Agents of SHIELD: The Patriot – Phil Coulson Back in Charge (Review)

 CLARK GREGG, HENRY SIMMONS

So, at long last, Jeffrey Mace’s secret is out. The official leader of SHIELD is not an inhuman at all. He is, in fact, a manufactured hero set up by General Talbot as part of a PR exercise. The move was made to help rekindle the public’s faith in the spy organization.

Mace, a man that media made a hero based on one photograph,  was tasked by his country to serve and he did, as he tells Phil Coulson later.  Agent Coulson was surprisingly forgiving of the new leader’s lie. He does, however, explain that while Mace can continue to be the figurehead of SHIELD Phil will now resume operational control of the organization again.

The Aida/Darkhold/Agent May, storyline continues with the real May waking up due to the disturbing nature of the scenario being run by Aida. This violent reaction was caused by repeated trips, in May’s mind, to a relaxing spa.

Radcliffe tells the second Aida, or Aida 2.0, that she needs to reschedule the program running in May’s brain to include some sort of conflict. The scientist also realizes that with his new Aida, he needs to reprogram her responses to threats and make them less lethal.

The LMD May, still has no idea that she is an android. The robot’s responses, memories and instincts mirror that of the real Agent May. Later, when saving Mace, Mack and Coulson from the Watchdog soldiers, android May is injured.

Back at the base, the android discovers a lot of metal underneath her skin. Interestingly, LMD May does not mention this disturbing new development to Daisy.  The android keeps the news a secret.

Someone else who has a secret is Fitz. Rather than leaving the severed head of Aida 1.0 alone, as directed by Simmons, he lies to her and continues trying to fix whatever went wrong in her programming.

There was less levity in this week’s episode; no Yo-Yo and Mack double act bemoaning the stupidity of Radcliffe’s venturing into Terminator territory. This week’s episode of Agents of SHIELD was full of death, close to home deceit and a slow move forward in the Agent May storyline.

The very start of the episode saw an unseen agent killed by sniper Yuri Zaikin who then tries to kill Jeffrey Mace with an exploding bullet. (Recently seen as the projectile sent to kill Luke Cage over on Netflix.)

Phil Coulson, Mack, the soon-to-be-dead Agent Burrows and Mace are made to retreat to the omnijet and make good their escape. The aircraft has been compromised, however, and Burrows, along with that special case that Mace is never far away from, are sucked out of the jet.

The jet then crashes and as Talbot, Simmons and May question Zaikin and look for the downed craft, Mack and Phil learn Mace’s secret. His “superpowers” are from an injection which are part of the Project Patriot program.

By the end of the credits, May, the real one, has broken loose twice and almost had her neck snapped by Aida once. May also manages to smack Radcliffe into a desk before being subdued the second time. Mace is revealed to be a phony, Fitz is secretly working on Aida’s head and Phil Coulson is now back in charge of SHIELD.

All in all a pretty busy little episode. It did take a long time to put Coulson where he belongs and it looks like the May storyline will be taking precedence over everything else, running parallel with the Aida plot line.

One this is certain, however, Simmons is going to have a few things to say to Fitz about his dalliance with Aida’s severed head. None of which will be “happy birthday.”

Agents of SHIELD airs Tuesdays on ABC.

CAST:

 

Guest starring Patrick Cavanaugh as Agent Burrows and Troy Caylak as Yuri Zaikin.

Agents of SHIELD: Bouncing Back – In a Heartbeat (Review)

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Bouncing Back introduces another inhuman, dubbed Yo-Yo by Mack who can move at super speed in a heartbeat.

WILLIAM SADLER, CLARK GREGG

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Bouncing Back introduces another inhuman, dubbed Yo-Yo by Mack who can move at super speed in a heartbeat. Things in the verse are also moving at THE pace of a heartbeat  as Malick and Coulson gear up for war. In terms of the title (bouncing back) refers to a great number of things, Yo-Yo, Coulson’s team, Fitzsimmons  and,  more disturbingly,  Grant Ward’s new incarnation as “Hive.”

The return of S.H.I.E.L.D offers a recap at least one comic moment:

President Ellis: “FOX News will not shut up!”

Less comic and more quaintly amusing is Mack’s own heartbeat now speeding up with an attraction for Yo-Yo, aka Slingshot in the Marvel Comic verse.

The episode opens with a teaser, a shot set three months in the future. A spacecraft, a’la Dead Spacea dead ship, weightless with globules of blood floating through the vehicle, a glimpse of a SHIELD patch and boom. The episode then enters “flashback” mode.

Part of that flashback includes William Sadler (reprising his role as the president) who clears the air with Coulson about SHIELD and sorting out an agenda, ATCU will still be in charge and Phil’s agents will continue as “Black Ops.” Ellis will assign a replacement for the dead Rosalind who answer’s to Coulson.

