Spoiler Warning: If you haven't watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier, turn back now! This episode divulges major plot points of the film. You should definitely try to watch the film before continuing with the series.
The aptly named Turn, Turn, Turn has finally given Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D some much needed verve, and its finest hour yet took a bevy of twists and turns until its audacious conclusion. The fallout from Captain America: The Winter Soldier has spread far and wide throughout the Marvel universe, and has given the storytelling in S.H.I.E.L.D. a swift kick in the pants. With intrigue, some deft character work, and a last-second reveal that was actually pretty shocking, S.H.I.E.L.D. is finally showing some signs of actually becoming a good, and - dare I say - possibly even great hour of television. And all it took was a multi-million dollar movie-tie in to do it.
After Coulson and Co. catch May reporting their actions to an unknown handler at the end of an encrypted hard line, Coulson, May and Skye are in the middle of a good ol' Mexican stand off. May is pleading her innocence before the Bus is suddenly rerouted back towards the Hub and Agent Victoria Hand, who may or may not be the Clairvoyant. The team must figure out a way to rescue Simmons and deal with Hand, but is she really the true enemy?
May's being kept under lock and key and Simmons is being held captive at the Hub, but the rest of the team is ready to bust some heads, and finally get some answers to questions they've been asking all season.
May reveals that she's been reporting to Director Fury since the beginning, who Coulson has been trying to get into contact with for the beter part of five episodes. Skye tries to figure out where the Bus has been re-routed to, but only receives a static heavy signal across all S.H.I.E.L.D communication lines. After saving Agent Garrett in a high-flying dogfight against two S.H.I.E.L.D. drones, Skye is able to decode the mysterious transmission: it's HYDRA, the same pseudo-Nazi organization that Captain America gutted during World War II. The terrorist organization has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. at the highest level, and is taking out top level agents. Coulson forces May to contact Fury to gain some answers, but learns that he has been killed. May divulges that she knew about the medical experiments performed on Coulson all along, and that it was her job to make sure the agent remained stable, despite having experimental alien blood pumping through his veins. She also reveals that the team assembled around Coulson was specifically created to eliminate him in case something went wrong.
The Bus finally lands at the Hub, and Hand's men begin shooting the jet, but the agents escape and scramble to find Simmons. Meanwhile, Hand finds Simmons and Triplett and reveals that she's still loyal to S.H.I.E.L.D. and believes Coulson to be a member of HYDRA due to his recent erratic behavior. Skye and Ward move to hack the system at the hub, but not before promising each other a drink date if they make it out alive (because that's the most pressing thing to do right now). Elsewhere, Coulson and Garrett are discussing the best way to deal with Hand, who they still believe to be the Clairvoyant. Garrett slips up and reveals himself to be the Clairvoyant and manages to take the team hostage thanks to other loyal HYDRA agents still inside the Hub. After an explosive diversion thanks to Skye, the agents are able to subdue Garrett and his posse of HYDRA agents before Hand arrives to put the cuffs on them, having overheard the entire exchange.
With S.H.I.E.L.D in shambles, Coulson and Agent Hand agree to meet up at the Fridge, which they believe to be the only base still under genuine S.H.I.E.L.D control. While their team is safe for now, trust among the members of Coulson's squad is at an all-time low, with Coulson giving May the cold shoulder. Later, while Hand and Ward are escorting Garrett to the Ice Box for imprisonment, Hand gives Ward the go ahead to assassinate Garrett. Ward ponders this for a second, takes the gun and instead shoots Hand in the stomach before giving the dying agent a quick double-tap with his pistol. Hail HYDRA, indeed.
Most Valuable Agent Award
Coulson gets an honorary mention for figuring out that Garrett was the Clairvoyant, but Fitz gets the MVA award for shooting that HYDRA agent and saving a team member's life.
Mission Highlights and Other Observations
- With Ward shooting two agents in the head before capping agent Hand, this is definitely the most violent episode of S.H.I.E.L.D. yet.
- Unfortunately, it's becoming increasingly clear that S.H.I.E.L.D. is unable to make it's own changes to the Marvel status-quo, without getting the go-ahead from one of the films. That would explain why many of the episodes have felt largely like filler up to this point. While it's cool that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is connected to a larger, sprawling universe of other forms of media, it's sad that the show can't be its own master, and make its own significant changes without disrupting the Marvel film canon. An episode of this quality should have came about several months ago.
- Even though Garrett's reveal as the Clairvoyant is interesting, I'm going to miss Garrett and Coulson's chummy exchanges. I guess evil Bill Paxton is better than no Bill Paxton at all.