This episode was one of the ones that reminds me exactly why Agents of SHIELD is so magical. It had everything that has always made Agents of SHIELD such great TV: Incredibly well written twists and turns, impeccable reveals, beautifully shot scenes, great direction, and OUTSTANDING acting.
In tonight’s episode, we pick up with Fitz and Simmons after last episode revealed that four people, presumably Daisy, Mack, Coulson, and Mace, are all LMDs and it’s up to the two of them to get out of the base and to safety. However, in their attempt to escape, it turns out not everything is as it seems. The two who aren’t LMD’s are forced to fight their way out against not just the LMD replacements, but also against all the base personnel who think they are LMDs who must be stopped at all costs.
Before I start, I want to say that I’m going to leave this review spoiler free (as much as I can), but I feel like it is worth the minor spoilers to show you guys my notes on this episode as I wrote them and then actually write about the details (as best I can without major spoilers) below them. These are my notes only edited into a bullet points list. Nothing else. (WARNING FOR LANGUAGE!)
- OH GOD MY FEEEELS
- “I’m the bad guy, no matter what.” FIIIIIITZ
- OH MY GOD!!!
- Simmons feeeeeels
- Daaaaaamn Aida
- “this is not how your story ends” WHY
- This fight by firelight is so good
- GOD DAISY IS SO AWESOME
- FUUUUUUUUUUCK THAT IS SO COOOOOL
- My God this episode is one of the best. Fucking fuck
- “I’m sorry to say, you’re not him.”
- WHOAAAAAAAA PLOT TWIST AT THE END THERE WITH THAT GUY!
- Aw man
- WHAT?! JEMMA IS DEAD IN THE FRAMEWORK??? THEN DID GOING IN MEAN SHE IS DEAD??? OR CAN SHE NOT GO IN???
- Oh my God this is trippy
I just thought it was funny to see my enthusiasm in the aftermath when I’m no longer having my mind blown and thought you guys might enjoy seeing how dramatic I get taking notes for an episode.
Now! Down to business! (Time to defeat the Huns)
(I just realized I made a Mulan reference when I was about to talk about Ming Na Wen, who is, in fact, the voice of Mulan. That wasn’t on purpose, but I’m going to leave it in just for the humor, again.)
Tonight’s episode was a throwback to early seasons in which we have our remaining members of the original team team (and Mack) and tons of incredible acting in seemingly impossible circumstances. We saw some acting here that hearkened back to the Fall of SHIELD or the time Simmons was dying from the exploding static flu virus. There were some points in this episode where I couldn’t breathe and there was a lump in my throat because the performances we were given were so incredibly good.
I tweeted near the beginning of the episode regarding my long-standing opinion of Iain de Caestecker’s acting and I stand by this statement.
Iain de Caestecker is largely unknown beyond being Leopold Fitz on Agents of SHIELD, but in seasons 1 and 2 of this show, he is by far the best performer of the group, and that’s saying a LOT because this cast is packed with talent. There hasn’t been that much of him really delivering for a while now, and this episode carried us back to the days when he had scenes where he had to deliver an amazing performance with rich sincerity. This is not a man who chews scenery, this is a man who gives subtlety even in his most dramatic emotional outbursts. I think we can all remember that one big crocodile tear when he told that guy he would have to kill him before he worked for Hydra in such a ‘I’m terrified but brave’ way that broke my heart.
As Iain de Caestecker’s usual scene partner, I think that Elizabeth Henstridge shined more in this episode in scenes without him. Jemma’s scenes with Daisy have always been good, but tonight they both had that dangerous position of being in scenes that would have been so easy to over-act. There were so many places where both Elizabeth Henstridge and Chloe Bennet could have easily gone over the top, but instead their performances were so genuine and so beautifully nuanced that they gave some of the best performances I’ve ever seen from them in this show, and that’s saying a lot. Henstridge can break your heart with just the word ‘Fitz’ and it’s absolutely incredible.
And speaking of Chloe Bennet, I’m REALLY annoyed I can’t find a gif of the fight back lit by fire through the glass walls that she had, because that was such a beautifully shot scene. Daisy was giving off serious John McClane from Die Hard in this episode, as was Simmons, and I loved that we have two women against all of SHIELD basically, and both are injured, and yet they both manage to go so hard. And oh my GOD when Daisy did the thing I don’t want to spoil with the quake I lost my crap, it was so freaking amazing! In fact, there’s a tweet from that moment, too.
There is so much more I’d love to touch on, especially regarding Ming Na Wen and her incredible performances tonight, but I’m trying my hardest to not give away MAJOR spoilers, so let’s just say it was impeccably heartbreaking and I wanted to die. When the third pod starts in April – ALL THE WAY IN APRIL – it’s going to kill us all. I’m sure of it.
According to his twitter, this was the first episode of TV that Jed Whedon, one of the main show runners, has ever directed, and I really want him to direct some more. This was incredible. It was written by him as well, and honestly, before I heard that, I assumed it was written by Maurissa Tancharoen (his wife and fellow show runner) because most of the best episodes are written by her. She chose well in her spouse, because he is just as talented as she is, it appears.
This TV show is without a doubt one of my favorite shows ever week, without fail. Though the ratings are down for some INSANE reasons, Agents of SHIELD this season has been potentially some of the best Marvel TV has ever offered. I still maintain that Agent Carter is the best Marvel TV show within the MCU, but this show is still one of my favorite comic book TV shows that has ever existed, and it’s entirely down to the quality of the writing, direction, and performances.
This is just a good TV show.