Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S1 Ep20: Nothing Personal

Fly, Lola, fly!

This week on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D … Maria Hill joins the mission to rescue Skye. Ward and Deathlok pressurise Skye into decrypting her hard drive. And May discovers who is behind Project T.A.H.I.T.I.

This week’s mission

Maria Hill joins up with the team to rescue Skye and recover the encrypted hard drive containing all their research.

Skye refuses to give up on Mike Peterson (Image: ABC)

Skye refuses to give up on Mike Peterson’s humanity (Image: ABC)

Everything’s personal

In amongst all the action and angst and general seriousness in this episode, characters keep telling each other that nothing’s personal when in reality everyone is taking everything very personally. Fitz takes the revelation of Ward‘s treachery badly, venting his anger on Triplett. Ward claims to genuinely care for Skye, and that his feelings for her weren’t just part of his cover.

Skye, who still feels guilty about what happened to Mike Peterson, makes a personal appeal to the man inside the cyborg Deathlok, to no avail. There’s also clearly no love lost between Ward and Deathlok, despite being on the same side.

Hill regrets the fact she didn’t detect Ward’s duplicity when she first vetted him. And she later recognises that Coulson’s pursuit of Ward and John Garrett is now a personal vendetta.

Most personal of all is the final revelation that May brings to Coulson on a level ten-classified drive – that the man behind Project T.A.H.I.T.I. was none other than Coulson himself, who recommended to Nick Fury that the programme was too dangerous and needed to be closed down. The man Coulson has been battling against to uncover the secret of his resurrection is himself.

Building towards the finale

To an extent we’re still zigging and zagging, marking time before the final confrontation between Coulson and Garrett that surely awaits in the finale. But this episode feels like an altogether more worthwhile endeavour than last week’s lightweight filler.

Maria Hill’s presence in the episode goes far beyond a mere cameo and really brings home the profound state of devastation and loss surrounding S.H.I.E.L.D. There’s an interesting contrast between her reaction to the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D – walk away and serve humankind as best she can working for Tony Stark – and Coulson who, with the advantage of being aware of Fury’s survival, believes that it is still possible to rebuild the organisation from out of its ashes. (But why doesn’t Coulson let her in on the secret at the end of the episode? He’s been loose-lipped about everything else in recent episodes.)

Skye steps up again and shows her resourcefulness, leaving a hidden message at the base warning the team of Ward’s betrayal, then stalling Ward by taking him to the wrong location to decrypt the hard drive, which gives her friends just long enough to intercept Ward and the Bus, and for Coulson to sneak on board to rescue her courtesy of Lola. Skye’s hair at the end of their rollercoaster descent and a wide-eyed Coulson reaching into his pocket to pay the parking attendant are genuinely funny – although the quality of the effects work showing us Lola’s wayward flight is distinctly shoddy.

But although the team are successful in rescuing Skye, it’s easily overlooked that they failed in their objective to recover the hard drive which she was forced to decrypt. HYDRA now has access to all the team’s research, including their knowledge of GH325. This cannot be good.

However, Simmons‘ recommendation for cheering up the downcast team – pancakes – is simply adorable. So that’s something.

The series is building momentum nicely now as it heads into the final two episodes. Let’s hope it can pay off the set-up suitably well.

Marvel mentions

May and Hill discuss former Defense Secretary Alexander Pierce, the man who appointed Nick Fury director of S.H.I.E.L.D. but turned out to be a HYDRA operative. Pierce appeared in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, played by Robert Redford.

Hill has gone to work in the private sector for no less than Iron Man himself, Tony Stark.

Natasha Romanoff (aka Black Widow) is name-checked again.

Best line

If I come out, will you shoot me? Cos then I won’t come out.

Coulson checks exactly where he stands before stepping out to face Colonel Talbot and his troops.

Rating: 8/10

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. reviews

Preview: Can Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. work without Avengers?

1.1 Pilot

1.2 0-8-4

1.3 The Asset

1.4 Eye-Spy

1.5 Girl in the Flower Dress

1.6 FZZT

1.7 The Hub

1.8 The Well

1.9 Repairs

1.10 The Bridge

1.11 The Magical Place

1.12 Seeds

1.13 T.R.A.C.K.S.

1.14 T.A.H.I.T.I.

1.15 Yes Men

1.16 End of the Beginning

1.17 Turn, Turn, Turn

1.18 Providence

1.19 The Only Light in the Darkness

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