Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review - Episode 16: End of the Beginning

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review - Episode 16: End of the Beginning

This episode ends with some stuff hitting the fan that one can safely assume must be in some way related to other, bigger stuff that hits the fan in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

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It's just such a shame that the show is getting so good, while the ratings keep getting worse :( I think sometime in the future this show will make a great example of how the entertainment-media landscape has changed in the early 21st century. 20 years ago audiences would have had to give this show the time it needed to find its footing and would be much more inclined to keep watching it, nowadays the supply of tv shows is just so overwhelming, especially on cable, audiences will move away after a bad start.

Seriously though, if you have already seen CA:TWS, this episode is even more awesome than it is now.

wiz828:
It's just such a shame that the show is getting so good, while the ratings keep getting worse :( I think sometime in the future this show will make a great example of how the entertainment-media landscape has changed in the early 21st century. 20 years ago audiences would have had to give this show the time it needed to find its footing and would be much more inclined to keep watching it, nowadays the supply of tv shows is just so overwhelming, especially on cable, audiences will move away after a bad start.

Seriously though, if you have already seen CA:TWS, this episode is even more awesome than it is now.

Yeah this episode hit a ratings low for the series. A big problem I had with it is you could easily give half the series a miss and you would not be lost when it comes to the big picture. Also some of the characters are just really, really, terrible. (I would not be surprised to see a few killed off)

Screw it. That was a great episode and people really need to give this show another chance, but of course I'm in the minority and I'll probably get a bunch of people saying how stupid I am. Well, eat it.

They already confirmed what the blue skinned creature. If you are curious you can look it up. I don't know how to do a spoiler tag so I can't post it on here.

The more you know.

Anyone else notice the mention of Department H? 'Cause that opens up a massive can of worms/plot-points from the comics...

Wait, so I got to see the Captain America movie before pretty much all americans? Neat.
Also yes it is good.

I haven't watched this episode yet as I'll do that on friday, but it sounds good.
Looking forward to it.

This was easily the best episode to date, and they have been getting better each week. Tell your friends to give it another shot, starting with this episode.

I had a theory on the blue blood, after watching Captain America 1 this week, did you notice that the serum that they gave him was blue... Considering that all other attempts to make a super solider have failed, maybe it's in part because you can't recreate alien blood. Steve Rodgers didn't get all buff from the serum alone, he needed the radiation/special rays? in that chamber in order to activate the serum, Skye and Coleson haven't been exposed to those rays, potentially super soldiers in waiting?

Absimilliard:
Anyone else notice the mention of Department H? 'Cause that opens up a massive can of worms/plot-points from the comics...

I caught that. although I suspect that it was just a throwaway line, like actually naming Project Pegasus in the pilot episode. (Although it is never directly said, it is implied that the SHIELD facility that gets wiped out by Loki at the beginning of Avengers is Project Pegasus. Which would have explained a lot at the time if they had said it. Including that long spiral tunnel chase that Hill was doing.) I am pretty sure that Alpha Flight would be a tricky thing for the show to use without cutting into Fox's Wolverine territory. Although there are a few characters they could probably get away with. Maybe Puck? (Quick somebody call Peter Dinklage!)

This was by far the best episode of Agents of SHIELD to date. It's like they finally decided to stop trying to make some sort of 80's action show homage (like something from the days of Knightrider) and decided to go full tilt Marvel Universe Jack Bower. We need more like this. And hopefully it's not to late. Did they fire and replace the entire writing staff when we weren't looking? This really was everything we have been wanting of AoS all along. Real known Marvel characters (even kind of looking like they should. Although the non Xray version of Deathlok had a bit too much going on in the way of blinky lighting. He looked like a '92 Honda from the hood circa 2002.) It had conspiracies and twists and betrayals and secrets. It had glimpses at Marvel Universe stuff (I assume that the bus was landed on a seagoing Helicarrier at the beginning? Or at least that is what was implied?). It had direct relations both to the comics and to the movies. It was littered with Easter Eggs and little misdirection. (I swear the guy in the wheelchair was supposed to make us think MODOK.) This was the show we have been asking for.