A shipment of special “inhuman” weapons are stolen from cops south of the border by an “invisible” assailant/thief.  Skye and her team head down to Bogota, Columbia to investigate and Mack discovers that the perpetrator was not invisible but faster than a heartbeat. later he learns that “Yo-Yo”, aka Elena Rodriguez, bounces back after each heartbeat journey to her original position.

NATALIA CORDOVA-BUCKLEY
Yo-Yo getting the drop on Mack.

One person who does not bounce back is Werner von Strucker (Spencer Treat Clark). Coulson puts Verner in the “Tahiti” machine and the young brain-damaged man starts murmuring Phil’s own words when he was in the device, “Just kill me.”  Despite what must be disturbing deja vu to Coulson, he forces Lincoln Campbell (Luke Mitchell) to trigger another memory.

While the images of being tortured interweave with Werner’s introduction to Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe) “plays” just long enough to give Phil the information he needs.   Malick fawns over “Hive” as he slowly rejuvenates and Ward/Hive (Brett Dalton is gloriously creepy in Hive’s interim stage of bouncing back) is not just scary but terrifying to behold.

Apart from Phil Coulson’s focus on Malick, the head of SHIELD has a new hand, and forearm, designed by Fitz.  The scientist has made the prosthetic look like a real appendage and, according to Agent May, it feels real as well.  Simmons and Fitz finally address the elephant in the room and agree to “start over.”

IAIN DE CAESTECKER, ELIZABETH HENSTRIDGE
Fitzsimmons starting over…

Back in Bogota, Elena turns out to be a “good guy” while the local policía turn out to have their own inhuman and the colonel is as corrupt as Rodriquez claims.  Yo-Yo believes that her gift is from God and Mack admires her faith.  He also gives Elena a similar spiel to the one Lincoln gave Skye/Daisy (Chloe Bennet); the gifts are not random.

Bobby and Hunter are taken prisoner by the local police and the team go in for a rescue. Elena, who is now Team Daisy, helps and is injured.  After getting the two agents, and capturing the inhuman, with his freezing eyes, HYDRA comes to collect the the prisoner.

Coulson tracks down Malick, which costs the magnate millions. Lincoln and Daisy connect and Fitz and Simmons reconnect. Hive appears to be a heartbeat away from killing Mr. Giyera.

In an ironic twist, Ellis appoints General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) to head up ATCU a move that Coulson believes is a mistake.  

Bounce Back allows Agents of SHIELD to remind the audience of just how hard core Phil Coulson is under that calm exterior. The scene between Coulson and Fritz (the “hard choice” bit) is a perfect example of the steel in the man who shot Loki in The Avengers.

This episode also reminds viewers that SHIELD do not realize that Grant Ward has been “inhabited” by Hive and is building himself up for a confrontation.  Agents of SHIELD has returned with a great open for the second half of the season. The series airs Tuesdays on ABC.

 

Agents of SHIELD: Maveth – Was that a Star Wars Reference? (Review)

Agents of SHIELD with Maveth brings it. Fitz kicks major a** and Phil gets his own back for the death of Rosalind. Speaking of Phil, after his Rosalind dream, he wakes up on the planet and looking at the big moon he murmurs “Tatooine.” So…Was that a Star Wars reference? If so, wow.

MING-NA WEN, HENRY SIMMONS, CHLOE BENNET

Agents of SHIELD with its Maveth episode  brings it. Fitz kicks major a** and Phil gets his own back for the death of Rosalind.  Speaking of Phil, after his Rosalind dream, he wakes up on the planet and looking at the big moon he murmurs “Tatooine.” So…

Was that a Star Wars reference? If so, wow. If not, well, it sounded like a Star Wars reference, so it still counts as wow. Now if someone else had said Anakin and Skywalker the moment could have become sublime and not just wow.

This fall finale  was a show stopper of an episode.  Between the action on the planet and back on Earth things were kept tight, suspenseful and action packed.  Mack proved that he was not afraid to make the hard decisions and when things got tough made the sacrifice play. Of course Daisy/Tremors would not allow Mack to do it solo:

“But one thing … I’m staying with you, because, “a,” I can keep the portal open if something goes wrong, and, “b,” I’m your partner…Technically, that’s two things.”

As one site pointed out, the episode was very busy. A lot went on in the fall finale.  Jemma gets loose,  Fitz finds “Will,” Andrew/Lash gets out and is very busy, Simmons finds Andrew and releases him,  Phil crushes Grant, Fitz kills “Will” and Ward comes back very different but no less deadly.

In a nutshell, the Agents of SHIELD covered almost every possible base in this one. With everything that went on, there were many standout moments.

Standout Moments:

That giant HYRDA statue in the middle of the barren planet. 

Fitz shooting “it” Will and then frying him with the flare gun.

