29 November 2014

Agents of SHIELD S2E6 "A Shattered House" pushes the show in new directions

"A Shattered House" has Coulson and Co reacting to an attack on the U.N by Hydra agents claiming to be SHIELD,  part of plan to further tarnish the name of SHIELD in response to the recent infiltration of Hydra by Agent Morse and Agent Simmons. Coulson attempts to limit the damage done by bargaining with a senator that is both very vocal and very involve in the ordeal, while Agent May, Agent Hunter and Bobbi Morse go on the offensive, taking the fight to Hydra.

"A Shattered House" is another episode that contains multiple plot threads pulling in different directions, focusing more on creating and maintaining a season wide plot, while at the same time having a villain for a part of the episode to focus on. Parts of the episode feel much more standalone than the series has been recently, and other parts of the episode are much more character driven. The ending of "A Shattered House" is entirely set up for the rest of the season, and it's super exciting to see where they are going with the show - a statement that I wouldn't have been able to say with a straight face for most of the first season.

The most interesting parts of this episode follow Agent May, Agent Hunter and Bobbi Morse as they attempt to thwart Hydra's attempts at further discrediting SHIELD. The show really hits it's stride in this scenes, allowing time for some great character moments (the relationship between Hunter and Morse is fantastic) and a couple of impressive actions scenes. Although this section of the episode is a glorified 'villain of the week' piece, it serves the season well by showing us what each of these characters is capable of, as well as helping us see the hectic and bitter (yet also rather funny) nature of Agents Hunter and Agent Morse's relationship.

Less exciting, but equally interesting and seemingly more important from a narrative perspective, are Coulsons scene with the aforementioned Senator. There is an air of manipulation throughout this element of the episode that really works - the Senator is quite obviously a powerful man, but his intentions remain ambiguous throughout, and the episode leaves you wondering if Coulson has been manipulated into doing things that aren't really in his or SHIELDs best interest. These scenes (and a brief scene at the end of the episode that I am super excited to see built on) introduce a new plot element that will no doubt run alongside (and most likely interact with) the ongoing mystery of the lines and circles that Coulson keeps drawing.

After Simmons' return to SHIELD at the end of last episode, a lot of people (myself included) were happy to see Fitzsimmons reunited, but it isn't all rainbows and roses where they are concerned. What we wanted was a touching and funny reunion between the shows most likeable characters - what we got was a stilted, awkward conversation that shows us that there are some underlying issues that these two are going to have to deal with if we ever want to see Fitzsimmons truly together again. It's a great scene with great performances that highlights both Fitz's vulnerability and Simmons' survivors guilt, with neither of them seemingly able to do right by the other.

All of this adds up into a melting pot of various story-lines and characters, making "A Shattered House" of the strongest episode that the season has offered to date, moving the season wide plot forwards and into new areas, while at the same time continuing to develop the relationships between the various agents. Between the addition of Bobbi Morse and the way that the plot is developing, Agents of SHIELD is going from strength to strength and it quickly proving itself to be an entertaining (although not yet vital) part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

But can we please have Agent Triplett actually do something next episode? He's done nothing but scowl and say "Dayyum" all season.

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