Bob, I need clarification... Is Marvel expecting EVERYONE to see Winter Soldier NOW, so before next week's ep of Agents?
Am I going to be punished for not buying expensive theater tickets right away?

Because that was my fear with this show from day 1... :\

This sounds like an episode they should have shown about 10 episodes ago and chopped out some of the crappy 'filler' episodes. Perhaps if Agents of SHIELD had started airing later so that they could get this tie-in with Cap'n 'Murica without taking breaks they would have had better ratings?

I think I mentioned in an earlier recap that the Clairvoyant was probably just someone with access to SHIELD intel, which it seems like it is going to be the case although I still think it would be cool if it is Ultron masquerading as a nobody for whatever reason.

Shit first season, with continued backing in terms of money, might mean the second season will be totally free of any hint of executive meddling.

We can dream.

Kenjitsuka:
Bob, I need clarification... Is Marvel expecting EVERYONE to see Winter Soldier NOW, so before next week's ep of Agents?
Am I going to be punished for not buying expensive theater tickets right away?

Because that was my fear with this show from day 1... :\

I watched it today for that very reason (on top of other more fanboyish reasons, anyway) and aside from a possible reveal of the Clairvoyant's origin (if I am putting the pieces together correctly) nothing in the film is necessary for following the current AoS storyline.

As far as Cap 2: TWS; all I can say is if you enjoyed Avengers then it is definitely worth the price of admission. I think it is the best Marvel movie to date.

Bring on the Guardians.

That woman was screaming "I am a traitor" from the very beginning and her early departure also made it pretty clear that she was going to backstab this episode.

This was the best episode out of the series to me. Finally started getting answers, or at least clearer questions. A lot of the previous episodes felt like they were just wandering around, and that's not what I want from something that's part of a bigger series. I want things to connect, to build, to feel bigger than what the part really is. This episode did that for me.

I am surprised, and terribly disappointed, that no one in the show jumped on the whole speech of, "They're coming." This implies that CENTIPEDE is actually being controlled by something else, because otherwise it would have been "We're coming." You would think that someone in the room would have caught that, but no.

Welp...

*books a ticket for Winter Soldier for tomorow*

MatParker116:
Yeah this episode hit a ratings low for the series. A big problem I had with it is you could easily give half the series a miss and you would not be lost when it comes to the big picture.

Whedon has always had trouble telling a structured story over a protracted period.

I still like the series. It's good, but not great.

Ickabod:
This was easily the best episode to date, and they have been getting better each week. Tell your friends to give it another shot, starting with this episode.

Difficulty: "the best episode to date" is a really low bar. It's basically kind of entertaining, but nothing exceptional by overall TV standards: the characters are still running about two standard deviations down from average IQ, so it doesn't work as a spy show, but at least there are some superpower fights in this one.

And for the developments to make any sense, you have to wade through half a season of episodes that are... well, actively, quantitatively, unarguable outright BAD. Whether that kind of time investment is worth it to enjoy something that's maybe almost as good as a generic mindless action flick is a bit debatable.

Additional difficulty: Skye being a blatant Mary Sue without any skills save informed ones sort of gets kicked up to 11 in this episode, which is REALLY grating. The characters literally take five to six two-minute breaks from actually doing anything to sit around in a circle and lecture the audience about how in a special world of special snowflakes, Skye is definitely the specialest snowflake ever to be special. Not only is this a violation of the "show: don't tell" rule, it's also demonstrably untrue-- Skye only being a liability that puts the rest of the team's lives at risk for nothing is a GOOD day for her, and her pattern recognition magic amounts to a search script from a high school compsci homework assignment... and her 'double-blind' idea is actively bad; if the oracle is psychic it won't matter whether the agents know what's up because he'll read it from Skye (Coulson's the only immune one), if it's future-prediction having the agents unprepared won't help, and if it's standard surveillance/network compromise (which it turns out to be) it won't help because all movements/signals are being monitored in general and the bad guy will be handed an advantage. There is literally no forseeable situation in which her protocol doesn't make the situation worse.

