Agents of Shield "S1E18 The Frenemy of my Enemy" - Review: Two more heads have grown....

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Agents of Shield "S1E18 The Frenemy of my Enemy" - Review: Two more heads have grown....

“Sometimes as a leader I’m forced to do things I’d rather not do” heavy lies the head that bares the highest pay grade and executive parking space as leadership comes with the price of responsibility. The responsibility to do what must be done to ensure overall survival and what’s best for the greater good no matter where that road may take you. 

The Frenemy of my Enemy – Coulson makes unwelcome alliance with Grant Ward and Agent 33 to get inside Hydra and find out what their plans are for “powered people”. Back at the base, Simmons confesses all about the fake toolbox and May’s view of Coulson being increasingly challenged all while Cal takes his daughter Skye on a tour of his (and would have been her) home in Milwaukee.

Above all else, this episode sees one very welcome return, and that is HYDRA. After March’s shock mid season opening massacre of their top figures, it made sense for Shield’s parasitic evil organisation to sit a few rounds out, but as the weeks passed, their absence has been more extensive than it should due to the civil war events of Shield (we can’t have Shield fighting Hydra when they’re busy fighting each other). Now though, they are not only back but highly relevant to much that has transpired in their absence in their pursuit of “powered people” linking direct to the Inhumans story. They’ve scienced a way of tracking Gordon’s teleporting and have already claimed several victims for their experiments. This is also linked directly to the upcoming Age of Ultron with repeated mentions again of Baron Von Strucker as being the leading experimenter along with the encountered Dr List. It will be interesting to learn the timeframe of events in relation to the upcoming movie. The showrunners have promised that the Avengers sequel events will play a part in this Shield series, but will that be the lead up to Strucker’s experiments (that of course, is created Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch) or the aftermath? As for the episode, the HYDRA infiltration is very enjoyable with the brainwashed Bakshi running point and the tense Coulson/Ward union watching on Deathlok vision. Bringing Ward back into the main story is also highly effective. It creates great tension as both sides (quite rightly) believe the other is scheming against them as well as playing on the more bitter histories between certain individuals. Fitz’s reaction to Ward’s seemingly genuine pleasantry says it all. The results play out nicely to keep Ward and Agent 33 in the main story until the end of the season at least. Whether or not this will be a redemption arc for Ward remains to be seen, but the opportunity is now there for him to earn it.

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The Inhumans story is a bit hit-and-miss this week. There’s plenty of good smaller moments like Reina being teased as having their first ever pre-cognitive (seeing the future) powers and Skye’s scenes of asking her mother to let Cal stay reflect nicely on her emotional warming towards him. The trouble is that once the main story of Cal’s trip down memory lane gets going, it doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s quite literally the pair is just wondering the streets looking for things that apparently the Internet has killed. Of course there is theme that Skye even spells out of Cal, moving on from living in the past but it takes too long to get there, leaving painfully less time for the material we want to see, which is Cal getting his anger on when he finds out he’s being banished from afterlife. The action finale does have its rewards. It’s cool to see Lincoln’s powers getting some combat usage and his coming together with Deathlok is a good confrontation, which is why it sucks that most of it takes place off screen.

Back at the old Shield base, there’s interesting notions from many characters about shifting viewpoints and allegiances. Both Bobbi and Mack state during their fast and humorous sparing session (if Mack had just tried a flip that would have been amazing) that they’re no longer seeing Coulson as the enemy. Whereas on the other hand, May is slowly moving further away from Coulson in response to the lies, or more specifically omissions, he’s been keeping from her. Although she claims not to be on his side, her very declaration of “It’s not about sides, it’s about the truth” has Real Shield values plastered all over it with their disdain for secrets. The Deathlok hacked image of Coulson teaming with Ward seemed firmly pushed her away from Coulson’s side. It’s going to be very interesting when all sides finally meet up again to see who stands with you.

In terms of series direction, there’s also this week’s news that the planned Shield spin off will star Bobbi and Hunter. In isolation, this is fantastic. The pair are both great characters and their chemistry together have produced some of the season’s best moments. Though, if they are to reach their departing main show positions by the end of this season, that will require some big changes to happen as they’re currently on opposing sides. Then of course the show could be a prequel (and Agent Carter has shown that can work) going back to their previous marriage and on the job romance but that feels less likely. The out of the box 3rd option is they show could be less a spin off and more a replacement to Agents of Shield, which has not yet been renewed for a 3rd season (though that still seems highly likely).

This episode is really its own frenemy.  Although it sets up some good plot developments and brings characters together nicely, some bits of it just feel quite disappointing by comparison and the different story locations don’t link together as well as they have in some past weeks. Agents has plenty going for it right now, like an ever expanding high quality cast and great comic tie in elements like The Inhumans; but for now, it can’t quite seem to get the best out of them.

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