TV Recap: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., ‘End of the Beginning’

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Plot: The hunt for the Clairvoyant is in full force. To finally track this mysterious figure down, Agents John Garrett (Bill Paxton), Felix Blake (Titus Welliver), and Antoine Triplett (B. J. Britt) have joined up with Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team. Deathlok (J. August Richards) plans to do everything he can to stop them.

Finally! After a series of random breaks that extended several weeks, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back to a normal schedule. From this moment on the series will proceed as normal until the season finale. This is about time too because S.H.I.E.L.D. has really improved as of late. The Uprising special event has been great so far. All the promotion leading up to last night’s episode was mainly about Deathlok making his epic reappearance. His return and the hunt for Clairvoyant were merely a ruse though to cover up a story filled with distrust and betrayal. In one single episode, the cracks are starting to appear within this team. This all made “End of the Beginning” one of the best episodes of this MCU TV series.

Seeing as he was the face of this episode, I’m focusing on Deathlok first. He has been on the front line of a bunch of comic characters coming to this show. Following his reveal we got the likes of John Garrett, Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander), and Lorelai (Elena Satine), with even more in the pipeline. Yet Deathlok is easily the most compelling as he is the only character who is both original to the show and a comic book adaptation. Up until he became this badass cyborg, Mike Peterson was a simple man who wanted powers to improve his son’s life. Now he is an entirely different killing machine who has no control and is part of a long comic history. While the show did an amazing job presenting Deathlok as the unstoppable killing machine that he really is, it did nothing to present his legitimate personal turmoil. The life of his son, his entire reason for going down this path, was almost an afterthought. Blake did the necessary job of bringing Ace up at all, but it would’ve been nice to get more to give Deathlok some extra dimensions. He’s still part human after all.

Tracking down the Clairvoyant was the overall story and it was suitably exciting. This is someone who has been screwing with S.H.I.E.L.D. for a while. He has killed numerous people and ruined the lives of these heroes. Naturally the team wanted to bring all authorities together to take him down. This even included Hub director Victoria Hand (Saffron Burrows) and upgrading Skye (Chloe Bennet) to a Level 1 Agent. Took long enough right? As per usual, the Clairvoyant is one step ahead of the team, and has Deathlok meet their forces every step of the way. Several explosions and gunshots later, the team comes face to face with a man named Thomas Nash, who they believe is the Clairvoyant. Everything goes to hell when Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) decides to kill Nash right then and there.

Ward’s murder of the supposed Clairvoyant is when the team began to fall apart and the idea of betrayal took center stage. Suspicions started running high throughout the Bus when Coulson deduced that the Clairvoyant has to be a S.H.I.E.L.D Agent, but everything came to a head when Melinda May’s (Ming-Na Wen) secret activities were exposed by Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker). Remember how confused I was at how May seemingly knew everything about everyone? Well apparently there’s a legitimate reason for that. While it’s never unveiled who she is actually reporting team activity to, Hand herself becomes a prime suspect for the viewer as she takes over the Bus and requests for every agent but Coulson to be taken down. Could Hand have been the Clairvoyant all along? It’s a bit too obvious but she definitely fits the bill to a tee.

I do want to discuss the outing of the Clairvoyant as a possible S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent. While I am obviously a big fan of this story about betrayal and distrust, I’m so confused as to why this show refuses to acknowledge the possibility of psychic powers. Coulson himself was coming around to the idea. Why can’t the Clairvoyant be a psychic? The Marvel Cinematic Universe is home to world conquering aliens, superheroes that have super strength/super speed/hyper intelligence/the ability to control lighting, and an entire realm of Asgardian gods. Both Coulson and Skye have blue alien blood coursing through their veins, something that Fitz and Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) desperately want to know more about. Having the Clairvoyant be some kind of Asgardian or alien is entirely possible. Granted this can absolutely happen, Hand’s actions and Coulson’s theories are not confirmations by any means, but “actually a S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent” feels like too simple of an explanation.

“End of the Beginning” ended with a brief teaser for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which comes out this Friday in North America. Seeing as that movie is being touted as a huge spy thriller with S.H.I.E.L.D. conspiracies running rampant, it’s easy to see how this episode fits into that theme. I’d say it wouldn’t be entirely unlikely to have some references to this show pop up in the latest Captain America adventure. Not something obvious to confuse people who missed the show but something subtle enough to give viewers that extra nugget of material. Even if that doesn’t happen though, this episode was exciting enough to kick start our regularly scheduled Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. program. I’m excited now that I won’t have to wait several weeks to get more of what I want. Deathlok was as awesome as expected, the twist focused story was gripping, and now the stage is set for something even bigger than before: a possible enemy within S.H.I.E.L.D. itself.

Rating: 9/10

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