ABC and Marvel have been hyping Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 Episode 17 all week, especially since Captain America: The Winter Soldier premiered and altered the SHIELD landscape.
"Turn, Turn, Turn" not only lived up to the high expectations, it exceeded them. This is the Agents of SHIELD I've been wanting to see all season. It wasn't just the awesome fights and twists, but the character developments that made it the best hour of the season.
For the first time, the characters felt authentic with real fears, feelings and bonds between them. In the past, the interactions felt forced and very superficial. The attack revealed their true selves. In most cases, their strength and loyalty to each other and SHIELD was affirmed and for others their lies came out.
I expected the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier to play a larger role in this story, but for the most part it wasn't necessary to see the movie to understand what was happening on S.H.I.E.L.D. Instead, the episode picked up right where Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 Episode 16 left off.
Trust was in short supply. With May's secret line revealed and the plane set on a new course to the HUB, Coulson believed that May was working against them. While he was wrong, it was a logical belief to hold. Even though May wasn't working for the Clairvoyant or Hydra, she had kept important secrets from him.
With each secret she disclosed, she was further humanized. She had kept a part of herself closed off from Coulson and others due to her secret mission for Director Fury. As that wall was torn down, a huge weight was visually lifted off her. The relationship between May and Coulson will take some work to repair, but they'll come out for the better.
(Spoiler Alert for Captain America: The Winter Soldier: While May and others believe that Director Fury is dead, he's not. He faked his own death in a similar manner to what happened with Coulson. With S.H.I.E.L.D. disbanded, he's working secretly to find out the truth.)
There were quite a few twists throughout the hour. Coulson believed Hand was the Clairvoyant and then part of Hydra when Skye uncovered that group's role in the events, while Hand thought that Coulson was part of Hydra. They both had justifiable reasons for believing that about the other, but they were both wrong.
When Hand confronted Simmons and Trip in the Hub, I was sure she was part of Hydra. She was very convincing, which made the reveal that much better. She was testing Simmons and Trip and they passed. Hand had good evidence to support Coulson's betrayal, only she didn't know the whole picture. At least she was able to see the truth before it was too late.
Hand wasn't the traitor, instead it was Garrett. Wow. He certainly messed up, didn't he? If he would have kept his mouth shut, he might have gotten away with it. His Hydra allegiance was a sign that anyone could be working with the enemy. Hand overheard everything and Coulson and his team were cleared and Garrett was taken into custody.
The trouble was far from over, but at least the Hub was somewhat under control. With Coulson and Hand in charge, they decided to work together to rid the organization of Hydra. Or, so they thought. If the episode ended there, it would have been an epic, game changing hour of television.
It didn't end there and hearts broke around the world. I never saw it coming. I'm surprised my jaw didn't literally fall to my chest. Ward was entirely convincing in his disgust and disappointment that his SO was Hydra. He never showed an inkling of knowledge of Garrett's betrayal or sympathy for his cause.
When Hand offered Ward the opportunity kill Garrett, I wondered if he'd be able to kill his mentor. I never considered he was working with Garrett. As he turned his gun on Hand and the two guards, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was fundamentally changed forever. Coulson's team was no longer the potential saviors of S.H.I.E.L.D. They had a mole and traitor in their inner circle.
Ward's relationship with May took on an entirely new meaning. And the Skye's spontaneous kiss turned from a sweet moment to a heartbreaking one. She trusted him personally and professionally. She kissed him and gave him the drive with all the plane's files. I hope there's a path to redemption for Ward, but at this point I'm not sure how that would be possible. (Could he be a "Winter Soldier"?)
It took almost an entire season and a movie, but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has finally turned into a television show with a purpose and multi-layered characters. It feels like part of the larger Marvel world and that holds promise for an engaging show going forward.
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