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Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review: 1.16 - 'End of the Beginning'
Posted by Wyatt Beougher on 04.02.2014

Previously on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Coulson’s team worked with Lady Sif to take down Asgardian sorceress Lorelei after she used her feminine guile to put Ward under her spell. We also found out that May quite possibly has ulterior motives for joining the team, and that Ward’s feelings weren’t for May, but for another member of the team..

Season 01, Episode 16: End of the Beginning

Garrett and Trip enter a S.H.I.E.L.D. safehouse in Sydney, Australia, and Garrett tells Trip to get Coulson on the line to discuss potential candidates for the Clairvoyant. Suddenly, Deathlok kicks the door off of its hinges, only to be met with gunfire. Garret’s bullet bounces off of him, a pair of some type of electrical immobilization rounds fired by Trip do no good, and neither does an ICER round to the forehead. Deathlok, realizing he’s potentially outgunned, jumps through the ceiling and disappears. The Bus lands aboard an aircraft carrier and Coulson is met with nearly every S.H.I.E.L.D. agent guest star to date (minus Hill and Fury) - Hand, Sitwell, Garrett, Triplett, and Blake. Back in the air, May sets the autopilot and they discuss a strategy to find the Clairvoyant. Garrett, Trip, and Coulson reveal that they’ve narrowed it down to thirteen suspects from people who washed out of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s gifted index because S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t believe in psychic abilities. To prevent the Clairvoyant from determining their strategy, they’re going to compartmentalize the information on the identities of the thirteen suspects. Coulson says that he has a team member who can break down the candidates and separate the information so that only one person knows the full scope of the mission. Hand says that person would have to be a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent to access Garrett’s files.

FitzSimmons are drawing more blood from Skye and try to get Skye to talk to Coulson about sending her blood for molecular analysis, but Skye shoots that down and says she trusts Coulson judgment. Ward tells Skye the “top brass” wants to see her upstairs, and she adds another layer of compartmentalization to the plan - each member of the two-man teams will only have either the candidate’s coordinates or their identity, so that no one person on any team knows both. Skye wants to know how she’ll access the files without someone in the room, since she doesn’t have clearance, to which Coulson welcomes her to S.H.I.E.L.D as an agent. May brings FitzSimmons up so that the entire team can share in Skye’s moment, and she thanks Coulson. Coulson says she’s earned it, and Garrett backs him up. FitzSimmons congratulate Skye and leaves, and Ward hangs back so that they can have an obligatory awkward moment.

Meanwhile, Deathlok looks into the mirror at the damage from the headshot he sustained, only for a knock on the door to interrupt him. A message pops up in his eye and he scans the door to find a package. He’s wearing the full Centipede backplate that the Raina and Po’s supersoldiers wore earlier in the season. He finds a gauntlet inside, and it digs into his skin before closing, which somehow links into his eye display and gives him a more in-depth heads-up display (complete with glowing red eye). The Clairvoyant says that they’re coming after him and it’s time that they meet. Sitwell confides with Coulson that he doesn’t like the double blind situation, but Hand tells him he’s to report to the Triskelion. She says she’ll be leading the mission via satellite from the Hub. Skye talks Garrett through the process and he introduces himself, officially, to Skye. He talks about being shot and shows off a third-degree burn just below his neck. Skye thanks him for risking his life to save her. He says he just jumped on the bandwagon because she already has a good team, before telling her that the SO thing goes both ways and that she’s had a big impact on Ward. He says Ward now understands the difference between fighting against something or for something (or someone).

Fitz explains his new tracker bullets to May, only for Simmons to come in talking about the samples of Skye’s blood. Fitz cuts her off, but May in onto what they’re talking about. They admit to trying to analyze the drug, and May asks if either Coulson or Skye has exhibited any side effects or strange behavior, and that if they do, they should contact her first, because she can help. Skye give Coulson the last phone and Coulson tells her to stop worrying because he trusts her world view. He tasks her with trying to “read” the Clairvoyant’s mind - basically, to break down his profile and figure out who he is and “find the exploit”.

