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Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “End of the Beginning” 

Photo Credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal
Photo Credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal

Why, SHIELD, why? Why did you take this long to get this good? Is it because Captain America: The Winter Soldier is coming out on Friday? It’s because The Winter Soldier is coming out on Friday, isn’t it? Something about TWS is going to affect SHIELD world, and you have to set us up for that, so you packed all that goodness in the episode right before the movie, as opposed to the majority of the season that’s been lackluster and seemed to drag plot points out like a hyena drags a kicking wildebeest across the Serengeti: slowly and painfully (Too harsh? Maybe too harsh. I had an invasive medical procedure done today and I could be projecting a little).

This episode of SHIELD saw the return of Agents John Garret (Bill Paxton; Big Love), Antoine Triplett (B.J. Britt; Being Mary-Jane, Sons of Anarchy) and Victoria Hand (Saffron Burrows; Bones, Law and Order: Criminal Intent). Joining them are Agents Jasper Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernandez; Ringers, The Americans) and Blake (Titus Welliver; Deadwood, Sons of Anarchy) in the search for The Clairvoyant, who turns out to be the paralyzed, non-speaking, non-functioning Thomas Nash (Brad Dourif; Deadwood) an agent SHIELD poached from the Canadian government’s Department H (‘Alpha Flight,’ yo!) who claimed to have psychic abilities (he lied).

But twist! It’s not Nash; it’s some upper-level SHIELD agent or agents with access to everyone’s psych files who can therefore make educated guesses on everyone’s behavior, based on the information contained in those files. It’s absolutely flawless, and setting up a poor, defenseless and helpless patsy who can’t speak for himself or tell the truth is a special kind of sick genius.

Unfortunately for Nash, nobody figures this out until Ward goes completely off the rails and shoots him through his barely functioning heart when whomever is speaking through Nash’s computer, claiming to be Nash, starts mouthing off about killing Skye. Did these people think Nash’s alleged psychic powers were controlling the computer? Because one good, hard look at that guy made it abundantly clear he wasn’t in control of his own bowels, let alone capable of making a room-size computer his personal Speak and Spell, but tensions were running high, so I’ll give this a pass.

It was still a bad call on Ward’s part, and was supposed to demonstrate how his ‘feelings’ for Skye were affecting his work. Please, writers of SHIELD: Stop trying to make Skye and Ward happen. It’s not happening. To blatantly steal from a friend of mine: Don’t ship them, writers. NOBODY is shipping them. Fans will ship Coulson and the plane before they ship Ward and Skye. They have no chemistry. There is more chemistry between Deathlok and his new gauntlet than there is between Ward and Skye.

Realizing that The Clairvoyant is actually one of their own (in the grand scheme of things) makes everybody else a little punchy, and it is fabulous. The Twins have been separated, with Simmons at the Hub (complete with vials of Skye’s blood she’s going to surreptitiously run through the Hub’s lab facilities. I can see no way in which this can go wrong or turn around and bite everyone in the ass. None.) and Fitz discovers (and cuts) May’s secret phone line, which doesn’t make her look suspicious at all.

Coulson first turns on Ward, thinking he’s a traitor, because Coulson is pissed, then he pulls a gun on May, because now he’s just seeing betrayal in everyone. If he passes a mirror too quickly, he’ll probably pull a gun on his own reflection. I actually gain a bit of respect for newly-minted SHIELD agent, Skye in this situation, as she holds a gun on May as well, and admits that, no, she doesn’t know what she’s doing, but she knows May isn’t fast enough to get them both. Girl just recovered from being shot, and she’s willing to put herself in danger again, just to have Coulson’s back.

And Lord knows, he’s going to need it, and more. With Victoria Hand taking control of the plane and ordering everyone on it be taken care of, except Coulson, who she wants for herself, it begs the question, is Hand the Clairvoyant or does she answer to someone else? And is anyone else we’ve seen involved with her? I hope we’ll see, after The Winter Soldier.

Agents of SHIELD airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on ABC.

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