Agents of SHIELD: 308 “Many Heads, One Tale” Review
Reviewed by Ollie Gregory.
After last week’s episode effectively wrapped up the huge story thread that was Lash, Many Heads, One Tale (Yes, this is how they spelt it) put the focus back on the nefarious organisation that’s been dealing damage across the whole of the MCU, HYDRA.
This week we open with a rather brilliant action sequence involving Grant Ward annihilating a bunch of nameless goons. A couple of weeks ago I said that Grant Ward was a fairly weak villain, not coming across as evil as he should be. Well, this week I realised that Grant Ward is a fantastic villain, that’s incredibly enjoyable to watch, provided he is used in the right way. As Gideon Malick points out, he isn’t top of the food chain. As a loan predator, going about throwing people and torturing them for info, he’s one of the greatest characters this show has to offer.
So what of the guy who is top of the food chain? Powers Boothe has been doing a great job as Gideon Malick, confirming this episode that he is the same character as the one in The Avengers. He’s certainly menacing enough, but he doesn’t overdo it. He’s calm, collected, and doesn’t seem to ever not be in control, the perfect ingredients for a big bad.
As much as it pains me to say it, I will admit that there’s two plot threads with a sense of romance in them this episode, and I’m intrigued by them both. I’m enjoying the witty combination of Coulson and Rosalind, and that the show proved it was clever than us. We were all expecting the show to go the predictable route, and have Coulson lower his guard for Rosalind, so that she could infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D and complete her heel turn (Wrestling fan here). Instead, the show decided to pull the rug out from under us, showing Coulson would do no such thing, not once trusting Rosalind, making him a far more believable super-spy. I enjoyed the questions posed by Rosalind about him, how much of him is robot and how much of him is human, both physically and emotionally?
The second romance thread that has drawn me in is that of Fitzsimmons. For weeks I’ve been thinking about how the romantic aspect was the weakest part of that story, but then there was a wonderfully acted sequence culminating in a kiss between the two that just completely blew me away. Fitz is just the greatest guy on the world, as is Iain de Caestecker. I can’t believe I’m sitting here as a teenage comic book fan writing about how exciting the romantic subplot is in a superhero TV show!
We also got an awesome heist sequence this episode that delivered on all grounds.
Hunter and Bobbi proved this week that they do have really good chemistry, when they both went undercover to break into the ATCU’s hideouts. Hunter dressing up and acting as a computer nerd was a really fun touch, as was Bobbi increasingly getting frustrated at him. On an action front they were a lot of fun as well, with a unique and engaging sequence involving the two of them fighting of a number of ATCU agents, one of which with telekinesis. Although it was enjoyable, there was a sense of awkwardness when Bobbi was fighting, similar to that of May in some previous episodes. I don’t know whether it’s the choreography or the cinematography or just that the actress’ aren’t particularly comfortable with the fighting they’re doing.
Daisy and Mack’s role overseeing the operation was also a lot of fun. Them two were great together, as usual, giving Bobbi and Hunter the low down on everything that was going on. I specifically enjoyed the likes of Mack pretending to work for the CIA down the phone, and Daisy telling Hunter word-for-word what to say. If done well, heists can be exhilarating and funny at the same time. This one was exactly that.
The weakest part of this episode, which to be honest isn’t even that bad, is the way they treat May. She just sort of scowls the whole time and then apologises to Lincoln Campbell right at the end. As much as I give the writers a lot of credit, having May sit there next to Campbell, listening as he begs her to say something, only for her to admit the only reason she wasn’t speaking to him is because she didn’t know how to apologise was just, meh. It’s not that big of an issue but it would have been easier and better to have May hide herself away and refuse to be near Campbell, have him approach her, and then her tell him that every time he come near she feels sick to her stomach as she remembers how Andrew killed all his friends. Then again, what do I know?
Yet despite all this, the highlight of this episode was, without a doubt, the twist at the very end. As much as I’m still trying to properly piece the whole thing together, from what I can gather HYDRA is an organisation that greatly predates World War 2, going all the way back to ancient civilisations. Anyway, as you might remember from one episode, HYDRA have been sacrificing people, sending them through the monolith and onto the alien planet that Simmons was trapped on, but haven’t figured out how to bring people back. The organisation, that was yet to be called HYDRA, had some sort of control over NASA, and Will was one of the many people sacrificed. Gideon Malick was overseeing the ATCU and without Rosalind knowing (At least that is what she claims) has not been working on a cure for the inhuman, but instead trying to figure out how to get as many as possible, so he can make them a part of his evil army. Gideon also has Lash in his possession, along with presumably some other inhumans, and seems to be well on his way to achieving his evil dream.
Tying together all the plot threads from the past seven episodes was no easy task, but they managed to pull it off superbly. As they’ve been saying this whole time, “It’s all connected” (I refuse to use a #), and they were right. It is all woven together wonderfully creating a coherent story, focusing the season onto HYDRA without forgetting about any of the other things that have made season 3 so good. Sure, it is a little complicated, but they’ll definitely explain it further over the next few episodes.
This episode was one of the best this season. The main theme of this episode, at least it seemed to me, was the writers proving they are so much cleverer than people think. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is often accused of being extremely predictable, but to put it bluntly, it isn’t. Despite all the weird and wonderful fan theories people come up with, I haven’t seen anyone mention anything at all similar to what is written a couple of paragraphs up. The twist, however, isn’t outlandish, as they’ve been hinting it to us without us even realising. That is, in essence,the makings of great twist, which led to a great episode. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D again exceeds all expectations, now binge on Jessica Jones (Get it. It’s a pun. I’ve geniusly replaced the word ‘bring’ with ‘binge’ because it’s on Netflix).
P.S. I know ‘geniusly’ isn’t a word.