Wed
Apr 16 2014 2:00pm

It’s Not Given, But Discovered. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Providence”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 1, episode 18: Providence

“Providence,” this week’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., is what it looks like to see a new show commit to itself. No more jumping-on point or one-off episodes for viewers this season. The rollercoaster is no longer boarding, you’re either familiar with the show or not.

This isn’t a bad thing for any show to do, and the embrace of serialization seems to be making Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. downright playful. (This might also be because the show doesn’t have to wait for Captain America: The Winter Soldier anymore. Thom Dunn expertly points out the crumminess about that.) And although we seem destined to bonk around in the Marvel Universe toy box until the end of the season, “Providence” provides hints that we may be seeing more of a transformation than a serialization.

(Spoilers ahead for Captain America: The Winter Soldier.)

“Providence” continues right off from the events of the previous episode, giving us a bit of a breather to show how our agents are dealing with the collapse of S.H.I.E.L.D. and how S.H.I.E.L.D. itself is mopping up after Hydra’s resurgence. The episode is initially a bit disappointing in this regard. The agents talk about their situation while making repairs to The Bus, but none of them ever seem to hone in on the real question of who they are now that there’s no longer anyone to give them orders. You don’t get a clear sense that the show is going to deal with the loss of its original framework and Coulson’s reaction in the episode’s opening is the epitome of this haziness. We find him away from his crew, standing in The Hub’s active situation room as if nothing has happened.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 1, episode 18: Providence

It’s a disappointing visual to present because more than anything, the last few episodes have given Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. an opportunity to bust out of stale environments like this, like The Bus, and be more proactive in defining what kind of show this is and what kind of people these characters are. This episode responds to that worry in due time, but at first it lets you wonder if it’s backsliding, and since the show is now focusing directly on the viewers that have stuck with it, backsliding is by far its worst enemy.

Even more so than Garrett and Ward, whose parallel story provides an exceptionally strong spine to the episode. While Coulson and company are just scrambling to figure out what the next step is, Garrett and Ward relentlessly push their plans forward, busting Raina out of prison and launching an assault on The Fridge in order to procure its arsenal of craziness. The show has a lot of fun with weaving in the D-listers of the Marvel Universe here, cracking jokes about the Griffin, letting Ward lovingly fondle the Asgardian berserker staff from “The Well,” and basically providing a legion of losers for our agents to round up in the future. Through this storyline, “Providence” provides an uncorking of S.H.I.E.L.D. that I’d hoped for following the events of Captain America 2.

The episode could have gotten away with just showing this type of in-jokey chaos, but it really ups its game by using the Fridge infiltration as a backdrop for turning the season’s villains into singular characters with differing motivations. Raina’s re-introduction was particularly well-handled, I thought. Having her really believe in “The Clairvoyant,” only to be immediately let down when she realized she’d been manipulated by a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent this whole time, was a fascinating wrinkle to give to what had previously been a charismatic but flat stock villain. Although she signs back up with Garrett, she’s a wild card now and I’m looking forward to see how her personal agenda manifests through Garrett’s plans.

The real MVP of the episode is Ward, though. (Two episodes running! Is this Opposite Land?) The scene where he runs through the various reactions he had to Coulson’s team was nicely played by Brett Dalton. It’s a huge infodump, but Dalton handles it in such a way that you end up learning more about Ward than Ward probably knows about himself, subsequently making it clear where the character’s loyalties truly are. This is a man who loves manipulating people, at being skilled at slipping into different ideals and desires in a snap, so much so that he probably doesn’t know who he even is anymore. His loyalty to Garrett is more than just gratitude, it’s possibly the only connection Ward has to the person he was before S.H.I.E.L.D. made him monstrous.

I feel no shame in admitting this: I was wrong about you, Agent SquatThrust. You’re not just a stereotypical Yo Dawg male. You’re so much better/worse.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 1, episode 18: Providence

The only person we don’t really dig into is Garrett himself. He’s a politically gregarious character on the screen and the episode acknowledges that by making sure to show that Garrett makes time to interact with every person who serves him, even as he casually dismisses their deaths. He’s a born leader, and he loves doing it, but that’s not what motivates him. Thanks to the events in “Providence,” we know that he has a metal plate on the side of his torso, and that this is why he’s hunting for something that will regenerate his body (and where the Deathlok tech came from), but I’m curious if there’s a personal reckoning to come from Garrett. If he achieves his goal, what then? How does he live with the chaos he’s caused?

