Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The End of the Beginning Review (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, April 02, 2014
I lamented the fact that after building up a good head of momentum in its last episode we would have to wait another three weeks until the next installment of Marvels Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. We need not have worried as the show returns from the brief hiatus with one of the strongest showings of the season, setting up things nicely for the first season finale.
After Agents Garrett (Paxton) and Triplett are attacked by Deathlok at a S.H.I.E.L.D. safe house, Coulston calls a meeting aboard his plane of several top agents including Garrett, Agent Blake, Agent Sitwell, and Agent Victoria Hand. They devise a plan to track down The Clairvoyant, pairing up in teams. Skye is officially made an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and puts together the software to lead three teams to various suspects. May and Blake are assaulted by Deathlok at one location leaving Blake in critical condition. Deathlok has been outfitted with a new cybernetic arm device capable of firing mini-missiles similar to what Iron Man uses.
Blake manages to shoot Deathlok with a tracking round and the rest of the group determines that the Clairvoyant may be a man named Thomas Nash. Backed by a handful of other S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, Coulson, Garrett, and Ward track Deathlok to an abandoned race track where they have find Nash (played by Brad Dourif). Nash is in a vegetative state, confined to a wheel chair but able to communicate via a computer. He warns Coulson that he will always be able to see him and that something is coming to kill Skye and take what she has. Ward shoots him dead and is taken into custody leaving Coulson to believe that Ward is working with the Clairvoyant.
Aboard the plane, Skye ascertains that the Clairvoyant isn’t someone with special abilities but rather a S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent with top clearance. Fitz discovers Agent May’s secret, secure line, immediately putting her under Coulson’s scrutiny as well. Suddenly the plane changes direction, hijacked by remote control. Back in the Hub Victoria Hand orders her agents to kill everyone on the plane except for Coulson, adding, "Not Coulson, he's mine."
“The End of the Beginning” marks a huge turn in the series. Everything we thought we knew is tossed out the window and there are enemies or suspected enemies all about. Is there anyone left for Coulson to trust? Ward seemed believable in denying he was working with the Clairvoyant but it’s hard to buy that he shot Nash as an emotional response to the threat against Skye. And May? May admits she is working with someone but refuses to say who. Is it Fury? Could it be Tony Stark? And who is controlling Deathlok. Deathlok had a chance to kill May but didn’t…and yet May doesn’t appear to be working with Agent Hand since Hand clearly wants everyone dead.
Are Hand and her subordinates rogue agents? Centipede infiltrators? Or could they possibly be Skrulls in disguise? With the blue alien that they have derived the drug that saved Skye and the mention of The Kree recently it would fit that the greatest enemy of the Kree could be after Skye. Of course there could still be someone pulling Hand’s strings as well. Maybe this serves as re-introducing HYDRA into the modern world.
The situation with May is less cloudy. I think it’s obvious someone wanted her to keep tabs on Coulson after his resurrection for signs of anything…interesting. His discovery of the blue alien was an unforeseen complication. Let’s also not forget that during Fitz’s call to Simmons he is disconnected when she tells him something is happening at the Hub. I am assuming this was Hand, or whoever may have assumed her identity, taking control of the Hub by force. Garrett’s partner Triplett remained behind with Simmons at the Hub and looked sufficiently creeping in doing so. The episode intertwined with Captain America: The Winter Soldier to explain why Fury had been off the grid for a time. And I have to say I loved the bit where Deathlok is viewed on a special imaging camera revealing his more “Luther Manning” appearance underneath his skin.
A couple of things did irk me a bit. The writers continue to force Skye down our throats…for all of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s resources ONLY Skye can track down the Clairvoyant and Skye figures out it must be a S.H.I.E.L.D Agent. I do not have an aversion to the character as many do but the forced character development is an issue. Lastly, why did Deathlok shake off bullets and electrical charges when attacking Garrett and Triplett only to leap out through the ceiling when he had them dead to rights?
Mania Grade: A-
Episode: The End of the Beginning (Season 1, Episode 16)
Starring: Clark Gregg. Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Elizabeth Henstridge, Bill Paxton, J. August Richards
Written By: Paul Zbyszewski
Directed By: Bobby Roth
Studio: ABC Studios, Marvel Television, and Mutant Enemy