Agents of SHIELD: End of the Beginning review S1E16

We’re finally here. Agents of SHIELD has been building to this moment all season. End of the Beginning is the opening chapter of the game changing arc that redefines the series. And it all kicks off with an incredible chaotic episode where loyalties are in question and everyone’s a suspect.

I’m revisiting this for the first time since I originally watched it, which is long enough to forget some of the nuanced details that make this so effective. AOS puttered around for the most of these initial 15 episodes while End of the Beginning feels like the start of an actual comic book style event arc.

It all starts with Deathlok attacking Garrett and Trip at a SHIELD safe house. This prompts Coulson to arrange a meeting of the top SHIELD brass in Fury’s absence — Victoria Hand, Felix Blake, Jasper Sitwell and Garrett — with Trip, May and Ward on hand too.

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Coulson wants to go after The Clairvoyant, but if he’s got abilities The Hub was the only safe place to evade his telepathic powers. Maybe The Clairvoyant was already on SHIELD’s radar? And Coulson has just the person to do some pattern recognition to find him.

AOS’s writers have works so hard to validate Skye’s existence on Coulson’s team and it’s been a struggle all season. The basis of Coulson’s four person squad is that everyone should be special, but the writers keep going out of their way to suggest that Skye is just a bit more special. We never really see Skye doing anything FitzSimmons couldn’t, which made Coulson’s constant support come off as obnoxious.

All that work culminates here with Skye being made an official agent. While betraying the team initially should have disqualified her from the start this finally avoids all of the awkward allowances Coulson had to do so she could function like an agent.

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Sitwell can’t join the hunt for The Clairvoyant as he’s been dispatched to join the team on the Lemurian Star — 100% not a coincidence. Hand isn’t taking part either as she’s going to run tactical support at The Hub.

Garrett says turn turn turn while remarking to Skye how Ward is training her the same way he taught Ward while also suggesting in a not-so subtle way that Ward is into her.

Skye pairs off the viable team members to check on three likely locations. Blake and May get a nursing home, Ward and Trip get a prison while Garrett and Coulson try an abandoned building. This proves for some nice character development bits.

Garrett keeps coming off as the sorta obnoxious uncle that everyone tolerates cause he’s fun to be around even if he tends to season up some of his stories. Trip tells Ward The Clairvoyant killed his partner so he might not be down to bring him into custody.

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It’s Blake and May who make the strongest lead while tracking Thomas Nash and run into Deathlok instead. Blake nearly gets killed, but manages to place a tracer round so SHIELD can find him.

Fitz’s drones get a night vision shot of Deathlok that looks just like the comics. I wish they’d just went that route for Mike as his costume looks too patchwork and a rare costume misfire for the MCU. While they don’t get Deathlok, SHIELD does find The Clairvoyant aka Thomas Nash.

Nash goads the team threatening that a force is coming for SHIELD beyond their comprehension. Ward surprises everyone by killing him. Did he really push Ward’s buttons or is there more to it? SHIELD will find out when they take Ward to the review board.

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At least the timing is good as May says Fury is back at The Triskelion. Now Coulson can finally get some answers.

At The Hub, Simmons notices there’s a lot of activity happening while Fitz learns someone else placed an encrypted line connecting to May’s space.

Meanwhile, Coulson is worried Ward killed the wrong man as Nash in could have been a prop. Skye fleshes that line of thought further says the files reveals intel on all SHIELD agents and the only reason the Clairvoyant doesn’t know what happened to Coulson is because Fury didn’t place those files on the standard channels.

Coulson finishes the thought — The Clairvoyant doesn’t have abilities he has security clearance. He’s an Agent of SHIELD. Even knowing what’s about to happen, I got sucked all the way back into this suspense. Coulson questions Ward’s loyalties as May goes after Fitz for cutting her line.

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The paranoia as Coulson and his crew question each other’s loyalties is superb. Everyone in these scenes are killing it.

There’s no reveal of the traitor yet as Hand takes remote control of The Bus to bring back to The Hub. She doesn’t care about the status of Coulson’s crew, she just wants him. Guess that just about settles it then…

End of the Beginning jumpstarts SHIELD’s most important arc in amazing fashion fully playing off the paranoid vibe that’s been building since Coulson learned the truth about TAHITI and the fun is just getting started. Now before proceeding to the next episode, watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier to get the next part of this epic.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Photo Credit: ABC

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