After the overblown, end-of-the-world antics of the last episode when the Avengers and co. inexplicably failed to show, it’s nice to see the SHIELD team getting back to doing what it does best, tracking down the enemy in the shadows, and working to ensure that the good guys get protected from the bad.
A cache of weapons stolen from the police in Bogota in unusual circumstances brings the team out to investigate, and pretty soon they’re up to their necks in the action as Mack gets kidnapped and the agents rapidly learn that they might not have been playing on the right team from the start on this one.
Meanwhile, Coulson has an unusual meeting with a very unexpected person, with an even more unexpected result. It seems that SHIELD will not only be tolerated passively by the authorities, but will receive the assistance of an old familiar face, though how that relationship will play out in the episodes to come will be fascinating to see.
At Hydra HQ, whatever it is that’s wearing Ward is looking weak and feeble, but muttering darkly that it will make believers of everyone as it sits eating raw meat snacks and watching endless archive footage of nasty incidents in human history. I don’t quite know where they are going with this one, but it’s giving Brett Dalton some interesting opportunities for his own bit of scenery chewing.
The payoff of the episode is tremendously satisfying – a sequence in which a newly introduced character gets to really shine, to the extent where I really wanted to see her become a permanent member of the team. Sadly, the character elects to remain in her native land at the end of the episode, but Mack is clearly as taken with her as I was so I can only hope that the writers intend for us to see more of her as the season progresses.
All in all, this is SHIELD firing on all cylinders – there’s drama, there’s humour, and there’s darkness, all at the proper scale with no Avengers-bothering escalation of events, and the revelation of Coulson’s motives is a nice touch that feeds directly into this motif.
Verdict: A blistering return for the second half of the series – after a difficult early phase, the show has really found its form, and if it continues in this vein, it promises to be as strong as its predecessors, if not even better. 9/10
Greg D. Smith