BILL PAXTON

It’s as if Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was lying dormant somewhere waiting for Captain America: The Winter Soldier to rattle its part of the Marvel universe. “Providence” is like a fast-acting serum quickly coursing its way through the series’ veins.

The Players:

  • Director: Milan Cheylov
  • Writer: Brent Fletcher
  • Cast: Clark Gregg, Bill Paxton, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Brett Dalton, Elizabeth Henstridge, Iain de Caestecker, B.J. Britt, Ruth Negga, David Conrad, Patton Oswalt

Episode Title: “Providence”

S.H.I.E.L.D. has fallen and the agents aren’t sure what to do. They’re not even aware that their most reliable comrade, Agent Ward (Dalton), was secretly working for the Clairvoyant/Agent Garrett (Paxton). While Agent Coulson (Gregg) leads the remnants of the team on a wild goose chase, Ward and the Clairvoyant have other plans for Hydra’s dominance over the once proud organization.

The Good:

  • Big Bad Ward: It took them almost an entire season to do it, but Agent Ward is finally interesting. He went from a straight-laced, goody two-shoes into a slightly charming but evil double agent buried deep within S.H.I.E.L.D. He comes off as a bit more charismatic and appealing. Now he’s going to have to deal with his feelings for Skye (Bennet) as he tries to pull off the double agent angle, which won’t last long at this point. Towards the end of the episode it’s revealed that he has to go back and persuade Skye to show him the password to a hard drive file that will give Hydra access to any remaining S.H.I.E.L.D. information.
  • Flower Dress: There wasn’t much character development amongst the good guys, but the writer did explore the inner terrain of the villains. While the Clairvoyant’s enjoying Hydra’s coming out party, the person who’s unsure about it is Raina (Negga), better known as the girl in the flower dress. She’s been leading the charge on the super soldier serum project Operation Centipede, but wasn’t expecting this kind of world when she was busted out of jail. Once she found out she was working for Hydra, and the Clairvoyant (a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent), her loyalty started to wane. She starts to screw with Ward’s head, talking to him about Skye and the group. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Raina was already thinking of her exit strategy.
  • More Challenges: Ward and the Clairvoyant decide to raid a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility called The Fridge. They let out all the villains including Ian Quinn (Conrad) and reunite him with his soon to be villainous comrade, Graviton. If Hydra is starting to take valuable equipment from various locations once occupied by S.H.I.E.L.D., there’s a good chance this could tie into a future Marvel movie. With the addition of Agent Eric Koenig (Oswalt) in the mix, he could easily butt heads with double agent Ward. It’s just a lot of fun watching Bill Paxton play the Clairvoyant, especially after “Turn, Turn, Turn.” He may not be the mystical version of the Clairvoyant we were hoping for, but his portrayal of the Hydra-loving agent is fantastic.

The So-So:

  • The Sets: Some people may complain that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. looks considerably under budget, but this is the show’s first year and its ratings haven’t been helping it. The locations, the settings feel incredibly small and at times, cheap for a big Marvel show. If this season manages to make it towards the second season, it’s time for ABC to step up their game. At least get a little more creative with their locations and how believable they appear.

The Bad:

  • Fitz: Ever since the events of “FZZT,” Fitz (Caestecker) has been protective over Simmons’ (Henstridge) well-being. But his development in the overall story line has been rather stagnant compared to the other people in his group. At this point he’s coming off as considerably whiny, over-protective and not much of anything else. It’s Simmons who’s doing even more of the science work over him, especially as of late thanks to her fascination with that miracle serum mixed up in Skye’s body. There’s only two episodes left but hopefully they’ll think of something else to do with this character, other than let him sit in the corner and pout as Simmons hooks up with Agent Triplett (Britt).

Overall:

It’s unfortunate that it took a Marvel movie to push this show in the right direction. “Providence” is a continuation of that good path, finally binding the most intriguing aspects of the story and these characters together into what’s turned out to be a  really entertaining show. It’s a shame we’re just a couple episodes away from the finale after Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. finally became good.

Rating: 9/10

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs at 8 p.m., Tuesdays on ABC.

What did you think of the episode?