In the latter half of Agents of SHIELD‘s first season, we learned that the premier spy organization in the world had been deeply infiltrated by HYDRA, and that as a result, the US Government had declared all existing SHIELD operatives traitors to be brought in for… questioning. The bulk of official operations against the near-defunct SHIELD was led by General Talbot, and part of the new season has been to reconcile Talbot’s objectives with taking down the real enemy, HYDRA. I love the character of course, and in the new season he really seems to be becoming a major challenger to Team Coulson.
“Face My Enemy” is this week’s episode and it sees Coulson and May going undercover to appropriate a 500-year old religious painting that has found itself in the middle of what many are calling a miracle. It features some great moments, such as the two SHIELD senior agents enjoying a rare moment of levity mixed with nostalgia and May fighting May. Directed by showrunner Maurissa Tancharoen’s brother Kevin, the episode is certainly a good one, especially the dance sequence with Coulson and May, and everything else really, prving that the second season is indeed going to be much better than season 1.
We know from the previous season that Agents May and Coulson have a long history together, and that they are also best buddies. This is a subplot that has been carried over into the second season and with the recent revelation that Coulson is kind of starting to go the way of the deceased John Garrett, in that he has taken to drawing random, weird symbols the same way he did, things aren’t looking too good for him right now. The majority of the emotional thrust of this week’s episode deals with Coulson trying to convince May to enact an emergency plan of action should he really go full-crazy and that she should be the one to fill in his shoes since he doesn’t trust anyone else with the job that Nick Fury entrusted him with.
And I loved every moment of it. Coulson has slowly grown from being this kind-of-awkward field commander into the Director of SHIELD, and he has also grown more compassionate and more vulnerable as a result, especially of late now that the effects of the alien drugs he was injected with to bring him back to life were finally having side-affects. In a situation like that, what exactly does a man like Coulson do? He goes on pretending that the problem doesn’t exist and tries to find a way out of it, regardless. But with Coulson, things are so much complicated, and in this episode we really got to understand how well of a sounding board Agent May is for him. I mean, she is practically Assistant/Deputy Director of SHIELD, and her relationship with Coulson mimics what Maria Hill had with Nick Fury, though we haven’t really gotten to see it yet in the movies, which is something that I would dearly love to see actually.
But, as we all know, when HYDRA is involved, nothing is ever simple and straightforward and the painting that Team Coulson is in Miami, Florida for appropriation has also drawn the eyes of HYDRA, and Dr. Whitehall has seemingly sent one of his best men to do the job, with the aide of this handy little device that is a successor in form of Black Widow’s special mask from the climax of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. And that’s scary, I’m telling you. Because HYDRA is already in such a prominent position and with the fact that it also has some superior tech to SHIELD, which is barely making any progress on that front, things are looking all the more desperate for the good guys. And this is where Coulson’s decision to steal a Quinjet from General Talbot’s secret base comes in, forming a part of a larger puzzle and directive.
The good guys need every bit of edge that they can get.
Another cool thing about this episode is that it sets up this really cool action sequence between Agent May and her HYDRA doppelganger, or rather, a HYDRA agent using one of those face-masks to impersonate her in front of Team Coulson to lure them into a trap. I really loved this part of the episode because it is one of those rare times when Agent May really gets to kick ass on the show, and it is also one of the best examples of close combat fighting on the show to date. Agent May is a proficient martial arts expert, and here she goes again someone who actually has a chance of legitimately taking her out, and it was great. It isn’t often that she can be outclassed really, and I loved that uniqueness. Adds a bit more flavour to her old reputation as “The Cavalry”, being almost a one-woman army, so to speak.
By the end of this episode, we learn some rather important things, and Daniel Whitehall does make another appearance in a cliffhanger ending that is also one of the best on the show. I didn’t quite like the setup of it, but the meat of it was really good and you really get this feeling that this man is a serious threat to everything that Team Coulson and the rest of the in-rebirth SHIELD stand for and are working for. Plus with the revelation last episode about Agent Simmons, you’ve got a real firecracker on your hands, something that I really am looking forward to in the coming weeks.
If there is one thing that I desperately want to see on the show, and soon, is cameos from the MCU characters, like Maria Hill and Nick Fury, or even some other heroes, even if we only get some brief mentions of them. The MCU is a large, cohesive world, and most of the time Agents of SHIELD pretends that this cohesiveness conveniently does not exist. That’s kind of the problem with shared universes, and is a drawback for the show, as we saw last season, bu these… crossovers are also excellent, and some of the previous season’s best moments where when we got to see the MCU characters step into the show. And if I’m honest, I really want to see Sif again!
In the meantime, it is another one-week wait for the next episode!
Agents of SHIELD Season 1 reviews can be found here. I’ve reviewed every episode so far.