Remember when Skye used to be the most annoying and useless character on ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’? That started to turn around this season when the show’s writers finally gave her an interesting storyline. And now this week… Well, damn. By the end of the hour, Skye owns this episode.
There and Back Again
As ‘The Dirty Half Dozen’ opens, Raina has a dream of Gordon with a head injury and Lincoln getting captured. Moments later, Gordon returns to the mountain hideaway with Skye and Cal, having rescued them from HYDRA agents. He only actually meant to rescue Skye, but Cal hopped aboard just before they teleported. As is his nature, Cal is rather pissed about Jiaying’s attempt to banish him, but Jiaying manages to put a pin in that and sends him to his room before he gets too worked up. Skye begs Gordon to go back and find Lincoln. Gordon tries that, but comes right back a few seconds later with exactly the head injury that Raina saw in her vision. He says that HYDRA was waiting for him and tried to ambush him. Raina realizes that her visions are prophetic.
Skye asks Jiaying what they should do next to save Lincoln, but Jiaying is willing to sacrifice him for the greater good of the rest of her community. This is not the first time she’s been so quick to write someone off. She doesn’t have many personal attachments.
Raina interrupts to say that Skye will save Lincoln, because she’s already seen it happen. Jiaying explains about Raina’s precognition. Skye is eager to go, but isn’t sure how Gordon can get her into the HYDRA base without being detected, now that HYDRA is tracking his teleportation signature. Gordon has an idea about that.
Later, Jiaying lets Cal out of his room, apologizes for trying to banish him, and tells him that he can stay. Cal promises that he’s much better now and is working hard to keep his temper under control.
Now with a better understanding of her new power and its worth, Raina works her way through the village trying to spread dissent against Jiaying. For that, Jiaying chastises her. Somehow, I doubt that will have much effect.
After allowing himself to be captured, Coulson is brought before Commander Gonzales (Edward James Olmos). Coulson explains that they have a mutual enemy and an opportunity to hit HYDRA hard if they join forces. Gonzales doesn’t trust him, so Coulson implores him to “Trust the mission.” In exchange, Coulson will open the Toolbox for him and give him full access to all of Director Fury’s secret files. Coulson also mentions that he knows that Gonzales is keeping a secret cargo in the hold of his ship.
In the quinjet, Ward, Agent 33, Fitz and Lance link up with the Bus and return to S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters. Some of Ward’s old friends, especially Simmons, aren’t so happy to see him again and accuse him of being evil. Ward describes himself as an “independent contractor.” Agent 33 is totally smitten with him.
Via the camera in Deathlok’s eye, Coulson has identified the location of HYDRA’s base in the arctic and wants to send a small infiltration team to rescue the captured prisoners. On the video feed, they witness HYDRA doctors scooping out the eye and disabling it. Even though she didn’t make Coulson’s initial list, Simmons requests to come along on the mission so that she can tend to Deathlok. Coulson agrees, but he doesn’t know that Simmons has an ulterior motive. She packs a “splinter bomb” and plans to kill Ward as soon as she gets an opportunity.
Ward leaves Agent 33 behind with S.H.I.E.L.D. to try to recover some of her lost memories. She isn’t thrilled about that, but feels better when Bobbi is nice to her. Mack apologizes to Lance for kidnapping him earlier. Lance shrugs it off.
As they prepare to leave for the mission, Coulson and team hear a noise. They turn around and see Skye. Gordon couldn’t bring her directly to the HYDRA base, so he did the next best thing and delivered her to her friends at S.H.I.E.L.D.
Everyone is skeptical of Ward’s true motives. He kinda-sorta apologizes for being evil by blaming his actions on his dysfunctional family, claiming “We all have our own ways of coping.”
As the Bus flies to the Arctic (at least, I think it’s the Bus – maybe it’s some other similar S.H.I.E.L.D. plane), HYDRA detects it incoming and Dr. List orders it shot down. The HYDRA base fires a couple of heat-seeking missiles that blow it out of the air. Uh oh, is that the end of our S.H.I.E.L.D.ies? Of course not. This is all part of Coulson’s plan. He and the team were hiding in the quinjet, and ride it down to the ground hidden amongst the other plane debris. Isn’t that how Luke and Han escaped an Imperial Star Destroyer in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’?
