Hub, knowing that this will likely mean either death, imprisonment or legal troubles Coulson takes his team away. Agent Triplett asks to come along and Coulson is wary until Simmons vouches for him. In the air Coulson instructs Skye to erase everyone's identity from official sources. Skye calls Ward to tell him this, unaware of his true allegiance. He and Garrett have Hydra agents break Raina out of prison. Though she's disappointed to learn Garrett isn't truly psychic Raina agrees to continue with Centipede using the Shield team's info fon Skye's hard drive and the drugs recovered from the Guest House. Ward and Garrett go to raid the fridge, managing to get inside only after a helicopter shoots at them. They kill the guards, release the powered prisoners and take the dangerous objects, including the stuff that was supposed to have been sent into space as part of the Slingshot programme. Ward leads Garrett to the confiscated gravitonium. Skye takes everyone's Shield badges and notices Coulson's has lights on it spelling out coordinates. He's convinced it's orders from Fury and has them fly there, even though everyone else thinks it's a trap. May tells Coulson she's worried that Hydra might be able to control him because they don't know who was running project Tahiti when he was resurrected, they might have implanted more than fake memories. Coulson is still angry at her and refuses to listen. They land in snowy, Canadian wilderness and trek to an empty-looking place where Coulson breaks down a little before they find Fury's secret base. Here the only occupant, Agent Eric Koenig, tells them Fury is dead and the Fridge has been taken by Hydra.  Then he takes Coulson aside and tells him the Director is alive, but he doesn't want many people to know. Agent Koenig shows the team the well-appointed base, which he calls Providence, but he's suspicious of everyone except Coulson. Raina tells Ward and Garrett that Skye has encrypted the hard drive so only she can unlock it. Garrett sends Ward out to get her, he can either persuade her to decrypt it as part of his cover, or he can kill the team and force her. Garrett beats Ward up to make his story look convincing. Ward arrives at Providence and is allowed inside. Garrett and Raina tell an angry Ian Quinn that his imprisonment was necessary, Quinn is ready to abandon the operation, but Garrett gives him back the gravitonium.

Coulson's Alive!
Coulson is trying to figure out Shield's status from the Hub, only a few Shield bases aren't compromised by Hydra and the media is reporting the falling helicarriers at the Triskelion and the intelligence broadcast by Black Widow. Coulson plays very affable with General Talbot, but gets ready to run, even though he doesn't know where. It's better to avoid detection and try to keep fighting Hydra than get caught up by the US Government. When the coordinates appear on his badge Coulson is convinced Fury is alive and sending him a message, despite everyone else's scepticism. He's still angry at May for her betrayal and refuses to surrender his weapon or position to her. He's alarmed to discover that someone besides Fury had control of the Tahiti project, and angry May can't tell him more. He refuses May's claim that he might be controlled by Hydra or leading them into a trap. Using the last of the plane's fuel to get to the coordinates he tells the team that they can leave if they want, but he's in no doubt about what he's doing. When they reach the place and it seems empty he starts ranting that S.H.I.E.L.D. ID still relevant, still needed. This is probably a reaction he's been suppressing a while. He throws his badge, which activates a machine gun turret, proving they've found something. Turns out Coulson's been expected and it's a good thing as he was close to breaking point. Within the base Coulson questions Koenig's insistence on secrecy, he doesn't want to lie to his team (there's been too much of that) but agrees as it's Fury's order.

The Cavalry
May questions Coulson's mental state as it's been her mission all along to look out for him. Now she knows Hydra had infiltrated Shield she questions whether Phil has been compromised. They know his memories have been altered and while Fury ordered the procedure she knows he wasn't running the project, but doesn't know who was. She stays professional in the face of Coulson's anger, though their broken friendship is painful to her. Later she tells Skye that she'd seen nothing odd in Coulson until his insistence on blindly following the coordinates.

Grr, Ward
Garrett comments that the 'straight' (he doesn't seem to be talking about sexuality) version of Ward is very different to the real him and that the transformation was something he doubts Black Widow could do. I don't think Ward seems especially different, more outgoing and talkative, with more of an edge, but mostly just more evil. He talks about Raina about how he won everyone's trust; saving Simmons early helped, beng SKye's SO meant he could talk to her easily, and his reluctance to do team work was what encouraged Coulson to recruit him. His biggest threat was May so the sexual relationship working to disarm her, though when Raina comments he doesn't seem like May's type Ward says he's everyone's type. Hmm, he's still arrogant and irritating and even though being evil makes him more interesting it doesn't improve his personality. It's clear that Ward really does have feelings for Skye and is angry at Garrett for having her shot. It wasn't part of the original plan, but Garrett didn't know how ignorant Coulson was about what happened to him and had to improvise. Garrett isn't bothered that Ward likes Skye, his jovial, edgy, jokey personality is no different when he's being evil. He tells Ward that if he can get Skye to decrypt the hard drive without blowing his cover that's fine, giving him an opportunity to further woo Skye, but equally Garrett expects him to kill the entire team if needed. Ward tells Raina he admires Coulson, but he owes Garrett everything.

Science Hermione
Simmons questions whether they have orders any more, as there's no one higher than Coulson around and Shield is now listed as a terrorist organisation. She's concerned by the sudden lack of structure, but also willing to think it through. Coulson suspects Trip because he worked with Garrett for a long time, though Trip argues that he was a s fooled as anyone. It is only once Simmons vouches for Trip that he's allowed to stay onboard, but Coulson makes clear he's her responsibility. Simmons understands Fitz's loyalty to Coulson, but also sees Trip's point that they can't just blindly follow orders. She worries about Coulson's state of mind and whether they're heading into danger. When Fitz says he doesn't want anything to change Simmons points out it's too late for that.

