Agents of SHIELD Season 1 Episode 20 ‘Nothing Personal’ Review: “Who–or What–is a Man-Thing?”

Agents of SHIELD Season 1 Episode 20 'Nothing Personal' Review: Who--or What--is a Man-Thing?Maybe it was just Cobie Smulders guest turn, but this episode of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD really felt like Avengers-lite. Agents of SHIELD has tried all season to make us believe it is part of the Marvel Studios Universe, and this episode really hammered that home. Plus, we get more to the whole T.A.H.I.T.I. mystery, by creating a new wrinkle. Time is running short, and it truly feels that this is all leading up to an incredible finale. I hope they can pull it off.

Here are the 6 Qs of this week’s Agents of SHIELD.

1. What is it?

Agents of SHIELD Season 1, Episode 20, titled ‘Nothing Personal.’

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 Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill; J. August Richards as Deathlok; B.J. Britt as Agent Antoine “Trip” Triplett; and Adrian Pasdar as Colonel Glenn Talbot.

3. Who made it?

‘Nothing Personal’ was written by Paul Zbyszewski & D.J. Doyle; the episode was directed by Billy Gierhart.

Agents of SHIELD Season 1 Episode 20 'Nothing Personal' Review: Who--or What--is a Man-Thing?

4. What is it about? (**Spoilers Ahead**)

‘Nothing Personal’ opens with Maria Hill (Smulders) walking down the street in DC talking to Pepper Potts about the state of the MSU world post-The Winter Soldier. Melinda May (Wen) confronts her in an alley and she tells Hill that she needs to know about T.A.H.I.T.I. to regain Coulson’s trust. Hill is then confronted by FBI agents and May escapes.

At Providence, team 616 tries to figure out what happened to the Bus–and the rest of their team. Coulson (Gregg) tasks Fitz (De Caestecker) with finding a way to track the plane, and Trip (Britt) tries to help Coulson piece together what happened while they were away. Fitz sees that one of the fake windows is set to night, while the others are set to day as Simmons (Henstridge) goes to get the ingredients to make pancakes. Fitz fixes the window, only to find Skye’s message that Ward is Hydra just as Simmons finds Koenig’s body.

On the Bus, Skye (Bennet) and Ward (Dalton) have a conversation and Skye tries to find some way out of her predicament, but Ward watches her like a hawk. She says that the hard drive is location locked and can only be opened in the Los Angeles restaurant that she used to frequent before she joined SHIELD. Ward sets a new course.

Back at Providence, Fitz refuses to believe that Ward is bad and Simmons gives Koenig an autopsy. She is able to deduce that Ward killed Koenig, cementing him as the bad guy.

At the restaurant, Skye informs Ward that it will take an hour to hack the drive, and Ward reluctantly gets them a table. Skye then uses her laptop to inform authorities that a known SHIELD agent is at the restaurant and he is dangerous.

Agents of SHIELD Season 1 Episode 20 'Nothing Personal' Review: Who--or What--is a Man-Thing?

At Providence, Talbot (Pasdar) shows up with Maria Hill and relieves Coulson of any and all duties. Talbot threatens to put Fitz and Simmons through interrogation hell unless they tell him everything. Hill tries to tell Coulson that joining with Talbot was the only play, but Coulson has other ideas. He tells Hill about Ward and the hard drive, and Hill and Coulson knock out Talbot and his team and flee to go rescue Skye.

Meanwhile, at a graveyard, Melinda May digs up Phillip Coulson’s grave and retrieves a special thumb drive that was buried in his otherwise empty casket. The thumb drive reveals all about T.A.H.I.T.I., including who led the project.

Back in L.A., Skye plays mind games with Ward until the cops can get position. Ward realizes what is happening and Skye tells him she knows he is HYDRA. Ward is able to take out the LAPD and Skye tries to escape, only to be stopped by Deathlok (Richards).

On the Bus, Deathlok and Ward discuss Garrett’s plan for Skye and the hard drive. Ward is trying to protect her, while Deathlok would easily kill her if ordered. This leads to a final confrontation, and Skye appeals to Mike Richards, but Richards is truly no more, and is working solely for self-preservation. Skye refuses to hack the drive and Deathlok shoots Ward with a defibrillator of some kind that makes Ward’s heart stop. Skye gives in (for some reason, seeing a scene before, she called Ward a “serial killer”) and says that the location to unlock the hack is 35,000 miles in the air. Ward — alive again and slightly pissed that he was essentially killed — tries to take the Bus up, but they are confronted on the tarmac by Hill in a SHIELD jet. Hill orders him to stand down and he refuses, gambling that she won’t risk killing Skye. He lifts off and Hill lets him go, telling Trip that she delayed him long enough.

As the Bus lifts off, Coulson climbs into the landing gear as the door shuts.

Agents of SHIELD Season 1 Episode 20 'Nothing Personal' Review: Who--or What--is a Man-Thing?

Coulson gets to work freeing Skye and she tells him that Deathlok is on the plane. Coulson opens the cargo hold and he and Skye jump into Lola as Deathlok and Ward show up and start firing. Coulson launches his corvette into Los Angeles airspace and lands it right in front of the L.A. City Center, for which he has to pay $20 for parking (outrageous, I know!).

At a low-profile hotel, the remains of 616 tries to figure out their next steps. Fitz asks Simmons if she is HYDRA and she says no. At least a part of his world is still sane. Coulson tells Hill that he is going after Garrett, and Hill goes back to work at Stark. Skye is left wondering if Ward is truly a monster, her heart battling her brain. For a moment, things are calm, and it’s always calm before the storm.

In the post SHIELD scene, May is waiting in Coulson’s room and offers him the thumb drive with the T.A.H.I.T.I. info on it. Coulson boots is up and learns that the head of the project was none other than himself, who warned Fury that it was an unstable process and needed to be shut down. Not only did Fury not listen, he subjected Coulson to the process against protocol. Buhn-buhn-BUHN!

5. Any revelations, tie-ins, easter eggs, etc.?

Maria Hill is talking to Pepper Potts on the phone; Red Skull is mentioned as the creator of HYDRA; and of course, a mention of Marvel’s greatest swamp-based hero, Man-Thing! You know, Howard the Duck first appeared in a Man-Thing story. Could this mean…?

6. Will we watch next week?

Yes. Ward’s secret is out of the bag, and the previews for next week promise his origin story. Will we see why he turned? Will we see why he is so devoted to John Garrett? Will we ever see a walking, talking duck? Find out next week.

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