The past few weeks have been HUGE for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’, things changed in a big way for the world inhabited by some of our favorite superheroes. Then, we immediately saw the fallout in last week’s episode of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ titled ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’. So now that the playing field is completely different, it should go without saying that if you’re not caught up on all things live action Marvel, then you probably shouldn’t proceed any further and get back on the ball because you’re missing some great stuff!

After the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the reemergence of HYDRA, Agent Phil Coulson is in a whole new world (and not in the fun ‘Aladdin’ way either). Though he and his team finally discovered that the Clairvoyant was actually high-ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and friend John Garrett, another traitor is among those that Coulson considered to be in his inner circle. During the transport of Garrett to the Fridge, Agent Grant Ward showed his true colors and killed Victoria Hand, revealing that he too had been working with the terrorist organization the whole time.

Now, with Ward by his side, Garret rallies his fellow HYDRA agents in order to ransack vulnerable S.H.I.E.L.D. bases, starting with the facility where the organization’s most dangerous weapons and prisoners are being held. Meanwhile, Coulson and company flee the Hub after they learn that the US government is heading their way to “check things out”. After he receives reason to believe that Nick Fury is still alive, the loyal agent sets course into the unknown with the hope that he’ll finally get the answers that he’s been looking for, as well as guidance in what to do in this post-S.H.I.E.L.D. world.

Since all this HYDRA business has gone down, it seems that no one has taken things harder than Phil Coulson. S.H.I.E.L.D. was his whole world. He literally gave his life for the organization and what it stood for, but it all turned out to be a front. With all this craziness going on in the MCU right now, this episode took a minute to see how the face of S.H.I.E.L.D. to the audience is reacting to these world-shattering events. Even though he’s been great each time he’s had to put on the dark suit, Clark Gregg particularly stood out in this installment. As the episode went on, Coulson broke down more and more until it all came to a head when things looked bleakest. He was the only one who believed that there was some good news waiting from Fury at the end of the rainbow. Of course, his unwavering loyalty paid off in the end, but things got really dark. And Gregg absolutely killed it in those instances. We really got to the core of what Coulson believes in this week and we wouldn’t have gotten there without the actor’s wonderful performance.

Coulson wasn’t the only one to show us who he really is in this episode. Ward and Garrett also shined this week by giving us more of who they really are. In terms of the agent formerly known as the Clairvoyant, Bill Paxton is so amazing in the role. He’s smooth and charismatic, but he does the worst things. Even though he’s so evil, he still maintains the traits that we came to enjoy when we didn’t know any better. For instance, when Kaminski does the HYDRA salute and Garrett berates him by calling him a “West Texas cheerleader at a pep rally”, we see that he’s still hilarious. It’s just that he’s turned out to be more sinister that we thought he was. A good hero needs a good villain and as we learn just how crazy Garrett is, it’s being proven that he’s a great match for Coulson and they couldn’t have gotten anyone better to play him.

Then with Ward, I thought for a second that his heel turn might have been a reluctant one. We learn that he has actually developed feelings for Skye, but other than that, he’s just as committed to HYDRA as Garrett. Throughout the episode, especially while talking to Raina, the writers paint a very different picture of Grant Ward. He still has all the skills that we’ve come to experience over the course of the season, but now that his true intentions have been unveiled, everything is just new and awesome and apparently Ward isn’t as boring as we’ve all been saying he is.

Despite seeing the awesome pairing of Ward and Garrett onscreen, the storyline featuring another duo didn’t come off as strong. For some time now, the writers have been showing Fitz get jealous whenever Simmons talks to another guy. However, we haven’t really gotten a payoff to those feelings. Sure, we’re reminded that Fitz doesn’t like change and he’s very committed to Simmons and their partnership, but no switch has been flipped yet where that whole thing is interesting enough to stay invested in. They need to pull the trigger on whatever it is they have planned with those two already because it’s been dragged out for far too long. That being said, the tandem of FitzSimmons has gotten a lot more interesting (and less annoying) since the beginning of the series. I know that there’s been so much going on with the bigger picture, but now that the team has some room to breathe, hopefully they flesh out more of these other situations that have been building within the team.

Overall, while it wasn’t exactly as eventful as the last episode, this week’s ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ definitely set the stage for the rest of the season with a very solid offering. Now that all the villains have been released and the Gravitonium has been unearthed, Coulson and his team should have their hands full in between dealing with the HYDRA threat that is attempting to wipe out any remnants of S.H.I.E.L.D. that are still standing. But at least they have a new base and a new ally in the form of Patton Oswalt’s Agent Eric Koenig, who is a very welcome addition to the show that probably has more to offer than fun back and forth with Coulson and pop culture references. Now that Koenig explained how things need to be in Providence, it’ll be interesting to see how everything unfolds, especially now that Ward has rejoined his “teammates”. Ugh, there are just so many things that I can’t wait to see on this show! Business has really picked up and if you still haven’t jumped back on, True Believers, then you’re doing it wrong.

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‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ starring Brett Dalton, Ming-Na Wen, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, Chloe Bennet, and Clark Gregg airs on Tuesdays at 8:00pm on ABC.