Monkey Boy
Fitz is grumpy and snappish at Trip, echoing Coulson's distrust, but for more personal reasons. He still wants to have orders and puts all his trust in Coulson, even when his orders don't make sense. He seeks reassurance from Simmons that they still have each other and she vouches for that, but she cannot encourage him in his fear of change.

Hacker Girl
Former-hacktivist Skye sees the intel Black Widow released and admits that her ideal of all the info being free is scary now it's happened and she's aware that it's not being protected. She agrees with running, it's clear General Talbot does not have warm intentions towards them. She's shocked that Coulson wants everyone's identities erased, it's an extreme option. Giving her badge to Coulson makes her wistful as she'd only just become part of Shield and now it's broken, though she acknowledges the culture shock for Coulson must be huge. She worries about Coulson and questions his plan, then worries about Ward when she hears the Fridge has fallen to Hydra. When Ward arrives at the Providence base she's shocked by his injuries and immediately tends to him, the romantic tension between them back, but at least made more interesting by Ward's hidden motives.

Weirdness of the Week
The Fridge contains all the powered people Shield takes in (those too dangerous/evil to just be monitored as part of the Index) and all the artefacts it finds. Turns out the Slingshot programme was a fake, not by Hydra but by Fury, so there's a lot more dangerous stuff there than most think. Including the 0-8-4 particle beam and the Asgardian staff from The Well (which Ward handles with gloves). Garrett mentions bringing in someone who gave himself lion's paws instead of hands, a weird aside. Ward reveals that the Gravitonium from The Asset is hidden in a secret sub-basement.


Villains of the Week
Evil Garrett is the same as regular Garrett, but more irreverent and honest. He handles Raina's disappointment well, praising her work so far and pricking her interest in what comes. It's kind of nice that Raina has decorated her cell with origami and that when Garrett has her broken out he also gives her a flower dress (one of her own?) as a present. Quinn is really angry at all that Garrett has cost him, especially as his life was full of luxury before. Turns out Quinn probably did know who Garrett was while he was interrogating him. His rich man's anger is completely dissolved when his gravitonium is returned to him, showing he was interested in more than just getting richer.

SHIELD LOL
Not an episode full of jokes, but there's light moments amid the action. Koenig is a great character, kind of officious with everyone else but slightly adorable in his pride about the cool base when he drops his guard with Coulson.

"You will be given a lanyard, lanyards for others will be distributed on a case-by-case basis"


It's A Spoilery Place (this series and series 2)

May's concerns about an unknown agent/operative messing with Coulson's head makes sense. Soon both she and Coulson will discover that the mysterious individual is actually Coulson himself.

Raina's disappointment about Garrett's lack of psychic powers is because she wanted to ask what she will become - I want to know that too. Come back series 2!

Ward says he's thinking of letting his facial hair grow out, will we see beardy Ward in series 2, though that's because they won't let him have sharp implements.

My thanks to @AlasdairStuart and @runalongwomble for the spoiler pun suggestions.

24 February 2015

Turn Turn Turn

Episode: 17

To talk about this episode at all means spoiling events in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as this episode comes right on the heels of that.

What Happens
Coulson believes May has been working for the Clairvoyant and the plane has been overridden and is going to an unknown location. May says she was reporting to Fury, and asks why Fitz was messing with the phone lines. Fitz says he was trying to talk to Simmons at the Hub, because she's secretly analysing Skye's blood to find out about the healing drug, which Coulson and Skye wouldn't let them investigate. The plane is full of secrets. Coulson knocks May out and puts her in the interrogation room with Ward. Garrett's plane is chased by Shield drones and comes to the Bus, so Coulson shoots down the drones and Garrett comes onboard. Garrett says it looks like they're flying to the Hub and Coulson believes Agent Hand is the Clairvoyant. Skye finds an encrypted message revealing that Hydra are back and have been hidden within Shield. At the Hub Trip realises Simmons is hiding something so she admits that she's testing Skye's blood, he helps her contact Agent Weaver at the Academy, but Weaver says they're under attack from Hydra. Victoria Hand tells a group of agents to attack Coulson's plane and take out his team. The agents find Trip and Simmons and demand they swear allegiance to Hydra or die, Trip takes one of Hand's agents hostage, thus passing the test. Hand's group have been killing anyone who isn't loyal to Shield and she believes Coulson is Hydra because of all the iffy stuff his team have been doing. When the plane lands Shield attack it. Coulson gets May to call Fury, but the voice on the other end of his private line says he's dead. Coulson is furious at her, but needs her for now. The team sneak out and go into the Hub to rescue Simmons and Trip. Ward and Skye go to the nerve centre, and Ward asks Skye out. Garrett mentions details about Coulson's interrogation that no one else knows, meaning Garrett is the Clairvoyant. Garrett gathers Hydra agents, but Hand's team heard everything and capture Garrett. Hand takes back control of the Hub and leaves Coulson in charge, they may be the last high-level agents still loyal to Shield. She takes Garrett to the Fridge to be imprisoned and Ward requests to go with her. On the way she suggests Ward might want to kill Garrett, but instead Ward kills her and her men. Garret congratulates him, revealing that Ward has been working for him all along.

At some point we were either told, or it was telegraphed, that most people on the show were secretly Hydra, it made for intense if tiring viewing.

