Reviews

MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: “A Fractured House”

ADRIANNE PALICKI

Well, if you’re all done reeling from that Age of Ultron scene (and what a scene!), maybe we should talk about what happened on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?

Because boy, did a lot happen on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Which, honestly, is firing on all cylinders this year. I’m hesitant to be overly optimistic that the whole season is going to be this strong, but I really am overly impressed as to where the level of awesome has been for season two so far. “A Fractured House” focused a good deal on Ward, who we haven’t seen much of so far except in small scenes where he’s been interrogated by Skye. It also introduced Ward’s brother, Christian (White Collar‘s Tim DeKay) and the rivarly between them in a world where everyone is turning on each other and no one knows who to trust — a fractured house, indeed. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is largely about found families — such as the family Ward thought he had when Garrett took him in, and the family that the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents have made for themselves. So what happens when real families come into conflict? It was interesting to watch the show tackle this while furthering the mythology of the season.

We open with Talbot talking to the United Nations committee about aliens and the events in Avengers (hey, there’s a Chitauri name drop!) while trying to convince them that S.H.I.E.L.D. took advantage of them. When a delegate from Italy gets up to ask for proof of Talbot’s words, he gets taken out by undercover Hydra agents who storm the room and throw out some interesting looking weapons that disintegrate people. (Literally, they fling them out like they think they’re Captain America or something. They’re just okay, because no one can throw a frisbee-like disc the way Chris Evans can.)

Meanwhile, we’re apparently making up for our absence of shirtless Ward with not one, not two, but three sequences of Ward working out. Why? Really, let’s not question it. He’s being watched by Skye and Simmons, until May comes back and alerts them of what just happened. Coulson blames Whitehall and says he’s using the general public to do his dirty work instead of his own people, while Simmons recognizes the weapons that were used from being undercover. Conveniently, a (now blonde) Bobbi Morse also knows the scientist responsible for making them, a man named Toshiro Mori. (Please also note that in addition to the newly dyed hair, which is a staple of the comic character, Bobbi is wearing a Star Wars shirt, which is obviously important…at least to me. We also get a fun little name drop of Clint when they discuss an assassin who Bobbi mentions “almost took down Barton a few years ago.” As those of you who follow me know, I live for these Marvel references, and being a huge Hawkeye/Mockingbird fan, I was a bit happy when that happened.)

Coulson tasks Simmons to go over the hard drive that Bobbi helped her steal in last week’s episode, and then sends Hunter and Bobbi to find the scientist. Hunter is, understandably, less than enthused about being on a mission with his ex-wife. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here feeling the opposite.

Talbot goes to a man who we learn is Senator Christian Ward (White Collar‘s Tim DeKay), none other than the brother of Grant “Hydra” Ward. He gets yelled at for S.H.I.E.L.D. being attacked under his watch, and Talbot accuses him of just being worried about the public finding out the truth about his brother. While Coulson watches Senator Ward basically slam S.H.I.E.L.D. on national television, Skye, always quick to jump, decides to see if she can get information out of Ward. Meanwhile, Coulson contacts a woman named Agent Walters and advises her to go dark…for now.

On the quinjet on the way to Japan, Bobbi and Hunter are having a hilariously awkward conversation which I am so here for. Bobbi admits she knows what Hunter’s been saying about her, and then leaves to go sit at the cockpit with May. We learn that May was married once, and I need more information on this ASAP. (Girl bonding, by the way? I’m here for this, too.)

In “Everything Is Still Awkward Land,” Simmons visits Fitz and asks for his help with the hard drive, since it needs to be repaired before she can access it. Skye is having her own awkward visit with Ward, where he warns her to stay away from his brother, claiming he gets joy from hurting people and that he’s not what he seems. He brings up Skye’s father again, but this time, Skye doesn’t take the bait, instead telling him she found her father and knows he’s a murderer. Before she can get further into the conversation, Coulson interrupts her.

May, Hunter and Bobbi discuss the mission, and Bobbi decides to go in with her Hydra cover which apparently involves kissing Mori (which apparently Hunter is not entirely over.) Mori asks if there’s any truth to the rumor that she’s been working at S.H.I.E.L.D. Bobbi manages to side-step the question by asking about his weapons, which he surprisingly opens up about – they’re splinter bombs, and he got them from Whitehall and old Hydra technology. On the quinjet, Hunter suddenly becomes concerned, intercepting a message that comes to Mori about Bobbi helping Simmons escape from Hydra. He saves Bobbi from being attacked by Hydra security, and they proceed to have the most amazing conversation while fighting (literally and figuratively). I am so into this relationship, I worry for myself. Anyway, May comes to their rescue as well, and they deduce that Hydra is going after people that support S.H.I.E.L.D. – one of them being a Belgian politician named Julian Beckers.

