Starring: Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson, Ming Na-Wen as Melinda May, Brett Dalton as Grant Ward, Chloe Bennet as Skye, Iain De Caestecker as Leo Fitz, Elizabeth Henstridge as Jemma Simmons
Series created by: Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen
Episode directed by: Milan Cheylov / Written by: Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancheroen/ aired in the UK: 2/5/2014
What’s this episode about?
On the run from the U.S. government, Agent Coulson and his team seek refuge at a secluded S.H.I.E.L.D. installation…
As Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. begins hurtling towards its first season finale (and renewal for a second looking likely), it continues to maintain the upswing in quality which has steadily been gathering momentum since the show’s return from hiatus.
The aftershocks of recent big screen smash Captain America: The Winter Soldier (read the GBUK review here) are well and truly felt and AoS finally begins to hit the ground running and start fulfilling its potential.
“Providence” opens with Coulson and his team still reeling from Hydra’s decimation of S.H.I.E.L.D. facilitating a much needed sense of purpose the series has sorely been lacking and presents scenarios that continues to define its main characters and their relationships. Notably – and much like the show itself – Skye has a new sense of direction with her commitment to the cause of S.H.I.E.L.D. (even as the organisation crumbles around her and the rest of the team) and the recent revelations of May’s deceptions causes a rift within the team, allowing some wonderfully played and tense scenes between her and Coulson who pulls no punches on his feelings about her ‘betrayal’.
Brett Dalton is given more meat to chew on as (much like Skye) viewer’s perceptions of Agent Ward are shook up as we learn that it is he who is the traitor amongst the team. This considered he still remains one of the show’s weaker characters but maybe this will be a chance to redefine him? On the whole, the characters have grown and raising the stakes has added a sense of urgency which is providing the series with an edge via nifty plot twists, dramatic tensions and scintillating action.
In terms of guest stars this episode, Heroes star Adrian Pasdair makes a brief but significant entrance as Colonel Glenn Talbot whilst the legendary Bill Paxton makes a more than welcome return as the (now) devious John Garrett and Patton Oswalt provides an enjoyable turn as Eric Koenig, the very Whedon-esque quirky caretaker of the ‘hush hush’ S.H.I.E.L.D. installation the episode’s title is derived from. The weakest link has to be B.J. Britt whose Antoine Triplett who is proving rather flat and one-dimensional, despite attempts to build a love interest for Simmons.
Once again, though, Clark Gregg is rightfully the focal point and main draw of the series which simply couldn’t endure (or arguably, exist) without him – let’s hope we see a return of Coulson’s appearances on the big screen in future offerings from Marvel Studios.
I’m glad AoS is still on the air but the real question now is can the show’s creative powers continue to fulfil their ambitions and deliver consistently exciting live-action comic book entertainment? I wouldn’t ever expect it to be ground breaking in the same vein as 24 or Battlestar Galactica, but if it satisfies the hunger for more Marvel excitement between big screen releases then I’m all for it.
The bottom line: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is beginning to shape-up and points to a potentially exciting future for Marvel’s presence on the small screen.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs in the UK on Fridays at 8pm on Channel 4. US viewers can catch it Tuesday nights on ABC.
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