Coulson's Alive!
May's betrayal hits Coulson hard and he's furious with her. When she reveals that she had direct access to Fury and knew about project TAHITI he's even angrier because those questions haunted him, but she says she was under orders to monitor him and make sure he was OK. It's probably the best form a betrayal could take, but it's still a betrayal. Coulson's face changes the moment Garrett mentions that Raina had been in the machine. On my first watch I recall thinking something was up moments before that, because Garrett's rant was a bit odd, even for what we've seen of Garrett so far. Hand believes Coulson is Hydra for some pretty good reasons, a lot of what Coulson and the team have done is outside protocol. Recruiting Skye, covering for Amador, refusing to follow orders; Shield had noticed these things without knowing the motives we've seen. Blake had expressed concerns and then got hospitalised on Coulson's op, which looks awful. Coulson and Hand discuss the fact that they could be the last of Shield and it seems like a period of cooperation is coming. That would've been cool, Victoria Hand wasn't likeable but she was an effective character. Her hardline approach at rooting out traitors and Hydra agents seems like it would've created interesting conflicts with Coulson.

The Cavalry
May's reveal about Fury is borne of desperation, the discovery of her secret is badly timed what with the Clairvoyant and Hydra stuff. The level of deception that Coulson was subject to, from the people and organisation that he trusted. May researched what was needed and told Fury before the Director gave Coulson team parameters, meaning Coulson was being manipulated before the team was assembled. Everyone there (besides Skye) was chosen to further May's orders to monitor Coulson and keep him well. FitzSimmons have the skill to rebuild him, and Ward had the skill to take him out if needed. This explains her distrust of Skye, the one wildcard on the team who hadn't been vetted. Coulson patches May up (as he's done before) but makes clear they are no longer friends, though he believes she's an ally and needs her help in the Hub.

Meh, Ward
Ward tells Skye he has feelings for her and asks her out, just as he's about do take out a hallway of Hydra agents. He seems very vulnerable in those moments, but he's still playing the part he's been playing the whole time. Skye is wary but as he's likely to die she kisses him, I did roll my eyes at this on first viewing, but I liked Skye less that time around, and I've never liked Ward. Of course it turns out he was a kind of boring character on purpose. When Garrett is taken into custody Ward reacts badly, apparently betrayed by his mentor, and asks to be the one who turns the key on Garrett's cell. It's very convincing, and we honestly think Ward wants to kill Garrett right up until the moment that he kills Agent Hand. In that moment the trajectory of what's coming next (which is already dramatically different from anything we might have guessed pre Cap 2) changes. It seemed like Shield was about to pull through, but the war has only just started.

Science Hermione
Trip realises Simmons is hiding something, and he confronts her about it (he's professional). There are moments when we're supposed to think Trip is Hydra. He accepts her actions are well-intentioned and even helps her to contact Weaver. He comments that she isn't very good at lying, she agrees but says she's gotten much better. Perhaps in that moment we're meant to suspect Simmons just a bit. Even though they're both in the Hub they only find out about Hydra when they contact a panicked Weaver who is glad to see them alive and warns them to hide. Trip does what Weaver said, and again there are unnerving moments when we aren't sure of his loyalty. When Hand and her agents apprehend them Trip proves his dedication to SHIELD against HYDRA. This is an episode where no one (audience or characters) is sure who to trust. Simmons defends Coulson to Hand, which is when Hand lists her understandable reasons for suspicion.

Monkey Boy
Fitz handles himself pretty well despite the murky situation and danger. At the start he yells at May for shooting at him and when she turns things back on him he is honest about why he was covertly contacting Simmons and is accusing towards Skye and Coulson who he knows have been hiding something together. These disagreements are put aside with the reveal of Hydra's rise and the challenge of getting out of the plane unharmed. Fitz is adamant about saving Simmons, though no one disagrees. Garrett makes it clear that Hydra plans to make use of Fitz's skills, with or without his agreement, and though he's upset Fitz remains defiant, though this only makes Garrett chuckle. In the fight with Garrett and the Hydra agents Fitz ducks out of the way, but he does toss weapons to Coulson and ends up shooting someone to save May, probably his first kill.

Hacker Girl
Skye finds and decodes the Hydra message, which is hidden in Shield comms. She and Ward split from the main group to try and take the nerve centre of the Hub. While hiding in a cupboard Ward tells her about his feelings for her, and she responds to his sudden vulnerability as Ward is self-deprecating. Though she makes clear she would want to take things slow, she knows about his thing with May and is wary of what he's looking for. She kisses him because he's going into danger. At the end she's shocked about the Garrett reveal and realises how hard it's hitting Ward and Coulson.

Weirdness of the Week
That something like Hydra, an enemy thought to be decades dead, was hiding in Shield all along. That Garrett (and probably others like him) have been using their positions to further their own ends in secret. Though given the size and scale of Shield (which we've only glimpsed in the show), maybe it isn't that weird.

Villain of the Week
Hydra in general and I think the 'of the week' format has been fairly broken by this. Garrett specifically, it turns out he's been masterminding most of their opposition all along. Garrett didn't intend to kill them, he was furthering his own motives and fine with the secrecy, but he realises Fury must have rumbled them and so Hydra had to "come out of the shadows".

SHIELD LOL
"Phil, this is me being honest."
"No John, this is you being a psychopath."


As this ep is the big spoiler turning point there's not much to say down here now. This ep and the ones that follow are the reason I put the Spoiler section in. There will be stuff in later episodes that relates to series 2, but Turn Turn Turn is all about this change.



