It almost was refreshing to have sort of a down episode with this week’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Between what happened in “Captain America 2” and last week’s episode, so much had been going on that it was time for a breather to let the dust settle. This week’s episode, entitled ‘Providence,’ had our two now-split groups, one with the Hydra traitors and the other with our agents—who now are in a desperate search to make sense of the madness and to seek refuge—regroup and refocus on new tasks at hand.

That feeling the agents had of being hunted and always on the run was a great pace-setter the episode had going for it. The scope of Hydra’s brilliant, 70-year-long plan has yet to be fully understood, so there’s no point in divulging that now. In fact, it’d be difficult to expect that throughout the season’s final few episodes, except maybe in the finale.

No, now the stories are turning back to the agents themselves again, and they served as a reminder of how much we cared about them. Agent Coulson leads them on what seems like a wild goose chase, but instead they discover a new base in which they can remain secluded for the time being. It was finally a time for everyone to exhale, gather their thoughts, express their feelings and start thinking about their next move.

The agents had heavy, real “people” moments throughout the episode. And why shouldn’t they? Coulson just had a slew of bad news slam him all at once. He was reeling from the thought of Hydra undoing everything S.H.I.E.L.D. had worked hard to accomplish. He had a gut-check moment about his dedication to the agency, and whether he even wanted to identify with it anymore.

In fact, Coulson, at one point, asks Skye to gather all intel of every S.H.I.E.L.D. and erase it, as if he had given up on S.H.I.E.L.D. He took out some of his frustrations on his agents, at which point some of them began to doubt their leader once again.

This spawns a couple interesting scenes, particularly with Fitz, who is stunned by Coulson’s actions, yet remains faithful to his leader. Fitz always has been the kind that has been able to sift through someone’s wavering actions. He was that calm voice of reason when Simmons had that virus on the plane. Now, he sort of fights against his urge to take the easy way out and, instead, keeps trusting in Coulson, which gets more and more difficult.

One little discovery, however, gave a great glimmer of hope. Coulson finds a secret message he believes only could be from Fury. It wasn’t the most creative moment, but it was necessary to get the group on the move again. But Simmons, Agent May and, to some degree, Skye, are questioning the direction Coulson takes the team, which leads to an emotional outburst by Coulson. In the end, it all works out nice and neatly, though.

On the other side, Agent Garrett reveals to the “Flower” girl, as he calls her, he is the Clairvoyant One. Of course, he isn’t really Clairvoyant, so she was a little disappointed when she finds out he just abused his security clearance at S.H.I.E.L.D. and the projecting algorithm mentioned two episodes ago, as well as in “Cap 2.” Garrett (played by Bill Paxton) still has his gung-ho spirit, which is still fun to watch. And now, with Agent Ward on his side—for now—it seems like the makings of a strong tag-team duo.

I say “for now” because Ward is still a mystery. Before betraying his group, it was difficult to pin-point his affection for the group. Sure, he slept with May and likes making eye contact with Skye on a number of occasions, and his ability to distance himself from the group made it easier to betray them. But Ward gives a cold-blooded, no-blink explanation to his new Hydra friends about how he truly never cared for any of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. This was some great dialogue that really delved into his nature better than just about anything throughout this season so far.

But Ward also doesn’t really seem all that enthralled with Hydra, either. Maybe he really is that uninteresting machine of a character (which he isn’t), or maybe he is going to have a change of heart again (let’s hope so). And as a side note, it seems his connection with Skye might be the tipping point for that, which will be a nice climax for his season-long character development.

As a quick nerd alert, one of Hydra’s baddies was U.S. Air Force Colonel Glenn Talbot, who is the mean, cranky old soldier bent on stopping Bruce Banner in “The Incredible Hulk.” Where show creator Joss Whedon is going with this is unclear, but it piques interest and should be interesting to watch unfold.

Another nerd alert is one I had to research. During the episode, Garrett is putting on a shirt and reveals he has a metallic casing around half of his core. This is because, in the comics, Garrett apparently was a cyborg. This probably was nothing more than a simply Easter Egg of sorts for die-hards, but it was cool.

For next week’s show, Garrett is sending Ward back to the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents for one last mission, but it’ll be interesting to see if he goes through with it.