(Actually, I think the character of Skye in general is THE problem with this show, pretty much all of its other writing-related difficulties go back to the whole 'we learned to write protagonists from Twilight' bit.)

008Zulu:
Whedon has always had trouble telling a structured story over a protracted period.

I don't really agree with that. I'd say it is the opposite. The number one reason Whedon's shows are so great is because there is an incredibly extensive amount of world building - to the point where he gets to distracted with the little pieces that he forgets to make them go anywhere. Traditionally the first half of a season determines whether a TV show gets picked up for a second, because they would need all the time during the second half of the season to write #2. Whedon puts so much groundwork in that first half so that it can come to fruition in the second, but by that time it's normally too late.

Some of his series, like Dollhouse, are tightly written and would not do well long term, but I'd attribute that more to him coming to terms with how studios overreact to his writing style. Buffy and Angel collectively have 12 seasons, all intertwined in the same universe. He can totally salvage the first half of SHIELD, because as I like to point out, the first 12 episodes seem boring because they are really just groundwork for a few more seasons of content.

Jim_Callahan:

Ickabod:
This was easily the best episode to date, and they have been getting better each week. Tell your friends to give it another shot, starting with this episode.

Difficulty: "the best episode to date" is a really low bar. It's basically kind of entertaining, but nothing exceptional by overall TV standards: the characters are still running about two standard deviations down from average IQ, so it doesn't work as a spy show, but at least there are some superpower fights in this one.

And for the developments to make any sense, you have to wade through half a season of episodes that are... well, actively, quantitatively, unarguable outright BAD. Whether that kind of time investment is worth it to enjoy something that's maybe almost as good as a generic mindless action flick is a bit debatable.

Additional difficulty: Skye being a blatant Mary Sue without any skills save informed ones sort of gets kicked up to 11 in this episode, which is REALLY grating. The characters literally take five to six two-minute breaks from actually doing anything to sit around in a circle and lecture the audience about how in a special world of special snowflakes, Skye is definitely the specialest snowflake ever to be special. Not only is this a violation of the "show: don't tell" rule, it's also demonstrably untrue-- Skye only being a liability that puts the rest of the team's lives at risk for nothing is a GOOD day for her, and her pattern recognition magic amounts to a search script from a high school compsci homework assignment... and her 'double-blind' idea is actively bad; if the oracle is psychic it won't matter whether the agents know what's up because he'll read it from Skye (Coulson's the only immune one), if it's future-prediction having the agents unprepared won't help, and if it's standard surveillance/network compromise (which it turns out to be) it won't help because all movements/signals are being monitored in general and the bad guy will be handed an advantage. There is literally no forseeable situation in which her protocol doesn't make the situation worse.

(Actually, I think the character of Skye in general is THE problem with this show, pretty much all of its other writing-related difficulties go back to the whole 'we learned to write protagonists from Twilight' bit.)

They laid it on so thick this week I'm now thinking Skye is the clairvoyant. A hacker with access to SHIELD systems being granted more and more access and trust as the series goes on, perfectly placed to gather data and put together bad plans to keep agents confused and unaware of how they're being played. It would be a brilliant turnaround, almost too good for the show.

Speaking of Skye, whatever happened to her hacktivist group, the Rising Tide?

Darth_Payn:
Speaking of Skye, whatever happened to her hacktivist group, the Rising Tide?

It was probably a red herring.

faefrost:

Absimilliard:
Anyone else notice the mention of Department H? 'Cause that opens up a massive can of worms/plot-points from the comics...

