Thursday, April 2, 2015

"One" Helluva AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

Article originally written for Seat42F.

MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. revisits S.H.I.E.L.D.’s fall this week in “One Door Closes,” while the fragile, rebuilt group threatens to collapse again. This time, it’s not villains who seek to destroy what Coulson (Clark Gregg) has built, but members of the organization who think the new Director is taking things in the wrong direction and doesn’t deserve the position. Are they right? Can a compromise be reached that doesn’t involve civil war?

The “real” S.H.I.E.L.D. that seeks to topple Coulson is made up of Robert Gonzales (Edward James Olmos), Agent Weaver (Christine Adams), Agent Calderon (Kirk Acevedo), Bobbi Morse (Adrianne Palicki), Mack (Henry Simmons), and more. These are good people, and we see their nobility and bravery in flashback to their time during the initial Hydra revelation, circa Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Along with now-deceased Izzy Hartley (Lucy Lawless, who it is wonderful to see return), they take back a vessel that Hydra has conquered. These are good agents, the real deal, who love their country and their organization.

Which makes it very hard to be mad at them when Bobbi and Mack sabotage Coulson’s base and let in their comrades. They may have valid points about Coulson, putting his selfish motivations in front of the group and following in Fury’s arguably too-secretive footsteps. Fury and Coulson use those with powers without transparency, and with Coulson acting a little nuts in the search for the buried city, his stability is questionable.

Yet, it’s also hard for viewers to turn on those people who we’ve watched for two years on MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. None of Coulson’s original team betrays him because they’ve been with him a long time and trust him. May (Ming-Na Wen) even helps Coulson escape with Fury’s toolbox and alerts Skye (Chloe Bennet) that they are coming for her. Our agents are not going down without a fight, and “One Door Closes” leaves two separate teams doing battle, Coulson joined by Hunter (Nick Blood) on the outside, and Bobbi and Mack helping Gonzales and company keep the others prisoner within.

Is there a possible happy ending here? Could Gonzales be reasoned with if Coulson let him in on why secrets are necessary? After all, Coulson has worked to break down some of the security levels under his leadership, even if he’s kept a few things classified as needed. If the two leaders, both respectable men doing what they think is right, could just sit down, surely they could talk things out?

In the meantime, I can’t help but wonder if some of Coulson’s people may be swayed. May has deep personal reasons for supporting Coulson, but she’s also seen him act erratically. Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) remain at odds partly because they disagree over how Coulson has treated Skye. Bobbi and Mack are their friends; there’s a chance at least one of them could come ‘round to Gonzales’ way of thinking.

If Coulson has to take back the base by force, he doesn’t have his best weapon to do so. Skye isn’t captured by Bobbi, but instead escapes with Gordon (Jamie Harris). Gordon offers her answers and understanding concerning her new abilities, and given how Skye is so caught up in dealing with her powers, and not knowing how serious the S.H.I.E.L.D. situation is, she’s likely to stay focused on herself for at least a little while. That’s a good thing for her in the long-run, but it doesn’t help Coulson and her friends much right now.

Gordon seems nice, too, if he’s being honest. He is accepting of Skye and knows about her, being like her. He approaches her in a friendly manner, not forcing her to go with him or anything, and not asking for anything in return yet. We know Gordon isn’t working for Skye’s father, so he might be good people. My instinct is that Skye is in safe hands.

What this means is that “One Door Closes” has a lot of conflict, but not bad guys. I really, really like this. Fighting Hydra or Ward is exciting and cool, but by pitching those who all have similar morals but different perspectives on maintaining those values against one another, the story gets much more interesting. It allows complexity in the various characters, and makes the outcome very uncertain.

MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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