After an unusually long break, Uprising finally continues. On the trail of The Clairvoyant, our heroes are equally pursued by their old companion Mike Peterson, who has been transformed by their enemies into Deathlok. Trapped between friends who may be enemies, and enemies who used to be friends, the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. stand at the crossroads of what may well be the beginning of the end. Meet me after the jump for my review of “The End of the Beginning.”
The Bet Settled
Old business first. Those of you who have been following these episode-by-episode reviews of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” know there has been a bit of gambling going on here behind the scenes at Biff Bam Pop!. If you read The Bet a couple weeks back, you know that Andy Burns and J.P. Fallavollita had a bet over the origin of the blue skinned giant that Agent Coulson discovered in the mysterious T.A.H.I.T.I. room. Well, it looks like Andy owes J.P. a nice juicy steak, medium rare, if you please.
Last week, my old friend, fellow writer, and pop culture enthusiast Skott Stotland broke the news on his terrific website, The Nerd Signal, what big blue actually was. Chloe Bennett, who plays Skye, apparently let the cat out of the bag at PayleyFest, and the big blue alien is indeed a Kree. You can read the full story here, and J.P., enjoy that steak!
In other news… If there’s anyone out there old enough to remember the first TV series featuring “The Flash,” you know what killed it. Whether directly or indirectly, it was murdered by the network. In that case, it was CBS, manipulating the show’s placement around the schedule at odd times and on a constant shifting day. You never really knew when to tune in and find an episode of “The Flash” at all, let along a new episode. Heck, there was even an episode that more than half the country didn’t even see thanks to news breaks.
I fear that something very similar is happening to “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Now it has always been on at the same time, on the same night, but most of the time when irregular viewers are tuning in, it’s a rerun. And when the show does get any momentum, as with this weird comic book like ‘event,’ Uprising, the ABC network forces several weeks of reruns into its path. Would you keep reading a comic that continually presented reprints in the middle of ongoing storylines?
The other big news that has come out about “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is that fan favorite and comic geek himself, Patton Oswalt, will be appearing on the series. His nerdiness is a major part of his stand-up routine, and he’s probably well known in genre circles for his sequel concept for Star Wars, as seen here. My personal favorite bit of his is of course is his thoughts on Jesus joining the X-Men, and how the Avengers let just anybody join (check it out here at 3:38).
On this series, Patton Oswalt will be playing Agent Eric Koenig, who in the comics was a member of Sgt. Fury’s Howling Commandos during World War II. He is a unique character in that he was a former Nazi who became one of the good guys. He even helped Nick Fury form S.H.I.E.L.D. Hmmm… I wonder if they will mention or even address the age problem of being involved in WWII and still being around and vital today? And despite Patton’s dismay, Koenig isn’t M.O.D.O.K., even though he would play a rocking M.O.D.O.K. Perhaps we’ll find out next week.
After Agents Garrett and Triplett are attacked by Deathlok, the search for The Clairvoyant goes into overdrive. An airborne meeting of the SHIELD top brass (sans Nick Fury of course) is in order. In attendance are Coulson, Garrett, Triplett, Victoria Hand, Jasper Sitwell, and… Felix Blake. Hand brings up that The Clairvoyant might be someone with access to SHIELD files and they want to start checking the list of rejected gifted agents.
They turn to Skye for this search, and make her officially an Agent to do it. About time. The idea that The Clairvoyant could be an inside job keeps nagging at me. Could it be Blake or Triplett? Both are unique to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and therefore what could be called ‘expendable.’ His next steps make him extremely suspicious.
Paired off with Agent May, Blake tries to make small talk, and in a bizarre way of asking her her sign, he asks instead if she’s a Scorpio. When Blake mentioned Scorpio, I jumped. Then I had to explain to The Bride who Scorpio was and why it was such a big deal.
When listing SHIELD’s arch-enemies, there’s always Hydra, and then AIM, but number three is a biggie, mostly because it’s personal. I’m talking about Zodiac. Like the horoscope signs they are named after, each member of Zodiac was a criminal mastermind controlling their own regions, constantly coming to blows with SHIELD, the Avengers, and other heroes. The twisting knife was Scorpio, who was eventually revealed to be Nick Fury’s own brother Jacob. How’s that for personal?
Blake or Triplett?
Deathlok attacks May and Blake, and they are obviously outgunned. Deathlok nearly kills Blake, but not before he shoots a tracking device into the cyborg. This could be a clever and heroic, if painful, alibi, but either way I think it clears the still untrustworthy Blake if being the baddie.
Antoine Triplett on the other hand is not as obvious a choice. He’s partnered with one of SHIELD’s best agents, does his homework, is damn good at his job. So, other than being one of the few agents not based on a comics character, why do I suspect him? The ominous music when he decides to stay behind when the team goes after Deathlok, that’s why.
We finally learn who The Clairvoyant is, and there’s a sweet Department H shout out, to get there. All clues lead to a man named Nash who claimed to be about to predict the actions of others. Unfortunately he dropped off into a vegetative state – and that’s how the team finds him when following Deathlok, in a wheelchair, all Stephen Hawking like.
That said, I thought immediately it was too easy, and my suspicions of Triplett and Blake still hanging in the air, I didn’t believe it. Too bad The Clairvoyant manipulated Agent Ward into killing him. Shortly thereafter, Coulson and Skye thankfully realize it might not be him, and what Hand had suggested originally was true – The Clairvoyant doesn’t have psychic powers, he has security clearance.
Melinda May’s Secret
At the end of our last episode, we’d discovered that Agent May was indeed a plant, and that she was watching Agent Coulson to make sure he didn’t poke too much into his resurrection. Now that he knows he’s got alien DNA, the GH-325, or Kree starstuff, in his system (and Skye too), she’s reported it to her superiors. And now, with no one trusting each other, this secret may (pun unintended) have bitten her in the ass.
Fitz discovers her encrypted line out of the cockpit of The Bus, leading Coulson and Skye to believe that she is either working for, or quite possibly The Clairvoyant herself. Weapons are pulled, and a stand-off in the offing when the plane suddenly lurches and changes direction. Who’s flying the plane? Not May. It’s Victoria Hand on the ground, giving the order to take out everyone on The Bus, except for Coulson. He’s all hers.
It’s Only Getting Better
Cue cliffhanger music. Looks like “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is not just on a roll, but on a rampage. For those who stuck with the show, it’s been a hell of a ride and it’s just getting better. For those who crapped out along the way, better get on Netflix and OnDemand, and catch up. And don’t forget to see Captain America The Winter Soldier this weekend, because, on the silver screen, SHIELD is about to explode, and the aftershocks are going to rock your television sets as well!