Just two episodes after the supposed “game-changer,” it sure didn’t take ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ long to revert right back to the old villain-of-the-week formula.
To be fair, episode ‘The Only Light in the Darkness’ also features some carryover involving the dismantling of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Evil Ward plot twist. However, the primary storyline sends Coulson off to track down a random super-powered individual who has little to do with HYDRA.
Once Coulson learns that Agent Garrett set loose all of the convicts from the Fridge prison facility, he immediately gathers Triplett, Fitz and Simmons to join him in recapturing a guy named Marcus Daniels, who was infused with some “Dark Force” cosmic radiation nonsense and now has the power to manipulate electricity. I’m told that this character is a minor villain known as “Blackout” in the comics, but that name is never used here.
Coulson takes a special interest in this case because Daniels is also a crazy stalker obsessed with cellist Audrey Nathan (Amy Acker from Joss Whedon’s ‘Angel’ and ‘Dollhouse’), and Audrey just so happens to be Coulson’s ex-girlfriend. That’s “ex” not because they broke up, but because she thinks he’s dead and he can’t reveal himself to her even though he’s obviously still in love with her.
All of this is terribly disinteresting. Acker is given nothing to do except act as bait to draw Daniels to her, whereupon Triplett, Fitz and Simmons attack him with some light beam doodads that Fitz rigged up to “overload” Daniels. When the three of them aren’t enough, Coulson has to step in as well (though a disoriented Audrey thinks he’s a ghost). They blast Daniels with light beams like the Ghostbusters until Daniels explodes. Being a comic book character, I’m sure that’s not necessarily the end of him. Coulson then slinks off before Audrey gets a good look at him.
The only element of this storyline of any note is the revelation that Daniels is stronger now than when he was first captured, because he was experimented upon in the Fridge, presumably by the HYDRA elements working there. I guess this is meant to tie back to the Centipede program.
Meanwhile, back at the secret S.H.I.E.L.D. base in Canada, Agent Koenig (Patton Oswalt) puts Skye and Ward through a special lie detector that’s supposedly impossible to beat. Of course, Ward beats it anyway, because that’s what happens in TV shows whenever a lie detector is trotted out. Just as Ward thinks that he ought to kill her, May decides to leave the base and head out on her own, acting sulky that Coulson no longer trusts her. That just leaves Ward, Skye and Koenig, and the latter doesn’t last long.
While searching for Koenig to ask him a question, Skye comes across his dead body in a supply closet. She quickly puts together that Ward is evil. However, because she’s just a poor, defenseless little girly girl, she can’t let on that she knows yet. She quickly puts on a game face and acts like nothing’s the matter, even kissing Ward to throw off his suspicions. Ward then tells her that they need to get on the Bus (their plane) so he can fly her to some special coordinates where she can decrypt that hard drive that suddenly seems to be so important to everyone.
Later, Coulson’s group returns to the base to find it empty. In an epilogue, we find May in Ontario, meeting up with her mother (Ming-Na’s ‘Joy Luck Club’ co-star Tsai Chin), who we learn is a retired operative from some unnamed spy agency (CIA? NSA? Some fictional comic book thing?).
Scenes from the next episode reveal a guest appearance from Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill. Now that ‘How I Met Your Mother’ is finally done, perhaps she can stick around for a while? I’m not sure whether that will really be enough to liven up the show, but it probably couldn’t hurt.