At the Milton Keynes prison in the UK, Trip and Ward are team one, and Trip pokes at Ward about his past. They discuss their beef with the Clairvoyant, and Trip threatens to kill the Clairvoyant if they find him. Ward says they’re only there to apprehend him, but Trip asks him to consider how he’d feel if the Clairvoyant had murdered Skye like he did Trip’s partner. Ward shares their candidate’s identity (and a nice product placement for the Droid family of phones). Meanwhile, in Macon, Georgia, May and Blake are team two, and Blake hits on May, who totally blows him off and it turns out that they’re sent to an assisted living home. In Muncie, Indiana, Coulson and Garrett reprise team three. Garrett is telling Coulson about one of his past exploits, but Coulson reminds Garrett that he was there for the whole thing. They get the information on their candidate, but before they can get to her, they’re detoured by road construction. May and Blake go looking for Thomas Nash, who has been catatonic since a bad accident, while Ward and Trip get trapped in the lobby of what appears to be an empty prison. Coulson and Garrett get stopped by a dump truck in front of them, only for another vehicle to block them in from behind. Blake rings a bell to get someone to tell him Nash’s location, but Deathlok flips him into a wall (literally into the wall). Blake fires off a handful of rounds, switches clips, and then fires another shot before being choke lifted by Deathlok. He tries to talk sense into Mike Peterson, but Deathlok says Peterson is dead before throwing Blake down and stomping on his chest with his cybernetic leg. May arrives and calls for assistance, and as Coulson and Garrett reverse out of the traffic jam, Deathlok locks in on May and fires a rocket from his new armband. She avoids the rocket, but Deathlok uses the opportunity to escape.

The medical team wheels Blake out on a stretcher and he’s alive, but in critical condition. May reveals that Nash was listed as a resident of the assisted care facility but that he actually wasn’t there. Ward thinks Deathlok was there because they’re getting too close, and Hand blames Blake’s injury on Coulson and Skye’s plan, which she says was “flawed from the beginning”. Coulson says that Blake’s alive and they have a suspect, so it wasn’t a complete waste, and Hand wants to know when Simmons will be ready, because she wants Simmons to debrief any teams that will be going after Deathlok on exactly what he is and what he’s capable of. FitzSimmons discuss being experts on Deathlok, Simmons uses the better labs at the Hub to analyze Skye’s blood samples, and Fitz says he’ll make up an encrypted hard line on the Bus so that they can discuss Simmons’ findings away from the rest of the Bus. Trip arrives to take Simmons to the Hub, and Simmons is pretty clearly wowed by the idea of spending time with Trip, much to Fitz’ dismay. Skye briefs May on Nash’s background, which includes Canada’s Department H (ALPHA FLIGHT!). Nash never claimed that he could effect people’s behavior, which is what Department H was looking for, but that he could predict them. Coulson double checks with May how many rounds Blake fired, because the clip he fired from is missing one less bullet than May heard. Coulson checks the other clip and finds a bullet missing, which is one of Fitz’ tag rounds. Skye goes to search for Deathlok while May heads to the cockpit.

In Pensacola, Florida, a squadron of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents approaches a racetrack, and there’s a 94% chance that Deathlok is inside, according to Fitz. Garrett blows the doors open and the teams rush inside They don’t immediately find anything, so Fitz sends out what appear to be glowing miniatures of his drones. Skye finds activity but can’t confirm it’s Deathlok, so she brings up the multi-spectrum overlay, which reveals Mike Peterson looking very much like the classic Deathlok design from the comics. Skye determines that Deathlok has more than just a cybernetic eye and leg, and Coulson sends Fitz to the safety of the van. The team goes after Deathlok, but he fires more rockets, taking down two of the agents with Ward. Deathlok avoids May and leaps to the ground floor before heading to the basement. Coulson gives chase, alone, but he doesn’t find anyone...except for Garrett. They see Deathlok and shoot at him, but he easily escapes. Fitz can’t track Deathlok’s signal, but there is someone else down there. Coulson and Garrett burst into a room and find a man surrounded by monitors. He’s in a wheelchair and speaks through the monitors using a tube. He is Nash, and he says that he surrenders.

Ward and May join Garrett and Coulson in the room, and they start searching the room. Nash says Po gave him the name Clairvoyant and that it was never his choice. He says he blanked out Mike’s feed so that he could escape, and that he couldn’t see Coulson because Coulson couldn’t see because he was “a broken man who didn’t know he was broken”. Garrett threatens him with the Fridge, but Nash says that they can’t confine him any more than the wheelchair does. He tells Coulson he’ll see him anywhere he goes, and then tries to bait Coulson into shooting him. Coulson again threatens him with the Fridge, and Nash continues to try to get a rise out of Coulson. He says that it’s inevitable - that a force will come after Coulson and Skye and that Skye will die giving Nash what “they” want. Ward shoots Nash in the chest, killing him, and he surrenders his weapon and turns himself in. Garrett says he send Ward to Coulson to knock off the rough edges, but that Coulson did too well, because he let his emotions get the best of him. Garrett offers to take Ward for debriefing, but Coulson says he wants to talk to him. Garrett leaves to track Deathlok, promises to keep Coulson up to speed, and then tells him to go easy on Ward. May tells Coulson that Fury is waiting at the Triskelion and that he can tell Fury what’s been bothering him. Coulson tells May that a lot has been bothering him and walks away.

