TV Show Review

TV Review: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: Episode 2.19: The Dirty Half Dozen [ABC]

ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The Dirty Half Dozen TV Show ReviewAgents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 2, episode 19, ‘The Dirty Half Dozen,’ was a titular play on the iconic suicide mission film, The Dirty Dozen; but the emphasis was less on the nature of the episode’s big mission, than the characters collected to carry it out. The dirty half dozen was entirely made up of Coulson’s (Clark Gregg) original team.

First things first, though, the episode opened with a number of cats getting out of the bag. While Coulson bringing Ward (Brett Dalton) back into the fold was the great Dumbo Drop, back at S.H.I.E.L.D., at Afterlife, Jiaying (Dichen Lachman) had to deal with her familial dirty laundry being aired by Cal (Kyle MacLachlan) – who had managed to hitch a portal ride back to Afterlife – while Raina (Ruth Negga) was made aware of her own particular gift.

Next came lots of clearing of the air. While Bakshi (Simon Kassianides) & (supposed objective) Dr. List (Henry Goodman) bonded over Whitehall nostalgia, captives Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) & deactivated Deathlok, Mike (J. August Richards), bonded over their respectively impending dissection & disassembly.

While Coulson & Gonzales (Edward James Olmos) kinda bonded, over their mutual HYDRA priorities, Hunter & Fitz (Nick Blood, Iain De Caestecker) bonded over their mutual disgust over Ward & Kara’s (Maya Stojan) hunny bunny moments.

Coulson’s return bearing Ward likely didn’t help make for a warm reunion with May (Ming-Na Wen), but May took things further, over Coulson having had dealings with her ex, behind her back. Frankly, I don’t know which was worse – May making things personal, or her brushing aside her own back-channel dealings with Fury, last season.

There was more simmering hostility than some of these airings could account for, however. Hunter & Mack (Henry Simmons) may have come to some guy code understanding; but it may be a while before Hunter so much as looks at Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki).

The real bellwether, however, came out of some nonchalant bonding, between Fitz & Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), over her sympathies for Kara (from her time undercover, at HYDRA), and their mutual Ward hate. Sinister Simmons was still spinning under the radar, with Fitz being the only one to see, up close, just how far Hawk Simmons had gone. For the sake of consistency (and honesty), Fitz was more worried about Simmons getting in harm’s way, than her reasons for doing so.

Harm’s way meant Gonzales agreeing to Coulson’s plan to infiltrate a small team into a HYDRA artic installation; but not allowing Bobbi to join. Without things being entirely resolved, between them, it seemed like Gonzales was prepared to use Team Coulson as something of a Suicide Squad – with win-or-lose outcomes amounting to a win-win for Gonzales. Two more wrinkles were needed, before the revised Team Coulson could become the fabled dirty half dozen. The first was Hunter already being unfit for duty, having been shot, during last episode’s failed sting. The second came out of all that hullabaloo, back at Afterlife.

Nothing like clairvoyance to bring some of the old Raina back into form; but it didn’t take much convincing to get Skye & Gordon (Chloe BennetJamie Harris) on board for a daring Lincoln rescue – by way of dropping Skye off at Team Coulson’s staging area.

Coulson’s dirty half dozen was, in fact, having the band back together (thank you, Ward) – a moment worthy of marquee poster treatment, courtesy of Jake Wyatt.

Jake Wyatt Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The Dirty Half Dozen

Ward’s enthusiasm didn’t last, though. It says something about his mind-set, that he couldn’t get past the death-glares of his former team mates. It says more, that any part of him expected forgiveness, and that he was prepared to fall back on the abused childhood excuse. Somehow, the notion of Ward actually being hurt, by his reception, worries me more than him just playing the part. It got much worse.

Barring a few careless moments (why no HYDRA follow-up patrol, after the AA strike?), the mission execution upped the SFX quota by an extra ration. Between “the easy part,” and Skye demonstrating to Ward why her shooting him again should be the least of his worries, ‘The Dirty Half Dozen’ may have validated a second season strategy of saving up for the big SFX moments, as opposed to stretching them thin, across all of season one.

As cool as the power play was, Skye’s display of close-quarters-combat skill seemed to demonstrate that a generation of Gamers may have come of age; bringing the 1st person shooter experience to live-action cinematography/ choreography. If the showrunners aren’t careful, they could really get my hopes up, regarding the series progressively upping its game….

Funny-mean things, like Sonic the Hedgehog & Candyman references, meant that wise-cracking season one Skye remains in there, somewhere; which, when added to her burgeoning Gifted Agent status, means that Skye-deniers may have to get a little louder, to be heard, if she continues to evolve at this rate. Ward apologists can keep feeling the burn. One member of Team Ward took the payback meant for him, allowing him the luxury of magnanimity, towards his attempted betrayer; but a supposedly more cherished follower was left to be cared for by S.H.I.E.L.D.

Ward may have taken the high road off the mission roster, but he remains a gift bearing Greek. It just becomes a question of who gets to be the gift, and who gets to be the Trojan, where his leaving of Kara & S.H.I.E.L.D. was concerned. No way that hunny bunny homicidal roadshow is over.

Coulson wouldn’t be Coulson without pulling the kind of stunts that annoys May, and troubles Gonzales. In this case, it was the big payoff to his Dr. List sting.

Getting the intel he needed to call in the Avengers.

No spoiler – we all knew where this was headed; the run-up episodes had just been about how the lead-in takes shape; and if Coulson dunking on Gonzales, for a pow-wow with Agent Hill (Cobie Smulders) wasn’t enough, Raina avoiding a Jaiying confrontation, by way of a metal men apocalypse vision, was about as clear a call as it got, to get you running for the ticket booths.

‘The Dirty Half Dozen’ was more than a payoff episode – it effectively closed out Agents’ second direct lead-in to the MCU (only Winter Soldier has really counted, honestly). What remains to be seen is what this second season has left, to carry itself the rest of the way (as Age of Ultron will likely not have the same direct impact on Agents, as Winter Soldier did) to the finale. With basic elements to Civil War already in place, I’d say the second season still has a whole lot to work with.

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

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