Tuesday night’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. contained massive twists and turns as the events from Captain America: The Winter Soldier continue to unfold on the small screen, bringing Hydra out of the shadows and into the light. The pacing of the show has picked up dramatically over the last few episodes, providing viewers with pulse-pounding action, and mind-blowing, Shyamalan-esque plot twists. Agent Coulson and his team learned a valuable lesson last night: trust no one. If readers have not seen the episode, or Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there are spoilers ahead, so be warned.
After learning that Hydra has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. all the way from the lowest agent to the top brass, anyone and everyone has become a potential threat. Paranoia ran rampant throughout the episode as Coulson struggled to uncover the truth about Agent May and who she had been reporting to on the secret encrypted line discovered in the previous episode. It turns out that May had been planted in the team by Nick Fury to keep an eye on Coulson, should he start to experience any strange side effects from the procedure that brought him back from the grave. The audience also learns that the whole team was set up by May and Fury to make sure that the right people were around Coulson should he need to be “repaired” or put down.
One of the biggest mind-blowing revelations that came out during the Captain America tie-in episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., was the identity of the Clairvoyant, who was a Hydra agent with deep level access to S.H.I.E.L.D. files. Fan favorite Agent Garrett was revealed to be the villain that Coulson and his team have been chasing all season long. The Clairvoyant has seemed to always be two steps ahead of Coulson, leaving him and his team frustrated, only collecting small fragments of clues here and there about who or what this mysterious psychic was and what his or her intentions were. It was revealed in the previous episode that the Clairvoyant was not psychic at all, but someone inside S.H.I.E.L.D.
As if finding out that Garrett was the Clairvoyant was not enough of a brain melt, it turned out that he was not working alone, apparently having his own man on the inside of Coulson’s team. That man was Agent Ward. Many fans of had reservations and thoughts on whether or not Agent Ward was someone who could be trusted. While seeming heroic on the surface, something has always seemed off about the way he relates to those on his team and people in general. Something seemed fishy about the way he decided to blow a hole through an innocent man’s head before the team could discover whether or not the guy was the Clairvoyant. That was uncharacteristic of Ward’s behavior up to this point. After being taken into custody by Agent Hand, Garrett is being sent to a secure facility, accompanied by Ward. Ward reveals himself to be a villain by shooting Hand and the other agents on board the escort plane, freeing Garrett. It appears that Hydra has indeed come out of the shadows and into the light, and who knows what effect Ward’s turning to the dark side will have on the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier have dramatically altered the fabric of the Marvel cinematic universe. Discovering that S.H.I.E.L.D. has more or less been a cover for Hydra over the last few decades helps to shed light on many unresolved or mysterious plot points left unaddressed by the films and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. For example, many fans of The Avengers wondered why the top dogs of S.H.I.E.L.D. would so hastily decide to nuke New York City, when the Avengers were clearly capable of handling the alien threat. It is because Hydra wanted to take out the aliens and the heroes at the same time, clearing the way for world domination. Also in The Avengers, Captain America discovers the weapons S.H.I.E.L.D. is making from the tesseract, which is exactly what Red Skull and Hydra were doing in the first Captain America film. The revelation of Hydra being in control ties all of these loose ends together in a genius way, with almost flawless continuity occurring between two different mediums of entertainment.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did not get off to a great start this past year. The acting was pretty generic, the characters seemed flat (especially Ward), and the story seemed super disconnected from the rest of the Marvel universe. Slowly, over the course of the episodes, all of these elements have been vastly improved upon, and have hit new heights with last night’s episode. Ward’s wooden performance now seems to have been part of his rouse to fool the team (and the viewers) into believing he was an All-American hero. With all of the betrayal that Coulson has experienced lately, one has to wonder how this is going to impact his thinking and attitude toward his team and former employer. With S.H.I.E.L.D. officially out of business, will Coulson and his team be commissioned by Nick Fury, who has gone underground, to rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D. or some organization similar to it? No one knows for sure what the future holds for the show at this point. All viewers know is that Hydra has now come out of the shadows and into the light, leaving the future of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. up in the air.
Opinion by Michael Cantrell