Season 1, Episode 18
Air Date: Tuesday, April 15, 2014, 8/7c on ABC.
“Fury didn’t make it out of DC.” – Agent Koenig
After HYDRA was discovered embedded deeply within the ranks of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) receives a message from Air Force Colonel Glenn Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) saying he and a peacekeeping force is coming to check out the Hub, aka the S.H.I.E.L.D. base. Even Coulson knows, “This doesn’t sound good.”
Talbot has a long history in the Marvel universe as a villain, often being the one hunting down Bruce Banner/the Hulk (last played by Mark Ruffalo inThe Avengers). Given Coulson’s history with Banner in The Avengers, one would assume Coulson is all too familiar with Talbot’s methods, none of which could be described as peacekeeping. Coulson decides it would be in the best interest of S.H.I.E.L.D. if he and his team disappear.
Meanwhile, HYDRA agents Garrett (Bill Paxton), aka the Clairvoyant, and Ward (Brett Dalton) regroup with other HYDRA agents after the events of “Turn, Turn, Turn,” which coincidentally coincide with what happens in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. There seems to be a mad dash by both S.H.I.E.L.D and HYDRA to gain the upper hand when it comes to men and weaponry. One of Garrett’s first moves is to free Raina (Ruth Negga) and have her continue her work on the Centipede device.
I wasn’t a big fan of Raina, aka the girl in the flower dress, when she first appeared in the episode aptly named “Girl in the Flower Dress,” but Ward freeing her from the S.H.I.E.L.D prison does set up an interesting storyline. Raina seems disappointed to learn the so-called Clairvoyant is nothing more than a con man. Later, when talking to Ward about how Ward betrayed his team, Raina tells him, “I spent time with Coulson, he’s a good man. Someone who’d lay down his life for you.” Could Raina be questioning her decision about which team to play for? Could she be the one who exposes Ward to Coulson? Raina isn’t the only one who feels used by the Clairvoyant, which begs the question, are there others?
While Coulson is collecting his team’s S.H.I.E.L.D badges, something happens to his own badge, causing a series of numbers to light up on it. Coulson immediately assumes it is Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) trying to communicate with him by sending him coordinates to some unknown place. Not everyone on the team is convinced it is a message from Fury; after all, he is supposed to be dead. Some fear it’s a HYDRA trap, while others fear Coulson has become unstable.
I found myself turned off by Coulson’s level of desperation in “Providence.” One of the things that make Coulson such a fan favorite is his ability to walk into a situation completely composed and deal with it. He has faced alien invasions and stood up to Loki (Tom Hiddleston), all without ever breaking a sweat. I understand his world has been turned upside down but I still think Coulson’s reaction is over the top for his character. I would have rather seen more frustration and less despair.
Turns out Coulson is right. The coordinates lead the team to a secret base set up by Fury and maintained by Agent Eric Koenig (Patton Oswalt). The base allows Coulson and his team to take a deep breath and figure out their next move. I am a big fan of Oswalt, who currently does the voice-over on The Goldbergs, another ABC series. I hope Oswalt is there to play a more serious character and not just to inject some humor. For some reason, the writers for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. don’t handle humor very well.
The HYDRA revelation is so big, it should have made people want to go back and re-watch earlier episodes to look for signs they might have missed, something that might have hinted Ward wasn’t who he said he was. But, because those episodes weren’t very good, I suspectnobody wanted to bother.
To many, Ward is the eye candy for the series’ female audience. On a show where nothing is what it seems, I wonder whether the producers will have the courage to have Ward continue being the bad guy. Or, will they suddenly claim he is a double agent in spite of killing Agent Hand (Saffron Burrows) and several other S.H.I.E.L.D. agents? Will the show follow Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s lead, claiming that HYDRA did to Ward what they did to Bucky Barnes (Sabastian Stan) — wiping his memory and then reprogramming it?
Many fans hoped the HYDRA reveal would breathe new life into Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a series that has struggled from the beginning and only recently improved. I worry the show will find itself restricted, focusing more inward on things like Ward and his relationships with Skye and Coulson, as he tries to figure out who he can trust. It looks like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will focus more on the team in future episodes instead of the huge Marvel universe. Because the writers have been holding onto so many secrets, it became necessary to hold off on some character development, and now that the secret is out, they seem to be going back to work on it. As much as I enjoyed the connection to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I worry the connection might end up negatively hurting the show.
Tweet me @staffaroadtrip or leave a comment below to let me know what you think about “Providence.”
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Photos: © 2014 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
© 2014, Greg Staffa. All rights reserved.
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