The old gang reunited on “The Dirty Half Dozen,” bringing together the show’s original agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for one major mission. The task at hand has major implications not just for the show, but, unsurprisingly, for Avengers: Age of Ultron.
And while the show jumps through a couple of hoops to ensure it is the original six, and no one else, who set off on the mission to take down a Hydra base, the spectacle of “Dozen” allows for some great and surprising character moments as Coulson and the team ventured into the belly of the many-headed beast.
The mission of course begins with Coulson, back in “real” S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, appealing to Gonzales. They both want the same thing, to take down Hydra, and Coulson wants them to put aside their differences to do just that.
In the fallout of “Frenemy,” Mike Peterson and Lincoln were taken to a Hydra base deep in the arctic. There, List and Bakshi plan to experiment on the two enhanced humans (though it sounds like most previous experiments haven’t gone well). Coulson hopes to save them, and if Gonzales lets him do it his way—he even has a specific team in mind—he’ll open Fury’s toolbox for him.
The opportunity is too good to pass on, but Gonzales, wanting to continue democratizing S.H.I.E.L.D., puts it to a vote. Agents Weaver and Oliver say sending a rescue team in is too risky, Bobbi and Gonzales both vote for Coulson’s plan, which includes a follow-up team to bomb the Hydra facility. That leaves the results to May and she… well, she wants to have a word with Coulson first.
May is UPSET, not just that Coulson has brought Ward back into the fold, but that he lied to her about all of his trips. Oh, and that he was working with her ex-husband and never told her. Coulson reveals he was going to Andrew for counseling (even Clark Gregg can’t take all the cheese out of a line like “alien writing impulses”) and promises her a long, sincere apology… later. For now, he wants them to put their differences aside and free Mike, Lincoln, and whatever other enhanced humans Hydra might have.
She acquiesces, and May, Ward, Fitz, Simmons, and Coulson all board the Bus for one more mission. Of course, the team is missing one member, and Skye shows up to take her place. Raina’s visions have gotten stronger, and they not only showed her Hydra has taken Lincoln hostage, but also that Skye is the only one who can save him. It’s enough to make her work alongside Ward, a prospect no one on the team is especially excited about, even as he makes every attempt to show he’s willing to help.
Lacking that enthusiasm in surprising ways is Simmons, who, while talking to Fitz [Pause here to celebrate Fitz and Simmons talking again] she asks Fitz if he’d like a splinter bomb in case he wants to take out Ward. And she’s not joking. Simmons is willing, or at least intimates she is willing to kill what she sees as a major threat. (It probably doesn’t help his case that he threw her and Fitz into the ocean in a metal box.)
The team ventures into the fray, but List and Bakshi, who are preparing to test Mike and Lincoln, quickly discover the cloaked Bus. They launch a missile strike on the plane and… actually hit it!?
NEXT: Murder, betrayal, and an incredible action sequence [pagebreak]
Yup, the Bus, with all the titular agents inside, is struck in bombastic fashion, and begins to hurtle toward the ground with all of them strapped inside. It’s all part of the plan, which doesn’t make it any less dangerous, but thankfully, the team survives the crash and breaks into the base. Ward meets up with Bakshi, who, because of his behavioral training, leads Ward and the team deeper into the base. Coulson, May, and Fitz split off while Ward (his errand boy), Skye, and Simmons go to save the captives.
Skye elevates the mission to a whole new level of badass. Not only does she employ her more controlled powers, she engages in a fantastic one-shot action scene, gunning down and sparring with a number of Hydra agents. The camera moves in and out, weaving around the room with her. It’s frenetic but controlled, and made me feel like I was in the room (behind a very protective glass pane).
She also revives a flatlined Lincoln with her powers, while Ward and Bakshi are otherwise indisposed. And that’s because Simmons sees an opportunity to strike at Ward with a splinter bomb. Unfortunately, Bakshi intercepts the explosive and disintegrates before their eyes. Ward aims his gun at Simmons, ready to kill her. But he doesn’t. Instead, he’s “disappointed” in how she’s changed. (Mistrust can make people do crazy things, Ward. Even want to kill the man who almost killed her and her best friend.)
Meanwhile, Coulson hacks into the base’s computer system, mining some data, much to the chagrin of May, who does not want Coulson going rogue on his own secret mission. He eventually leaves with her after some coercing at gunpoint. The team is able to successfully save Mike, Lincoln, and escape with their lives before the entire base goes up in flames while Ward goes off on his own.
