Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD Providence S1, Ep 18

Credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal
Credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal

To be honest, I was a bit worried that last week’s stellar episode of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” was going to be a bit of a fluke. An excellent tie-in to “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and nothing more than a return to status quo.

But if last night’s episode, “Providence,” is any indication, then the series has gotten over its early stumbles and is now cruising along the road to weekly must-watch status. That’s a pretty major turnaround from a show that you could skip weeks at a time and not miss any significant developments.

The episode starts off with the traitor Ward (Brett Dalton) springing Raina (Ruth Negga) from The Fridge and introducing her to Garrett (Bill Paxton), the man she only knew as The Clairvoyant. The character dynamic for the show’s Hydra inner circle are intriguing with Garrett every bit the laid back charismatic figure he was with S.H.I.E.L.D. Ward still has some attachment to Coulson’s crew, particularly Skye, but sees Garrett as a father figure more than a fellow agent in a refreshing bit of loyalty for a villain. Raina, meanwhile, is still trying to get in everybody’s heads.

Credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal
Credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal

Back at The Hub, Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) is rallying the remnants of S.H.I.E.L.D. when longtime Hulk sparring partner Col. Glenn Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) comes a calling to check up on things. Coulson isn’t buying the check-up call and wants his team out of there ASAP or get arrested. As a huge fan of his work on “Heroes,” I’m ecstatic that Pasdar is joining the cast and it seems like he will be S.H.I.E.L.D.’s equivalent to Tommy Lee Jones in “The Fugitive,” doggedly pursuing our heroes at every turn. And I like actually the build up to actually making the Marvel spy agency a secret organization again.

In what’s become a fun staple of the show, we get another nod to “Empire Strikes Back” with Fitz (Ian De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge)having a minor mishap trying to get the plane rolling. May (Ming-Na Wen) is still on Coulson’s bad side while Skye (Chloe Bennett) has become his Maria Hill of sorts.

Credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal
Credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal

Gregg has always been the glue of the show, no matter how much the creators wanted it to be Skye, and this new storyline marks a welcome return to the take charge, confident Coulson we were introduced to in “Iron Man” and “Thor.” Granted, the whole come back from the dead thing understandably left him rattled and searching for answers, but the show is all the better after moving past that subplot.

While some S.H.I.E.L.D. members are content to be questioned/jailed by Talbot, Tripp (B.J. Britt) wants to officially join up with Coulson’s team. Coulson is understandably leery of letting on board another potential traitor until Simmons convinces him otherwise. Tripp > Ward so this episode is hitting all the right marks for me so far. Garrett and Ward raid The Fridge for more confiscated S.H.I.E.L.D. tech and to unleash some bad guys for Coulson to handle. That’s a much more organic way to have the nuisance of the week storyline that what we had previously.

Credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal
Credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal

To effectively stay off the grid, Coulson has Skye retrieve everyone’s badges, but his is lighting up with coordinates. He’s convinced it’s a message from Nick Fury and sets course to learn the plan from his presumed dead boss.

Given the effects heavy run of episodes we’ve gotten in the last few weeks I’m willing to cut the show some budget breaks here and there, but the snowy mountains set looked more like what I’d expect from a sitcom than a fairly expensive TV show.

With no S.H.I.E.L.D. tech in sight, the team starts questioning Coulson’s fitness to lead. Gregg then delivers the best bit of acting in the show so far as Coulson gives an impassioned plea to his team, full of raw emotion unlike his normal in firm control of his feelings. And just when it seems like his hope is misplaced, a S.H.I.E.L.D. sentry pops up and the team meets Agent Eric Koenig (Patton Oswalt). Koenig instantly vaults ahead of Fitz as the show’s best geek as he enthusiastically welcomes Coulson while saying he’s been playing “Call of Duty” with his brother. Side note: Coulson is also an avid player … until recently.

Credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal
Credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal

Koenig pulls Coulson aside and thankfully tells him that Fury is still alive so that doesn’t drag out for the end of the season. Raina tells Garrett that Skye has protected the file drive so only she can access it (smart move). Garrett goes all “Scream” on Ward so he can look like he went through a battle when he reunites with the others at the mountaintop. Skye’s thrilled to see him and can’t wait to have that drink with him. Fortunately the teaser for next week’s episode reveals that Ward won’t be playing nice for too long — a very wise move by the show runners since it’s never good to have the audience smarter than the characters for an extended period of time.

So for a second week in a row, the show has been excellent and with some movement on the Ward/S.H.I.E.L.D. subplot next week looks like it’ll be another must-see. And hopefully, I’ll have that recap up a bit faster than this one.

 

  • keith

    clap clap clap…. nice recap. yeah I felt that part on coulson where he was like damn it all to hell. Patton oswalt I think will do a good job of playing head geek/james bond Q type to relieve fitz and especially simmons from said geekery. She can now spend her time becoming a well more femine character and developed human being. Which I wonder if that will lead fitz down a path. Simmons looks like she has ZERO interest in him since trip start sliding inot her space (good job trip). it cool they pushed skye back to the pack this episode. Honestly if ward is truly evil I hope they drop the whole “what is skye” thing too to never even mention it again going into the next season.

    it is nice that the whole tagline its all connected is starting to happen as we all know graviton has to bust out that stuff sooner or later. maybe they will merge that smug mark cuban looking clone with the doctor to produce the singular villian?? I have to give it up to Ward. he is now worth a damn as a character. The ladies on the social media page are going nuts that he is evil loooool. Im like he is not a triple agent, he just shot two people in the head breaking into a shield facility. I just get a kick out of the reactions on this show. However I think most people want skye in the background if ward isnt with her.

  • Thanks man
    I wasn’t sure what to make of Oswalt’s addition to the cast, but he won me over right away.
    I haven’t minded Skye much since she emerged from her Deathlok coma.
    I’m very curious what they’re doing with Graviton.

  • Good recap! The big question mark going into this episode is if Ward is really with Hydra or its a fake out. Shooting those SHIELD agents pretty much shows which side he’s on but I also think he has a soft spot for Skye which may come into play next episode. I also like making the spy agency a secret organization again, looking forward to see where this leads especially now that all the secrets where released on line by Black Widow.

  • Thanks! I was wondering if we were getting a long set-up undercover agent scenario with Ward too and I’m glad that doesn’t appear to be the case.

  • Fred

    Jeff you couldn’t be more right, the show has jumped up leaps and bounds in quality over the past several episodes. Before the show had good moments in spots, but now we’re starting to witness potential greatness in the show. Two problems that hurt the show early in it’s run was for one they dragged on Coulson’s Tahiti storyline way too long and the other is they tried to make Skye(Bad Choice) the star of the show, just dumb writing by Jed and company and hopefully they’ve learned they’re lessons from this. I don’t care how pretty of a face Skye is, the public didn’t know her and they knew Coulson and grew a strong admiration for his character, the writers should have know better than to defy that connection to fans. They played with fire and got burned as the ratings plunged, hopefully lost viewers will return and those ratings will pic up like they should. If the show continues down the path it’s been on recently, than we’re in for a hell of a ride from here on.

  • keith

    all I want for skye is the occasionally super hack, to run in pink dresses away from bad guys( her best scene, cant hate on her finesss whew) and maybe tie her parents death into someone like the mad tinkerer, taskmaster, the wizard, hell crossbones, any one that has some history in marvel. just dont make it some weird “macguffin”. way to many unknown guys they can throw out there. It was a nice touch how bartok was in cap 2.

  • Dead on Fred
    Sounds like the ratings improved this week so that’s a great sign.
    I’m looking forward to the home stretch now!

  • Fred

    That is a good sign Jeff, I definitely think the writers have learned their lessons from that foolishness they pulled earlier in the show’ season. They key now is to keep producing strong episodes and to gain viewers back each weak and increase viewership. If they can accomplish that and close the first season on a high note, it could set them up nicely for a stronger second season.