On the ground, Ward’s mole Bakshi lets the team into a backdoor entrance to the base. Already proving herself useful, Skye uses her telekinetic power to knock out a couple of HYDRA guards. Ward is a little confused, but impressed.
They find Deathlok, but he’s a mess. His eye and robotic leg have been amputated. He tells Skye that HYDRA doctors just carted Lincoln away for surgery.
Then we have the best moment of the episode. Skye races through the base and, in an awesome, extended single-take action sequence, takes out dozens of HYRDRA guards – shooting and fighting and flipping and spinning and mowing them down left and right – all with live ammo, none of that silliness with icers. Skye combines the weapons and kung-fu training that May gave her with total control of her own superpowers and proves herself a total badass. Whodathunkit?
Unfortunately, Lincoln is flatlining by the time Skye gets to him. She uses her power – or some confusing combination of her power with his electrical power – to revive him.
Elsewhere, Simmons finds her moment and tosses the splinter bomb at Ward. However, Bakshi – whose true allegiance had been in some doubt for most of the episode – leaps in front of it and takes the hit to save Ward, disintegrating between them.
Now defenseless, Simmons tells Ward to go ahead and kill her. Ward expresses his disappointment in her lack of faith and just walks away.
In the midst of all this chaos, Coulson accesses the HYDRA computers. This would appear to be his real motive for the mission.
Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig
With Lincoln and Deathlok rescued, the team (minus Ward) fly home while S.H.I.E.L.D. fighters bomb the HYDRA base into oblivion. Unfortunately, Dr. List managed to escape.
Ward of course also got away. He calls Coulson to say that he won’t be coming in again, and that he’s leaving Agent 33 with S.H.I.E.L.D. because he knows that’s the best place for her.
Still skeptical of Coulson (now demoted to “Agent Coulson” again), Gonzales informs him that he intends to hold onto Skye and Deathlok, and any other powered people he can collect. Isn’t that exactly what he ranted against Coulson for doing?
Coulson opens the Toolbox for Gonzales and nonchalantly reveals that, oh yeah, Director Fury is still alive. He then excuses himself to take an important phone call from Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) that Gonzales isn’t invited to.
Coulson tells Hill that the data he retrieved from the HYDRA base pertained to Loki’s magic scepter. He suggests that it’s, “Time to bring in the Avengers.” Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Raina has an apocalyptic vision about evil robots.
The last-minute tie-ins to this weekend’s ‘Age of Ultron‘ theatrical release are really forced and annoying, especially since nothing else in the show’s storylines this season has in any way connected to that movie.
I also find it rather disturbing that the episode barely addresses the fact that Simmons straight-up murdered Bakshi. That seems way out of character for her. I hope she has some fallout from that later.
In other respects, however, this is a really good episode with a terrific showcase for the new and improved Skye. The show is really building some momentum now.
Skye pulling a John Wick on the Hydra goons was sooo good! I love that Skye and Ward went from being the characters I’d most like to see killed off to the best on the show. That’s not uncommon with Whedon TV characters really, just look at Wesley in Buffy vs. Wesley in Angel. As for the AOU tie-in, that didn’t really bother me. Yeah I’d rather it came in to play more naturally, but I thought it was less jarring than the sting with The Collector in Thor: The Dark World.
Josh, they have been mentioning Stuckey a few times throughout the season and we’ve seen List a handful of times. This have all been tie ins to AOU, so it didn’t come off as too jarring to me.
I am also thinking Simmons, who we have seen is not the same person as last year, killing Bahkshi will be addressed soon.
Strucker and List may play roles in Age of Ultron, but nothing they’ve done in this show has discernably tied in with the plot of that movie. The Ultron references at the end of this episode came from out of nowhere and felt very forced to me. I think the Winter Soldier crossover last year was handled better.