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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Providence – Season 1 Episode 18

Last week’s Captain America tie-in with Agents of SHIELD was a lot like a parent giving their kid a big push off on a bike. Now that they’ve got the momentum it’s up to them to start pedaling and keep the bike upright. In this episode they don’t crash and burn but it doesn’t feel like they’re picking up speed either.

Recap

With the news about SHIELD spreading all over the world Coulson and his team are leading the effort to find and pick up the pieces of SHIELD so that they can attack HYDRA. It’s not looking good as they’ve only been able to find a handful of SHIELD bases that aren’t under HYDRA control. On top of that, the US Air Force is sending in forces to overtake (or destroy) the base that Coulson’s managing. Coulson decides that it’s better for his team to cut and run. They get the plane in the air and try to stay invisible. Coulson also has Skye erase any information about their team from the web, making them ghosts or, as Skye puts it, “Agents of Nothing”.

Meanwhile Ward and Garrett are putting the team back together. They break Raina out of prison and reveal to her what’s been going on. Although she is (as expected) unhappy to find out that the Clairvoyant is not an actually clairvoyant, she agrees to help them to try to isolate the key to Skye and Coulson’s miracle cure. Garrett and Ward also have some words because of Ward’s getting attached to Coulson’s team. Garrett doesn’t get why he cares and Ward’s unhappy that he had to stay under cover so long that he ended up caring. The argument is short lived and Ward and Garrett take the opportunity to raid the “Fridge”, while SHIELD is still in disarray.

Back on the plane, Coulson has Skye collect everyone’s badges. As he’s about to lock them away coordinates appear on his badge. Despite his team’s concerns about it being a trap, Coulson is certain that the coordinates are a message from Nick Fury. Now we all know that Fury is alive, but no one in the show does. Even though they want to believe Coulson they have a hard time believing that Fury is out there and are concerned that he may be holding on to false hope or, worse, being controlled by HYRDRA.

When the plane touches down, Coulson gives everyone an out before he goes out into the frozen wilderness to search for Fury’s coordinates. Everyone decides to go and they are rewarded when they do actually find a base that responds to Coulson’s SHIELD identification. They enter the base to find that is being manned by a single agent: Patton Oswald? Oswald, playing Agent Eric Koenig, informs Coulson that he’s been stationed there since the invasion of New York and that Nick Fury is still alive. He also tells Coulson that there are only a handful of people who even know Fury’s alive and that no one knows where he currently is. Furthermore, Fury’s instructions are that only Coulson and not his team are to be told that he’s alive.

Once they are inside the base, they are informed that the “Fridge” has been taken. They don’t know that it was Ward and Garrett who are responsible.  Skye immediately calls Ward to find out if he’s okay and gives him their location. Right before the call, Ward had been informed by Raina that Skye was the only one who could decode the information on the drive that he had. So, Ward has to come back to the team in order to get Skye to unlock the drive. Garrett gives Ward 24 hours to get the information without blowing his cover. If he can’t get it done by then, he’s to execute everyone and bring Skye back to Garrett. Finally, Raina has also brought Quinn back into the fold. Like her, Quinn was less than thrilled to find out the truth about Garrett. As he threatens to walk out Garret reveals to him that he’s recovered the Gravatonium that Quinn worked so hard to get.

Commentary

I’m glad that the news in this episode revisited the plot point from Captain America: The Winter Soldier that stated that all of SHIELD’s information had been leaked. The last episode felt like it forgot that a little bit. This episode seemed like it was trying to occasionally forget the severity of the situation. Especially in the moments when Fitz was more focused in being jealous of Simmons and Triplett’s “relationship”. Fortunately, those moments are few and far between.

Coulson is really the best thing in this episode. He gives several impassioned statements and speeches throughout the episode that all carry weight, especially the one he gives outside of the base before they find out. Maybe more than anyone else, Coulson’s world is falling apart around him and he’s fighting to keep his faith in something. Clark Gregg is able to show not only Coulson’s despair but his anger, defiance, and determination in this episode all while letting the character keep his charm and wit in the episodes lighter moments. My favorite of which was his exchange with Koenig:

Koenig: “If you talk we’re gonna have a major problem.”
Coulson: “Are you threatening me?”
Koenig: “100%”

The 2nd best part of the episode was actually Ward. I was a little surprised that I found his reasoning for following Garrett was so believable. At his core he really is just loyal to Garrett. While he realizes that Coulson is a good man and was trying to help him, he is fully dedicated to his first loyalty. In a way, that’s admirable. I was also really surprised that I actually found his “I’m everyone’s type” amusing. I guess it’s good to know that the show realizes how excessively pretty he can come off sometimes.

All in all, the episode didn’t make anything worse, which is the best part about it. We got to have a little more insight into some of the characters and the stage is set for the show to carry on on its own story line independently from the movie tie-in. I did find myself wishing that they had just found Fury in the base, but I understand that Coulson’s decision about whether or not to keep Fury’s secret will be important with Ward back on the base. The next episode will be interesting since Ward’s race against time and Coulson’s decision will likely both have to be resolved, I wonder which will give out first.

Edit: During this episode, Garret makes an off-handed comment to Ward about having a secret base in a barber-shop. This is actually a reference to the classic SHIELD from the comics. The 60’s version of Nick Fury (the one not based off of Samuel L. Jackson) actually had a SHIELD base hidden beneath a barber shop.

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