Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S1.18 Review – ‘The Only Light in the Darkness’
April 22, 2014 – ABC.
With only three episodes left of season one, ‘The Only Light in the Darkness’ fractured Team Coulson and ended, for the first time all season, with members on different and conflicting missions. Ward has kidnapped Skye, Fitz fears losing Simmons, May’s in the wind just when Coulson realizes he can forgive her and Simmons faced with lies from her team every time she expects truth. Will peeling back the layers of secrets they keep from each other put them back together or kept them adrift?
Into the Light
Ward’s back with Team Coulson giving them a little bit of truth (Hydra raided The Fridge, took weapons and alien artifacts before setting the villains free) and a big, huge lie (Garrett’s no longer among the living, having met 2 slugs from Ward’s pistol). May gets points for skepticism and Tripp gets points for wanting to put more than 2 slugs, but everyone else is asleep on the job. Ward’s good, but with double agents everywhere, doesn’t this seem a little easy?
Ward wants Skye to decrypt the hard drive she backed up, but Coulson puts her on figuring out just who escaped The Fridge. Dr. Quinn’s escape makes their radar, but it’s Marcus Daniels who has Coulson all riled up.
You may remember Coulson having a thing for a pretty cellist in Portland but he chose S.H.I.E.L.D. over happily ever after? Marcus Daniels introduced them, in the way that he was a sociopath who stalked said cellist and couldn’t be put down by regular weapons so S.H.I.E.L.D. was called in to save the day and Agent Coulson got the girl. Well, until New York, Loki and Tahiti anyway.
When Coulson tells Agent Koenig he wants to take a team out of the super secret S.H.I.E.L.D. base to hunt down Daniels, Koenig has some reservations and insists the team do orientation.
Team Coulson won’t be studying the HR handbook. S.H.I.E.L.D. orientation consists of a lie detector test so accurate that even Romanoff couldn’t beat it (though Fury would never tell if she did). This is the second week that S.H.I.E.L.D. has teased us with a Black Widow reference and I can only hope that 1) this means she’ll be headlining her own movie and 2) she’ll be visiting Coulson soon.
Would be screenwriters should study this scene when writing exposition. S.H.I.E.L.D. gives the audience some new info – May was married (!), Ward has a sister and Agent Triplett’s grandfather was a Howling Commando who served with Captain America and defeated Hydra back in the day (Gabriel Jones, the solider who dropped German for French because the girls in French class were hotter) – and reminds us of stuff we’ve learned all season – Fitz’s massive crush on Simmons and May’s devotion to Coulson – without pointless chatter or putting us to sleep.
Even Skye’s special snowflake status is acknowledge when she tells Koenig the orphanage named her Mary Sue, a nod to all the fans who have been less than impressed with her idealized nature. If only they had left it there! Instead Ward uses his love for Skye as the truth that allows him to beat the lie detector and fool Koenig, who was so close to figuring out he was Hydra.
Somehow, all of Team Coulson is deemed trustworthy and given all access lanyards. Special snow flake Skye figures out that the lanyards are electronic monitoring devices for Koenig to keep tabs on them. My trust in Fury’s level 6 agent is revived, Hydra is everywhere, trust no one Koenig!
Lies for the One You Love
Fitz has been on simmer for awhile, watching Tripp’s easy smile and growing relationship with Simmons uneasily, but his disdain almost boils over when he discovers Tripp has intelligence as well as biceps. Reviving the big brother/little brother relationship from ‘The Hub’, Ward suggests Fitz just tell Simmons how he feels, instead of hating on Tripp.
Clark and Win give a brilliant performance, but this storyline is teetering on the ledge of enough already, so it’s with a heavy heart that I’m okay with May leaving Ward and Skye while Coulson is out in the field. Win delivers again when she tells Ward that the price of following orders, losing Coulson, was too high.
With that we’re back at Ward’s internal battle: duty or love? He ignores May’s warning and follows orders to get the info from the hard drive, which can only be decrypted by Skye at a secret location. It’s probably better than he hoped for, now they can take a vacation together and write it off as a business expense!
Ward heats up the seduction, pulls out some vulnerability and warns Skye that he’s not a good guy. All true, but how much is Ward’s training? After all, who doesn’t want to save the bad boy? It’s all very romantic except that Skye’s awesome computer skills (she’s hacked NSA satellites) mean Ward has to kill Koenig so he doesn’t see the footage of him taking down The Fridge with Garrett.
Ward may have succeeded in stopping him from seeing the footage, but Skye using lanyard tracking devices, figures out pretty quickly that Ward killed Koenig because he’s Hydra. Poor Skye pulls it together pretty quickly but still ends up aboard the bus with Ward insisting they go decrypt the hard drive.
Despite his stone cold killer tactics, I feel like the redemption of Ward story is coming and I’m against it. Strangely, despite the strong scene with May and vulnerability he’s shown with Skye, it’s only the relationship with Fitz that cause any regrets about the desire to see him stay a bad guy.
As for bad guy Marcus Daniels, the rest of Team Coulson defeats him with technology created by Bruce Banner, but Simmons isn’t put at ease when she discovers Coulson kept another secret (his relationship with the cellist). Fitz uses the opportunity for some love life advice. Why not tell the cellist he’s alive? Coulson can’t help but realize he’s doing what May did, allowing someone he loves to be in pain to protect them. I could care less about this thing with the cellist or Daniels, but I’m thrilled this means an end to the cold war between May and Coulson.
Just like Coulson keep silent with the cellist, Fitz decides to let Simmons to think he’s fighting change instead of jealousy. A little bit of my FitzSimmons shipping heart dies because we can’t even pretend he’s protecting Simmons, he’s just scared. Simmon’s deserves better. He wont have much time to worry about it though because Team Coulson gets back to discover the plane along with May, Skye and Ward are gone. Who bets that Skye somehow left a secret message to help the team locate her?
As for Agent May, she’s done what most of us do with a broken heart and called in mom for help. Unlike your mom, May’s is also some badass world saving agent and gives May Agent Maria Hill’s location. Huh. What’s that about?
‘The Only Light in the Darkness’ uncovered the love Team Coulson has for each other, but is it enough to bandage their lie wounds? Can Ward’s love for Skye be his redemption? Will Fitz find his voice to tell Simmons how he feels before she decides she can’t trust anyone on their team? Is Agent May looking for Hill to avoid dealing with the pain of losing Coulson? Head over to the forum and let us know what you’re thinking!