They return to base where the freed prisoners are rushed to the medical wing. Coulson makes good on the terms of his deal with Gonzales and opens Fury’s toolbox with a simple flick. He warns that it’s theirs until Fury returns for it, and Gonzales is not happy with what that implies. To further prove Coulson is serious that Fury is no longer the corpse he is believed to be, Coulson takes a call from someone close to the former director, Maria Hill (Yay, Cobie Smulders cameo!).
And what does Hill want? Why, the info Coulson hacked into Hydra to retrieve. That intel pertained to Loki’s scepter. Coulson mentions it’s in a land called Sokovia—which is where List, who apparently escaped the bombing, is likely heading. Coulson also says Theta Protocol is ready.
It’s time to bring in the Avengers, and probably not a minute too soon. Raina also has visions of Loki’s scepter and the power contained in it. She sees the great capability for destruction it has, and declares that “Men made of metal will tear our cities apart.”
Definitely sounds like a job for the Avengers, especially if one of those metal men happens to be Ultron.
NEXT: Afterlife drama and Ward’s actual mission? Plus: More Ultron references![pagebreak]
Back in Afterlife…
“The Dirty Half Dozen” included two tangentially connected plots that have implications on the main mission. First, let’s visit Afterlife.
Cal is furious about Jiaying’s plan to strand him in Milwaukee, and he’s not above raising hell in Afterlife to make his point. He lets slip that Skye is their daughter, and Jiaying tries to quiet him, giving him some (likely false) hope for the future of their family. In return, he warns her that Raina is not to be trusted.
But Raina’s visions, which she realizes are not mere dreams but actual glimpses into the future, do seem to be on point. Jiaying is furious she influenced Skye with them and risked the life of her daughter. The two are about to hash out the balance of power in Afterlife, but Raina has her visions of metal men midway through their conversation. (We can just assume she saw the entirety of Age of Ultron in her vision, right?)
Agent 33/Kara’s fate
While Ward agrees to work with the team, he’s also looking out for someone seemingly besides himself—Kara, a.k.a. Agent 33. Ward wants a better life for Kara, who is brought to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s medical facilities for testing when the duo arrives at the base. There, she is greeted by a friendly face in Bobbi. Offering her help, Bobbi tells Kara they met during the latter’s time as an agent. Kara’s memories are gone, but Bobbi wants to help her retrieve them.
And so does Ward. While he doesn’t come with the rest of the agents after the mission is completed, he does give Coulson a call, and pleads with him to look after Kara. He tells Coulson redemption might not be on the table for him, but it should be for her. While her future remains uncertain, it seems like Coulson is inclined to lend a helping hand… for the moment.
- So I mentioned that I felt the show really forced its way into ensuring just the core six went on the mission. I don’t really see a reason why Bobbi, Hunter, or even Mack couldn’t come along, especially because they’ve proven how valuable they can be. I still enjoyed the original cast coming together, but the machinations to get them there weren’t exactly wholly elegant. (Mostly I just wanted more Bobbi, okay?)
- Speaking of Bobbi, it appears her belief that Gonzales is completely open may be wrong. He tells her that the plan all along was to have enhanced humans in the base to analyze, even if that means holding them against their will, and it seems like she is not at all happy with the prospect.
- Nice reference to the 616 comics universe during the mission.
- Seriously, that single shot of Skye’s fight was a blast to watch. It’s amusing that it airs so close to when Daredevil debuted with its fantastic hallway single take fight. But this fight felt different enough and played into Skye’s progression as an agent in a way I really appreciated.
- Another great character moment came when Mack and Hunter come face to face for the first time since their last, um, exchange. It’s a strong, quiet scene of apology that was appreciated amid all the plot. And it’s one I even more appreciated in how it demonstrated the endearing qualities of so many of the show’s newer additions.
- Lots of Ultron tie-ins! (Notice Clark Gregg said “Stay tuned for more Marvel,” not naming the show itself.) In addition to the look at the film, List takes a call with Wolfgang von Strucker, ventures off to Sokovia, mentions “the twins,” and of course the combination Hill cameo/Raina visions, both pertaining to Loki’s staff. That is off the top of my head, so notice any others I’m missing?
NEXT WEEK: In a post-Age of Ultron world, S.H.I.E.L.D. faces off with some Inhumans as the season finale is almost in sight.