Ward and Agent 33 resurface this week as Skye is sent to isolation at a cabin in the woods and Hunter finally finds out what Bobbi and Mack have been doing for the ‘real’ S.H.I.E.L.D. In accordance with her psych-eval, Skye is deemed unstable and a danger to the rest of the operation. Coulson then has the dubious honor of personally escorting her to an isolated safe house that doubles as de facto solitary confinement. They share a number of bonding moments along the way and I was reminded of just how much I love their significant scenes together. Their father/daughter dynamic is one of the best things about the show, in my opinion, and giving it room to shine is always a smart choice.
Hunter meanwhile has an opportunity to be hella snarky as he listens to the pitch by a number of alternate-S.H.I.E.L.D agents who are wary of Coulson’s continuing secretive methods in running the agency. Their organization is an attempt to keep S.H.I.E.L.D in existence, while radically overhauling the level of transparency under which it operates. Edward James Olmos is, of course, a scene-stealer here and I look forward to his recurrence on the show in the upcoming weeks, if only for his compelling screen presence. His character, Robert Gonzales, makes for a worthy adversary to Coulson.
Hunter is ultimately not persuaded by their pitch and he tries to get Bobbi to leave espionage with him altogether so that they can have a real relationship. She clearly loves him, but ultimately rejects his offer and this just seems to solidify his desire to return to Coulson’s S.H.I.E.L.D. I confess I am strongly rooting for the two of them to make up, when this is all over and done with. Conflict between them makes for good drama, there’s no doubt about that. And thankfully this fight between them does not read as overly contrived. But I think it would be a shame to break them up permanently. Learning to trust each other and find a balance between the demands of their job and the demands of their hearts is a big part of both their character arcs. I want it to find a satisfying resolution.
The stuff with Ward and Agent 33 is honestly barely worth recapping. They fix the malfunctioning facemask, break into a government facility and break out Whitehall’s old loyalist Bakshi. While I used to find Ward at least somewhat interesting, I frankly have not missed him all that much since he’s been gone. His moral ambivalence is still vaguely compelling, but I’m not super invested in its resolution either. At least not at this point in time. Maybe if they made it higher-stakes, I might not find it so tedious, but they really need to get a move on with that ASAP.
All in all, this episode read as mostly set-up, a lot of establishing the basis of conflicts destined to come to a head later on. Necessary from a narrative POV, but still ultimately limiting in terms of episode entertainment value.
“You guys don’t want Coulson in charge. I’ll be the first to admit the guy’s not perfect. Sometimes chews with his mouth open, tends to hog the mic on karaoke nights” – Hunter