Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review - "End Of The Beginning"

SAFFRON BURROWS, TITUS WELLIVER, MAX HERNANDEZDidn’t we all kind of hope that the closer it got to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the better Agents of SH.I.E.L.D. would get? Tuesday night’s episode definitely had that feeling, and it isn’t just because we got an awesome villain in Deathlok.

Not-So Short Summary: The comic book-ness of this episode is great. We get all the big names from S.H.I.E.L.D. that we’ve come to know (Nick Fury is name-dropped, more on him later): Agents Garrett, Hand, and Sitwell. All of them are gathered onto the Bus to discuss the Clairvoyant at 30,000 feet, because it’s as far away from him as they can get.

We then get the “induction ceremony” of becoming a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent for Skye. Level 1. Well, you have to start somewhere, and she needs access to files to help track down the Clairvoyant. All the top agents are paired off, though Sitwell gets called away (I assume he plays a role in The Winter Soldier and he got called away to do that).

They’re paired off–Coulson and Garrett, Ward and Triplett, and May and Blake (or as I like to call him, the Smoke Monster). As they track down three different potential Clairvoyants, all of them seem to be getting themselves into tricky situations. For a moment, I thought all of them would claim to have found the Clairvoyant, but it’s May and Blake who get closer than the rest.

And we get to see Mike Peterson in action as Deathlok. It feels like the first real glimpse at something superhero-y that will extend past one episode or just get hinted at in passing (sorry, Lorelei). He takes down Blake, leaves May relatively unscathed, and the agents track him down to Pensacola where he leads them directly to the Clairvoyant.

Or does he? It’s Thomas Nash, a paralyzed man who can only speak through computers and seems to know which buttons to push. He gives Coulson empty threats because Coulson’s too smart to listen to him. “A force beyond your comprehension is coming for you and Skye. She has something we want, and she will die giving it to us,” he purrs so very creepily (side-note: He’s portrayed by Brad Dourif, aka Grima Wormtongue and also Billy Bibbit in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, and that’s only listing a few).

And then Ward shoots him.

The following few minutes of the episode are so very perfectly awkward and “what the heck just happened” because it’s so unlike Ward and no one knows how to react. In the aftermath, Skye points out to Coulson that everything the Clairvoyant said was pretty much directly from Ward’s psych eval. With Coulson already worrying that they just killed the wrong man, they come to the conclusion that the Clairvoyant isn’t a psychic but someone in S.H.I.E.L.D..

Agents-of-Shield-1x16-End-of-the-Beginning-20Taking a step away from all the main action, we see Fitz discovering May’s encrypted line in the cockpit. This happens at the same time that Coulson and Skye jump to the “S.H.I.E.L.D. is compromised (sort of)” result. The standoff between Coulson and May and Skye is one of my favorite scenes of this show so far. It’s executed well and Ming-Na Wen plays May’s internal struggle so well. She can’t say who she’s been contacting because they’re under surveillance and it’s a problem because she’s under suspicion of being the Clairvoyant.

Things are going to get good.

In case you hadn’t heard the internet, it’s probably a good idea to see The Winter Soldier before next week’s episode of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Badass Moment of the Week: The entire pre-credits, post-episode scene that was just one big teaser for The Winter Soldier. At one point in the episode, Coulson is told Nick Fury is waiting for him–finally. The scene after the last commercial break is Fury in Washington DC in a car chase with guns blazing, lots of fire, and an appearance by the Winter Soldier himself. It’s obviously straight from the movie, but it works well.

When Coulson interrogated Ward about being a mole for the Clairvoyant, I was honestly a little shocked. That thought didn’t even cross my mind because of all the build-up they’ve made in the past few episodes about him having feelings for someone other than May (we’re assuming it’s Skye, though I’d enjoy Simmons), so it made sense that he would shoot the guy point-blank for threatening Skye. He’s on an emotional overload.

But then I thought about it and I was all for Ward being the mole. That would be an incredibly evil twist, one that I doubt anyone would have seen coming. I do enjoy that they’re taking his character down this path rather than the romantic tension between him and Skye, despite how much focus was on it during this episode.

The end of the episode reveals that Victoria Hand is the Clairvoyant, much like everyone already assumed it was someone in S.H.I.E.L.D. and this woman has been sketchy since she first appeared on the show. It’s the random streaks of red in her hair.

I barely touched on Deathlok in this. His getup, although a little lackluster upon first appearance, is pretty darn cool, especially once he gets the Iron Man-esque band for his wrist to launch missiles and all that jazz. When Skye does an x-ray scan of him, we get to see him in his full comic book glory, machine pieces and all. Also, props to J. August Richards for playing Deathlok’s struggle so well; when he sees where a bullet grazed him in the forehead isn’t bleeding but rather a plate of metal, the shock that registers on his face is perfect. It shows he isn’t aware of the massive changes they have made to him.

If the remaining episodes of this season keep up this pace, we’re in for a treat. Look forward to my reviews getting even more long-winded and exciting!

Slightly Unrelated Notes:

-My Marvel Movie Marathon is potentially set for the first weekend in June. You don’t know how excited I am. Or my one sister-in-law who freaked out over the idea at lunch. It was great.

-The Winter Soldier will be seen by me on Sunday. And, I’m assuming, again Sunday evening. And possibly Monday after work, too.

Tags: Agents Of S.H.i.E.L.D. Marvel Review

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