I caught that. although I suspect that it was just a throwaway line, like actually naming Project Pegasus in the pilot episode. (Although it is never directly said, it is implied that the SHIELD facility that gets wiped out by Loki at the beginning of Avengers is Project Pegasus. Which would have explained a lot at the time if they had said it. Including that long spiral tunnel chase that Hill was doing.) I am pretty sure that Alpha Flight would be a tricky thing for the show to use without cutting into Fox's Wolverine territory. Although there are a few characters they could probably get away with. Maybe Puck? (Quick somebody call Peter Dinklage!)

Well, they surly have the rights to Guardian, Vindicator, Marrina, Sasquatch, Shaman and Snowbird since none of them are mutants. Really Aurora and Northstar are the only mutants on the team, and you could have a movie about the Flight without them. What I want to know is, will we see anyone from Department H at all? And if they are in the MCU, as are S.W.O.R.D., is A.R.M.O.R., S.T.R.I.K.E., EuroM.I.N.D. and S.H.A.P.E. there?

Movies, TV, Games and all things in life have one thing in common, if you're not gonna take yourself seriously no one will. The whole series thus far felt like they got "ok" actors and and plot, but very poor directing.

Too many of the relationships are implied and poorly developed almost to the point of it feeling rushed. They writers and the actors supposed to tricked our emotions and make us BELIEVE in the story and their characters, but I felt nothing like that here. It feels like they're just doing an acting job and can't wait to go home.

Looking at other series and series before it like prison break, arrow or heroes. We get to know and sympathize with the characters and when they do something we can understand if not agree with their choice and when the writer choose to shock us they do it with a good story that make us feel "what's gonna happen next?". When this show shock me, it's more in line of "why the fuck did he do that? it makes no sense!" I'm talking about when the agent shot the guy in the chair.

The quality of marvel series and their movies are night and day, NIGHT AND DAY!

rutger5000:
That woman was screaming "I am a traitor" from the very beginning and her early departure also made it pretty clear that she was going to backstab this episode.

May?

I think its more likely that the person who is getting her logs is Fury himself.

He does this shit all the time in the comics.

Hafrael:

rutger5000:
That woman was screaming "I am a traitor" from the very beginning and her early departure also made it pretty clear that she was going to backstab this episode.

May?

I think its more likely that the person who is getting her logs is Fury himself.

He does this shit all the time in the comics.

No, Hand. Who would have thought that the villainous looking hardass character with the villainous name would end up being the villain?

wiz828:
It's just such a shame that the show is getting so good, while the ratings keep getting worse :( I think sometime in the future this show will make a great example of how the entertainment-media landscape has changed in the early 21st century. 20 years ago audiences would have had to give this show the time it needed to find its footing and would be much more inclined to keep watching it, nowadays the supply of tv shows is just so overwhelming, especially on cable, audiences will move away after a bad start.

I am not crazy about watching 13 episodes of a show in the hope it will get good. If it has good characters and writing, then I am hooked. I find it hard to care about unravelling plots when the episodes are a drag. The pilots are forgivable, but if you don't have me by episode 2 then you don't have me. You could argue that since the standard of t.v. is higher nowadays. People are less likely to tolerate crap t.v. I am a fan of marvel AND good tv and agents of shield did not do it for me at all.

Redd the Sock:
They laid it on so thick this week I'm now thinking Skye is the clairvoyant. A hacker with access to SHIELD systems being granted more and more access and trust as the series goes on, perfectly placed to gather data and put together bad plans to keep agents confused and unaware of how they're being played. It would be a brilliant turnaround, almost too good for the show.

it'd be an interesting plot twist, but in the universe they've established.. highly improbable for a whole host of reasons, not least of which is her ordering herself shot.. ( i mean, really who does that? ) and you're really giving her too-much credit.. I mean just look at her attempt to infiltrate shield and the massive pig's ear she made of it.. she's a conspiracy-nut-geek-hacker-cracker- and general plot key. who lived in a van, a brilliant one at times but that doesn't really speak to serious connections to anything.. but obviously deception is the name of the game here i suppose.

