Reviews

MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: “The Frenemy of my Enemy”

CLARK GREGG, BRETT DALTON

We pick up where we left off last week: San Francisco, where Fitz was apparently calling from when he “hologrammed” Hunter and Coulson. Fitz is looking pretty damn suave in a suit and glasses, even when he has to make a run for it because, well…aren’t these guys always being chased? He manages to make it to the roof where he finds helicarrier – which is fitted with retro-reflective panels (someone at least took Harley’s advice) – and shares the contents of the toolbox with his friends.

It’s been awhile since Fitz was in the field, and his nerves show, but he’s doing a pretty damn good job of being competent. And it’s so nice to see him finally doing something out of the lab. Coulson fills him in about how they need to find Skye, but they don’t have too much to go off of. The only thing they know is that the person who took her is the same person who took Raina and Cal. There are some other leads, though – Hydra’s new heads, Dr. List and Baron von Strucker (remember those names, particularly Strucker. This will be super important going forward and also in the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron.) They’re obsessed with powered people, which means they’re most likely looking for Skye as well. And the only way to get to Hydra? Everyone’s favorite “best boyfriend ever”: Grant Ward.

If you remember, powered person Ethan had left the afterlife to go on a trip. And according to Jiaying and Gordon, he’s now disappeared. Apparently, this is where he ended up – as a cadeavar on Dr. List’s table, after being experimented on, as List looked for signs of what he called “quantum signature.” Hail Hydra, indeed.

In family drama news, Jiaying and Cal are actually happy. Cal’s happy, because the dinner went well, and everything seems like it’s going in the right direction again. Jiaying is happy, because she’s got her daughter back. Cal’s such an interesting figure to me – he really wants a family, and I don’t doubt he has good intentions. But he definitely has his dark sides, the kind of mood swings that make people wary of having him in their life, and Kyle MacLaghlan just walks that line masterfully. You don’t doubt his love for Skye, but you also are, well, scared of him, like the bipolar parental figure that you don’t know if you can trust.

The real problem with Cal is that although he’s in afterlife, he doesn’t belong here. He’s not a prisoner, but he’s also not a powered person. Jiaying has plans to send him away under the guise of pretending to send him somewhere else, but Skye isn’t too keen on this idea. After all, she gets what Cal feels. And she’s been abandoned most of her life after people promised her a home and happiness. She would have done anything to find her mom, and she would have been heartbroken if her search for Jiaying ended up this way. She also knows enough about Cal to recognize that if Jiaying does send him away without warning, and without at least letting him say goodbye properly, he’ll be an issue.

But Jiaying isn’t too concerned about how Cal will or won’t react. Her response? “Sometimes as a leader, I have to do things I’d rather not do.” Now, who does that sound like? Skye tells her mother that “I’m a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent,” because she does care about the well-being of those in her life. So Skye decides she’ll soften the blow for Cal and accompany him home and break the news to him gently. Where is home? Milwaukee. This could not make Cal happier. A father-daughter date? “BEST. DAY. EVER.”

I mean, it really kind of is the best day ever. Cal thinks of it as more of a happy date than it is, although date is really the wrong word, and it’s a little awkward once Skye realizes he’s far more into this than she’s realized – showing her around his old haunts, wanting to get pastries so things can be perfect, talking about what he would’ve loved to do with Skye if her childhood was, well…normal.

Back at base, Bobbi and Mack are having a discussion while sparring. This is what I imagine heaven to be. And I’m sure things are happening in this conversation, including a rather weighted talk about Simmons, and Bobbi being bothered at how she’s treating everyone with their current situation, but all I can focus on is the sparring. Sorry. At any rate, when Simmons finds out that they’re bringing in a special tool to break the vibranium, she comes clean about duplicating the box to May…who is not exactly thrilled that she sent the most valuable piece of their property off to the unknown. While Simmons tries to defend herself, May tries to explain “it’s not about sides – it’s about the truth,” because, well, she’s still a little stung by all of Coulson’s lies. Simmons is mandated to tap into the feed so that they can find everyone, and Skye makes things easy when she calls from a phone that she managed to pick-pocket, telling them that they need to come get her. Bobbi and Mack offer to go and take one for the team.

Coulson finds Kara (formerly Agent 33) and Ward in Tijuana, where he interrupts Ward’s apparent pineapple gift moment. Coulson offers Ward a deal: he’s after Strucker and List, and even though he’s not technically Hydra anymore, Coulson wants his old agent to use his contacts. Ward isn’t exactly big on the trust factor, and for good reason. (I’ll give it to the guy, he hasn’t exactly had the best relationship with S.H.I.E.L.D. or Coulson.) Coulson’s offer is pretty simple: if Ward helps, S.H.I.E.L.D. stays off his back, and he gets the Tahiti protocol. Ward’s not really too keen on having his mind wiped, despite how much Coulson tries to sell him on it, though he does end up relenting (though we know it can’t be as easy as Ward just deciding he’ll go along with this deal.) But look, Ward’s trying really hard with Kara. They even had a house!

