Agents of SHIELD wanders into A for Andromeda territory with this episode, with the revelation that the strange diagrams that Coulson and others have been desperate to get out of their minds are actually a blueprint for something – which I suspect is going to have links to the upcoming Age of Ultron, particularly if SHIELD and HYDRA are now in a race to find/create/do whatever is necessary for it.
There’s a nastier, tougher edge to this episode, the tone of which is set in the pre-credits sequence. The self-torture by Coulson – and let’s be honest, that’s what it is – is as unpleasant for us to watch as it is for the characters involved (and the lack of interaction between Fitz and Simmons was very interesting). Meanwhile, as they say, Ward is leading May and her team on a trek around the country, armed with explosives triggered by a dead man switch. He eventually ends up meeting HYDRA – and then turning the tables in a very odd way.
The Writing on the Wall sets out the series’ stall for the episodes leading up to the hiatus; it’ll be interesting to see if the Peggy Carter series fills in some of the gaps – particularly given the flashback to the original 084 at the start of the season.
Verdict: A little grittier than the usual SHIELD episode, and the better for it. 8/10