Grant complaining that he could go much faster if Phil had not shot him…twice.

Phil crushing Grant Ward’s chest with his synthetic hand.

Joey Gutierrez being so excited that he saved Daisy’s life. 

Bobbi’s helping Joey to describe his Inhuman power as an “Amazing new superpower.”

Simmons crying when she learns Will is not back. 

Malick coming across a dead Grant Ward who is obviously inhabited by “it.”

All in all, a very hectically paced segment.  In some ways, it also foreshadows what is happening in the real world. When the agents are talking about HYDRA’s plan to bring back an ancient HYDRA God, aka “it,” Mack snorts and asks them to listen to themselves.

Lincoln responds:

“The world’s changing. Deal with it.”

The reluctant Inhuman hero could be talking about our world and not just that of the Joss Whedon small screen Marvel verse.  Campbell is, however, speaking more specifically about the changes coming up in the Marvel world of superheroes.

There are big things in store on the big screen, for instance Captain America:  Civil War is the next Marvel  film to hit theaters. Not surprisingly, it seems that SHIELD may be setting things up for the  upcoming film; as it did in season one with Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Build-ups to feature films aside, and possible allusions to same (Star Wars),  the end of the episode; the fall finale, has Jemma (Elizabeth Henstridge) in tears when she learns that Will is not back from the planet.  It also has Ward as an “it Zombie” aka possessed by an ancient HYDRA God standing in the dark for Malick to find.  

Viewers  see a return to that cool professional SHIELD agent that Phil Coulson was on the big screen. The guy who shoots Loki, and then “dies” the man who despite his diminutive stature and demeanor was ready, willing  and able to kill.

Stand out performances from Clark GreggIain De Caestecker and Henry Simmons make this one special for fans and guest stars Powers Boothe and Dillon Casey also impress.  One thing to point out is that disturbing look from Phil as Melinda May comes to hug him…Intense, cold and angry. Looks like “killing” Grant really did not give Coulson the closure he was seeking. 

Mad props to Henstridge who managed to make viewers cheer and cry with her actions.

ELIZABETH HENSTRIDGE
Jemma, aka Elizabeth Henstridge

As we wait for the new year and the next installment of the small screen’s  Marvel verse only one question remains. Was Phil Coulson making a Star Wars reference when he said Tatooine?  Fans may never know, but if that is what the writers intended, well done.

Agents of SHIELD airs Tuesdays on ABC. Tune in when the fall break is done and see just how different “zombie” Grant Ward may, or may not, be from his old self…

Agents of SHIELD: Closure – Phil, Fitz and Grant

CLARK GREGG, CONSTANCE ZIMMER

Agents of SHIELD: Closure does just that. It ends the relationship between Phil and Roz as well as killing off Banks (just as we learned that he was not a nasty bit of work who did Rosalind’s bidding). It stood to reason that the whole Coulson/Romance was never going to last, the couple were too good together. Glib, full of double and triple entendres and obviously made for each other.

Grant Ward saw this and took steps to get payback for his loss.  Before the end credits roll, Phil puts Mack in charge, Fitz-Simmons are captured by Ward and Hydra, Grant, Fitz and Phil go through the portal, Mack makes his first hard decision as director and Coulson is knocked unconscious on Maveth.

There is also one heck of a great shoot out between Phil (Clark Gregg has never looked so great as in this brilliantly choreographed  sequence) and the minions that Ward sends to push his former boss to the limit.

The team sniff out Grant’s brother, the one he pushed down the well, and they use him to get a fix on Ward.  This is after Phil questions all the original team members who were taken in by the dastardly, and extremely messed up Ward. Brett Dalton continues to portray the HYDRA obsessed character with a splendid mix of angst and inner pathos that makes his Grant a pretty impressive villain. 

Agents of SHIEld: Closure focuses on both Phil and Grant in their personal battle to beat the other and the relationship between Fitz and Jemma (to further cement that these two were made for each other) and gives Mack the reins of command.

Henry Simmons as Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie kills it. He is becoming the voice of reason as well as the man who will “step up and do the damn job.” Kudos for the best “straight to the point and blunt” speech to new recruits ever. 

Coulson looked to be doing a Nick Fury and disappearing for a while, which he may be despite the next episode (titled Maveth it does indicate that action will now be taking place on “Planet Jemma” and not at the castle where SHIELD is taking on HYDRA) as he got cold-cocked by a huge Maveth boulder at the end of this episode.

BRETT DALTON

Grant after shooting Rosalind Price.

Grant kills Roz and sets up her right hand man Banks to die, at the hand of Mr. Giyera (Mark Damascus) who later tortures Jemma to learn how she got back. Although he takes matters into his own hands after he learns that Phil has younger brother Thomas. 