what makes me suspicious is how the higher up shield agents and old timers are all sketchy as hell, and how we've basically been told ( by skye ) that the clairvoyant is just memorising people's background information with high level clearance to shield files, why would she give away her own m.o? if you want my guess, it's either one of the agents giving coulson the run around for nick, or victoria hand the agent who's always having a dig as skye ( since literally day one she's been a hard-ass and generally stinks of cruella de vil, so there's that. )

I could go into allot more, but it's 90% speculation so I'll leave it there

The Lugz:

Redd the Sock:
They laid it on so thick this week I'm now thinking Skye is the clairvoyant. A hacker with access to SHIELD systems being granted more and more access and trust as the series goes on, perfectly placed to gather data and put together bad plans to keep agents confused and unaware of how they're being played. It would be a brilliant turnaround, almost too good for the show.

it'd be an interesting plot twist, but in the universe they've established.. highly improbable for a whole host of reasons, not least of which is her ordering herself shot.. ( i mean, really who does that? ) and you're really giving her too-much credit.. I mean just look at her attempt to infiltrate shield and the massive pig's ear she made of it.. she's a conspiracy-nut-geek-hacker-cracker- and general plot key. who lived in a van, a brilliant one at times but that doesn't really speak to serious connections to anything.. but obviously deception is the name of the game here i suppose.

what makes me suspicious is how the higher up shield agents and old timers are all sketchy as hell, and how we've basically been told ( by skye ) that the clairvoyant is just memorising people's background information with high level clearance to shield files, why would she give away her own m.o? if you want my guess, it's either one of the agents giving coulson the run around for nick, or victoria hand the agent who's always having a dig as skye ( since literally day one she's been a hard-ass and generally stinks of cruella de vil, so there's that. )

I could go into allot more, but it's 90% speculation so I'll leave it there

I'll admit, a lot of my theory is based off typical story structure for things like this. Big bits about trust usually end in a double cross. A lot of it fits. The "let yourself get injured to make yourself seem more legit" is old spy trope, as is understating ability and manipulation to make sure everyone thinks they are making their own choices, not the ones you want them to make. As for outing her tactics, the same thing happened in the comics with Secret Invasion. Alien shape shifters infiltrated everywhere and just before making their move, outed their infiltration so the the heroes would feel they couldn't trust each other for fear they were being played. Now she's isolated Coulson who won't trust any agent with sufficient clearance and starts infighting while looking innocent by pointing it all out. While they fight each other, she gains full access to everything SHIELD knows that she couldn't get at ground level.

Victoria Hand being an end-season bad guy is not a surprise. From her comics appearances she is shown to have differing views on what SHIELD's role should be from Nick Fury, and during the time Norman Osborn took over she was assistant director. She also worked with the Dark Avengers. We know that The Winter Soldier and a lot of the set up for Agents of Shield is about a schism in SHIELD's leadership and direction. I see Hand as being the 'other head' opposite Nick Fury. But I don't see her being the mastermind behind it all, the Clairvoyant.

A bomb that was dropped in this episode when the agents were confronting Nash was that something was coming... As people pointed out, the Clairvoyant wasn't threatening from himself, but from someone else. So either someone is pulling the Clairvoyant's strings, or I think more likely, the Clairvoyant sees some external threat out there. Something to big for SHIELD to take on by themselves, and they don't trust independent super powered people, like Fury's pet project the Avengers. So they are trying to build their home grown and controllable super soldiers. CENTIPEDE, the eye camera cybernetics, Deathlok project, Graviton and Blizzard were all created directly by the Clairvoyant's influence. Is he trying to put together the MCU's version of the Dark Avengers?

