There be spoilers here.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back on UK screens. Each week, we’re hoping to bring you the episode analysis that matters, the key insights and critiques that can be derived from those tense forty-three minutes of television…
Ha, just kidding. No, what I really want to do instead is talk about the five things I loved and hated this week. So what did I make of season two episode “Face My Enemy”?
I can’t remember the last time I saw agents Coulson and May dressed differently. The opening with Coulson wearing his partially buttoned shirt, jacket with handkerchief in the breast pocket, and as he comments, cuff-links, and then May in her spectacular dress: it’s interesting to see characters in non-familiar attire. Gets you thinking. Makes you wonder what was going to happen. If they’d been wearing night-vision goggles, I wouldn’t have noticed, but those sparkles…
HATED: Overselling of ze cover
Okay, so once Coulson and May are in the auction location and beginning to scope things out, I found them talking themselves up, and the “characters” they were pretending to be, cheesy and unnecessary. These two were the crème de la crème of S.H.I.E.L.D. before Hydra helped to fudge everyone over, and would know that fleshing out a lie like that would just seem unnatural and draw more attention to them than was needed. (That’s right, the best lies are told with the least amount of detail, whether you’re pretending to be two socialites or trying to drive attention away from your cookie thieving ways.)
What worked better was May and Coulson reflecting on their early days together at S.H.I.E.L.D. We still don’t know quite what things were like for them before Iron Man went and jiggled things about for everyone, but it was nice to hear about dance classes and wanting to get out into the field as much as possible.
Despite my own Father having a moustache, I am sick of seeing Talbot’s face and his ‘tache sneaking onto the screen. I just thought maybe we could have gone two episodes without seeing him in any form or shape, but no apparently we needed to not only see his doppelgänger – we had to see him too. I get that he’s a major force in their universe at the moment, but I can’t stand seeing the ‘tache more than necessary. There’s enough facial hair in my world at the moment, as men participate in Movember.
LOVED: Getting old
There was the underlying hint that May and Coulson aren’t 100 percent happy with still being in the spy game. They kept throwing their age into the picture and how things use to be. And then there was the main plot issue of the grab for information about the symbols that have been crawling out of Coulson’s head, which almost seem like some weird metaphor for dementia at this point, with added “end it” plan. I enjoyed in these levels, whether they were intentionally put there or not.
HATED: Fitz down in the dumps
I thought we’d made a breakthrough previously, but no, Fitz spent the first half of the episode being miserable and detached. I don’t expect his faculties to be completely returned to him yet, but his continued moping around didn’t seem quite in-tune, even with his recent attempts on Ward’s life. However… see one of my later loves.
LOVED: Light bending disguises
The only thing that made seeing Talbot’s moustache acceptable was finding out that most of its screen time was down to the cool hologram disguise tech that Hydra was rocking out with. It seemed a little implausible that it needed a blood and DNA sample, rather than photos, to be customised to create a certain appearance (that ignores all of the environmental factors that affect how appearances are created), but damn – it looked fantastic when users were punched in the face. Repeatedly.
May’s prolonged time in little clothing seemed to me like fan service. She was wearing a quite revealing under-dress with her dress, and so seeing her tortured in it and then fighting in a prolonged battle with a Hydra agent looking like her… I’m not sure who this really benefited, but I have my suspicions. Lots of suspicions.
LOVED: Go team “bomb” disposal
Overall, the lack of focus placed on Skye, Fitz, Hunter, Mack and Antoine in this episode, their secondary plot of diffusing the situation on the plane, was welcome. But the focus that was placed on them was at its best when Fitz and Hunter successfully worked together to stop things going boom. It allowed Hunter to see Fitz in a different light and gave Fitz the confidence to come out of his shell a bit more.
Acknowledging that Coulson is worried about where his mind is going isn’t something that I want to do. Hearing him trying to corner May into talking about what to do with him when his scribing impulses may finally get the better of him made me feel a bit sad. I really like the character of Coulson and hearing him talk so plainly about wanting May to kill him wasn’t a highlight of this episode for me. It was dramatic, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.