Fitz isn’t exactly thrilled that he has to work so closely with the man who tried to kill him, and is clearly exhibiting signs of PTSD. It’s actually refreshing, in a way – Fitz’s worries don’t keep him from being competent in the field, but they do shake him enough that it’s believable. Bakshi manages to arrange a meeting with Dr. List, bringing in Deathlok so he can be the stealth eye of the situation. It’s a decently smooth meeting – he says Peterson helped him escape his capture by the U.S. government, and Bakshi tries to trade Peterson for a list of powered people. Fitz and Hunter immediately become defensive, believing Bakshi is going to sell them out, and in a scene not unlike what was teased in the Art of Evolution series, the group turns on each other as they try to figure out who to trust. Their stand-off is broken up by the fact that Fitz realizes Deathlok has been controlled to kill people, and Coulson manages to get everyone to lower their weapons in time to stop him. Coulson also manages to find out through Bakshi that Strucker and List are tracking the way people teleport, like Gordon – and that’s the technology they’re after.

Things are about to get complicated in Skye’s world, meanwhile. Lincoln, not being completely trusting of Skye’s motivations, has followed the father-daughter duo to Cal’s old office. This is where things start to completely unravel. Skye tries to talk to Cal but slips in a way that makes him realize she’d planned on abandoning him. As he goes into one of his insane episodes, Lincoln makes himself known, and gets attacked. And then all hell really does break loose, although it’s not S.H.I.E.L.D. coming in…it’s Hydra.

Cal, to his credit, shoves Skye off to protect her while Coulson tries to get Ward to keep his teammates busy. Lincoln and Deathlok end up scuffling together while Kara actually gets Hunter’s back by shooting someone, and the whole scene is pretty spectacular in every respect. Meanwhile, Skye manages to see both Ward and Coulson – but before she can even comprehend that, Gordon takes Skye away. And just like that, all three men in Skye’s life have lost her in some way.

And where do we end with Bobbi and Mack? That’s to be determined next week. But Coulson’s all ready to tell him what happened, if they go back to the base.

“Take me to your leader.”

Odds & Ends:

  • I want that technhology Deathlok has to scan people for weapons and the like. New airport scanner, maybe?
  • Kyle MacLaghlan continues to kill it (no pun intended) as Cal. I love how he’s just the right amount of creepy, strange and yet…endearing? It reminds me, in a lot of ways, of Ward.
  • It was nice to get some additional backstory on Skye’s parents, such as how they met (Doctors without Borders.)
  • “My name is Kara.” Excellent work, show.
  • “Who the hell is that guy?” This seems to be the norm for S.H.I.E.L.D. people finding themselves in the presence of random strays that get picked up in people’s situations. (See: Maria Hill.)

2 thoughts on “MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: “The Frenemy of my Enemy”

  1. Another fantastic episode, another fantastic review.

    This episode, like the show just keeps hitting all the right notes for me.
    It is interesting to note some of the parallels between Ward and Cal. There’s a side to both that longs for something good in their life, but both are damaged and have dark and/or creepy sides that eventually cause distrust and push people away.

    They’re doing a good job balancing act with May who still wants to believe in Coulsen, but is tired of the lies and coverups.

    I loved the moment after Skye saw Coulsen and Ward. For a brief second she saw the two together, remembered her hatred of Ward, wondered why Coulsen would be with him and then gave into her instinct and ran toward Coulsen. I love that the father/daughter type bond between the two has survived everything that’s gone on to this point.

    The ending was awesome. Coulsen is finally willing to come clean, but he’s doing it on his terms and not the result of bullying or torture.

    I’m softening a little bit toward Bobbi and Mack. Bobbi seems to have had more doubt about what they’ve been doing, but I still haven’t totally forgiven their betrayal of Coulsen. But I do have mixed feelings about the rumor that ABC is planning a spin-off series around Bobbi and Hunter. I’m all for seeing more of them, but I do think AoS would be weakened if they depart. It’s not like AoS is pulling in Game of Thrones or Walking Dead type numbers and isn’t a lock for renewal (although I’m pretty sure it will be). Maybe they could take Agent Carter to a full series and let Bobbi and Hunter have a mini-series during the winter break next year. Just a thought.

    Oh, small point, but your Review description references a father/daughter date between Skye and Coulsen. I think that should say Skye and Cal.

  2. Sorry, a couple of real quick notes. This week Marvel passes on the fact checking. Nice touch mentioning that Cal and Jaiying met through Doctors without Borders, but made me wonder if the program has been around for 26+ years. Yep, it started in 1968, although I think the organization wasn’t chartered until 1971. Long ago enough for them to meet and have Skye.

    I’ll give Marvel a pass on not really filming in Milwaukee. I grew up there and live there and that was not Milwaukee. Besides, it’s still cold here and I wouldn’t want to film here either.

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