Major spoilers ahead
Cliffhangers are just mean.
Marvel’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” ended the year with Agent Coulson getting betrayed, sedated and taken away by the Raina, the lady known earlier in the show as “The Girl in the Flower Dress” who was working for Centipede. Coulson was helping out Mike Peterson, the superhero from the Pilot episode, save his son, who was captured by Raina and Centipede.
This newest episode, titled “The Bridge,” had the best twist of any thus far. Peterson, whom S.H.I.E.L.D. initially took down for being a threat after being fused with the unstable extremis, is now in control of his superpowers. This makes him tempting for S.H.I.E.L.D. to recruit, which it does. What Coulson doesn’t know, however, is that Peterson is a double agent sent to lure Coulson himself out in the open. Turns out that Raina and Centipede are interested in how Coulson survived his death (during “The Avengers”) and what exactly happened to him.
But we won’t find out until the show resumes Tuesday, Jan. 4, when the second half of the show’s first two-part episode is broadcast.
What makes Peterson’s betrayal intriguing is the fact he is doing it for his son. After his son is safe, he actually makes a dash to try and save Coulson, only to get caught in a huge explosive trap. His status is left unknown, as is the case for Ward, who gets shot after spying on the whole exchange. More reasons to draw viewers back to the next episode (yeah, cliffhangers are gimmicky, but effective).
Now 10 episodes in, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” has had a linchpin’s worth of breadcrumb storylines that have been little more than agonizing teases. Last week during “The Repairs” episode, it was agent May’s turn to have the spotlight turned on her with enough details of her background to raise more questions than actually bring anything to light. Coulson’s trip to Tahiti has been referenced several times to this point, but that’s all it’s been: references. No real meat to what exactly went on.
There were a couple good scenes. Coulson and Peterson exchange meaningful, heart-felt dialogue while driving in a car and talking about Peterson’s son and the dangers of missing out on the PTA meetings and soccer practices of life all for the sacrifice of working with S.H.I.E.L.D. There even was a mention to Coulson’s romantic interest, the cellist, originally mentioned in “Iron Man 2.”
Before Coulson first recruits him, Peterson is seen training at what looks like a military facility. He gave a pleasant nod to Captain America when he tries to beat one of his course records. Peterson, like Cap, is a super soldier. And during the episode, he gets to fight other super soldiers still enlisted with Centipede. There was a cool, subtle shot when two of these goons immediately stop fighting agent May and Ward and turn their attention to Peterson after he shows he is a true threat.
This is another frustrating aspect of the show’s slow-moving pace. There still is a trace of a larger villain at work, someone who is running Centipede, but nothing is revealed. Mentions of “The Clairvoyant One” are made, but that’s it. Hopefully that will get picked up on later. Still, the fact that no true villain has even been established is part of the reason the show is lacking in excitement and even fear.