May is about to have a really bad day. Daisy chases down the elusive Robbie Reyes, but will their next meeting end any better than their last? And we finally get to meet the new boss, but having heard what pretty much everyone thinks of him, will he meet up with expectations?
After an explosive, set-piece heavy opening episode, this week we settle down into a bit of what SHIELD tends to do best – lots of weird, mixed with a dash of sci-fi and a healthy dose of character development.
The strange ‘ghost’ inhabiting the crate tracked by Mac and Coulson last week is wandering about causing problems, and worse, Fitz and Simmons are able to determine very little from the affected parties and even less from the crate itself. The ghost itself however, has a plan, and that plan is… obscure. Ok, so this is an odd episode in some ways because we have this central collection of antagonists, who are all talking to each other about the ‘Him’ who is responsible for their current predicament, and how they will get their revenge, and how this will require a book. It’s all very heavy, and odd, and not at all clear. One can only hope that as the season develops, more will come to be revealed, but it felt weird having these mysterious characters having dialogue, interacting and causing problems (and backbiting among themselves) without really knowing exactly what they were on about. Even the stock ‘perilous situation’ one of them engineers near the end of the episode felt a little generic and not at all clear as to intent.
However, back at base, we finally get to meet the new Director. Is it someone we have seen before? Someone mysterious? Someone who might be a villain turned good or simply a goodie primed to be a villain? Actually, it’s… Jeffrey Mace. Comic book fans may recognise the reference. Suffice it to say this is a new version of the character who brings some surprises of his own. Where this really works is that having had him built up as some irritating, officious pencil pusher in the opening episode, what we instead get is a man who genuinely seems to admire and respect what the gang achieved before him. When he tells Coulson that he utterly respects what he achieved as director and relies thoroughly on him for advice in the role, you can’t help but want to believe him, even as his very earnestness sets the hairs on the back of the neck tingling. One thing is for certain, unlike the fairly inflexible and stiff Talbot before him, Mace is going to be an intriguing character who will keep audiences guessing. This is where the episode, and the show shines, and it’s good to get that feeling back.
Elsewhere, Daisy and Reyes’ second encounter is a long, drawn out one with some highs and lows. Daisy is convinced that Reyes is just like her, he’s having none of it, and the tension racks up several notches. The beauty of the scenes, played out surrounded by his oblivious colleagues and with that knife edge tension of him knowing he could end things quickly but not wanting to, shines through, and once again we are reminded that Chloe Bennett’s character has come a long way from the sassy eye candy hacker we met all the way back at the beginning. There’s real depth and emotion in the exchanges, and more of it in spades later on.
Back to those mysterious antagonists (or at least one of them) Mac and Fitz are in a real sticky spot until the arrival of the most unlikely help they could have imagined, followed by the appearance of Daisy herself. The reunion brings more of that emotion, as words are exchanged ranging from the plaintive to the furious and back. Another layer of trust is fractured just like the bones in Daisy’s body from overuse of her powers, as she walks away from them both.
We end with some teasing moments. A new alliance is formed. Another reveals a level of bite earlier hinted at. Things are not as A-OK at SHIELD as Mace would have his congressional visitors believe, and as usual it sets up a powder keg to blow sometime down the line.
Verdict: Vague antagonists aside (and one assumes that they will be tied up as the series goes on) this is SHIELD doing SHIELD. Another slice of ‘who do you trust’ served up with the delicacy that this team of writers and actors have become adept at. One thing is for sure – things are going to get messy real soon. 8/10
Greg D. Smith