The episode’s “Fun in Hitler’s Bunker” storyline goes a long way towards crafting an interesting confrontation between the two teams. With Ward currently able to travel between them, things should get even more interesting.

Coulson’s team is definitely going to need some motivation in that regard. Although “Providence” tries to frame their mission in this episode as Coulson being unable to deal with the dissolution of S.H.I.E.L.D., it doesn’t quite play. Either Coulson is not crazy and Nick Fury sent him coordinates to a Canadian secret base, or Coulson is crazy and now everyone is going to die in the Canadian wilderness. The latter is obviously not going to happen, which robs the storyline of its tension even as Clark Gregg emotes his heart out. I’m all for the term “agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” being more than a title for these characters, but this needs to be developed further. It’s time for Coulson to turn these people from subordinates into Big Damn Heroes.

This is what I mean when I say that this episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hints at more than just tighter serialization. This need for the characters to discover what personally motivates them to be heroes, to discover providence instead of having it provided for them, plus the mess caused by the Fridge break-out, these two elements define the crucible that the show will (hopefully) go through in its relentless run to the end of the season. And although you have to already be on board with the show to enjoy the story, when next season starts it’s very possible that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will finally be the show we’ve been wanting from the very start.

 

Tidbits:

  • Who was the guy who Garrett told should “[Not] forget to follow your dreams”? The only character I can think of is Nightmare, but that kind of demonic character doesn’t seem like a good fit for this show.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 1, episode 18: Providence

  • Quinn is back. I’ve never liked this character, but at least now we’ll get to see Skye thank him for shooting her.
  • S.H.I.E.L.D. stations are so weirdly named. How does “The Cube” differ from “The Box”? Also wasn’t the gravitonium and plasma cannon in “The Box”? Oh well, as long as the D-list criminals are free, I don’t care.
  • Did Garrett and company free the Abomination or that freeze-y kid from “Seeds”? I was hoping they would mention the former, if only to say, “Maybe...keep this one locked up.”
  • Did anyone else immediately think of the towers in Dubai when they showed The Fridge?
  • The show has added...a Comfort Inn lobby with posters of Tahiti to its already vibrant surroundings. Does Patton Oswalt serve a continental breakfast every morning?

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 1, episode 18: Providence

  • “Do you play Call of Duty?” Coulson: “Of course.” “Dude, my life is Call of Duty.” FTFY.
  • Why didn’t they fly Lola to the coordinates?

Chris Lough is the resident Tor.com Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. recapper.

48 comments
Bryan Schenk
1. Damplander
They didn't fly Lola to the coordinates because it might have been a trap! Standard procedure in situations like this.
Christopher Bennett
2. ChristopherLBennett
When I asked why they didn't fly Lola, someone on another board said she only seats two. I'm not sure if that's true, though.

I think the "follow your dreams" guy may be next week's villain.

As I recall from Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, the Cube is the prison for gamma-empowered baddies. So presumably the Abomination is locked up there, and since SHIELD successfully held it, we won't be seeing Blonsky wreaking havoc.
Chris Nelly
3. Aeryl
Plus, isn't fuel an issue? It's Howard Stark's old car, but I guess it still runs on petrol.
Colin R
4. Colin R
Pretty sure that guy is Blackout.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackout_%28comics%29
Christopher Bennett
5. ChristopherLBennett
@3: Lola uses Stark's hover technology (presumably a descendant of the hovercar prototype Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes saw at the World's Fair), but it was never said he actually owned the car, I think.

As for fuel, I think they were only something like eight miles from the coordinates. If they were close enough to get there on foot, they would've been close enough to get there by car, unless it was one hell of a gas guzzler.
Chris Nelly
6. Aeryl
@5, It could be a gas guzzler. The whole reason has was rationed was to keep people from driving, because the shortage was of rubber, so inventing a flying car that used a ton of gas would be feasible.

And it's a bona fide SHIELD collectible, so yeah, it was Howard's.
Nate the great
7. thDigitalReader
This show is dead to me.

I can put up with boring characters and warmed over plots, but I draw the line at crap like "he woke up and discovered it was all a dream".