On the Bus, Skye visits Ward in the interrogation room, bringing him a bottle of water. She asks why he did it and she admits he got angry and lost control. Ward runs down all of the awful stuff the Clairvoyant has done, but he can’t even finish his sentence when he talks about the Clairvoyant’s threat on Skye’s life. Ward says he deserves whatever punishment he receives, and he has no regrets, as long as Skye is safe. Fitz sets up his encrypted line to Simmons, but he gets a lot of interference and he finds out that someone else has an encrypted line. Simmons says something is going on at the Hub and they get disconnected. Skye goes to talk to Coulson, and Coulson reveals that he’s afraid Ward killed the wrong man, that Nash might have been nothing more than a prop for the Clairvoyant. He says it was too neat, and he feels like the Clairvoyant might still be out there. Skye says the Clairvoyant might be in their files, that Ward told her the Clairvoyant knew how to push all of the right buttons. Coulson says that Raina did the same thing, Skye asks if Raina asks about Coulson’s father’s death, and then reveals that his S.H.I.E.L.D. file says that it was a defining moment in Coulson’s character and that their files aren’t just psych evaluations, they contain surveillance footage and details. They determine that the Clairvoyant is a member of S.H.I.E.L.D. and not a person with actual abilities.

Coulson angrily confronts Ward to know if someone ordered him to kill Nash. Ward appears dumbstruck, but Coulson isn’t buying it. Fitz traces the other encrypted line and finds it in the cockpit. May busts him and he gives the worst excuse ever before running out and directly into Skye. He tries to explain what he found to Skye, and she tells him to cut the line. May tries to make a call, but Fitz cuts the line before she can do anything more than log in. May grabs her sidearm and goes after Fitz. Ward gets angry with Coulson, but Skye bursts in and tells him that they have a problem. May continues her hunt for Fitz, but he locks her in the loading bay. She fires two shots into the glass, which brings Coulson in with a sidearm of his own. May says she’s firing ICER rounds, but Coulson says that he’s not and tells her to drop her weapon. She says that she can’t, but Skye comes in with a gun of her own and threatens May to listen to Coulson. She puts her gun down and says that she can explain everything, but not on the Bus. She won’t reveal who she was talking to on her encrypted line, which Coulson thinks is connected to why Deathlok hurt Blake but left her completely unscathed. He demands to know who the real Clairvoyant is, but before May can answer, the Bus makes a sudden u-turn, throwing them all off-balance. May says she’s not behind it, but Coulson wants to know who is doing it. At the Hub, Hand tells her team to take out everyone on board except for Coulson, because he’s hers. (On Hulu, there’s no preview for Captain America: The Winter Soldier but it fit perfectly in with the episode last night.)

Weekly Whedon-isms

“You realize, Agent Coulson, that they have these things called teleconferences now?” “Nice to see you too, Agent Hand.”

“If a fight breaks out, let me take Blake - he’s coy, and scrappy.”

“So you’re saying that...we should obey the rules?” “Who are you, and what have you done with Skye?”

“So I assume you’ll be taking his place?” “On your hunt for Santa Claus? No, I’m taking a transport jet back to the Hub, where I can quarterback the field teams via satellite. Someone’s going to have to pull your asses out of the fire when things go south. I’ll be in touch.”

“But Skye, lose the ‘sir’ - I’m a field agent...just like you.”

“What’s this?” “Say you need to tag a moving vehicle...or a wild monkey that’s getting away from you..these rounds have a transceiver that will track your target via satellite.”

“You seem like a Scorpio.” “You don’t believe in the Clairvoyant, but you believe in Astrology?”

“Damn, I must be getting old...or I drank a lot more in my thirties than I remember.” “Or both.”

“Ringing the bell or knocking?” “Knocking, of course.”

“I’ll bet the Clairvoyant didn’t see that coming.”

“Not if it means you’re safe. … You, and the rest of the team.”

