19 December 2014

Agents of SHIELD S2E9 "...Ye Who Enter Here" sets everything in motion for the mid-season finale

"...Ye Who Enter Here" is the penultimate episode of the first half of this season, following Coulson, Mac, Simmons, Fitz and Bobbi as they head to the island where the secret underground city that they have been searching for is located, while the rest of the team (Triplett, the Koenigs, Skye, May and Hunter) track down Raina to ensure that Hydra don't take her in for their own nefarious purposes.

The cold open of "...Ye Who Enter Here" is a surreal trip into Skye's mind that gives a lot away about where the show is heading, specifically who she really is, and what she might become. There have been plenty of fan theories regarding Skye's real identity, and it looks like one of them in particular is correct, with several clues in this opening pointing towards her new identity, and a greater relevance within the Marvel Cinematic Universe - an identity that I imagine will be confirmed next episode, in the mid-season finale.

The two separate plot line in this episode again give us the quicker pace and higher stakes that were missing from parts of season one, and I'm really enjoying the fact that the division of the team for missions isn't set in stone - the characters that grouped together in last weeks episode aren't the same characters in the two groups this time, and it means that we are getting new group dynamics each week, a welcome prospect that provides the show with a multitude of character moments and interactions that help give each character their own relationships, arcs and development.

A great example of this is the renewed interest in the Fitz/Simmons relationship in this episode. They have been on the back burner for the last few weeks, but we see their relationship develop further in this episode, as well as getting insight into why they feel so awkward around each other from a great scene between Simmons and Bobbi. The Fitz/Simmons dynamic at the moment is really interesting, partially because a look at the way mental issues can affect friendships is one of the last things you would expect a show like Agents of SHIELD, but mostly because it is so well written, giving an audience reason to empathise with both characters, rather than making one of them the "bad guy" of the situation, an easy trap to fall into.

"...Ye Who Enter Here" doesn't feel like a whole episode thanks to the cliff hanger ending that will lead directly into the mid season finale, but it doesn't feel cheap or tacky - the events of this episode feel meaningful to both the characters involved and the larger season wide plot that has been developing consistently, and because the show has done such a good job of getting us invested in these characters, we care too. It's mild praise, the kind of thing any TV show worth its salt should be able to do, but it's an example of how far Agents of SHIELD has come since the pilot.

From an episodic perspective, it seems that "...Ye Who Enter Here" may be one of the most purely entertaining so far - we get some nice comic moments with the Koening twins and Triplett, a cool look at some of the inventions that SHIELD still has lying around, and two really tense fight scenes that are both shot and choreographed quite well for a TV show, although they both feel to reach the heights of the May on May fight scene in "I Will Face My Enemy". The concept behind both these fight scenes is interesting too, each of them taking on a really comic book-y twist that would feel out of place if handled badly, but seem right at home here.

I'm really looking forward to seeing the mid-season finale of Agents of SHIELD, not just because of the fact that it's a good show now, but because with the direction the show is taking, we may well see a major development for both characters within the show and the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole. This episode, while being good in it's own right, is largely setting up for the mid-season finale, the excitingly titled "What They Become", and I imagine that we will get a good idea of where Agents of SHIELD is heading next in that episode. But if it carries on the consistently high quality of season two so far? There will be no complaints from me.

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