Was there any foreshadowing of Ward being a double agent? If I missed the clues, okay, but if the change was not foreshadowed at all then that was simply bad storytelling.

Did I miss something?
Chris Nelly
8. Aeryl
Yes you missed stuff, Ward breaks it all down this episode that the reason the audience has been unable to get a read on him, is that he shifted his personality with every person he worked with to ingratiate himself with them. The very first thing ever said about him is that he scored like Romanoff, who is a secret agent who adopts several different personas to achieve her goal. She has told both Cap and Tony that she will be whoever they want her to be. That's what she does, and the purposefully drew that connection with Ward.

IMO, The best twists are the ones you can't see coming(like Adelle Dewitt on Dollhouse)
Brian Haughwout
9. bhaughwout
The showrunners have explained a number of neat cinematography tricks meant to highlight Ward whenever talk of betrayal comes up. Subtle, but neat when you go back and look at them.

As for this episode: THEY HAD THE STERANKO BARBERSHOP WITH THE CHAIR THAT GOES DOWN INTO THE SECRET BASE!!! EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE IS INCIDENTAL!!!

The point about how Coulson starts off taking charge of the Hub as if nothing happened does seem odd at first glance, but it does fit with SHIELD's quasi-military nature and protocol for ships or bases cut off from command structures (or whose command structures have collapsed when their superiors haven't given a clear surrender order). Remember that he believes that Fury is dead and much of command is compromised, but was told by Hand to keep order at that location before she left. So, as an Operations man, he would be functioning in a base-command capacity. It's meanwhile not surprising that FitzSimmons, as Science Branch are not looking at it in that mindset and are more accepting of discussing the change (even if Fitz is more willing to follow Coulson's "orders," as the one with more field experience -- including a kill that he has yet to deal with).

I agree that Ward is the standout for this episode, particularly in his interaction with Garrett (whose chestplate both fits with cyborg Comics John Garrett AND explains how he can know what gut shots feel like yet still be so spry without any GH-325!). One really starts to wonder what sort of mental qualifications and questionable pasts that SHIELD is looking for in Specialists if the likes of Grant Ward and Natalia Romanova are considered their tops! ;)

It's no surprise to see Patton Oswalt be entertaining, but it's fun to see Erich Koenig's middle manager agent. With the loss of Jaspar Sitwell ("he died how he lived: not getting shot in the gut"), we were running short on paper-pusher SHIELD characters (everyone being either super-science or run-and-gun). It's good to see how the sausage is made, bureaucratically-speaking (I miss that part of May, for example). Lanyards and apologies for everyone!

P.S. And as folks have pointed out, the guy told to follow his dream is Blackout, who will be causing them trouble next week -- as seen on the preview. We'll soon find out, of course, whether this is the Garrvoyant's plan to help Ward's cover or else a complication to plot that threatens to blow it!

P.P.S. BARBERSHOP CHAIR ELEVATOR TO A SECRET BASE!!! MUPPET FLAIL!!! THE CLAIRVOYANT KNOWS ME WELL ENOUGH TO KNOW WHAT I NEEDED TO SEE!!!
Nathaniel Drew
10. headsmashedinbuffalojump
This show is amazing, easily one of the best shows on TV today. It moved slow at first and I don't think it will ever be as good as Firefly would have been, but it is in the same line as Joss Whedons other shows.

The best part about Firefly is that in just 14 episodes it managaed to create 9 diverse and very interesting characters (without creating one of those characters that everybody hates). This show hasn't gone too much in depth into all the characters yet, but it is getting there.
Christopher Bennett
11. ChristopherLBennett
@6: Aeryl, you seem to be assuming that Lola is the same WWII-era car seen in The First Avenger. It's actually a 1962 Corvette. The prototype hovercar from the 1943 Stark Expo was not a convertible and looked very different. It also didn't work very well.
Colin R
12. Jered Mayer
This show has steadily gotten better since its admittedly slow start. I love it.

Also, Bill Paxton is chewing scenery left and right. "At least I let you keep your tongue. I'm regretting that now."

Clark Gregg's hysterical break was well done.
Nate the great
13. thDigitalReader
@9

"The showrunners have explained a number of neat cinematography tricks meant to highlight Ward whenever talk of betrayal comes up. Subtle, but neat when you go back and look at them."

