Apologies to Joss Whedon, the writer and creator of the "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." show.
Whedon had been taking quite a while to follow his trail of breadcrumbs to something worthwhile (I never lost faith in the show, but I was starting to get impatient). But the newest, clevely-titled episode, 'End of the Beginning' shakes up a lot of what the audience might've thought it knew, makes its big reveal, and seems to have triggered a highly intense finish with the final six episodes coming over the course of the next six weeks.
The episode also led beautifully into "Captain America 2," which releases this Friday as the scope of the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues expanding.
The episode itself felt like it belonged in the MCU, and, maybe for the first time, the actual agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. truly seemed like they were part of a cohesive team. They worked together well in the field during the midst of the action (there was plenty of that this week). They opened up quite a bit with each other. Newer agent Garrett (played by Bill Paxton), has fit in nicely as kind of the war-hero-who-relives-the-glory-days role that gives a lighthearted, but still tough, spirit.
Skye finally becomes an official Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. in a moment that was long overdue. Though it was glossed over a tad, it was wonderful to see her heart-felt reaction; she was both giddy and anxious at the same time, like she truly couldn't believe it really happened.
Garrett later shares a nice story with Skye about how he was Agent Ward's SO just as Ward was Skye's. He talks about the difference between fighting solo and fighting as a team, something that clearly drives Ward. Garrett empathized with her about the entire process Skye has gone through, as finally becoming an official agent was a crowning moment.
The comedic touches throughout the episode struck all the right chords. Garrett's line of "We'll lose a few bars off his psychic Wi-Fi" in reference to gaining altitude in the jet to get out the Clairvoyant's range was nicely delivered. So was Simmons' reference to Sherlock Holmes' Dr. Watson, which was directed at Fitz. None of the punch lines felt forced.
With a pinnacle moment, the big storyline about the Clairvoyant One finally reached the end of the breadcrumb trail. Or so the agents initially though. Coulson and his team use Skye and a tactical plan to track down all possible suspects without alerting the Clairvoyant One.
That's when Mike Peterson, the superhero who was killed, then got brought back to life as a cybernetic robot named Deathlok, returns to throw the agents off the trail. A couple of great shootouts later, Deathlok is forced to disappear, perhaps for good (not likely).
The agents end up finding an old man named Thomas Nash, who was sitting in a chair with airtubes attached to him; he was sick, likely dying. Nash cops to who he is, then uses mind games on Coulson to get information in an act of desperation.
That's when Ward delivers perhaps the most surprising action of the season so far as he shoots Nash dead from point blank range. He finally succumbed to the heat of the moment.
As Coulson and the agents try to sift through all the chaos, they follow a logical train of thought and figure out that the Clairvoyant One isn't really using superpowers. Rather, there is someone who simply is using information on the agents against them.
This conclusion leads to the unsettling realization that the true Clairvoyant One is at the top of S.H.I.E.L.D. Did not see that coming at all, but it totally makes sense, as does Coulson's recent lack of trust in S.H.I.E.L.D.
For the remainder of the season, Coulson and his team will have plenty of sorting out to do, and it looks promising.