Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review: Betrayals Hit Hard

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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.

Who Is the Traitor

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.

What shocked you the most?


Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (97 Votes)

Carla Day is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


I don't think Ward is actually betraying Coulson. I think he's going undercover to find out more about Hydra, as others were saying. Shield wouldn't just kill one of their prisoners like that, so Hand even asking Ward to was all part of the plan, I'm almost sure of it. The looks he was exchanging with both her and Coulson are saying a lot. And the whole scene with him and Skye would be entirely pointless then. He just needs Garrett to believe he's on his side. Also, I don't think Skye can be Jessica Drew because Marvel is making their own series about her that will air on Netflix. So I don't think it would make sense for that to be the case with her. But I can't to see what happens with everyone else! And props to Hand in this episode, because she really was convincing and I was totally unsure of which side she was actually on at one point!


Wow. Can't even say much more than that. Just wow. But I really hope May und Coulson will work things out. I totally love them as a team / friends and will miss their interactions. Guess that and Fitzsimmons will be my personal ray of light for the next, surely very dark, episodes ;)


And Ward instantly became about 1000 times more interesting....


so Ward is HYDRA because no-one on Coulson's team would shoot 3 "friendlies" to maintain their cover ... before the bus reached the hub, the downloaded all the data on a separate drive so it would not fall into the wrong hands ... to keep it safe Skye gave the drive to Ward ... oops ... where is that drive now ? BUS (ex-SHIELD) or Ward (most likely HYDRA) ? and yes to Tripp on the bus !


OH MY GOD! During the ending, my jaw literally dropped onto the floor. WARD?!?! WHY?????? Damn, that's one awesome episode!


No I think it's all deep cover for Ward, him looking back at Coulson when boarding the plane, to Hand's hand being bloody. Blood packs, etc. No way they get off the plane and let 3 dead agents lie around to be caught as Ward is working with Coulson again next week. So Ward is deep cover, find everything about HYDRA and either try to take it down himself or pass it to Coulson. The one thing still not explained is Skye's background, is she really alien and does she have super powers.

@ Symbol1970

Skye is a Hydra Agent!! Jessica Drew!! When her cover get blown you will see she is a bad ass spy!!! The show drop so many little clues on this revelation!!

@ CoyoteLN

No they haven't.

@ CoyoteLN

Spider-Woman? I'm not sure I buy that...


The more I think about it, the more I realize this is textbook Whedon. He did the exact same thing on BUFFY with Angelus. We should have seen this coming! Because it was action-adventure instead of the horror/supernatural genre, we didn't. But, they've done this before. Ward = Angel/Angelus, right down to his black wardrobe. The only thing Ward is lacking is a better sense of humor. Don't be surprised if Ward goes even darker & starts to toy with Coulson & his team, making them all doubt themselves & each other. Some of the best stuff on BUFFY was when the Scooby Gang was being terrorized by Angelus, scared out of their minds.


The episode title makes a lot of sense now - "Turn, Turn, Turn." It could apply to Agent Ward (potential triple agent, meaning deep undercover). But, it also applies to every plot twist in the episode. Great stuff! Keep up the good work. And, if Ward reveals he's HYDRA very soon, I now know why Agent Triplett appeared - because Coulson's team will need another hard-core soldier on board when Ward. There is still one question that hasn't been answered though - what the heck is Skye, for Pete's sake?


Amazing episode. I saw captain America last Thursday night and after everything that happened in there I dying to know what was going to happen with the show and it was amazing. There was so many twist I truly thought Hand was hydra and then her test on Simmons and Tripplett was amazing and I was happy she wasn't bad. Skye and Wards moment was amazing and I loved that kiss. I was a little surprised that Garrett was the clairvoyant but that wasn't the most surprising that was actually the least surprising for me. At the end Ward shooting the 2 guards and Hand was shocking. I really don't know if he's bad or not I don't want him to be but I really don't know he's very good at acting if he isn't. I can't wait to see what happens next this has become my favorite episode.

@ marissa

There really was no "Clairvoyant." All of them were HYDRA. HYDRA just knew all the information about their people because HYDRA *was* infesting SHIELD. It will become more clear next week when Floral Lady returns (forgot her name) & talks w/Ward. But, there was never a person who had the ability to read minds, just a computer program capable of anticipating people's future actions (as stated in WINTER SOLDIER).


I feel like Ward is definitely fully Hydra - like he swore his allegiance to them way back when Garrett was mentoring him. Because at the beginning he was a cold, cold, hardass badass. But I think the team and Skye changed him and he is now deep deep undercover in Hydra but even he doesn't know his own endgame - triple agent? Remember he revealed his feelings for Skye to the master-manipulator Asgardian woman and she couldn't actually control that aspect of him. I completely forgot Skye gave him all the planes files!!! I wonder if he'll actually turn them over to Hydra though...bc nobody in Hydra knows that he has the files. IF he lies to Hydra and says he never got hte files, we'll know he's actually secretly a triple agent. But if he gives them over...I think we've lost him and he would have manipulated the entire team the WHOLE time. :( But yeah I agree that Triplett > Ward and I love his interactions with Simmons and getting her flustered.

@ Lizzi

We don't really know what Ward revealed to the Siren. We just know that Melinda May wasn't the one he loved. He could have said "Hail Hydra" for all we know.

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