22 February 2015

The End of the Beginning

Episode: 16


What Happens

Garrett and Trip (introduced in T.A.H.I.T.I.) are attacked in a safe house by Deathlok, who is resistant to weapons. They were tracking the Clairvoyant, and bring guests to the Bus: Agent Hand, Agent Sitwell (both introduced in The Hub) and Agent Blake (introduced in FZZT). The top agents are briefed about Garrett and Coulson's op against the Clairvoyant, the theory is that altitude makes them harder to observe, even psychically? They've narrowed suspects down to people who were rejected from Shield's Gifted Index, Skye's talent will allow her to identify the 3 most likely candidates. She devises a double blind mission where agents are paired randomly and given pieces of information, meaning only she knows full details. To access the required info Skye is made a full Agent of Shield, with little ceremony but much congratulation. Sitwell is ordered by Shield to catch a boat, and Hand returns to the Hub to coordinate the backup she feels is badly missing from the op. Deathlok gets a fancy upgrade from his mystery handler. Trip and Ward are sent to the curiously understaffed "Milton Keynes Prison" apparently in the UK (what we see on screen is not the UK despite Union flag and teacup props). Coulson and Garrett are sent after a brilliant college student with possible family ties to the Yakuza, they are diverted on their way. May and Blake go to a care home to see a catatonic patient, but Deathlok attacks them and injures Blake. Everyone returns to the Hub, where Simmons stays to debrief Agent Hand about Deathlok. The team realise Blake shot Deathlok with a tracer so they can track him. Shield raids an abandoned racecourse and chases Deathlok to the basement. Coulson and Ward find the catatonic patient staring at screens and communicating through a computer. Ward and May arrive as the Clairvoyant announces himself and taunts them. He threatens Skye, so Ward goes against orders and shoots him. Fury has reappeared so the team head to the Triskelion. Skye tells Coulson she thinks the Clairvoyant had access to the Shield files and they realise he's an agent and the racecourse op was a diversion. Coulson suspects Ward and asks why he shot the catatonic man. Fitz tries to communicate with Simmons and discovers May's secret cockpit phone. He tells Skye and cuts the line. May hunts Fitz around the plane, then Coulson and Skye confront her. Coulson's convinced May's working for the Clairvoyant, she admits she's reporting to someone bit won't say who. The plane changes course by itself, May doesn't know why. After the credits it's revealed that Victoria Hand had the plane redirected and she orders that everyone on the plane is taken out except Coulson.

Coulson's Alive!
Coulson and Garrett have been on the hunt for the Claivoyant. Since encountering Lorelei and her magic his mind's been opened to the possibility that their opponent might have some abilities, though quite how altitude will affect that I'm not sure. Puts Skye forward to run the op due to her pattern recognition skills, it also puts her in a position where she has to become an agent. Coulson is grimly determined to get answers from Fury once he gets to the Triskelion, shame he never reaches it. Coulson's insistence on secrecy and no backup gets him in trouble with Victoria Hand after Blake is injured. The catatonic "Clairvoyant" taunts Coulson about what happened to him, calling him broken. He says he'll take what he wants from Coulson and Skye, suggesting that it's about the GH 325. Shocked by the shooting Coulson is told by Garrett that maybe being on the team has smoothed down Ward's rough edges. Later Coulson suspects they were tricked, that the catatonic man was just a prop. His conversation with Skye makes him realise that their enemy is in fact an Agent with security clearance. He interrogates Ward, believing that the specialist had orders to kill the catatonic man they were meat to capture. At the end he believes May is working for the Clairvoyant, and as she escaped the encounter with Deathlok there's reason for his suspicion. In the stand off there's no time to deal with his feelings, but Coulson's anger is deep.

The Cavalry
May brings Fitz and Simmons up to see Skye become an agent, a sign of her sense of community in the group. May realises Fitz and Simmons are interested in the drug that healed Coulson and Skye and tells them that if they notice anything odd about either of them, they should tell her. It's an odd moment, full of secrets. In Skye's op May is randomly paired with Blake, and though she fires on Deathlok it has little effect on him with his upgrades. After realising Fitz has found and cut her secret hardline she tracks him around the plane and tries to shoot him with icers. This is when Coulson and Skye confront her and she has to admit that she is working for someone, but though she says it's not what they think she still won't say who is giving her orders. Given what we've seen of May's friendship with Coulson she's got some big loyalty issues here.

Meh,Ward
Ward congratulates Skye on becoming an agent and doesn't acknowledge his own role in training her. Paired with Trip on the op, Trip mentions Ward's family history, sounds like -as well as being horrible and abusive- they're a political family. They alsodiscuss how much they both want vengeance against the Clairvoyant. Ward wants him dead for trying to kill Skye, whereas Trip remains more even-headed despite the Clairvoyant killing his partner. This foreshadows Ward's actions when he shoots the Clairvoyant. Garrett tells Skye that Ward has changed since being on the team, that his work usually means being alone but now he has people to fight for. Ward shoots the catatonic "Clairvoyant" after he threatens Skye, though the timing of when he shoots him feels odd to me. Coulson interrogates Ward believing he was ordered to shoot, Ward maintains it was an emotional decision and they're interrupted by the reveal about May's secret phone.

Science Hermione
Simmons continues taking Skye's blood, but this time she's honest about wanting to send it away to be analysed, backed up by Fitz. Simmons is asked to stay at the Hub as an expert on the Deathlok project, and takes some of Skye's blood to test at the more advanced lab facilities there. She agrees to keep in contact with Fitz. There's a moment when it seems like Simmons notices Trip, perhaps in the same way he'd noticed her. Again there's no flirting, but there's a spark. Fitz definitely sees this. On the phone she tells him that something is happening at the Hub and all the top-level agents are being called into the situation room.

