On the D/L – Agents of SHIELD
Season 2 Episode 15 – “One Door Closes”
Could this be the strongest episode of Agents of SHIELD yet? It certainly had all the ingredients to end up that way. Most of the big story threads were built on from the “real” S.H.I.E.L.D. to Skye’s powers and the general Inhuman background information.
Ever since it was announced that Adrianne Palicki would be joining the show full time after the mid season break I had been waiting for an episode that would really give her some time to shine more so than being incredibly capable combat support and her fling with Hunter. I liked that the episode took us back to the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier to show us what Mack and Bobbi were up to during those events. It turns out they were one one of the helicarriers that Cap brought down and fighting for their lives against H.Y.D.R.A. forces.
It’s Mack that we see first here and he’s being held hostage while a news report sets the scene. The reason I mention the news report is that it seemed a little out of place. The public knowing about S.H.I.E.L.D. as a legitimate organisation works for me fine, it’s a little sketchy as to whether they are public or not in this universe but I’m fine with the notion. The issue I had was that the news report talks candidly about H.Y.D.R.A. being inside S.H.I.E.L.D. and it being unclear how long they’ve been there. Why would any news organisation have any idea that this was happening in such specific detail? It baffled me slightly given how secretive everything is among these organisations. It’s a small thing but it bothered me a little.
Anyway, back to it. Mack is reluctant to admit that he’s the engineer so one of his colleagues takes the fall for him and pays the ultimate price. This clearly weights heavily on Mack who completely blames himself for the death of this young guy who stuck his neck out for him.
Luckily the H.Y.D.R.A. goons don’t have any opportunity to cause the death of anyone else before Bobbi busts in and takes them all out effortlessly. As introductions go this was awesome. It’s pretty much what I expect from Mockingbird in the comics so it’s a joy to see it translated so well here.
Throughout the course of these flashbacks we learn that she has been given a personal mission by Nick Fury to ensure that the helicarrier is completely destroyed. When exactly he issued that order is beyond me given how busy he seemed to be during those events but he’s Nick Fury so we can live with that. What I found interesting here was Bobbi starting the episode being completely loyal to Fury and his vision of what S.H.I.E.L.D. should be but comes to her own conclusions as time goes on.
The situation was something that nobody had ever prepared for and it really shook everyone who took an oath to that organisation to the core. We saw a little bit of that with Black Widow in Captain America: The Winter Soldier when she realised that every questionable act she had ever done in service of S.H.I.E.L.D. had been unwittingly furthering the cause of H.Y.D.R.A. We see a little more of that here with Bobbi who actually questions her fundamental belief system and decides to completely evaluate things. She ultimately decides that whatever Fury wants isn’t the right thing for her and chooses to ignore her orders in favour of doing something that she actually believes in. It’s a believable change of heart and it’s done really well.
I also found it interesting that it was ultimately Bobbi that became the catalyst for having the “real” S.H.I.E.L.D. created. She and Mack help save the life of Agent Gonzales who goes through a similar transition. At first he is eager to follow Fury’s orders but ultimately finds himself agreeing with Bobbi. The basic principle they all act on is one of honesty instead of subterfuge and it causes them to ignore their orders. Not to mention the fact that they have a real opportunity to save the lives of people who were fighting for their survival. It’s a simple compassionate sentiment and it’s hard to disagree with the notion of following that. Any fears I had over the ambiguity of Bobbi’s motivation are now put to rest as this episode makes it more than clear.
As a brief aside it’s really meta to see Edward James Olmos playing a character in command of an aircraft carrier. It’s not so far removed from one of his more recent jobs. We also get a decent Battlestar Galactica reunion with the return of Lucy Lawless Hartley who seems to have a one liner for every situation. She is definitely handled a lot better than her appearance in the early part of this season.
In the present the “real” S.H.I.E.L.D. begin their attack on our (?) S.H.I.E.L.D. with the objective of getting a hold of Fury’s toolbox. It’s a really well done narrative that takes advantage of the darkness and claustrophobia of the base and keeps increasing the tension nicely. I really liked the scene where Coulson slowly worked up to interrogating Mack by using his intimate knowledge of Lola to turn the topic onto what Mack is really up to. He proves to not be a good liar at all and forces Bobbi to think laterally about dealing with the situation.
