If you wanted an episode that put you on a roller coaster of emotions, I’d say this one fits the bill pretty well. The first third was comedic and hilarious with different characters paired up with each other, and then there’s a great nose-dive drop to end the episode.
Not So Quick Summary: The team is attempting to get its hands on some super top secret tech from a company called Cybertek that’s taking it to Ian Quinn via a train in the middle of the Italian countryside (because why not). The team pairs off–Fitz and Skye as boyfriend/girlfriend, May and Ward to tag the package, and Simmons and Coulson as father/daughter. Oh, and Stan Lee because of course! Stan Lee!
Their com systems go down and everyone is in the dark about where everyone else is. Skye and FitzSimmons hole up in a car where all their tech is, May climbs out a window and disappears, and Coulson and Ward have to jump off the train because they’ve been found out by Cybertek.
And then the train disappears.
It turns out that the train didn’t actually disappear, but the grenade that was lobbed at Coulson and Ward was a neurotoxin that stunned them and woke them with the idea that no time had passed at all (pretty cool, actually). They reconvene at the bus with May, who’s bruised and bleeding and looking like she’s about to rip someone’s head off. They find the train again and discover Simmons on her own in the tech car.
Fitz and Skye have gone off on their own, not wanting to let Ian Quinn get away, and have found his compound. While Fitz crawls under cars, Skye heads inside and discovers Mike Peterson in a hyperbaric chamber, scarred and missing most of one leg. The package that was being delivered turns out to be a pretty sweet prosthetic leg.
Skye is pinned in the basement by Mike, Ian Quinn, and one of Quinn’s bodyguards. Quinn tells Mike to kill Skye, but he replies that’s not part of his orders from the Clairvoyant. When Mike leaves to follow his path, Quinn shoots Skye twice in the gut and the team arrives just in time to put her in the hyperbaric chamber that manages to preserve Skye for the time being. But it’s not a permanent solution and their time is fading fast.
There’s a good amount of character development and character dynamics in this episode, and that’s something that’s been plaguing S.H.I.E.L.D.. The change of perspective could have seemed extremely repetitive, but the way S.H.I.E.L.D. executed it worked incredibly well. It gave an added depth to the episode, watching the team get foiled at every turn and seeing just how each of them responds.
Plus, we get a name drop of Emil Blonsky (Abomination for all you Hulk people), who is locked up tight in Alaska. And the formal introduction of Deathlok! How exciting! Plus, it’s excruciatingly heartbreaking when he’s spying on a playground and asks if he can see his son. A resounding “NOT YET” response comes in his eye. And we all cry a little.
The underrated player of this episode was probably Simmons. From her emotional outburst as Coulson’s daughter (“You and your work and your prostitutes!”) to spilling fake ashes of her “mother” in front of the entire train car to her reaction at the end of the episode with Skye’s predicament.
And Skye’s predicament is very heart-wrenching. I even found myself sitting in disbelief and hoping the team would show up on time to save her. She may not be the most likeable character, but she’s become a part of this team. And the raw emotion we feel from this turn of events has to do more with the effect it has on the rest of the team.
Maybe you react like Coulson–lost and wishing you could have protected her. Maybe it’s Ward, who blames someone else for this problem. Or you’re with May and Fitz, trying to comfort your friend’s grief. Or maybe you’re with Simmons (like me)–going through the motions because you know you have to, but in a moment of weakness/dawning realization, you see your helplessness in the situation and completely break down.
It’s a good cliffhanger, having someone’s life hanging in the balance. You have to think that they won’t kill Skye off, or will at least let her fate hang in limbo for a few episodes.
I’m excited to see where all of this is headed. Until March 4, people!