In one of the early episodes of Agents of SHIELD, Coulson told Skye a simple yet true statement, “Trust the system”. In that case, SHIELD. Because he believed in it, and trusted it, and knew that when all else failed, SHIELD wouldn’t.
Yet in the aftermath of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and last weeks episode “Turn, Turn, Turn” it now appears that the opposite may be truth. The system is broken, few can be trusted, and SHIELD may not be alive for much longer.
“Providence”, was very much a tale of two organizations scrambling for power. On one hand, you Coulson, his team, and the remaining SHIELD agents trying desperately to put the pieces back together in order to take the fight to Hydra. Then of course….there’s Hydra, who is now revealed, and is doing all they can to arm up for the upcoming war they know is coming.
This was a very entertaining episode that played up both sides perfectly in their very different situations, yet not losing site of what was happening. All the while, there were some stellar performances, and many, MANY, questions were raised.
First off, it’s official, John Garrett is the Clairvoyant. No more leeway, it’s him. Despite the feelings I gave in the last episode about this happening, I’m now rather content about him being the Clairvoyant now. Why? Because of how he acted in this episode. He was funny, charming when he needed to be, yet totally brutal when it came to it. You could just tell that Bill Paxton was having a blast in this episode, which is great because he was very reserved and rigid in his first few appearances, but now he’s really come into this character and made it his own.
And then there’s Ward. Many, and yeah that includes us Agents of F.T.N., were wondering if Ward was deep, deep, DEEP, undercover because of the last scene in “Turn, Turn, Turn”. That was easily answered, and it was done in a very cool way, showing that Hydra really knows how to plant agents in an organization.
This “new” Ward was just as charismatic as Garrett, and also knew how to play the role he was told to play. It was a shock, and an awe to see it unfold. But much like Garrett in this episode, it was done well.
Another surprise was the return of Raina, who was also unhappy that Garrett was the Clairvoyant, because she really believed he had the power to see the future. As did many, but Garrett’s charm won the day, and she wasn’t the only one he charmed…
Now that the bad guys are done, let’s head over to Coulson and co. Since last weeks episode the remaining agents have been trying to take back what’s theirs. And it’s going slow. It was great to see news footage from the events of Winter Soldier to give some indication as to where we were in regards to timing of events.
Yet time was not on their sign as the Air Force had plans for SHIELD via Glenn Talbot, a character most Hulk fans should know. With word of an impending occupation, Coulson, crew, and Agent Tripwell
headed to the great unknown, and that’s almost a literal interpretation. After all, where do you go, when you have nowhere to go?
The details often get lost in these shows, but here in “Providence” they were shown in full effect. Without the full resources of SHIELD behind them, they were left scrounging, and it showed. From hotwiring the ramp to the Bus, to having to use the internet to get work done, to being low on rations, the full effect was shown as to just how desperate they were.
An interesting twist came via Coulson’s decision to have their identities all wiped from existence, a move that Skye reminded him, “cannot be undone”.
More twists came when a message came from the dead and guided them to their next destination. Coulson’s certainty versus everyone else’s indecision was a nice touch. And both sides were right. Who’s to say it wasn’t a trap? Yet given how it came, how could it be?
The big reveal (no, not that one) was that Fury was NOT the head of the operation to bring Coulson back to life, as May let slip. So who was it? And how did they get that alien body? Does this mean it’s someone not from our planet?
Back on track, the most powerful scene for this reviewer was Coulsons’ speech as all truly seemed lost. The location was a “dud”, and everyone was wondering why they came. Clark Gregg totally nailed his monologue as he conveyed a man with emotion who was on the edge. A man who had truly lost everything, and didn’t want to be known as an “Agent of Nothing”….
Thankfully! Patton Oswalt was here to save the day! A surprise if there ever was one, he showed up to give the team safe harbor, and let Coulson know that Fury was indeed alive. Knowledge that only them, Hill, Captain America, and a “few others” know about. Which obviously means Black Widow and his doctor, but is there someone else? Also, we learn that not even Oswalt knows where Fury is now.
Special props to Oswalt for his short but memorable stint in this episode. His “on again, off again” personality was a very nice touch, as he went from recalling his Call of Duty hours to straight-up threatening Coulson. Very nice, very nice indeed.
The main action from “Providence” came from Hydra taking The Fridge. It was quick, methodical, hilarious, and very big on foreshadowing. As not only did they bring back weapons and items from the past, but they showed some clips of future episodes if you paid attention hard enough. Again, Garrett and Ward stole the show with their back-and-forth.
In the end “Providence” continued to show how The Winter Soldier has affected the Marvel Universe, and as Coulson and team “welcome back” an old friend and try to regroup, one has to wonder how much more they can take before they start breaking.
4.5 out of 5