Phil enlists the help of Lance and Bobbi to grab the youngest Ward, which they do by robbing the bank he works in.  Coulson losing Rosalind has moved the agent to exterminate Grant with extreme prejudice and after letting Thomas go, the three head to the castle to kill Ward once and for all.

Coulson does a “Captain America” and jumps out of the plane with his parachute closed to nosedive into the opened portal.  The rest of SHIELD along with with new inhuman recruits Lincoln Campbell (Luke Mitchell) and Joey Gutierrez  and headed up by the new director, Mack, all rush to give Coulson, Hunter and Morse back up.

Outnumbered and outgunned, Mack gives brief and blunt motivational speech and they head out.  Back at the castle, Grant is talked into going to Maveth to bring back what HYDRA is desperate for. Fitz has agree to  go along to save Jemma and just after the two men enter, with a HYDRA team, Phil leaps into the open portal a split second before it closes.

These three men will obviously feature heavily on the planet, Phil, unconscious and angry, Grant too confident and Fitz; who is determined to save Will for Jemma.

Clark Gregg really kicked butt in this episode showing a steely determination and controlled rage that impressed.  Gregg is Coulson and as the figure head of the small screen verse of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, the actor has stepped up, in Closure, and as Mack says in his little speech, “does the damn job” brilliantly.

CLARK GREGG
Phil takes Christian out.

Agents of SHIELD airs Tuesdays on ABC, tune in and see what happens on Maveth…

Agents of SHIELD: Many Heads, One Tale (Review)

Agents of SHIELD: Many Heads, One Tale has Phil and Rosalind finally getting to the crux of their relationship, that pesky lack of trust (on both sides) and whether or not these two really liked one another or not.

CLARK GREGG

Agents of SHIELD: Many Heads, One Tale has Phil and Rosalind finally getting to the crux of their relationship, that pesky lack of trust (on both sides) and whether or not these two really liked one another or not. The subterfuge of Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe) is finally brought out into the open to Phil, Rosalind and to Grant Ward. 

Ward, in turn, learns that SHIELD brought someone back out of the monolith portal, although he does not know that it deals with he two former colleagues he attempted to kill, Fitz-Simmons.  Andrew Garner meets Ward and after some preliminary verbal sparring, Grant lets mustard gas into the cage for in order to trigger Andrew’s transformation into Lash.

Speaking of Fitz-Simmons, these two hesitant suitors finally lock lips and share a passionate kiss.  They kiss not once but twice. It does  not appear that this has cemented their relationship as Leo breaks away and repeats his assertion that the two are “cursed.”

Mack finally approaches Phil about the director’s dalliances with Rosalind and whether the ATCU head can be trusted. Coulson takes the intrusion pretty well since, as he tells Mack, he has never trusted Rosalind, even after they did spend some “sack-time” together. Phil also puts his “paramour” in a holding cell on his flying fortress and tells her that it could be her home unless she comes clean.

As the two spar verbally, Price comes to understand that Malick is the spanner in the works and that he actually is HYDRA.  The presidential advisor has infiltrated her organization for his own ends.  Malick also attempts to take Grant Ward (Brett Daltonout of the picture but fails and ultimately offers Ward a place at the top of HYDRA.

Fitz tracks down the image/logo that he discovered on the astronaut’s patch and learns that it is the same group who initially studied the monolith and that the logo is the forerunner to HYDRA’s octopus.  This then brings up whether Will, Simmons’ is an astronaut in shining armor, or whether he is a willing member or the organization.

Jemma actually believes that Will was a “blood sacrifice” and gets angry at Leo for trying so hard to rescue the man.

Lance and Bobbi go undercover to get into the ATCU computer system, Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) and May team up to follow clues discovered by Daisy and Hunter’s hacking of the system of their competitor. 

As Bobbi and Hunter continue their surveillance and accommodate Daisy’s monitoring of the ATCU database, it is revealed that the president’s new agency is not curing Inhumans but exposing normal people to TERRIGEN. Malick speaks with Dr. Garner, still playing both sides against the middle as Banks enters the facility and blows Hunter’s and Morse’s cover.

Price proves to be a “good guy” after all once she realizes that Gideon has been playing both her and the president. She instructs Banks (Andrew Howard) to assist Phil’s two agents in escaping the facility. 

Lincoln Campbell and May rescue Lance and Bobbi in the nick of time and Grant Ward begins the process of turning Andrew into Lash.  Somewhat disappointingly, Banks is not the big bad he seemed to be and neither is his boss, Rosalind.

Kudos to Powers Boothe for being the ultimate smarmy bad guy and to Brett Dalton for continuing to make Grant Ward a real nasty bit of work that one loves to hate.  The Fitz-Simmons triangle is still a good underlying story thread and hopefully Rosalind and Phil can now “kiss and make up” after their search for the truth.

Agents of SHIELD airs Tuesdays on ABC. Tune in and try to keep up with all the twists and turns.