Got a link? I can't find anything about this online.
Nate the great
14. thDigitalReader
#8 I asked if it were foreshadowed, not if the switch was retconned after the fact. The ex post facto excuse of "I was just pretending " is as bad as "it was all a dream" as a storytelling trick.

"The very first thing ever said about him is that he scored like Romanoff"

A character who is intensely loyal to her friends. That's not exactly a clue that Ward is going to betray the team.

And I disagree with you on plot twists; the best ones are where I could have and should have seen it coming but missed the clues. Those are awesome; this show not so much.
Stephanie Padilla
15. DN10
#13 Brett Dalton in an online interview for Comic Book Resources:

"I think what's so great about it, though, is that it is in question. When you see him again, you really don't know what's true and what's false. You can watch back through episodes and there are Easter eggs in there with editing in terms of little hidden gems in there that can be seen in a whole new light that the writers knew people were going to watch again. It's great -- there's a couple of them there, where people say, "We don't know who to trust," and then you see maybe the next clip -- there's a nice beautiful one in "Turn, Turn, Turn," where Coulson is talking about it and says something like, "They're right under our nose." Cut to the next scene and it's Chloe and me in the supply room.

But there's a couple of them in the last couple episodes. They're there if you watch carefully."
Christopher Bennett
16. ChristopherLBennett
@14: It was not a retcon. The movie script was already written when the show went into production, so the showrunners knew from the start what was going to happen with SHIELD and HYDRA. Ward was always intended to be a double agent, and the producers did insert some subtle hints along the way, subtle enough that they wouldn't give away the game.
Alan Brown
17. AlanBrown
First, I have to agree with bhaughwout @9, the best thing about this episode was the barber chair elevator to the secret base, just like in the SHIELD comics I bought for 12 cents back in the 1960's. My little fanboy heart skipped a beat.
I really liked this episode because so much happened, and you can see the new status quo of the show starting to emerge (new secret base, more independence for the team, more clandestine operations, and they still have their plane to travel in). I am getting more of a Torchwood type "small group against the world" vibe than "representatives from a huge bureaucracy" feel, which I think will serve the show well in the future.
The mixed feelings of Raina were perfect, and she was somewhat sympathetic in this episode (but remember, she is also someone who left a colleague to be burned to death earlier in the season). The moments with Ward played well, and the actor is doing a better job of playing a bad guy than a good guy. Garrett is doing a great job of being the big bad (although I still would have liked to have Zola the electronic entity lurking behind it all). And I liked Coulson showing a little more emotion this time--it rang true, and showed his more human side.
And all the bad guys and bad devices bursting out into the world will give the team lots of things to do in future missions.
This show is starting to be what I wanted it to be, and I am starting to have fun watching it!
Alan Brown
18. AlanBrown
First, I have to agree with bhaughwout @9, the best thing about this episode was the barber chair elevator to the secret base, just like in the SHIELD comics I bought for 12 cents back in the 1960's. My little fanboy heart skipped a beat.
I really liked this episode because so much happened, and you can see the new status quo of the show starting to emerge (new secret base, more independence for the team, more clandestine operations, and they still have their plane to travel in). I am getting more of a Torchwood type "small group against the world" vibe than "representatives from a huge bureaucracy" feel, which I think will serve the show well in the future.
The mixed feelings of Raina were perfect, and she was somewhat sympathetic in this episode (but remember, she is also someone who left a colleague to be burned to death earlier in the season). The moments with Ward played well, and the actor is doing a better job of playing a bad guy than a good guy. Garrett is doing a great job of being the big bad (although I still would have liked to have Zola the electronic entity lurking behind it all). And I liked Coulson showing a little more emotion this time--it rang true, and showed his more human side.
And all the bad guys and bad devices bursting out into the world will give the team lots of things to do in future missions.
This show is starting to be what I wanted it to be, and I am starting to have fun watching it!
Chris Meadows
19. Robotech_Master
Something else no one seems to have brought up yet is another little Marvel Comics ref dropped offhandedly into the episode. Garrett mentions arresting someone named Johnny Horton, who he brought in after he somehow gave himself lion's paws for hands. That would be this guy.

