14 November 2014

Agents of SHIELD S2E4 "I Will Face My Enemy" shows us The Cavalry in full force

"I Will Face my Enemy" sees a disconnect from the season wide plot that has been building up over the previous 3 episodes. The main plot follows Agent Director Coulson and Agent May as they attempt to steal a painting that mysteriously survived a monastery fire, and that has also been carved with the strange markings that both Garrett and Coulson started drawing after the injection of the GH-325 serum. The story of the episode itself is lacking in comparison to this seasons other episodes, but its fairly obvious that this episode exists for one reason only - the entire thing is building up towards a pivotal fight scene starring Agent Melinda May at the end of the episode.

We really get to see how much ass The Cavalry can kick in one of the most intense martial arts fight scenes that I've ever seen on a TV show, with the finishing move of the fight reminiscent of a Tony Jaa film (and if that name means nothing you, I beg you to watch Ong Bak, or at least a few YouTube clips). The entire thing is basically just a reminder that Agent May is a badass of similar calibre to Black Widow, and it absolutely works in that regard. In fact, the entire episode is fairly May-centric, with the majority of the running time being used to remind everyone of what an excellent Agent she is.

Unfortunately, this results in less screen time being given to the newer characters, and the episode ends up feeling a little more season one than season two. The self contained nature of the episode, along with the increased focus on Agent Director Coulson and Agent May, makes it feel slightly less fresh than the other episodes of this season so far. It would have made more sense from an entertainment perspective to have Agent Triplett or Agent Hunter accompany her in order to explore interplay between characters that have had little do with each other in the past, but it's a minor fault, and the episode does contain some explanation and development in the relationship between May and Coulson, so it's very much excusable.

Still, we get some great moments from Agent May, and Ming Na Wen really gets her time to shine. We get a wide range of emotions and actions that Agent May goes through in this episode, and there isn't even a single moment that the character feels unbelievable or poorly acted, partly in thanks to the quality of the writing and partly thanks to the consistent performance that Ming Na Wen gives. Even the poorer first half of the episode has some great moments, including an undercover Agent May confusing and scaring everyone back at base simply by laughing, an action that no one knew May was capable of.

To say that "I Will Face My Enemy" is saved by the fight scene would be doing a disservice to the rest of the episode, but it's certainly the most memorable aspect of an otherwise fairly standard story. It suffers early on, but picks up speed in the final half to deliver an episode that is, on balance, not quite as good as the previous three, but still thoroughly entertaining, and if this ends up being the weakest episode of season two, then we are in for a real treat.

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