Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review: Hail HYDRA?

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. went on hiatus on a high note. It was actually my first 5 star review of the season. Well, the show returned just as strong!

From the moment Daisy learned it was Grant Ward in her bed and not Lincoln, this installment totally rebooted the LMD storyline and launched into seriously uncharted territory. I mean, anything goes in the Framework, right? Therefore, the writers are free to go absolutely bonkers and boy did they deliver.

Courtesy of ABC
First off, it was brilliant seeing Brett Dalton’s Ward again. I think the S.H.I.E.L.D. writers did right by fans by not following the predictable “redemption” arc with his character. Yet, part of me really missed Dalton on the show. A bit of that original spark has been missing since Ward’s demise, and it’s just so cool to see #Skyward together. Even if it’s only for a handful of episodes. Chloe Bennet and Dalton have undeniable chemistry, which is why fans continued to ship the couple even when the guy went bad. Hearing him call her Skye was almost like picking up where they left off. You know? It’s going to be a blast having Dalton back and though I’m not sure how long he’ll survive his new arc, I plan to enjoy his return to the show. I bet even Ward-haters will be impressed.

How amazing was it to see the Triskelion again? Though Daisy should have tried to play it a little cooler, her reactions served as our own. Ward’s comment that she was on another planet was spot on. With Simmons popping out of the ground after being murdered, it’s safe to say they’re not in Kansas anymore. I wondered how her “death” would play out, but never pictured her rising from the dead. Did you think a Simmons-zombie was possible? It’s a mad new terrifying world, guys!

Agent May’s expression had hardly changed, yet she was definitely nastier. Skye and Ward’s interrogation scene was tense, and when Daisy recognized Nadeer I worried she would blow her cover. When Simmons took out those HYDRA agents, couldn’t Aida/Madame Hydra detect a disturbance in the Framework? Either way, it stood to reason that Daisy and Jemma’s plan would fail. They didn’t think it through. Of course, the architect of the Framework knew they were there. Yeah, this is certainly going to be an insane ride.

Coulson’s “Individual over the State” speech was eerily current. The writers are not shying away from commenting on today’s political climate, going so far as to touch on HYDRA being born of Nazis. Coulson calling that truth “innuendo” (fake news) and his student being dragged away in the middle of class is scary stuff. It’s important for entertainment to reflect and comment on the times we live in. I’m impressed the creative time had the guts to “go there.” Listen, it’s not just the immigration debate. When government is tracking people’s internet activity and accessing our browser history, that’s how authoritarian regimes work. Of course, the current administration doesn’t have the experience or smarts to know the difference. That said, the fact I can even write that statement is one we should never take for granted. While the DC TV shows tend to keep things lighter (only Supergirl’s writers are tackling constitutional issues), it is nice to see Marvel delving into political commentary. I only wish more fans were tuning in LIVE, so the show can continue rather than be on the bubble every season.

Courtesy of ABC
The fact Fitz was “The Doctor” wasn’t a surprise, but boy did Iain De Caestecker knock this latest iteration of his character out of the park. I’ve been reviewing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for years now, and I always say De Caestecker is one of the show’s most impressive talents. This installment once again proves the young actor is a powerhouse. There was little to no evidence of the Fitz we all know and love in his performance. That’s not to say the others slacked off, everyone played their parts well. It’s just that De Caestecker always manages to go above and beyond.

The way “The Doctor” brushed off Skye was perfectly irritating. That’s Fitz without Simmons. I can’t wait for him and Jemma to come face to face. So much anticipation driving this new story. However, Daisy and Jemma’s reunion was just as interesting. Jemma asked the question I had been thinking since the big HYDRA reveal. Why was HYDRA even part of the Framework? Clearly it wasn’t Radcliffe but Aida’s doing. Weird that HYDRA’s the result of past regrets, no? The characters relinquishing control for a “happier” life led to this upside down world. Still, the Madame Hydra reveal was a perfect fit. With Daisy and Jemma trapped in the Framework, who’s going to save the day?

Ward being part of the resistance was an awesome turn of events. That guy is not what he seems in any reality, Ha! It was thrilling to learn he would be helping Daisy and Jemma while in the Framework. In a weird way, Grant Ward finally gets his redemption arc. Honestly, it’s a wonderful bit of storytelling that only a virtual world like this could allow. It’s just so clever he’s the HYDRA mole, wowza! I’m all about it, and stoked by the possibilities in this final batch of episodes.

Closing Thoughts…

As with many of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’s best episodes, the hour simply flew by and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Unlike Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow this season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has managed to reinvent itself and keep me engaged all season. Sure, there have been fillers because I believe the 20-something episode model is outdated. However, overall this is a television series worthy of another season, though ABC should reschedule it to 8 or 9 pm… 10 pm will ultimately kill it. If you’re a fan of Marvel and the MCU, you should be watching this series LIVE when it airs. Hit the ABC app and re-watch it. It’s up to us to prove to the powers that be that Coulson and company deserve to be on the air. If that final scene where Coulson remembers “Daisy” didn’t make you tear up, then your heart belongs to HYDRA. Long live S.H.I.E.L.D.!!!

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on ABC.

  • Jeb Hoge

    From the moment Jemma popped out of the ground zombie-style until the end where she and Daisy were in Skye’s apartment (and I’m going around in circles on what to call who), Elizabeth Henstridge had me alternating through creeped out, nervous giggles, and heartbreak. Everyone in the show killed it, but she and Iain De Caestecker especially put in masterpiece performances (again). Also, I loved how the whole episode had that stark video filter that made everything looks harsh and grey (if you see preview photos, they’ve got more color in them).