It’s official, folks: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has stepped up its game in just about every conceivable way. I’ve mentioned this a little bit in just about every recap thus far, because I want to make sure those who are just checking in to get a read on the show’s pulse knows for sure: AoS is now entertaining in its own right, whether or not you care about comic books or the MCU as a whole. And if you do, it’s great at hitting those notes as well.
Probably one of my favorite improvements is the way the show now handles its cold opens. They’re punchy, intriguing problems that propel the plot forward—notice that after each of them how the show springs into action. This might sound frustratingly basic to some—it’s how television is supposed to work, after all—but it’s a definite sign that the AoS creative team has given serious thought to constructing satisfying week-to-week adventures that also push forward a season-long story.
This week’s episode centers on a Hydra attempt to turn the public against S.H.I.E.L.D. by sending a hit squad in disguise to take out a number of dignitaries meeting at the UN. It’s pretty harrowing stuff—the assassins are using Obelisk (henceforth called the Diviner)-inspired throwing disks that cause targets to dissolve to ash.
The S.H.I.E.L.D. response is fast and furious. Coulson sends May, Morse, and Hunter to go after Toshiro Mori in Japan—he’s the guy who made the weapons. Of course, given Hunter and Morse’s failed marriage, that makes things quite uncomfortable—for Lance, at least. Bobbi looks like she can handle just about everything.
Back at HQ, Simmons tries to talk to Fitz, trying to carry on as if nothing had changed and they could pal around while cracking into her stolen Hydra Hard drive. Except, they can’t, and Fitz tells her so—he’s different, and he needed her, and she bailed. It’s really heavy stuff, wonderfully acted, and absolutely heartbreaking when Simmons decides she can’t deal. So she bails (again), and we all hate her just a little bit.
Let’s talk about the government! You know, the one in the show, not the real one. In the aftermath of the UN attack, Talbot is getting reamed by an unnamed senator about the role of S.H.I.E.L.D. in it all—he wants them to burn for this. Talbot, however, knows Coulson, and asking for a more level-headed approach—as much as he hates the guy, he’s almost certain Coulson and his team would never do any such thing. (I’m liking Talbot more and more every time he shows up. Did I mention that yet? Adrian Pasdar is getting really good at deadpanning his lines, and Talbot is less of a cartoonish jerk of a character. Now he’s a principled jerk. Which is actually really entertaining.)
Anyway, who is this mystery senator? Aren’t you curious? Don’t you want to know? You do? Good! Because the camera is going to dramatically sweep down to his name plate: CHRISTIAN WARD.
Oh hey, doesn’t that last name sound familiar?
NEXT: Sup, bro?