ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. A Fractured House TV Show Review. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 2, episode 6, ‘A Fractured House,’ managed to get quite a lot done, regarding both key characters, and the shows new direction, in its overall mythology.
For starters, the gloves have come off, regarding the conflict between S.H.I.E.L.D. & HYDRA. A HYDRA False Flag op interrupted an address, by Brigadier General Glenn Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) to the U.N., with an attempted high tech slaughter. One meant to keep S.H.I.E.L.D. at the top of the international most wanted list.
To Talbot’s credit, he wasn’t entirely convinced. The problem, however, was that the Senator he directly reported to saw a campaign opportunity that couldn’t be passed on. If Sen. Christian Ward’s (Tim DeKay) name rings a bell, it’s because he was the brother that fallen Agent, Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), had been fondly recalling, for some time – in no way, whatsoever. Grant Ward had been acclimating to his confinement; working off of his biological clock, to maintain a daily routine. The timeless quality of his cell would come into its own, later. For Skye (Chloe Bennet), however, it was still about getting useful intel out of him, without him turning the tables on her. S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Coulson (Clark Gregg) seemed to be running out of patience, with the whole affair; but Grant Ward’s earnestness, regarding Skye, hit a whole new level when it came to the subject of his older brother.
It would be easy to fault Agents for making Sen. Ward a Republican, as “liberal media bias,” depicting the conservative as the bad actor. If the current climate, of this American campaign season, has been any indication, then the shoe fits. He was using fear of a rogue shadow agency, aliens, and weapons of mass destruction, to play to the electorate. Not much different than his real life counterparts, ranting about Government agency overreach, illegal immigrants, and Ebola, because they have no real platform to run on.
He knew he was selling a bill of goods; but that fact actually made him more useful to Coulson. Or so it seemed. Sen. Ward was justifiably mindful of what his relation to a HYDRA mole could do to his career, making him open to a deal with Coulson, in exchange for getting his hands on his brother. An offer that seemed that much more to Coulson’s liking, after the Senator told him ‘the truth’ about Grant. Thing was, Grant had divined Coulson’s intentions, and was painting a similar picture, of his older brother, to Skye. With both out to save their own skins, at the other’s expense, I honestly couldn’t tell which (if either) was weaving the darker spell. It was like watching some kind of Moebius strip of symbiotic psychosis, by way of the Corsican Brothers.
The thing about the timelessness to Grant’s cell: his bio clock couldn’t tell when Coulson’s meeting had actually taken place. Ward the younger lost his bid; but I’m not convinced that the better Ward won. You can call it paranoid overthink – I call it having high expectations for the show, again.
To that end, the hammer came down somewhere that Coulson figured out a touch too late. After HYDRA’s False Flag hit, he had ordered field agents to go dark; but one recommendation amounted to putting a lot of eggs in a compromised basket. With the reveal of what HYDRA’s escalation plan really entailed, False Flag honcho, Marcus Scarlotti’s (Falk Hentschel) team set about the real business of their mission. As dark a turn as it was, it did mark a further raising of the stakes, for Agents‘ second season; and while I came for that fact, it was the anticipation of payback that was worth staying for.
Coulson’s team had been settling in to this latest state of having gone dark. The Fitz-Simmons (Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge) reunion had proven that you can never go home again. Fitz’s downturn, after Simmons left, had more to do with him using her as a crutch, than abandonment, on her part. A fact that Fitz has been in no position to realize; but Mack (Henry Simmons) seemed to pick up on, and Simmons’ departure was meant to rectify. She may now have to let him go while in his presence.
Agent May (Ming-Na Wen) had a less heart-felt, but more annoying problem. In seeking a lead on the weapon used for HYDRA’s UN hit, she had to take Bobbi Morse (Adrianne Palicki) to a connection, made during her time inside HYDRA. The problem was that her ex-husband, Hunter (Nick Blood), had to be dragged along as part of the support element, making for more tension filled petty moments than May would’ve liked. Nothing like mortal combat to put everyone on the same page, though; and while the action on that mission was a nice warm up, the redirect to the egg basket made for a pretty sweet main event.
Kyoketsu-shoge just don’t get used enough, on shows like these. It’s the kind of thing I expected to see coming out of the League of Assassins, on Arrow; but that version of the League has been customized to an archer motif. Its use here, however, did keep the Marcus-May matchup interesting. It also lent itself well to an allusion to Marcus’ source character alter ego, Whiplash (not to be confused with the one made up for Iron Man 2).
It’s one thing to enjoy your work; but adding a personal touch, to the business of mortal combat, often gives the advantage to the cooler customer. Marcus got smug, so he got his ass handed to him. I actually found myself appreciating that May didn’t finish him. Not because he made for a decent boss fight, but because I’d really like to see him beat down again. Maybe again, after that….
There really wasn’t anything to say about the post-action banter, between Hunter & Bobbi, that May didn’t sum up with a single dismissive remark. May had been resigned, in her bemusement, over the whole mission shackled exes thing; but most of that clearly came at Hunter’s expense. May just didn’t like the guy. It might have been an overall character call, or just hard feelings, left over from when he suckered her with a night-night gun. Either way, May was considerate enough to let him know – in no uncertain terms – before the end.
In the end, it seems like Team Coulson wasn’t big enough for both Bobbi & Hunter, and Hunter took his leave. Full disclosure: I never warmed up to him, either; but he did bring some edge to Coulson’s considerably more professional lineup. We’ll be seeing more of Hunter the Merc.
Capping things off nicely, was Talbot arriving to actually help with the clean up – even paying his respects. This could have been a direct result of Coulson’s dealings with Sen. Ward, or Talbot just enjoying enough leeway to be a professional soldier, again, rather than the Senator’s personal attack dog. Either way, it seems this misdirected Hulk-Buster obsession of his has been put back on the right track. For now, anyway.
It looks like we may have also gotten our first look at the mystery scribbler, responsible for the carvings behind the painting prize of ‘Face My Enemy,’ by way of a little Memento take on the code obsession. Is it just me, or does Brian Van Holt look a bit like Bill Paxton?
With ‘A Fractured House,’ Agents has turned a corner, within its second season. Open conflict with HYDRA, no more milking the ‘Silence of the Hunan Province’ angle, and an end to playing tag with Talbot, all add up to a sense of direction & purpose. A sense that Agents‘ second season has things in store that won’t allow it to waste time on material that could have otherwise been stretched. If the showrunners manage to get through the code mystery at this rate, then the sky may be the limit.
… No pun intended.
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