A Fractured House
The wheels are set in to motion fairly quickly, Bobbi is familiar with the weapons expert who constructed the arms and sent to Japan to speak with him (along with her ex-husband Hunter). This gives us a delicious little scene where we see Hunter is more concerned about having to go on a mission with Bobbi than if S.H.I.E.L.D. just wiped out half the Security Council. Oh that loveable rogue, but the humor doesn’t last long. From here we’re introduced to Ward’s older brother. Talbot surprisingly is pretty savvy and realizes immediately that this isn’t the kind of move S.H.I.E.L.D. would make but Ward’s brother Christian (the previously mentioned senator with deep pockets) thinks it’s time to eliminate S.H.I.E.L.D. Talbot who until now I had felt mixed feelings for (he’s a bit of a prig) sees Christian for what he is, a politician who’s more interested in mid-terms than truth and especially Grant (way to tie that in to the pending mid-terms and American readers remember to get out and rock the vote tomorrow!)
And now for the relationship building, there’s more cutesy back and forth between Bobbi and Hunter, we really need him to stick around. This is a realistic troubled relationship, not cartoonishly full of hate but also not so chummy it’s hard to believe. This is a couple who’s interactions spell a believable former couple who worked well together in some ways but not the ways that count, cutting to Fitz (mumbling to himself in the lab) and Simmons who is wearing her concern all over her face we get the opposite lesson, this is a clear and believable example of a relationship that never happened and regrets between the two. They struggle to even talk and Fitz seems to grip the reality of the situation far better than Simmons who is trying to change him to “fix” him while Fitz realizes he doesn’t need fixing, he needs to be who he is and live with the reality meanwhile Skye talks to Ward who basically goes bananas when Christian is even mentioned. He seems afraid for the first time yet setting up the tale of a Machiavellian conniver, he’s trying to enlist Skye and warn her of the dangers but she’s so unreceptive she just shuts him down time and time again but you know what they say about a broken clock, it’s right at least twice a day and sometimes a bad dude will tell more in a panic then he will by answering in a straight way. Ward starts to try to turn the tables on Skye bringing up her father when Coulson shuts it down. We are getting to see a much savvier Coulson, he has always been aware but always had the “good cop” personae to counter Fury’s “bad cop” now though we see him read a situation and know where to go next and know when the players are playing and like his conversation with Raina last week just throw them away when done with them.
Here’s where things start to get messy, Bobbi is going to infiltrate the Hydra compound and get as much information as she can. They have two options, hard and loud or try to use her cover. They decide to opt for option B as there may be more to gain from it. Hunter doesn’t like the plan but backs Bobbi up on option B as “Deception is her forte” which leads to more of his trying to say “I wasn’t saying that to be mean”. It may get tired after a while but for now it’s still charming. Infiltrating the Hydra compound she’s able to chat up the Hydra agent Toshi and get information about a pending hit on the Belgian UN representative (all the while May explains to Hunter she doesn’t actually like him). It’s nice to see some Spycraft in action, if the rest of the series is like this it will be brilliant! Bobbi is rumbled though and Hunter and May sweep in to save the day. We get to see some great fisticuffs and gunplay but just a taste, nothing over the top which pisses Bobbi off because she “had it under control” and again we get some awesome Maddie/David Moonlighting style quips before May and team reroute to Belgium to help the agents save the Belgian UN representative.
This season is a perfect example of how to punctuate moments, we cut from action in Japan to intense emotion at the Playground to an amazing battle of wits in Washington with Coulson confronting Christian Ward and making some changes to his speech. We see Coulson knock him immediately off balance with his disarming charm and is able to simply show how he controls the situation. They have a head to head with Coulson reading Christian who thinks he is in control and Coulson has nothing while in fact Coulson has everything leveraging Ward immediately. We cut back to Skye who opens up to Ward asking about her father. Cutting back and forth we see master manipulators at work each playing one another with Christian saying Ward is a psychopath and a constant threat (and after Coulson’s experience it looks as if he’s willing to believe it), Skye is opening up to Ward letting him spill everything he knows about her father, Coulson offering up Ward as a gesture of good will to get the Senator on board and Skye giving Ward hope to keep him open to sharing before shutting him down. She played Ward he’s been offered up as a sacrifice to Christian and she just pumped him.
We see the Hydra team’s handiwork, they’ve cleansed the safe house but shortly there after Bobbi, Hunter and May arrive on scene. Hunter does a charming little song and dance and puts the Hydra team at ease (to an extent) before Bobbi and May crashes through the window and we get another amazing action set piece. The fight scenes in this season are always amazing and paced beautifully and we get to see May kicking serious ass as well as Bobbi and Hunter displaying exceptional co-ordination (and a cute count down of how many times Hunter saves Bobbi).
After the action is done though we don’t linger, we get a scene with Coulson examining Ward’s file (leading to the question is maybe he playing something larger than any of us know). We get Mac and Simmons sharing a moment where he explains he just treats Fitz like he is and doesn’t try to change him and that she seems to be doing him more damage than good (which is an amazing level of candour for a TV show) and she replies (equally amazingly) she knows which is why she left. We get Hunter leaving the group unable to function with Bobbi but the door open to him returning once he’s straightened out his head. We get May turning over the Hydra team to Talbot who takes this time to shake hands and Talbot expressed sympathy for fallen comrades ending with Christian redirecting the attention from S.H.I.E.L.D. to Hydra interspersed with Ward’s being escorted from the facility.
As Ward is escorted from the facility we see him quickly escape from FBI custody and this leaves us with questions. Did Bobbi set up the team? I don’t think so but we have to remember she’s the one who fed Coulson the information about the hit on Beckers which put so many agents in danger and she did have direct contact with Hydra security. What is Ward going to do now he’s in the wild? He’s sworn allegiance to Skye’s father who’s now working with Hydra. Christian Ward has spun a tale about being the true victim in the Ward family but he’s equally as convincing as Ward and brothers are often not too far apart, the difference between Grant and Christian appears to be one of method, Grant kills using his fists while Christian appears he may have others do it for him and Coulson… what’s his game? Is he playing all of them? We already know Grant thinks he’s a part of the team is he using Ward to get in deeper with Hydra? One more episode but I have to say the tension on this rubber band of a series is wound so tight I’m looking forward to seeing the resolution!
In the most cryptic moment of the show though we cut to a tattoo parlour, a man gives some money and a design to an artist before taking off his shirt. We see him covered in tattoos of the alien writing and he gets it finished with the disturbing statement the “pain helps me remember” which makes me wonder is he the “Tattooed Man” from the earth 616? They certainly aren’t letting off the throttle and we’ve only got one more hour to go!