It was only a matter of time before the narrative shifted to letting Bobbi and May fight. They’re both the most accomplished hand to hand combatants on the show so it’s great to see them duke it out. The scene was filled with a few too many rapid cuts for my liking but it was pretty strong stuff on the whole. They both certainly came across as really skilled. There were other great moments like seeing Simmons be the one to trick Bobbi into letting her guard down. I didn’t expect it but I thought it was a nice touch. I wonder if Simmons will shift sides once she gets an idea of what the other organisation stands for given that it seems to match up with her current way of thinking. There’s also some potential problems with the fact that Bobbi genuinely cares for the people on Coulson’s team as well as her own.
Clark Gregg and Edward James Olmos share a really cool scene where they debate their different ideals. Gonzales fully believes that Coulson is very much a product of Fury’s influence. He comments that Fury created him and therefore anything that Coulson represents is something that shouldn’t be followed. I liked that neither position is necessarily the right one because Gonzales doesn’t seem entirely realistic about how he looks at things. Like it or not Fury’s tactics were sometimes required given the nature of some of these threats. I get the feeling that the “real” S.H.I.E.L.D. wouldn’t be willing to make the tough calls that Fury would make. We’ve seen that Coulson is willing to do this so I suspect the truth is somewhere inbetween. I’d love to see a situation where the two organisations come together and argue over what’s the right thing to so.
I really liked Skye’s scenes as she finally gets to explore the nature of her origins and her abilities through her conversation with Gordon who arrives at the safe house to offer her sanctuary whenever she needs it. The way the episode approached Gordon’s entrance was perfect with his very domestic knock at the door and calm demeanour to help put Skye at ease. He doesn’t put any pressure on her but gives her the information she needs to come to her own decision over what to do next. The Inhumans aren’t evil, only different and that’s an important distinction to make. I imagine we’re about to learn a lot more about what makes them different and what implications that has for the larger tapestry of this universe.
Gordon’s conversation with Skye was really interesting to watch. All he did was assure her that she was a part of something large and wonderful. Jamie Harris is really charismatic and has great chemistry Skye. He’s calm and patient which makes him the perfect choice to deal with frightened new Inhumans. I will say this as well. The prosthetic covering his eyes could be better, it’s not even the same colour as the rest of his face.
It was great to see Skye start to understand the source of her power and how it works. She was able to control it on 2 separate occasions and on 2 very different scales. The shockwave that subdued her pursuers was really cool. It definitely feels like a proper Marvel show.
Quite possibly the best episode of this show yet as it manages to build on the more interesting plots in the series so far.
I had my issues in previous episodes surrounding Bobbi’s questionable motivations but flashbacks in this episode made all those problems go away. The fact that Bobbi redefines her entire belief system after the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. and decides to ignore Fury’s orders in favour of saving lives makes complete sense. Bobbi’s compassion for others is a big part of her character so it makes a lot of sense.
Gonzales deciding to set up his own splinter group on the strength of Bobbi’s conviction makes a lot of sense as well. Forming an organisation on a simple humanitarian basis works for me since they all clearly want to protect people.
It becomes apparent that the two ways of thinking aren’t perfect. Gonzales believes in truth and honesty but I’m fairly certain he wouldn’t be willing to make the tough decisions when it comes down to it. Similarly I like the idea that Fury’s way of thinking isn’t the best way either considering it allowed H.Y.D.R.A. to take hold in the first place. The truth is probably somewhere in between and I’d like to see Coulson and Gonzales work together in the upcoming episodes.
Skye and Gordon’s scenes were fantastic. I like that she’s starting to learn more about her people and what her transformation means for her. The two actors have such great chemistry and Gordon’s calm attitude is perfect when it comes to putting frightened Inhumans at ease.
There was lots of great action in this episode too from the fight between May and Bobbi to Skye being pursued by S.H.I.E.L.D. and really unleashing her powers in a really visually awesome way.