THE ONE WHERE SHIELD recruit Mike Peterson (from the pilot episode) to help them tackle Centipede – but can they trust him?
VERDICT Oh SHIELD, and you were so damn close to that elusive four star rating…
For 20 minutes or so “The Bridge” looks like it’s going to end the series’ 2013 run on a high. It’s miraculous just how much more fun this programme is with J August Richard’s Mike in it. It’s not that he’s a wildly exciting character or anything but his joy at having powers is infectious. For once you remember that this is a Marvel show, not because of a clunky reference to The Avengers (although there are several), but because there’s a likeable superhero in it.
It’s not just his powers, mind. He makes the other characters better. The scene with Fitz and Simmons is genuinely funny, and his interactions with Coulsen actually kinda moving. Come on guys, make him a regular – he’s got far more soul than bland Skye or creepy Agent Ward.
There’s also pleasure to be had in seeing the various ongoing plot threads finally start to converge. Coulsen’s death, the mystery of Skye’s parents and Centipede are all woven together, and there’s a real sense of heightened danger.
But then SHIELD engage Centipede’s soldiers and it just sort of falls apart and muddles along until a heavily signposted final twist: Mike is – gasp! – a traitor.
It’s this sort of functional plotting that has made Agents Of SHIELD such a disappointment in its first year. Sure, it’s a spy show, and spy shows have traitors and double-bluffs (personally I’m half-expecting Coulsen’s capture to be something that he’s cooked up with Mike in secret), but they could have at least tried to disguise it just a teeny-tiny bit
More yawns come with Ward and May’s tedious post-shag angst. It brings to mind Owen and Gwen’s liaisons in Torchwood – as if SHIELD needed any more links to that show. On the plus side, May is growing into a more interesting character. She’s still firmly in the Michonne mode – saying little, killing lots – but we’re finally starting to see some inner life there. The scene where she gives Skye a dressing down was a long time coming, and the first sign that SHIELD has hired at least one semi-professional operative into their team.
Will things pick up in the new year? The final scene of the episode was at least tantalising. Could we finally be about to get some answers as to how and why Coulsen came back from the dead? We’ll have to wait till January to find out when the show returns with ‘A Magical Place’…
WHO IS THE CLAIRVOYANT? Well, clearly the season’s big bad. Given the mystery surrounding his identity – not even Raina knows who he is – it’s reasonable to assume he’s either someone we already know from the TV show or the Marvel films, or a character from the comics universe. Wild speculation with zero evidence so far, but could he perhaps be another Agent Coulsen – assuming that ours has been cloned or brought back as a Life Model Decoy, or whatever? It might explain Centipede’s interest in our Phil. Then again why would he have that particular nickname? Consider us intrigued.
RATINGS The episode fell to a series low of 5.92m in the States. Not great news, but perhaps the relaunch next year will give it a boost.
BEST LINE Raina: “We want you to tell us about the day after you died…”