Back on The Bus, Fitz and Simmons are working together on Simmons’ hard drive, though Simmons’ attempts at help are failing. Fitz finally gets frustrated enough to admit to her that he’s still not over the fact that she left, because it feels like she gave up on him. Meanwhile, Senator Ward has a surprise visitor in his office: Agent Coulson. Coulson attempts to pass off his new speech, but Christian tells Coulson he won’t change sides on S.H.I.E.L.D. – the people need an enemy. Coulson uses the conversation to bring up Ward, admitting that they have him in custody.

As Christian tries to turn Coulson against Ward, Skye goes back to Ward’s cell and attempts another conversation with him (after cutting off surveillance because apparently she learned her lesson.) Christian tells Coulson the story of his brother and the well, while Ward tells Skye more about her father. Yes, he killed people, but only because he loved her (such a sentiment, really…though he also says that the villages that her father killed were in reality Hydra agents that killed her mother.) Ward convinces her that she can only help Skye find her father if they’re together, so Skye breaks and tells him that he’s being transferred into his brother’s custody. I feel like this can’t bode well for anyone involved.

Mack and Fitz have figured how to trace the bombs to a man named Vincent Beckers, which sets off red flags for Simmons. Coulson pays a visit to Ward, who tries to persuade Coulson that his brother is using him to gain power in his political world. They’re interrupted by Trip, who brings Coulson up to speed on Mack, Fitz and Simmons’ findings: Vincent Beckers was apparently Julian Beckers’ grandfather, which means that it’s possible he’s still a Hydra ally. Coulson soon realizes he’s been played, and attempts to reroute May, Hunter and Lance to a Belgium safe house, where Walters arrives, and is immediately meets Beckers. He’s killed her agents (apparently, he was claiming his country was safe so he could lure S.H.I.E.L.D. agents there) and it’s starting to look like Walters’ chances of survival are relatively low…until Hunter shows up to save the day by pretending to be a merc looking for bad S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Bobbi and May burst in soon after and an epic (and seriously, I mean epic) fight breaks out. I’m going to go ahead and give all the props to the stunt coordination team because so far, every single action scene has been amazing, especially where these two women are concerned. The dedication to making this season bigger and better shows. Hunter ends up saving Bobbi from a splinter bomb, which I suppose is cause for a kind of truce.

Simmons goes to see Mack so she can thank him for helping Fitz, and Mack tells her that Fitz doesn’t need help – what he needs is less of Simmons, who seems to be making him worse. Simmons tearfully tells Mack she doesn’t want Fitz to be anything but himself, before admitting that’s why she left, and then my heart breaks into pieces. Meanwhile, Hunter prepares to head off, in an attempt to get out of Bobbi’s hair. His former flame seems to have a change of heart (I guess being saved will do that to you), and tells him he should stay if he really wants to. I never thought I would be on board with this relationship as much as I am, but the chemistry between Nick Blood and Adrianne Palicki is off the charts, and I’m going to ride this out as much as I can.

Coulson starts Ward’s transfer, while Christian holds his press conference at the United Nations, talking about the attack at the beginning of the episode. Talbot tells May they were able to detain Beckers at the border, and when May tells her that they lost six agents, Talbot seems to soften a little with sympathy. We’ll get you on our side yet, Talbot. Christian announces his brother’s ties with Hydra, and says he’ll make sure he’s punished sufficiently for his crimes. Meanwhile, while being transferred, Ward gets out of his cuffs by breaking his own thumbs and takes out the guards. So much for thinking there’s a chance of redemption…

At this point, the episode is interrupted for a really amazingly fun teaser scene from Age of Ultron, along with another showing of the trailer that debuted last week. As if we’re supposed to have the mental capacity to pay attention after that. But when we return for the final few moments, we see a man walking into a tattoo parlor, where he’s getting inked for something that looks suspiciously like Coulson’s alien code…

Quoteables:

“No, I’m telling you I have your brother in my basement.” – Coulson

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s