By Stacey Gillard
Agents of SHIELD has really hit its stride. To clarify, I’ve never NOT enjoyed the show. There’s so much Joss Whedon about it that it would be impossible for me to not be a fan. I had felt that there was a lack of character development and that is what we have started to get over the past couple of weeks. It shouldn’t be surprising – Whedon is notorious for building his characters slowly. I think we were spoiled by having Coulson as a lead, someone we’ve all grown to love via the Marvel movies of the past few years. However, in true Whedon fashion, there’s a dark secret surrounding Coulson’s survival (come ON, Joss, just tell us what happened in Tahiti already!) so we know that even with this established character, some discoveries are ours to make down the line.
This week was the turn of Ward and Skye to develop and I really enjoyed what we were shown. As Ward has taken it upon himself to train Skye in all things SHIELD, his guard has started to drop and this week…brace yourselves…we even saw a SMILE! As an agent who has worked alone in the past we have to think that’s due to an event that caused him to lose the ability to trust. Being “persuaded” to join Coulson and his team forced Ward to relinquish some of his control, something that was obviously not easy for him, and while Skye’s outgoing nature initially irritated him, it’s now essential to his development as a team player.
Ward’s growing affection towards Skye made her betrayal even harder to accept this week. Her affiliation with the hacktivist group Rising Tide was not only what caused her to cross paths with SHIELD but also what led Coulson to believe she could be an asset to the team, utilizing her skills and determination. He placed a lot of trust in her and while Ward was slow to get on board, he was finally in a place where he believed she was there for the right reasons. We had seen her contact Rising Tide with the message “I’m in” at the end of the first episode but she gave us many reasons to trust that she was ready to commit to SHIELD. I should have known Whedon wouldn’t have forgotten about a subtle plot point planted all those weeks ago and this week she not only hooked up with her Rising Tide boyfriend (uh oh – sorry Ward/Skye ‘shippers) but also fed him information that jeopardized the mission. She finally showed her true colors….or did she? There were very understandable ulterior motives to her actions. Discovering why SHIELD redacted her adoption details all those years ago has been her driving force, although I do wonder why, after being given many reasons to trust the team, she hadn’t just asked Coulson for help earlier. He would have offered it and she would have avoided the confrontation.
Clark Gregg was at once intimidating and heartbreaking as Coulson lectured Skye in his office, making her recognize how disappointing her actions were to everyone on the team. I did like that he didn’t immediately dismiss her, though. She will have to work hard to regain the level of trust he had shown her before but she was more than willing to accept the tracking bracelet he left for her. She also showed some mettle in turning her back on her boyfriend after he went against everything she stood for and sold secrets obtained by his hacking. I do believe her heart is in the right place; she has obviously never had to rely on anyone other than herself and it will be a transition for her to settle into a team situation, but I have faith she will. I feel the fences she has to mend are going to be her biggest battle but it seems like it will be in her best interests to do everything she can to fix things, the promise of discovering more about her past being a strong motivator.
While the character development was a strong part of this week’s show, the continuation of the Centipede story arc introduced in the first episode was great. We saw that while the doctor behind the introduction of the Extremis serum was still hard at work, the Girl in the Flower Dress was running the show. Her insistence that Chan Ho Yin go by the moniker Scorch hinted that the league of superheroes she is intent on forming to take on SHIELD will have some pretty interesting names. (Side note: you know Joss Whedon has a huge influence on your life when you hope he names her group “Evil League of Evil”.) As any of you who read my Arrow reviews know, I’m not knowledgeable about comic books and their mythology, so apologies if I’m missing the importance of her and her visit to the prisoner at the end. It just made things even more intriguing for me! Ignorance really is bliss, sometimes!
One final thought…who else is intrigued by this May/Coulson chemistry?! Not that it’s surprising – that’s one sexy pairing! There’s obviously a professional history there and it’s been hinted at that May knows more about Tahiti than Coulson does, but there was some definite heat this week!