Monkey Boy
Fitz tries to back up Simmons in convincing Skye to have her blood sent for testing, pointing out how much good it could do. He's perplexed by Skye's insistence they do as Coulson says and follow the rules. He shows off the new guns he's developed to an appreciative May and Ward, he's redesigned the night-night guns and is calling them icers. He's also developed a tracer round, which can track whatever it shoots, such as a moving vehicle or a wild monkey. Blake later uses it to tag Deathlok, so they can trace him. Fitz notices a spark between Simmons and Trip, and you can tell he does not like it. On the op to catch Deathlok Fitz's glowing, airborne retrievers are vital for monitoring and updating the split members of the team. Fitz discobvers the unauthorised hardline and traces it to May's secret cockpit phone. He's startled and nervy when she comes in, is lying isn't as bad as Simmons' is but he's jumpier than usual. He asks Skye about it she she tells him to cut the line, despite being a more senior agent he needs her guidance. May tries to shoot him with an icer, but he's behind glass in the lab, which doesn't seem like the kind of mistake she would make.

Hacker Girl
Skye, knowing the truth about alien fluid in the drug and agreeing with Coulson to keep it secret, doesn't give Simmons permission to share the blood samples. She comes up with a better version of the op, involving a double-blind and when she realises that she doesn't have clearance Agent Hand presents her with a Shield badge. Though there isn't much official ceremony the team congratulate Skye, Coulson says she's passed every test needed to be an agent and Garrett comments that most people haven't been shot in the stomach. Later Garrett officially introduces himself to Skye, she was unconscious before, and talks about Coulson and Ward. Skye plans the op so that one agent has the location and when they get near it unlocks the name of the target on the other agent's phone, I'm not certain if that's a true double blind but it's another example of Skye using location-based encryption. Coulson asks Skye to use the reports on the Index and the potential suspects to try and get into the Clairvoyant's mind. Skye is kept protected on the op, both Coulson and Ward wary of her safety. Looking at the files Skye realises the kind of detailed, personal info Shield holds on it's agents, precisely the kind of thing the Clairvoyant has been using to target them. She convinces Coulson that the Clairvoyant isn't magic, he just has access. After telling Fitz to cut May's hardline Skye gets a gun and pulls it on May to back up Coulson.
Poor Mike, he wanted none of this

Villain of the Week
The Clairvoyant and, to a lesser but more physical extent, Deathlok. The Clairvoyant seems to be a catatonic man who had previously been assessed by Shield for possible abilities before an accident. He's found in the basement of a racecourse looking at screens and talking through a computer. Though Coulson points out that all they see is a disabled man and a talking computer, there's no indication that one was powering the other. It's really bad that a severely disabled man is used as a prop. I'm not sure that this is fully addressed in the show, but I suspect this is meant to be another sign of the lengths the Clairvoyant will go to. When Skye sees Deathlok through Fitz's retrievers she realises that he hasn't just had a new leg and eye, he's been upgraded with stuff under his skin.

SHIELD LOL
This isn't really a funny episode, not really many jokes set up.
When Agent Hand disagrees with Coulson's op Garrett argues with her and calls her Vic. She tells him not to because it's condescending, it's not really a joke or anything, but it kind of amused me because she's right and people don't often call that kind of thing out on TV.

Spoilers at Dawn (spoilers for rest of this series and Cap 2)

Hand tells Sitwell he's been ordered to go on an op to the Lemurian Star, which is where we see him at the beginning of Captain America: Winter Soldier. We will also see him hailing Hydra to that politician with the big face.

Garrett has been tracking the Clairvoyant and seems to be very involved in the op to find him, convenient seeing as he's the Clairvoyant. Coulson runs into Garrett in the basement before they find the "Clairvoyant", was he checking everything was set up correctly? Skye and Coulson reckon the Clairvoyant is using Shield files and that's probably true but all the stuff we've heard the Clairvoyant and his people mention has been stuff Garrett probably already knew about.

It's a shame Coulson doesn't get to Fury, as he'll not get another chance before the Director fakes his death and goes even more off-grid.

The reveal of the fake Clairvoyant with words on screens and through speakers reminds me of the reveal of Dr Zola in that bunker in The Winter Soldier.

Simmons' brief call from the Hub is no doubt the start of the reaction to the events of Winter Soldier, which seems to happen simultaneously with this episode.

May's secret phone line suggests she's an agent of the Clairvoyant, though I think it's perfectly possible she could be running things, why doesn't he suspect she is the Clairvoyant. Even after being caught May still won't tell Coulson she's working for Fury, not sure why. Whatever happens Coulson will feel betrayed but the truth is probably the best version of that betrayal, though May's a pro so she's not going to give anything away without orders. I've seen it pointed out online before, but it's cool that of the very few people Fury trusts most, 3 of them are women (the other 2 being Maria Hill and Black Widow).

At the end the implication is that Victoria Hand is the Clairvoyant (the viewer not necessarily knowing about Hydra at the time of first broadcast) and she's making her move. This might not be surprising to comics fans, as (according to my husband, who knows these things) her pen and ink counterpart is the lieutenant of Norman Osbore when he's running some evil version of Shield, or something. Of course Marvel don't have screen rights to Norman Osborne.

20 February 2015

Yes Men

Episode: 15

Yay, Lady Sif!

