By Josh Axelrod
Okay, seven episodes into Season 2 of “S.H.I.E.L.D” and I’m ready to make a bold proclamation: This show is now top tier TV. No, it’s not as good as the best dramas on TV like “The Good Wife,” “Mad Men” and “Game of Thrones.” But it’s just as entertaining as any of them, and its implications in terms of the Marvel cinematic universe are getting more important. I don’t see “Game of Thrones” influencing an entire movie universe.
“The Writing on the Wall” brought the focus back onto Coulson and his compulsive alien writing. The mysterious guy we saw a few episodes ago with the alien tattoos (played by “Cougar Town’s” Brian Van Holt) was on a killing spree, taking down ex-S.H.I.E.L.D agents who had been injected with the same GH drug that’s in Coulson and Skye’s blood.
It was perfect timing to launch deeper into this mystery, because Coulson was clearly beginning to lose it. It was getting to the point where he absolutely HAD to figure out what the writing meant. In order to figure out who the murderer was, Coulson hooked himself into that memory-inducing machine Raina used on him last season, this time under the supervision of Skye, Mac and Simmons.
Quick side note: Simmons has been uncharacteristically angry since she returned from her mission. Is it frustration at her inability to connect to Fitz, or something more? Also, I like Mac taking Fitz under his wing. Their relationship is starting to resemble Fitz and Simmons’s from last season. Maybe there’s some jealousy there on Simmons’s end too.
Anyway, back to Coulson’s memories. We finally got some concrete answers about what went down when Coulson was in charge of the Tahiti project. He looked after six S.H.I.E.L.D agents who had been given the drug in order to save their lives. Their conditions all deteriorated, and Coulson had to make the tough call to erase all their memories and give them new identities. He also figured out the identities of the murderer (Sebastian Derek) and his next victim (Hank Thompson, played by Joel Gretsch).
His team was justifiably afraid of Coulson when he came to, mostly because he lashed out before regaining his composure. Or so we thought: He locked Skye in Ward’s old cell and raced to Hank Thompson’s house to get answers about the writing. The new Hank was just a normal guy with a wife and kid, and had no idea what Coulson or Derek (who beat Coulson to Hank) wanted from him.
It turned out Derek had regained his memories through pain, and his writing compulsions led him on a murderous path to see if anyone else could tell him what it meant. As it turned out, the answer was in Thompson’s basement in the form of a model that completed some of the puzzle. It looks like the writing wasn’t a map like Skye thought, but more like a blueprint for a (probably alien ) city. Derek and Coulson both calmed down immensely with this new information, and neither feels the need to write those symbols anymore.
As all this was happening, a newly free Ward was getting on a bus to Boston with May, Trip, Hunter and Bobbi on his trail. Now that Ward has gone full evil, he’s a genuinely compelling character. You can’t guess what he’ll do next. When he threatened to blow up that bus unless Bobbi stood down, I believed him. He’s that much of a loose cannon now.
Ward took a meeting with Daniel Whitehall’s right hand man, which ended with a lot of dead H.Y.D.R.A grants and that guy gift wrapped for Coulson. It looks like Ward has an agenda, which includes killing his brother and (possibly) redeeming himself with S.H.I.E.L.D. He told Skye he would keep leaving her and Coulson gifts, though he threatened the new members of the team at the same time. Basically, Ward is about as dangerous as any villain still in play on this show.
I’ll cap things off this week by going over the big picture stuff in the Marvel universe:
- Sot that city. IGN has an interesting theory that it might connect to the newly announced “Inhumans” movie somehow, or even the Sub-mariner. I’m hoping this somehow connects to “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the writing turns out to be Kree.
- Ward namedropped Baron Von Strucker, who we know will be one of the main villains in “Age of Ultron.” It was a quick mention, but it’s a reminder that H.Y.D.R.A is an ever-present part of Marvel’s big plan.
- Skye mentioned a hacker friend named Micro, which is cool because she might be referring to Microchip, a comic ally of The Punisher. Getting him back in the Marvel cinematic universe would be a lot of fun, so hopefully that isn’t just grasping at straws.
- I’m still convinced the obelisk is an Infinity Gem. So far we’ve seen the tesseract in “The Avengers,” the ether in “Thor: The Dark World” and the orb in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” The obelisk seems to affect people like the orb did to Starlord, and again it would make sense for Marvel’s plan to have two “Infinity Wars” movies.