After last week’s Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD bombshell, ABC asked fans to wait an extra hour to watch the new episode and luckily, the wait was worth it. ‘Providence’ turned out to be a huge revisit for so many plot-points that it’ll take weeks to see how they all play out. Oh, and Ruth Negga is back. Before Bill Paxton showed up, she was the best thing going for Agents of SHIELD; my how things have changed.
Here are the 6 Qs of this week’s Agents of SHIELD.
1. What is it?
Agents of SHIELD Season 1, Episode 18, titled ‘Providence.’
2. Who’s in it?
The series regulars, Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson, Ming-Na Wen as Melinda may, Brett Dalton as Agent Ward, Chloe Bennet as Skye, Elizabeth Henstridge as Simmons, and Iain De Caestecker as Fitz. Guest starring this week is Bill Paxton as Agent John Garrett; Ruth Negga as Rayna; B.J. Britt as Agent Antoine “Trip” Triplett; David Conrad as Ian Quinn; Adrian Pasdar as Glenn Talbot; and Patton Oswalt as Agent Eric Koenig.
3. Who made it?
‘Providence’ was written by Brent Fletcher; the episode was directed by Milan Cheylov.
4. What is it about? (**Spoilers Ahead**)
‘Providence’ opens with Ward (Dalton) meeting with Raina (Negga) and giving her a gift: a new flower-print dress.
Back at the Hub, 616 learns just how bad the world is right now. Coulson (Gregg) gets intel that only three SHIELD facilities are still functional.
Ward takes Raina to a barber in Cuba and proceeds to show her the truth: they are part of HYDRA, and their base is deep underground with the barbershop acting as cover. Once in the HYDRA base, Garrett (Paxton) introduces himself, and Raina is upset that he isn’t really a clairvoyant.
Back at the Hub, Fitz (De Caestecker) and Simmons (Henstridge) bicker over the repairs of the Bus, while Trip (Britt) tries to intervene, only to have Simmons agree with him, which infuriates Fitz.
At command, Air Force Colonel Glenn Talbot (Pasdar), known for hunting the Hulk, has been tasked with overseeing SHIELD’s clean up. Coulson isn’t happy, and May (Wen) and Skye (Bennet) decide that the Bus needs to get airborne fast.
Trip wants to come along and Coulson refuses, as he doesn’t trust anyone that worked so closely with Garrett. Simmons vouches for him and Coulson reluctantly agrees to let Trip join 616 on the interim basis. Fitz seethes even more.
Coulson tasks Skye with collecting the teams’ badges, and then wiping all records of their existence from the database. She asks about Ward, and Coulson hasn’t heard anything from Hand or the team sent to the Fridge.
Skye wipes records and she calls Ward. They flirt on the phone, and Ward mentions that he wants to be Tom Brady in his new identity. Once off the phone, Garrett reminds him that he hates the Patriots, further showing how good of a liar Ward is. Garrett then puts Raina back in charge of CENTIPEDE and gives her all of the vials he swiped from the guesthouse before it blew, trying to find a new version of GH325. Then Garrett informs Ward that they are going to go “raid the Fridge.”
On the Bus, Skye delivers all of the badges, and adds hers to the pile. Coulson pulls his out and begins to lock them in his safe. Skye notices his badge is blinking, and Coulson discovers secret coordinates that were possibly left by Nick Fury (well, it was Coulson’s assumption). The coordinates are for the middle of the Canadian Wilderness and Coulson argues with 616 over the authenticity. He refuses to be an “agent of nothing” and will do whatever he can to follow the wishes of Nick Fury.
Raina and Ward have a heart to heart, and Ward explains how he so easily infiltrated and gained the trust of 616–which also served as a good primer for the first two-thirds of the season.
Countering this on the Bus, May and Coulson also have a conversation in which May reveals that Fury did not order Coulson to be brought back from the dead and that is why he installed her in 616 to watch Coulson, in case Coulson is a HYDRA plant. Coulson is not happy to hear this.
Garrett and Ward must have just watched Star Wars: A New Hope as they use the prisoner trick once again to gain entrance to the Fridge. Once inside, they find the Toybox, full of all of the known 1-8-4s and other Nick Fury secret items, including the Asgardian Berserker staff. Ward shows Garrett that there is a secret subfloor, and Garrett loses a bet on its existence.
In the Canadian Wilderness, 616 lands and has eight hours to track the coordinates before a satellite will uncover their position and bring Talbot and his troops to their doorstep. The team still questions Coulson’s decision on chasing the coordinates, and Fitz and Simmons have a talk about their relationship, which borders on Three’s Company level of side talking and swerves. Neither side had any idea what the other was saying. Amidst the constant question, Coulson breaks down, and actually delivers a speech that perfectly sets the tone for this series. It was Gregg’s best piece of acting in this, or anything that I’ve ever seen him in. Anyway, he too finally succumbs to the idea that SHIELD is over and Fury is dead and he throws his badge away, which triggers an auto turret to come to life and blow it out of the sky. Coulson stands in front of the gun as a rock face slides open, revealing a secret base, known only as Providence.
Back at HYDRA, Raina tells Garrett that the hard drive that Skye made of all of 616’s info and research last episode is hard encrypted and that any attempt to break it will erase it all. Only Skye can remove the safety protocols. Ward feels he can get Skye to do just that.
In Providence, 616 meets Agent Eric Koenig (Oswalt), who Fury assigned to watch over the secret base after the Chitauri began their assault on New York. Koenig reiterates that Fury is dead and that the Fridge was attacked and has fallen. Skye immediately calls Ward to see if he’s okay, much to Koenig’s chagrin. Koenig, upset at Coulson’s lack of security, pulls him aside for a secret conversation. Here he tells Coulson that Fury is alive and on the run, and only a few people even know that. He also tasks Coulson with keeping that secret at all costs.
At HYDRA, we see that Garrett has cybernetic implants–much like his Marvel Comics counterpart–and he gives Ward 24 hours to try and get Skye to decrypt the hard drive or Garrett will do it the HYDRA way. He then begins to beat Ward to sell the idea that he was attacked and escaped.
Ward shows up at Providence, beaten up, and Skye lets him in with love in her eyes.
In the post-Agents of SHIELD (yes, we are back to a SHIELD, though SHIELD itself doesn’t exist any longer) scene, Ian Quinn (Conrad) is freed and he yells at Garrett for taking his time in releasing him. Quinn refuses to work with CENTIPEDE any longer, and Garrett changes his mind by showing him what they found in the sub chamber: The Gravatonium, last seen in Episode 3, ‘The Asset.’
5. Any revelations, tie-ins, easter eggs, etc.?
Two Marvel Comics villains were referenced in some way this week. First was The Griffin, AKA Johnny Horton, the man with “Lion’s paws for hands” that Garrett mentions; the other was Marcus Daniels AKA Blackout, who Garrett released from the Fridge. Also, the weapons and goodies found in the Toybox were all references to either past episodes (the berserker staff) or the comics. This includes the Gravatonium.
6. Will we watch next week?
Yes. Agents of SHIELD is on a hot streak. John Garrett is the best thing to happen to this series since, well, forever (with all due respect to Ruth Negga, for whom I love). His quips are funny and he can be such a badass when he needs to be. Good stuff here, finally. Also, his name drops of classic comics villains–yes, even D-listers like The Griffin–is what we’ve been clamoring for all season. To get a whiff of a much larger universe–a universe where hammer-wielding gods exist, blue men come from space, and a man with lion’s paws for hands–all exist. That’s the Marvel way!