What Happens
Lorelei, an escaped Asgardian sorceress, uses her power to control men in an attempt to build an empire. Skye is recovering and Simmons keeps taking blood samples, trying to find traces of the drug that miraculously save her. The young scientist is frustrated that Coulson won't let her report her findings. Freaked out by his discovery of the alien fluid that healed him and Skye, Coulson tries to track down Director Fury, including contacting Agent Sitwell. Fury is off grid so no one can contact him. Lady Sif of Asgard is sent by Odin to return Lorelei to Asgard's dungeons. The Shield team help her, but in the process of getting through the men Lorelei has ensorcelled the magic collar that stops her is broken. Then she ensorcels Ward, who goes rogue and takes her to Las Vegas. Fitz is able to fix the collar, and Sif warns May that Ward is no longer the man she knew. Ward pretends to run, but actually takes the plane. Sif is blown out through the airlock in the interrogation room, but Coulson points out that she's an Asgardian and therefore tough. When Simmons opens the airlock again Sif, who has been hanging onto the side of the plane, gets back in. She and Lorelei fight, while the sorceress taunts the warrior, but Sif prevails. Ward and May fight, after Lorelei has used Ward to taunt May. Sif takes Lorelei back to Asgard because those are her orders. Ward tries to apologise to May, but their arrangement is over. Coulson tells Skye about the alien drug that's in them and vows to find answers. It turns out May has bugged the plane and is listening to Coulson and Skye, she uses a secure line to report that Coulson knows the truth.
Coulson's Alive!
After his shocking alien discovery Coulson has shut himself away and taken leave days trying to track down Fury. He meets Agent Sitwell who says Fury is off-grid and can't be found. Coulson and Sif recognise each other as allies of Thor, she had heard of Coulson's death. Coulson has to ask her to keep his being alive secret, explaining that he'd like the news to come from him. Is this Coulson following protocol? Or does he just want to avoid awkward questions from Avengers? He asks Sif about blue aliens and whether any have been to Earth, he's not comforted by her assurance that none have. Coulson never encounters Lorelei, so he's never controlled by her, which is good as not sure I'd want to see that. Conversely he doesn't actively avoid encounters with her, which would seem sensible. He is able to play along with Fitz, pretending he's been ensorcelled to get Fitz to drop his guard. At the end Coulson tells May to talk things through with Ward, and she tells him to do the same with Skye. The old-friends-distanced-by-secrets-reluctant-support-group continues. Coulson tells Skye about the alien origin of the drug that saved them, she shocks him by not freaking out. The pair agree to find answers regardless of protocol, keeping it quiet from the team to protect them. This is similar to when Coulson told Skye about her mystery origin and the pair decided to seek answers, a similar moment but with raised tension. This is a big change for Coulson, though one that's been built up across the series, he references Sif's earlier words to him about the codes that bind people, he's decided he doesn't want to be bond anymore.

The Cavalry
May and Sif are both warriors, so it's cool that they chat and May gets to tests Sif's sword (not her first Asgardian weapon). Sif can sympathise with May's situation as a man she was close to once got ensorcelled by Lorelei, she advises that May may have to kill Ward as he will no longer feel any sentiment towards her. May denies any attachment to Ward or that he would be able to kill her (I believe the latter). Lorelei tries to taunt May using Ward, which irritates her more than anything else. May lets Ward think he's about to kill her, but she's a step ahead. After Ward is himself again May still punches him, I cheered. May asks Coulson about what's going on with him, she knows he's not good and is hiding something (again). At the end she tells Coulson that he needs to tell Skye what freaked him out about the drug. She sort of takes Coulson's advice and talks to Ward, but it's clear things are over between them. The after credit scene shows May spying on Coulson and reporting his actions to an unknown source, given their mutually caring relationship so far this betrayal is pretty big.

Meh, Ward
Knowing what Lorelei's power is I'm surprised that Ward, or any of the male agents, are allowed to go about unchaperoned. Ward is impressive compared to the local cops, bikers and new groom that Lorelei has ensorcelled so far. As a spy Ward has warrior skills and resources, he shows her Vegas and could actually help her achieve her world-domination plans, so she rewards him with sex. Ward tricks the team into thinking he's running as a way of taking the plane (which is not adequately protected by female agents). Ward tries to apologise to May after it's all over, she tells him he was never in danger of hurting her feelings, but as she's colder than usual that may not be true. She points out that if, as Lorelei said, Ward is attracted to someone else then he was more honest with Lorelei than he's been with himself.

Science Hermione
Simmons monitors Skye, not allowing her to get up while she's stil recovering. Simmons takes a lot of Skye's blood, trying to figure out what the GH 325 was, she's thinking of the huge medical benefits of reverse engineering it. She is frustrated by Coulson's furtiveness and his insistence that she not send her samples of limoted findings to anyone.

Monkey Boy
Fitz offers to help Sif fix the magic collar that stops Lorelei from speaking when she's captive. Although it's Asgardian metal (and, y'know magic) Fitz is able to fix it before he's ensorcelled. Coulson had to punch Fitz out while taking the plane back.

Hacker Girl
Frustrated by Simmon's monitoring Skye is determined to start training as soon as she can so that she's never caught unprepared in the field again. When Coulson tells Skye about the alien drug they both have inside of them she's not as freaked out as he expects (and certainly not as freaked out as him). She's spent her whole life with her past being a mystery, and when she found out more it all just got more mysterious, in this case she's just glad that someone else is in the same position as her. She agrees to Coulson's hunt for answers, but she would have included the team, she's used to looking for stuff, but also to sharing information.

Weirdness of the Week
As well as their fancy alien tech Asgardians do have magic, but apparently only some of them have abilities. Lorelei (like Loki and his mum) is one of these people. In her case she can control men using her voice or tough due to the "inherent weakness" of men (I'm gonna assume it's something to do with the Y-chromosome).
Villain of the Week
Lorelei's whole power is a bit gender essentialist/heteronormative for my liking if I am honest. Plus the magical femme fatale who wickedly controls all men is a bit of a hoary old trope. I don't know if the character is likely to reoccur in the MCU. I did think it was cool that an all-female team was sent to raid the hotel room. They should have used female agents a bit more on this mission, they left their males too exposed. Lorelei is given some characterisation, mostly reflecting upon her long captivity and trying to plead with Sif. When that won't work she goes back to taunting Sif, suggesting Thor sees her as a pet.