Surprised that the fakery of the Slingshot program didn't rate a mention. It had seemed rather odd to me at the outset that Fury would be willing to give "dangerous" relics the MST3K treatment given what we already knew about S.H.I.E.L.D. research into the tesseract. Now we see what should have been obvious all along: far from keeping them out of the wrong hands, Fury was just packaging them up for the wrong hands to push a shopping cart through. (It does make you tend to wonder about Fury's competence to run an organization like S.H.I.E.L.D. in the first place, doesn't it?)

And no love for the reemergence of the gravitonium? (Which was right where Coulson had said it was: under the Fridge.) Are we finally going to get to see Graviton sometime soon?

I wonder if Ward is actually going to use the staff again sooner or later? He didn't appear so much to be "fondling" it as contemplating it, and the fact that he kept gloves on so it wouldn't influence him bespeaks a certain ambivalence.

I'm going to guess the show will be able to get one more episode, two at most, before Ward's double-agent nature is revealed. I'm also going to guess he won't be successful at finagling the password from Skye, and his trying to do it will probably be what gives him away.
Tom Smith
20. phuzz
I'm going to guess the show will be able to get one more episode, two at most, before Ward's double-agent nature is revealed.
!Slight Spoiler!
The episode titles for the last wot episodes are:
"The Only Light in the Darkness"
and
"Nothing Personal"

Now the first one doesn't mean much to me, but the second one sounds like a line from Ward to one of the team (May?)
Alan Brown
21. AlanBrown
I was surprised at the appearance of the Fridge. How is a giant skyscraper a 'hiding place?' I was expecting something under a mountain or something.
Chris Meadows
22. Robotech_Master
SEP field? Hey, this is Marvel we're talking about here.

And I don't think the next two episodes are the last two. I think there are four more after that.
Chris Nelly
23. Aeryl
@11, I know that's not the same car from Cap1. But it's based on Stark Reversion Technology.
Chris Nelly
24. Aeryl
@17, The way I look at it, Cap's movies still work even if you know the ending. CAFA started with the crashed plane and the shield. You knew how Cap's story ended, what mattered was the journey.

CAWS is the same way, AoS spoiled you for it, but the journey is still what matters. Zola is too integral to Cap's journey, and it's a very pivotal moment in the movie and for Cap, it's when he learns the truth and it enables him to rally to the fight again. So I can understand why the show doesn't want to spoil Zola until enough time has passed for people to see the movie.
Chris Nelly
25. Aeryl
A character who is intensely loyal to her friends.

Yeah, all two of them. Everyone else she will manipulate. She is also a chameleon, changing her personality to suit the people she's with. That is why she's good at what she does, and that's where she's similar to Ward.
Colin R
26. Gardner Dozois
I suspect that, like Angelus in ANGEL, Ward is going to be a lot more fun to watch as a villian than he was as a hero.
Paul Keelan
27. noblehunter
Did we really see Ward do the chameleon routine? I don't remember him being anything other than a Bond-type assassin. If he's as good as Romanov in the dissociated cover identity department, why didn't they show us more of it? The entire thing feels like a reset button on Ward's character development and unearned on top of that.
Christopher Bennett
28. ChristopherLBennett
@27: That seems like an unfair question. We weren't supposed to figure out the truth about Ward in advance. It was supposed to be a big shock. So of course the clues were invisibly subtle. Of course they didn't show him shifting identities, because we were supposed to assume that what we saw was what we got.

But when I rewatched "Turn, Turn, Turn" this week, after learning about Ward's true nature, I was able to see clues to it that I'd missed before. I bet that when I revisit the earlier episodes, I'll see clues there too. That's often the nature of stories like this -- once you know the twist, you go back and see there were a ton of hints you didn't notice before because you didn't know what to look for. And that's good. That means the writers successfully fooled us and achieved their goals.
Chris Meadows
29. Robotech_Master
Incidentally, "Nothing Personal" could also refer to the line from Cap 2, in the elevator fight. Given that was when Cap's co-workers first revealed they were actually working against him, that could rhyme with Ward's cover blowing.

("It sure felt personal.")
Paul Keelan
30. noblehunter
@28 But if he was good as Romanov, why wasn't he employed in that fashion? Even one Black-Widow style interrogation (I have no ulterior motives in wanting Ward tied to a chair, honest) would have established that he had the ability to play the rest of the team. As presented, the surprise is not only Ward's allegience but also his capabilities. I don't think the show has done the work to convince us that Ward is good enough to do what we're told he did.
Heather Dunham
31. tankgirl73
re: the huge fridge being a terrible 'hiding place' --

Have you been following the news about the missing airplane around Malaysia? The ocean is *big*.

