This is what I have wanted out of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD all season. A deep mythology that ties everything together, and an established Marvel Comics villain of the week to expand the roster of characters. It’s not like I asked for the world. And finally, FINALLY, Agents of SHIELD is delivering. While Blackout was terribly underdeveloped, I know him from the comics. I know his story, so I give it a pass. I hope the producers realize this and we have more “villain of the week” episodes just like this.
Here are the 6 Qs of this week’s Agents of SHIELD.
1. What is it?
Agents of SHIELD Season 1, Episode 19, titled ‘The Only Light in the Darkness.’
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 Patrick Brennan as Marcus “Blackout” Daniels; Amy Acker as Audrey Nathan; B.J. Britt as Agent Antoine “Trip” Triplett; Potsch Boyd as Fisherman; Tsai Chin as Momma May (?); and Patton Oswalt as Agent Eric Koenig.
3. Who made it?
‘The Only Light in the Darkness’ was written by Monica Owasu-Breen; the episode was directed by Vincent Misiano
4. What is it about? (**Spoilers Ahead**)
‘The Only Light in the Darkness’ opens with Marcus Daniels (Brennan) climbing off a boat in Oregon and asking a local fisherman (Boyd) for a ride. When the fisherman refuses to take the strange man to Portland, Daniels turns out the lights and takes the truck anyway, turning the radio to classical music as he drives away.
At Providence, team 616 is patching up Ward (Dalton) and giving him a debrief. Ward spins a lie about what happened at the Fridge, telling 616 that HYDRA stole the weapons and released the prisoners, and only Ward got away–after killing Garrett. He then presents Skye (Bennet) with the hard drive, but Coulson (Gregg) has another job for her.
Skye discovers the list of escaped prisoners, and Coulson asks about Daniels. Skye confirms that he got away and Coulson plans to take a team and go to Portland.
Koenig (Oswalt) refuses until 616 goes through “orientation,” using a specialized lie detector that Fury commissioned to even snare Black Widow in a lie. Ward is apprehensive, of course, seeing as he is a double agent.
During the interrogation, we learn that May (Wen) was once married, Skye has no last name, and that the difference between a rock and an egg is one if edible and one is a weapon. We also learn that Trip (Britt) is the grandson of a Howling Commando.
Once the interrogations are complete, Koenig gives 616 lanyards. Coulson takes Trip and Fitz (De Caestecker) and Simmons (Henstridge) with him to Portland in the same plane that Ward came in. Before they go, Coulson and May have a conversation, and Coulson admits that he will never trust her again, and he leaves her at Providence with Skye, Ward, and Koenig.
Here the story branches into two very different narratives. In Portland, Coulson and his team tracks down Daniels as he is stalking Audrey Nathan (Acker), a cellist in the Portland symphony–and Coulson’s ex-girlfriend. The team is able to rescue her, with Coulson in hiding, since she thinks he’s dead, and they set up a trap for Daniels.
Fitz creates a gamma-powered light source that he attaches to elliptical stage lights to stop Daniels while Audrey practices. Daniels is a victim of a lab accident that he can control Dark Force, causing electrical blackouts. The gamma rays will overload him and render him unconscious for 616 to extract without incident. Of course, Blackout is more powerful now, having been tinkered with by SHIELD/HYDRA while in the Fridge, and he can destroy light by shooting dark force beams out of his hands.
With Coulson still hiding from Audrey, the trap is set and Blackout appears to confront the cellist. Trip, Fitz and Simmons fire the light beams which only stuns Blackout momentarily before he can destroy the light guns with dark force. With Audrey in real danger, Coulson appears and he is about to kill Blackout by overloading him with gamma rays. Audrey is knocked back by the blast and Coulson checks on her before sliding back into the shadows. She thinks her one great love is still watching over her, and Coulson is left knowing that their love still exists, though he will never tell her that he still lives.
In the second story, Ward, Skye, May and Koenig are at Providence. May, in a huff, decides to leave the team, knowing that Coulson will never trust her again. Skye realizes that Koenig is using the lanyards as trackers on 616, and then she hatches a plan to hack into NSA satellites to see what happened at the Fridge to track the released criminals. Ward is also apprehensive about this, for obvious reasons.Skye begins the hack and as the feed begins to clear, Koenig and Ward watch. Ward, unfortunately for Patton Oswalt fans, takes care of business.
Skye goes into Koenig’s office and finds it empty. Ward comes in and they have a moment. While making out, she finds some blood on his neck and as he goes to wash up, Skye finds Koenig’s tracker and finds that he’s in a closet. She goes to ask him if the hack found anything and instead finds his body. She realizes that Ward has turned.
Ward discovers her gone from the office and tracks her to the closet. Before he can further investigate, Skye appears and continues to play along with the flirting, knowing full well that the man is a traitorous killer. Ward, realizing that Skye can’t unlock the hard drive there because it is location-based, takes her and Bus and says they are flying to Portland to back up the rest of the team, but instead, they head toward Peru. Skye realizes that she is only alive because of the hard drive.
The episode ends with Coulson and his team going back to Providence to find the Bus gone.
In the post SHIELD bit, May is walking down a road in Ontario, and a car pulls up with Pennsylvania plates. May climbs in and we meet, presumably, her mother (Chin), also a government employee. The mother gives May some grief about SHIELD, and May asks if she got in touch with “Maria.” The mother says yes and the car speeds off.
5. Any revelations, tie-ins, easter eggs, etc.?
It’s reveled that Trip’s grandfather was a Howling Commando in WWII. Since there was only one black Commando, is Trip related to Gabe Jones? Also, the tech that Fitz builds to stop Blackout was mentioned to be conceived by Bruce Banner. Koenig built the lie detector with the goal of being able to work on Black Widow.
6. Will we watch next week?
Yes. I spent the first two thirds of this shows’ existence clamoring for a “villain of the week” type of show, and this week delivered, all the while building on the greater mythology of the post-SHIELD Marvel Studios Universe (MSU). Even with Garrett and Bill Paxton taking a break, the show still sang beautifully thanks to Patton Oswalt and some fine acting by Clark Gregg and Brett Dalton. Only two episodes remain, and I fully expect some huge things to happen, as both Cobie Smulders AND Samuel L. Jackson are known to return before the season ends.