SHIELD LOL
"Who is this ugly old woman?" Lorelei doesn't understand paper money and misidentifies Benjamin Franklin, though the biker's knowledge of his country's history isn't great if he thinks Franklin was ever president.

Sif refers to the holotable as antiquated technology other realms, which slightly shames Coulson as he couldn't use it last episode.

Coulson asks Sif to give them some cover during a firefight, so she casually kicks a big, metal caravan into the path of the bullets. "Very literal interpretation" Coulson comments.

ETA -TW for sexual abuse-
A friend has pointed out that I entirely failed to address that Lorelei effectively rapes Ward when they have sex in the hotel. I have to admit I didn't think of it that way, it's definitely not framed that way, but Ward is being controlled so it's doubtful he could consent. I tend to ignore sex scenes in TV cos a lot of the time they feel like set dressing to me (which is probably due to my own issues), so I didn't think about it. This was my error.

Lady Spoiler of Asgard (for this series, next series, Thor 2 and Cap 2)

Agent Sitwell! Hail Hydra!

Sif says Odin ordered her to bring Lorelei back alive, much though Sif would prefer to kill her. I am fascinated by what "Odin" is ordering people to do. Especially as Lorelei used one of Loki's secret pathways to get to Midgard.

Lorelei is a comic book character (which may explain why her abilities are hokey). The only thing I've read with her in is Loki: Agent of Asgard, where she's pretty different. That comic is good fun, and a sign that Marvel have realised that having a pretty version of Loki is a good idea.

Sitwell comments that when a high-level agent goes off-grid they're hard to find, then says Coulson did a similar thing a while ago. We're probably supposed to think it's a reference to Coulson's recovery (especially as Sitwell then asks about Tahiti), but I think it sounds like something earlier. My guess is that's when Coulson was running the Guest House, yet more hidden memories from that particular facility.

Sif's lists a load of blue aliens, including Cree. She claims none have gone to Earth, but that's only as far Asgard/Sif knows. Internet rumour and the comics suggest that the Cree are the 'blue angels' that Raina talks about that created her people. Meaning the drug won't adversely affect Skye, as it does others, because of her origin and what she will become.

Yeah, it totally looks like May has betrayed Coulson. In a way she has, but her's is probably the most benevolent kind of betrayal as she's looking out for her friend, which would be her instinct. Thge betrayal is that she's reporting to Fury behind his back and doesn't use her exclusive - if indirect- line to try and get hold of Fury when Coulson's looking for him.

18 February 2015

T.A.H.I.T.I.

Episode: 14

What Happens
Skye is rushed to a medical facility after being shot in T.R.A.C.K.S., but the doctors can't save her. Coulson is determined to save her, so he reveals the truth about his death to Ward, Fitz and Simmons, tasking the team to find out what was done to him. A Shield team arrives to take Quinn into custody. Agent Garrett, an old friend of Coulson's and Ward's former SO, boards the plane with his man Agent Triplett. Coulson won't hand Quinn over and Garrett realises that the team are hanging on to him because of Skye. Garrett and his team have been tracking Quinn for a while and he convinces Shield to let him interrogate Quinn on the plane. Garrett has a strong interrogation method and mocks Quinn for being duped by a charlatan Clairvoyant. Fitz and Simmons understand little of Coulson's file, and Simmons discovers the names and places in the file are falsified. The doctor that Coulson spoke to in The Magical Place has disappeared. Fitz sets up a virtual display and gets hold of all of Shield's admin files, he and Simmons track through them to find any clue about where Coulson was treated. They find a map of a secret mountain bunker, codenamed Guest House. It isn't an official Shield facility so Coulson, Ward, Garrett and Fitz go to ask for entry but are prepared to fight their way in. This turns out to be necessary, and when they've taken out the guards they find the mountain is rigged to explode. Coulson and Fitz go to the labs to find stuff to help Skye, they find a drug called GH325 that healed Coulson's heart. Fitz races back with it, but Coulson spots a door labelled T.A.H.I.T.I. and investigates. On the plane Skye keeps crashing so Simmons, with May and Triplett, tries to keep her alive. Running out of time Garrett finds Coulson traumatised in a corridor, he screams that they shouldn't give the drug to Skye. They race back to plane, barely taking off as the mountain explodes beneath them. When Coulson gets to the med room Simmons has already injected the GH325 into Skye, and it restores her. Garrett and Trip take Quinn into custody. May asks Coulson why he isn't happy about saving Skye, he flashes back to finding the secret of the GH drug, it was drained from a dead, blue alien in a tube. He tells May he was remembering his treatment and was worried she would suffer like he did. To lighten things the after-credit scene has a woman in odd clothing steal a newlywed groom from his bride, compelling him with her voice.

Coulson's Alive!
Like Fury previously did for him Coulson is determined to move heaven and Earth to save Skye, though Fury himself is unavailable. When Garrett arrives Coulson lets his old friend believe that he's holding Quinn for vengeance later, when everything turns out well Coulson says Garrett leapt to that conclusion, but it's not clear whether Coulson would have done what Garrett assumed. Of the pair Garrett seems like more of a maverick, though we know Coulson used to be different and that in his quieter way his trust in the system has been badly shaken. Coulson tries to get into the mountain base by asking nicely and appealing for help, though he's fine with using force when that won't work. The guard seems to recognise Coulson, who concedes that he may have spent some time there before. Coulson is terrified and shaken by what he finds, the substance that saved him, that's about to be put into Skye, was drained from the torso of a big blue alien, you understand his reaction. When I first watched this I was on the edge of my seat from when Coulson is found in the corridor until after we discover what he found. All I wanted to know was what he saw that scared him so bad. Coulson won't tell May this secret, I expect he's still wrapping his head around it.