My impression of the Fridge was that it was 100 stories high but very narrow and on a tiny island. That would barely register on satellite images looking top-down. And people boating or flying around would be likely to miss it, because it's, well, tiny and skinny. It's also probably way in the middle of nowhere, deliberately far removed from any shipping and/or travel lines.
Colin R
32. KatherineW
This show has been so much less than I hoped of it - I was expecting something on a level with Fringe's first three seasons, quality-wise, plus some Whedon-esque dialogue - to the point where it's become a guilty pleasure. I watch it out of curiosity about what happens next, and because there's no other decent sci-fi on TV at the moment, but I have no investment in the characters.

The dialogue is dull and unsubtle, the characters are poorly developed, but what really gets to me is the incompetence. This is supposed to be one of the top teams of an elite organization, yet they're constantly doing stupid things (e.g.: the cringe-worthy excuse for an "undercover" operation in Tracks; bringing Ward and Coulson with them to apprehend Lorelei rather than sending an all-women force; Fitz giving the guy who became Blizzard the exact information he needed to complete his machine). Stupid heroes vs. stupid villains is the last resort of poor writers who can't come up with intelligent heroes and villains.
Chris Nelly
33. Aeryl
@30, No one has said he was as skilled as Romanoff. They said "We haven't seen scores like this since Romanoff" He was still relatively green and inexperience. The indication I'm drawing is that his psychological tests indicated this, not physical tests.
Paul Keelan
34. noblehunter
@33, thanks for the quote. That makes more sense. But he couldn't have been too green if he was a level 7(?) and he's clearly done a lot of wetwork at least.

I still don't buy his ability as a double agent. If he could con the team, he should have been conning people for the team, too. It could be more of SHIELD being brainless I suppose, but the surprise would feel less arbitrary if they'd laid better groudwork.
Chris Nelly
35. Aeryl
Well not THAT green, he can hold his own. I'm just pointing out, he's not been around and established himself as Romanoff has. In addition, she has a personal relationship with Fury that likely expedited her through the rigors of being a low ranking SHIELD agent.
Christopher Bennett
36. ChristopherLBennett
@34: But if we'd seen his skills as a con artist, wouldn't that have been a clue that he wasn't what he seemed? I don't understand why you see a deliberately concealed surprise as a failure of writing. We didn't see the signs because they didn't want us to see the signs. That's kind of the whole point of a surprise.
Paul Keelan
37. noblehunter
Except then he'd have been the con artist guy, which is a legitimate role in SHIELD; the team's equivalent to Romanov. Whereas May is roughly equivalent to Barton (but close up). Instead the show pretended we had two Bartons the whole time.

I may be over-inferring from mis-remembered or mis-interpreted data; but I have the impression that SHIELD is supposed to have known about his potential. If so, why didn't they use it? If they had used it, why didn't they show viewers?

I feel we got two surprises where we should have gotten one. See May's betrayal of Coulson: surprising, but believably so.
Michael Ikeda
38. mikeda
noblehunter@37

My interpretation is that SHIELD was aware that Ward had the potential to be a skilled infiltrator, but was under the impression that Ward preferred to be a combat operative. And since he's also VERY good at being a combat operative they went along with that preference.

Except that the supposed preference was actually a ploy by Ward.
Christopher Bennett
39. ChristopherLBennett
@37: Yeah, but if we knew Ward was a con artist, it wouldn't have been such a big surprise to discover he was conning the team. I mean, really, if I set up a team that included a con artist, the last person I'd want to reveal as a traitor was the guy we already knew was a con artist, because that would be obvious and lazy. I'd want it to be someone nobody would've suspected of having that capability, someone that everyone assumed was exactly what he seemed to be.

