Agents of SHIELD: 120 “Nothing Personal” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
So after a brief excursion from the major arc of the show last week to pursue something personal, we return this week with “Nothing Personal”, and another slightly odd episode which seems to be building things up for the finale without offering much in the way of standalone fun. But those things being set up for the finale make for thrilling and occasionally twisted viewing, and a couple of nice Easter Eggs make for a satisfying, if not particularly structured instalment of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Having left May on her way to find Maria Hill last week, this week picks up with her finding the former S.H.I.E.L.D. second-in-command coming out of an official hearing after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. One of the aforementioned Easter Eggs crops up here, as Hill references a question she was asked in the hearing: namely ‘who, or what, is a Man-Thing?’, name checking one of the more bizarre additions to the Marvel pantheon, and one we are unlikely to see much more of in the future. May interrupts her and tells her about Coulson, but Hill informs May that it will be much easier for everyone if they give themselves up and talk to the US government without giving too much away: she also mentions that the main reason she has moved on to work at Stark Industries is that even the government can’t get through Stark’s ‘army of lawyers’, a nice explanation of why she chose that particular career path. Naturally May disagrees with Hill and leaves, but the conversation obviously gives Hill an idea, based on what else happens in the episode.
Upon their return to Providence, what is left of Team Coulson (namely Fitz, Simmons and Triplett) discover that May, Ward and Skye have all disappeared, and the latter two have made off with the Bus. While searching for supplies to make everyone pancakes to cheer them up (because she is the most adorable), Simmons stumbles upon Koenig’s body, still hidden away in the vent, and Fitz simultaneously finds a message left on one of the many mock-exterior windows from Skye telling them that ‘Ward is HYDRA’. Simmons’ subsequent autopsy of Koenig’s body confirms that he was killed by someone approximating Ward’s height and build, and Ward’s big secret is finally out.
Before they can organise themselves to go after Ward, however, the team is interrupted by the US military, led by Colonel Glenn ‘Weird-Moustache-Hair-Combo’ Talbot, who have come to take them into custody and interrogate them. Unfortunately, it also turns out that they were led to Providence by Hill, who tells Coulson that he should co-operate with the government and feed them some tidbits of S.H.I.E.L.D. intel without giving too much away. However, after a convincing speech from Coulson, Hill gives in and helps the team escape custody to go and find Skye and Ward.
Speaking of whom, Skye takes Ward to the diner where she first met Mike Peterson and tells him that this is the location that the encryption is connected to, but with her inferior hardware it will take a while to decrypt. However, she reveals shortly after that she was never decrypting the hard drive, instead sending a message to the police informing them of Ward’s whereabouts, and that she knows he is HYDRA. While he gets into a scrap with the police, she manages to escape in a police car, but she is swiftly incapacitated by Deathlok, who now seems to be in full control of all his abilities, and they all return to the Bus together.
Once there, Deathlok commands Skye to decrypt the hard drive, and when she refuses he fires a taser-bolt into Ward’s chest which forces his heart into cardiac arrest. Skye tells Deathlok that Ward is a crazy Nazi and hurting him won’t make her decrypt the drive, but she eventually relents, not wanting to see Ward die in front of her. She tells Deathlok that the drive’s location is not based on latitude and longitude, but height, and once they reach a certain height in the Bus the drive will start to decrypt, so Deathlok restarts Ward’s heart. Naturally Ward isn’t best pleased with what Deathlok just did, and he is even less pleased when Hill and Triplett show up on the runway threatening to blow up the plane: he takes off anyway, knowing that they wouldn’t risk killing Skye in the attack, but fortunately their tactic was to stall for long enough that Coulson could sneak onto the plane via the landing gear.
He manages to rescue Skye and escape the Bus with a little help from a certain flying car with a girl’s name, and they retreat to a hotel where Skye reveals that she left a trap in the hard drive which will allow them to take control of HYDRA’s systems if they can get access to a HYDRA computer. May also returns to the fold, giving Coulson a hard drive which she earlier retrieved from his own false grave, which she says contains details of Project T.A.H.I.T.I., including the identity of the officer in command of the program. However, when he opens the files, he discovers that the agent in command was none other than Agent Phil Coulson, who recommended to Fury that the program be shut down due to the extreme psychological side effects of the process; side effects which can only be prevented by wiping the subject’s memory. Clearly Fury didn’t take Coulson’s advice to heart, and we could be seeing a suggestion of what is to come for Coulson now he knows the truth about T.A.H.I.T.I.
A somewhat uneven episode, particularly considering there are now just two episodes left before the end of the first season (we now know that there will be a second), but one full of enough small moments that it remains reasonably satisfying. Here’s hoping that the final two episodes can be a little more than just ‘satisfying’!