The Cavalry
I the hospital when everyone is blaming themselves fr what happened to Skye May tells them to blame Quinn. When the doctor breaks the bad news May immediately goes and brutalises Quinn. It's not pretty or right, but it does show that Skye is now included in the group that May feels protective of. She knows tries to find out what's up with Coulson at the end, knows he is again hiding something that he almost can't bear, and it's hurting him.

Meh, Ward
Ward joins in with the pity party at the start of the episode, but in the previous episode he said he didn't blame himself for what happened to Skye. He keeps saying she shouldn't have been there and I feel like he kind of blames Coulson, though I could be reading into something that isn't actually there. Garrett was Ward's former SO and trainer, and it sounds as though they have a lot of history. He and Trip are friends, but when it looks like Garrett and Coulson meant order them to do different things Ward and Tripp start fighting, because they're silly boys.

Science Hermione
In the hospital, after Skye has been handed over, Simmons suddenly feels like she's been a mess. Now her role is over she can look back over her performance and see how scared she was, but Coulson's reassurance is kind as he points out she was wonderful. Without her Skye would have certainly died in that villa. She is amazed by Coulson's medically impossible reveal and frustrated by what's in Coulson's file, she can only understand 70% of it which must mean it's really out there. While waiting on the plane Simmons keeps watch over Skye, accompanied by Trip, who asks about what Skye means to her. Skye keeps crashing and Simmons has to work to keep her alive, never certain it it's what she should be doing, the emotional strain is heavy. Simmons points out that she and Skye have only known each other a few months and are really different, but yet Skye is important to her. Trip gives her space for her worry, but also says understanding things. Trip is attracted to Simmons, but there's no male gaze, no particular shot of him noticing her, no change to the way Simmons is portrayed. His bearing just shows he's interested in her and what she's saying. He doesn't do anything flirty, or make any kind of move, because it'd be really appropriate given the situation, it's not even clear whether Trip fully realises he likes her, Simmons certainly has no thought in that direction. Garrett notices (and makes it overt at the end by telling Coulson), but it's not so unusual for 3rd parties to notice attraction to before the individuals realise it themselves. It's really, really well done, subtle but also actually nice. When he compliments her it's about her performance as a doctor, he admires and respects her and that's all part of the attraction. Now that I've seen this I wonder why ths kind of thing isn't in more TV and film, because it's amazing!

Monkey Boy
When Coulson hands over his Death and Recovery file Fitz is the one that points out it's illeagl for them to read it, so Coulson states that he doesn't care about their clearance level any more, this is a man done with protocol. Fitz sets up the echo-chamber, a kind of virtual 3D holo-display/room to view data. He's also used contacts to get access to all of Shield's paperwork so he and Simmons can trawl the files to find some clue about where Coulson was taken. This is more visually interesting than watching people search through files and folders on a flat computer screen. Fitz is the one who realises that the Gues House file isn't encrypted but, when tilted, is a map made of scrolling numbers (quite why such a thing would be there is clearly a question we aren't supposed to be asking, again it's more visually interesting than coordinates). Fitz doesn't quite get Garrett's morbid humour on the mission, but he acts with bravery on the mission.

Hacker Girl
Lying in a hospital room (which is inserted into the plane with some kind of fancy forklift), the focus of so much effort and emotion. At the start the doctor says her family should be contacted, and Coulson rightly points out that the team are her family. The moment might have been sappy if it wasn't sad.

Weirdness of the Week
Quinn tells Garrett that the Clairvoyant gave him detailed information on how to avoid and take out his team members. The whole Guest House set up is odd, it's on Shield's files, but obscurely. It isn't a regular Shield facility, in fact seems to be at a remove from Shield, but Fury quietly used it to save Coulson. The place does have half of a big blue (presumably dead) alien in a tube and is harvesting its fluids for a drug that has regenerative abilities. That's pretty weird.


Villain of the Week
Quinn, still. He's been tracked by Garrett's team and had three of his men killed, though Garrett says it's odd that Quinn would kill someone himself, he usually pays people for that. Quinn says that the Clairvoyant ordered him to shoot Skye, which ties in with what he said after he did it, so that Coulson would be forced to find out how he was resurrected. That is apparently the one thing the Clairvoyant can't see.

SHIELD LOL
This isn't a funny episode. Garrett seems jovial and sarcastic and mocking a lot, but he's got more edge than Coulson and his manner is part of that.



My God, It's Full of Spoilers (Really big spoilers for series 1 and 2)

OH LOOK, IT'S GARRETT.
Funny how the "everything" the Clairvoyant knows relates specifically to people close to Garrett, like Garrett's team, and his old friend Phil. He is the Clairvoyant, which makes it funny when he mocks Quinn for believing in a charlatan's psychic powers and is constantly scornful of him. Garrett uses the Clairvoyant persona and its mystique for effect, he doesn't believe in anything. I really wanted to know if Quinn knew who Garrett was while he was interrogating him. I tried to analyse all the exchanged looks, but I can't tell.

Garrett tells Coulson he should see the stuff he's sweet-talked Ward into doing - what like being an evil, betraying bastard? And also shooting a dog. I was so happy with this reveal cos Ward was super dull and annoying and I felt vindicated in my dislike of him. Also it made him interesting.

When the guard thinks he might recognise Coulson is it because he was a patient, or is it because he used to run the Guest House? Are all of Coulson's hidden memories about this place? The guard's recollection seems confused, so his memories might have been altered too.