On the D/L – Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D
Season 2 Episode 4 – “Face My Enemy”
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D continues a strong run with a Coulson and May centric episode where they go undercover to get a hold of an old painting that has the same alien symbols that Coulson has been carving.
After 3 episodes focusing on the other members of the team and how they interact together it was a refreshing change of pace to mix it up by having Coulson and May work together on a mission. We certainly see plenty of how May is the best at everything she does by how convincingly she plays her cover and carries on conversations completely in character. Cutting back to The Bus where Skye, Hunter, Triplett, Mack and a lurking Fitz are listening to this in disbelief since they all know May to be so stoic and distant so seeing her act with this much emotion is a surprise to them.
Coulson and May’s scenes are really good and the actors work together as well as they always have. They seem to have a really close working relationship built on mutual trust and admiration. Coulson’s repeated attempts to get May to promise to kill him should he turn out like Garrett get to be a bit annoying with repeated references but the sentiment is good and it’s nice to see that the characters are at least preparing for possibilities that might arise. There’s a definite sense of more professionalism across the board in this show. Both characters act against type in this episode and it works very well, the particular surprise being May who is often quite dull to me so I loved to see her fleshed out a little bit more. Coulson clearly puts across his skills at being undercover.
The complications in the episode including the presence of General Talbot work really well too. HYDRA’s continued presence in the show under the command of the enigmatic Dr Whitehall provides a credible threat to the team. As skilled as the current S.H.I.E.L.D team are HYDRA are much better equipped and have some really skilled people working for them so the threat is very real and very dangerous. Coulson and his team are very much the underdogs here and it works very well. Despite the lack of super powers anywhere in this episode it was still an engaging thriller with the different sides nicely represented.
I would have liked to see the theft of the painting be more of a botched heist than what they went with here but that might just be personal bias considering I like to see a planned heist play out. To help make up for it there was an effective use of the disguise mask used by Black Widow in Captain America: The Winter Soldier that resulted in a really well choreographed and exciting fight sequence.
Back on The Bus, the rest of the team were used very well with Hunter adding some genuinely funny comic elements to the episode while being a more defined presence than pre-evil Ward ever was. Nick Blood is very charismatic in this role and Hunter is a good character who bounces off the others really well. In particular the banter he has with Skye is a lot of fun to listen to. Mack, Hunter and Triplett have a great sense of natural camaraderie adding further joy to these scenes.
Fitz was used really well here too with his brain damage really adding lots to his character, I liked how he felt distanced from the team and found it difficult to participate in the bonding to make him “one of the guys” but the payoff in a genuinely moving moment where Hunter buys him a beer to celebrate not dying.
As good as the episode was there are still a few imperfections bringing it down. Some of the humour feels a bit clunky even now and there’s plenty of moments where professionalism is dropped slightly like when Coulson decides to have a chat when trying to remain hidden. Some of the characters aren’t yet getting enough to do like Triplett who tends to stand around commenting on things.
An impressive outing from a show that is fast finding the format that suits it best. The espionage aspects of the plot are handled well as are Coulson and May. There are some really great scenes of team bonding from the other characters inclusive of a moving moment involving Fitz being accepted by his new teammates. Some of the humour doesn’t quite click and there are still moments where characters become a little unprofessional but a massive leap in the right direction.