Reader Referendum

Reader APNelson theorized the following:

I've been saying since The Hub that Agent Hand is working for Pierce and trying to weaken or eliminate Coulson's team ahead of the takeover attempt in Winter Soldier. Of course now that Coulson isn't all that happy with Fury, that could change things up a bit.

While I wasn’t sure Hand was the one working for Pierce, from everything I’ve read from people who have already seen Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier (which has already premiered worldwide in advance of its US release this weekend), there’s absolutely no way that it won’t impact the future of this show, which certainly lends some credence to APNelson’s theory that someone we’ve seen thus far on the show is working for Alexander Pierce.

Reader Jack Revenge makes his case against spoilers:

Also along the lines of spoilers, I have to alert you to the way I feel about discussing the casting and future characters. I've grown weary of Marvel and other outlets beating us over the head with new characters and new cast members weeks, sometimes months in advance. I would have liked to have not known that Mike Peterson turns into Dethlok or that Lorelei would show up at the end of the last episode. I want to be surprised by some things. I've been actively avoiding Twitter, Marvel.com, facebook and other updates discussing the casting of the show and preview trailers. I just don't understand why they're pushing it that hard to the extent of showing us full clips of the opening of upcoming episodes. I bring this up because I love your articles, but at the end you brought of Adrian Pasdar. So far, I had avoided knowing he or the character he'll play would be on the show. Maybe you could give a warning next time before you discuss revealed knowledge of future episodes.

So how does the rest of the readership feel? I’ve included a little poll, so that I know how best to proceed, since I’ll be seeing Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier this weekend:

Theory of the Week

I have to admit, I think APNelson could be right - Hand is working for Pierce, and one of them is the Clairvoyant. However, the way they played this episode, it could’ve also been Garrett, with his interest in all things Skye. Or perhaps Blake, who put everything into motion (including tagging Deathlok with Fitz’ tracking round) and then had Deathlok injure him badly enough that it removed all suspicion from him. Basically, everything is wide open at this point - is May working for Hand, or did she give Coulson bad information about Fury on Fury’s orders to force the S.H.I.E.L.D. traitor’s hand (pun intended)?


HO...LEE...CRAP! It’s been almost twenty-two hours since I watched this episode, and I’m still blown away by how good it actually was. Sure, some of the Deathlok related effects were disappointing (not Deathlok himself, but the explosions and whatnot from his firepower were pretty obviously CGI’ed), but overall, this episode was EVERYTHING I’ve wanted from this show - espionage, Marvel Comic Universe characters, an awesome tie-in with Cap 2 (even if it wasn’t included in the Hulu version of this episode), and a huge cliffhanger that would feel right at home on page 22. Those are my thoughts after viewing the episode once.

Okay, now I’ve watched it a second time and recapped it, and while it wasn’t quite as good as I thought it was last night, it was still the best episode of this show IN A WALK. If they had to keep delaying new episodes to make this tie into The Winter Soldier, then all of my complaining from the past few reviews will be rescinded (although I still think they should’ve planned it better and come back from their winter break later to avoid all of the non-Olympic-related starts and stops). This episode was AWESOME. Guest stars, a supervillain, a false ending, drama within the team, each team member having their own thing to do, actual emotions from Ward? If they can keep this up for the next six episodes, this show will overtake The Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy as my most anticipated fall premiere.

Sure, Ward’s character progression in this episode was as cliche as can be, but it at least showed that Brett Dalton, who portrays Ward, is capable of more than they’ve given him thus far, which certainly bodes well for the future of this show. The stuff with Fitz, Simmons, and Trip was perfect, and, of course, Bill Paxton was the highlight of the episode. I’d absolutely watch a spin-off of this show if it featured Garrett and his exploits around the globe. Of course, the pessimist in me knows that I could absolutely go see a fantastic movie on Friday night that sets up the next episode of this show perfectly, only to have it all fall flat next Tuesday, but the comic book nerd in me is just hoping that they get it right. I guess we’ll know in a little under a week, and I urge all of you to go see Captain America: The Winter Soldier this weekend, as I feel like we’ll actually be discussing the events of the film in next week’s review. Again, from everything that I’ve read, they HAVE to be connected.

The 411: Easily the best episode of this show so far - Skye actually becomes an official part of the team, the plot was perfect, the guest stars were phenonmenal - it all came together for this one, so let’s hope next week’s episode isn’t a letdown.
411 Elite Award
Final Score:  9.4   [  Amazing ]  legend


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