And that's exactly what they did with Ward. They set him up in the pilot as someone who had poor interpersonal skills, someone who wasn't good at getting along with others or hiding his true reactions -- in short, the last person you'd expect to be a skilled con artist. Which is exactly what a skilled con artist would want you to believe they were. "Con," after all, is short for "confidence." It means winning people's trust, making them believe in you. Getting a job as the team's resident grifter is not the best way to convince them you can be trusted.
Alan Brown
40. AlanBrown
@31 A hundred story building is hard to hide even on a small island. A lot easier to find than aircraft wreckage among the waves. The taller something is, the easier it is to see from long distances. And it would be a big target on radar. Not to mention a construction project that big in the middle of nowhere would be difficult to hide.
And I know how big the ocean is, I spent a couple of years of my life at sea.
Chris Meadows
41. Robotech_Master
It's just a show, you should really just relax. :) Rule of Cool (warning: link contains TVTropes) is in full effect here.
Colin R
42. Athreeren
@34 In fact, we saw what Ward could do in this domain in Eye Spy. The results were... not good.
John C. Bunnell
43. JohnCBunnell
Stupid heroes vs. stupid villains is the last resort of poor writers who can't come up with intelligent heroes and villains.
Except that these villains, for the most part, have actually been clever and effective. The Clairvoyant's operation worked as well as it did because it was able to adapt when Coulson's team began hunting them. (See my comments on "The Bridge", from earlier in the season; that episode is an excellent illustration of a conflict where the villains act and react intelligently, and thereby gain a notable upper hand for most of the episode.)

I will agree that the series has been decidedly uneven in this first season, and that not all of the writers' and showrunners' choices have necessarily been well made. But I also agree with a premise that's been proposed here in the gallery in the last couple of weeks: namely, that the writing team for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was working under an extremely difficult set of storytelling constraints, some of which were directly at odds with one another. That being the case, I think these writers have been doing the best job they reasonably can.

My own view remains that they may be the wrong writers for the series that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is best-suited to become. But they're the writers who've been handed the reins, and I'm willing to be patient and to see how, now that some of the original constraints are no longer in play, the writing team adapts and moves forward.
Colin R
44. JonAllanson
Again, I seem to have a largely different experience of this show than most who have been posting here, as I've readily enjoyed it from episode one.
In fact, while I loved the tie in episodes before and after Winter Soldier, my problem with this latest episode is that it didn't do enough to establish the post-Winter Soldier landscape so that the show could get back to its adventure of the week episodes, which I enjoy more.
Yes, I know it will take some time to get situated after the emergence of Hydra and the collapse of Shield, but once things are things, and Ward is outed, I hope we get a few episodes where Garrett/Ward and team are off the grid, and Coulson's new team (including Tripplett as a substitute for Ward) have a few episodes to get their sea legs, as it were. You know, starting to track down the big enemy, maybe finding a few pieces of tech liberated from Shield facilities, but presenting some one-off scenarios for us to enjoy, a la the first few episodes of the season, before things get heavy with the intrigue and the conflict with the Hydra cell begins again.

Just my two cents...
Christopher Bennett
45. ChristopherLBennett
@44: I don't think the show is ever going to revert to what it was before. The team doesn't have a huge multinational organization backing its every move now. The whole tenor and nature of the series is bound to change.

Anyway, there are only four episodes left in the season, so there's no room for a return to episodic stories before the big finish. If that happens, it won't be until season 2.
Colin R
46. Agent Orange
What could the gravitonium be used for? Since they cant use adimantium for Ultron could that be used?
Christopher Bennett
47. ChristopherLBennett
@46: Gravitonium distorts and manipulates gravity fields. It has very different properties from adamantium, which is indestructible. They wouldn't be interchangeable.

If gravitonium could be harnessed, it could be used to create levitating vehicles (competition for Stark's repulsor tech), or to make inexpensive space launches a reality. No wonder Quinn wants it -- there's enormous profit potential there. It could also be used to create repulsive force fields, tractor beams, crushing weapons, all sorts of things.
Joe Vondracek
48. joev
I don't think the show has done the work to convince us that Ward is good enough to do what we're told he did.
I laughed when I read this because that's how I feel about Stye. I don't find her credible at all, but they keep going out of their way to insist that, yes, she is. No, seriously. Sure, she was stupid enough to get herself shot doing something that she had no business doing, which then led to AC and crew murdering two guys to save her life and for which we rewarded her incompetence by making her a bonafide agent with a super high security clearance, but that is because she is so gosh darned awesome with her d'oh-eyed petulance. Urk.

With that level of stupidity on display from SHIELD, I'm ending up rooting for HYDRA. They actually seem more competent than SHIELD.

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment