TV Review: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 Episode 16
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EPISODE 16: "End of the Beginning"
SYNOPSIS: Agents Garrett (Bill Paxton) and Triplett are back to help Coulson's team track down S.H.I.E.L.D.'S nefarious enemy – the Clairvoyant. But will Deathlok destroy them all to protect his master’s identity?
BREAKDOWN: (The following column contains MAJOR SPOILERS, so I don't recommend reading this if you haven't watched this episode).
Here we are at the home stretch of AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes leading up to the May 13th season finale. While a second season has yet to be announced, I would think Disney and ABC would see the merit in keeping the show on the air leading up to THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON next summer. But, in the meantime, we have CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER to connect to.
With Bill Paxton back as Agent John Garrett, the episode opens in Sydney, Australia as he and Agent Triplett have a run-in with Mike Peterson/Deathlok. Using stun-guns to try and incapacitate him, Deathlok instead blows a hole in the roof and escapes. Deathlok represents the first true comic character exhibiting powers to be shown on the show and so far he looks pretty, well, small screen. It is going to take a lot to make Deathlok believable in a recurring capacity, but let's wait and see.
Coulson convenes a group of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents including Agents Hand, Garrett, and Triplett as well as returning appearances from Agents Blake (Titus Welliver) and Sitwell (Maximilliano Hernandez). Coulson and Blake reveal they have been narrowing the list of suspects who could be The Clairvoyant down to thirteen possibilities based on rejects from the S.H.I.E.L.D. index of gifted humans. Agent Hand (Saffron Burrows) suggests that whoever The Clairvoyant is, they would need to have high level S.H.I.E.L.D. access, hinting at a possible enemy within the organization.
This also marks the episode where Skye moves from being a hacker/outsider to a full S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent. Coulson presents Skye with her badge and Level 7 clearance as they determine the best way to pair off and find The Clairvoyant. Not to be a pessimist, but if it is this easy for someone to be indoctrinated to the second highest security clearance within a secret police force that battles superbeings, why are they surprised that The Clairvoyant was able to sneak past their entrance exams? I like this show, but it is little moments like this that stretch my suspension of disbelief.
The team splits up to track suspects and all encounter odd situations with their suspects. Garrett and Coulson are cornered, Ward and Triplett find an abandoned prison, but it is May and Blake who run into Deathlok. Blake is knocked unconscious and Deathlok shoots a missle at May. It turns out that Blake used one of Fitz's microtransmitter tag bullets into Deathlok and S.H.I.E.L.D. swarms on a location in Pensacola, Florida. Drones reveal to Skye that the enhancements to Mike are more than just superficial as we get a very cool x-ray shot that shows us a much more familiar look to Deathlok. Finally, we get something that looks like the comics!
Pursuing Deathlok into the lower levels of the facility, Coulson and Garrett stumble upon The Clairvoyant. What they find is a frail man strapped to a chair, surrounded by monitors and sensors, with a breathing/feeding tube down his throat. He speaks via a computer, a la Stephen Hawking, and surrenders to Coulson. The Clairvoyant is noneother than Thomas Nash (Brad Dourif), a man who was believed to have been comatose for the last half decade.
Now, it is time to learn all about this mysterious villain. In typical bad guy fashion, he monologues. Nash explains that the name Clairvoyant was given to him by Mr. Po and he was not a fan of it. He says he now knows why he could never see how Coulson was resurrected because Coulson could not see it, but now he could see everything. He taunts Coulson and Garrett by saying no matter what happens, he can see all and that includes Skye's dying body from earlier this season. Suddenly, Ward shoots Nash without warning, killing the Clairvoyant and essentially ending a sixteen episode arc.
With Ward professing his awkward feelings for Skye as he faces a disciplinary action, May informs Coulson that Nick Fury is back and awaiting Coulson to discuss his concerns. Skye and Coulson discuss how it was just too easy for Nash to be The Clairvoyant and they deduce that The Clairvoyant is not a psychic but rather a S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent who has access to their systems and profiles. This means the only reason he couldn't see what happened to Coulson was because only Fury had access to that file. Coulson confronts Ward to see if he was ordered to kill Nash while Skye and Fitz realize May's encrypted hardline may make her the mole.
In a standoff within the cargo hold, Coulson challenges May at gunpoint to reveal who the real Clairvoyant is. May swears it is not what Coulson thinks when the plane is suddenly redirected remotely. As everyone questions what is going on, we see Agent Victoria Hand giving the order to kill everyone on board when the plane lands except for Coulson. Does this mean she is The Clairvoyant?
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES:
Asgard is name checked and the appearance of Sitwell and Blake recalls multiple Marvel One Shots. The final stinger sequence showcases Nick Fury in a car chase that concludes with The Winter Soldier blowing his vehicle as seen in the trailers.
"Bet he didn't see that coming." Agent Hand in reference to Ward suddenly killing The Clairvoyant.
The brief reveal of Deathlok's enhancements was pretty cool, but this episode's best moment may have been the confrontation between the team-members, a tense moment that teases discord amongst this group that just started working well together.
DO WE (REALLY) KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO COULSON YET? OR WHAT SKYE'S POWER IS? OR WHO THE CLAIRVOYANT IS?
The Clairvoyant storyline seems to be coming to a head and we should be learning a lot more during next week's "game-changing" episode. No further reveals on Coulson or Skye.
EPISODE CLEARANCE LEVEL: 6/10
This episode felt like a good teaser for what is to come next week. The closing scene from CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER felt tacked on and didn't really connect to the episode at all. The drama is building and the series feels like it has more of a purpose now than ever. But, it still feels disjointed as the showrunners cannot seem to decide if they want to spread screen time to all of the characters or focus on the core group of Skye, Coulson, and Ward. Deathlok still feels like a waste of a character that otherwise has a lot of promise. Maybe next week's episode would have me reflect better on this one, but for now, I have to give it a 6.
NEXT ON MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.:
Episode 17 "Turn, Turn, Turn" airs April 8th - Coulson and his team find themselves without anyone they can trust, only to discover that they are trapped with a traitor in their midst.
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