Clearly the Clairvoyant has a love/hate relationship with Colson and his team. He wants to know the secret to Colson's revival, but the team (especially Skye) is a wild card in his carefully constructed plan, and answerable really only to Fury. I do think that May has been spying for Fury, who is worried about the long term effects of Colson's resurrection. Hand has been trying to separate or kill off members of Colson's team since she first appeared. But in a way that won't get her in trouble with her superiors.

Redd the Sock:
I'll admit, a lot of my theory is based off typical story structure for things like this. Big bits about trust usually end in a double cross. A lot of it fits. The "let yourself get injured to make yourself seem more legit" is old spy trope, as is understating ability and manipulation to make sure everyone thinks they are making their own choices, not the ones you want them to make. As for outing her tactics, the same thing happened in the comics with Secret Invasion. Alien shape shifters infiltrated everywhere and just before making their move, outed their infiltration so the the heroes would feel they couldn't trust each other for fear they were being played. Now she's isolated Coulson who won't trust any agent with sufficient clearance and starts infighting while looking innocent by pointing it all out. While they fight each other, she gains full access to everything SHIELD knows that she couldn't get at ground level.

all good points, but I'm still sceptical.. i also recommend winter soldier if you haven't already seen it, it's a good film and it ties in nicely here and no, it doesn't give away the plot it just helps widen it a bit

Well, having just gotten back from Capt America 2...

Things are gonna be quite... different I imagine. The old wave of speculation is thrown out the door, and a whole new wave of speculation shall begin...

DO NOT CLICK: CAPT AMERICA SPOILERS

Zontar:

Darth_Payn:
Speaking of Skye, whatever happened to her hacktivist group, the Rising Tide?

It was probably a red herring.

faefrost:

Absimilliard:
Anyone else notice the mention of Department H? 'Cause that opens up a massive can of worms/plot-points from the comics...

I caught that. although I suspect that it was just a throwaway line, like actually naming Project Pegasus in the pilot episode. (Although it is never directly said, it is implied that the SHIELD facility that gets wiped out by Loki at the beginning of Avengers is Project Pegasus. Which would have explained a lot at the time if they had said it. Including that long spiral tunnel chase that Hill was doing.) I am pretty sure that Alpha Flight would be a tricky thing for the show to use without cutting into Fox's Wolverine territory. Although there are a few characters they could probably get away with. Maybe Puck? (Quick somebody call Peter Dinklage!)

Well, they surly have the rights to Guardian, Vindicator, Marrina, Sasquatch, Shaman and Snowbird since none of them are mutants. Really Aurora and Northstar are the only mutants on the team, and you could have a movie about the Flight without them. What I want to know is, will we see anyone from Department H at all? And if they are in the MCU, as are S.W.O.R.D., is A.R.M.O.R., S.T.R.I.K.E., EuroM.I.N.D. and S.H.A.P.E. there?

Guardian / Vindicator (The first), Sasquatch, Snowbird, Shaman, Aurora and Northstar all began more or less as X Men antagonists with heavy ties to, and seeking to bring back Wolverine. They play heavily and directly into Wolvies backstory, which puts them in a grey area. Whereas Puck, Marina and Box, etc did not appear until Alpha Flight got their own book and have no real ties to the X Men. Marvel / Disney will probably avoid any characters that might conflict or cause confusion with Fox's X movies. They are still livid over Quicksilver.

Booooooob! It's obviously an Atlantean! It had a swastika carved on it's chest - in WW2, the Red Skull kidnapped loads of them, and used their skin to make books, and experiment in general. It was featured heavily in the back story to "Fear Itself".

Yozozo:
Well, having just gotten back from Capt America 2...

DO NOT CLICK: CAPT AMERICA SPOILERS

Agreed. I have one question after seeing the movie:

yo, anyone notice next episode's preview is using music from Tron:Legacy?
Specifically, "Rinzler" and "Fall"

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