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 found Ward's behavior rather strange and inconsistent. I can see a few likely scenarios playing out here:
1. Ward is indeed Hydra, Garrett's evil protege.
2. Ward is Hydra, but he's not totally buying into the party line.
3. Ward is brainwashed or otherwise mentally manipulated.
4. Ward is playing a really deep game and is actually undercover trying to find out more about Hydra's plans and infiltration of SHIELD. The episode tag focused on Ward, who seemed very blank and distracted while Garrett was telling his war story. (Of course, that just might be wooden acting on his part...) I'm guessing there's more going on here than Ward simply being an evil Hydra infiltrator. In any case, there is a very good chance he'll get killed by the end of the season.


Even if Ward is doing some super deep cover does he come back from killing three people in cold blood? I just think he's done.

@ R

Absolutely, that rules out any possibilities of him being a good guy after all. Unless he is somehow being mentally manipulated.


Great reveal! I was more uoset that Hand got killed than Ward being Hydra cause I never really liked him anyway. Let's replace him with Triplett - who has shown more personality in the 2 episodes he was in than Ward has the entire season - and keep it moving. Honestly the team could use a little diversity anyway...


Ward is evil. Dude's a goner. I want Trip to take his place on the team. No one will trust him, much like starter-Skye, except for Simmons causing a rift between FitzSimmon.


I am so confused at this point. I was truly shocked when Ward shot hand and the guards. Like others, I hope that he is deep under cover, but I guess time will tell. I loved the sweet kiss between Ward and Skye, but now it all feels like he was manipulating Skye. I just don't know what to think. One thing is for sure though, this show is definitely getting more exciting!


Great episode! I sure was not expecting Ward to be Hydra. I too wonder if he's deep undercover to infiltrate Hydra. He shot Hand...but is Hand dead? I am hoping Ward isn't a bad guy. Now Simmons I don't want her bad either yet I am now suspicious of her. I felt bad for Fitz fretting for Simmons' safety. I'm still trying to like Skye I hope she figures out what's up with Ward. May? May is all agent of Shield she truly looked shocked to hear of Director Fury death. Coulson is on guard and not so trusting of his team now. I don't know what else to expect and that's what is keeping me hooked on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.


I know it looks bad but I still hope that Ward is deep undercover or they find a way to redeem him. I like the team as it is and I don t want May to be the only badass/combat agent on the team. Although I think the acting is a bit wooden sometimes, they are all getting better and more comfortable with their characters. It took half a season to warm up to the team and now that I have I don t want this traitor crap. I agree it is good drama and I m fine with is as long as in the end Ward is back on team SHIELD.!


I know it looks bad but I really hope Ward is deep undercover or they find a way to redeem him. I like the team as it is and I don t want May to be the only badass capable of combat on the team. Although I think the acting is a bit wooden sometimes, they are all getting better and more comfortable with their characters. It took me almost a whole season to warm up to the team and now that I have I don't want this traitor crap. I agree it is good drama and I'm fine with it as long as in the end Ward is back on the team.


Great episode. The show is on fire now! I don't actually believe that Ward is Hydra. He looked very sad when Garrett was jabbering after he had killed the guards. Something else must be going on. They could have faked it so that he could infiltrate Hydra or maybe someone is threatening the people he cares about. I really don't want him to be a bad guy. He didn't look jubilant at all. I hope things get sorted out so that he can go back where he belongs.

Kitanishi h mcdonald

Best episode to date. Also Whedon family continues their tradition of having a main character betray the others and become a villain. Only Firefly escaped that if I remember correctly(Jane does not really count) and I am sure if it lasted we would have gotten that Ward's entirety of actions through the show just took new meaning. Ward's "fling" with May too. Ward's sudden interest and infatuation with Skye also makes a complete sense now. On other hand, Simmons is also shady - her "getting better at lying" line was suspicious - and then during Hand's "hydra test" what she did was basically a non-answer. And what better a coverstory for a fake identity than pretending to be someone who is bad at lying?

@ Invested In Your Future

How many times am I gonna fall for the Whedon trope of Mr. Tall, Dark & Handsome being a good guy? It NEVER works out! I feel like an idiot missing all the clues. Maybe I was tricked into a sense of safety because this show was so firmly part of the Marvel franchise, with handsome superheroes. But, darn it - they got me again!

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