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Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review 1.18 - 'Providence'
Posted by Wyatt Beougher on 04.16.2014

Previously on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Winter Soldier fallout hit home, as Garrett was revealed as a Hydra agent (and possibly the Clairvoyant), May was revealed as the person pulling the strings behind the team and reporting their activities to Fury, and Ward killed Hand and two of her men to prevent Garrett from going to the Fridge.

Season 01, Episode 18: Providence

Raina is making origami artwork in her cell when she hears an explosion. She smiles and returns to her bunk, but when Ward opens the door, she looks apprehensive. He gives her a present, which she is reluctant to take until he tells her that it’s from the Clairvoyant. She removes a red flowered dress. At the Hub, Coulson is acting as the de facto leader, trying to get things back to normal. As he and Skye watch news footage, Coulson vows to find Hydra and protect the world. Meanwhile, in Cuba, Ward and Raina meet up with Garrett, who reveals that he was in fact the Clairvoyant, but that Raina shouldn’t call him that anymore. She seems disappointed that Garrett isn’t what he seemed, and even more so when he reveals that he isn’t clairvoyant. They descend to a secret lair beneath the barber shop.

Back at the Hub, Fitz, Simmons, and Triplett work on repairing the Bus, which doesn’t seem to be going all that well, especially when Fitz storms off. Skye tells Coulson that the Cube has been retaken, and May reports in that the hull has been repaired and that their systems are back online, although they still don’t have a working cargo bay door. Before they can get much further in their discussions, they get a priority transmission from General Glenn Talbot, who says he’s sending in a peacekeeping force to ask the remaining S.H.I.E.L.D. agents a few questions. Coulson and Skye agree that Talbot is looking to do more than that, to which May suggests that base defenses are back online and could be used to hold them off. Coulson doesn’t want to start a war with the US military, but he also doesn’t want to spend the next six months tied up in court and blown up. Coulson says they’re leaving.

May tells Coulson that a lot of agents are staying behind to surrender, and that Fitz has rigged up the cargo bay door, but that they can’t get anymore fuel. Coulson asks if she can get them out in less time than the hour it’ll take for Talbot to arrive and May says she’ll have them wheels up in ten. Trip wants to join the team, but Coulson is reticent because of his association with Garrett. Trip says Garrett had him fooled and killed some good friends of his, but Coulson still refuses. Simmons comes to Trip’s aid and convinces Coulson to let him on board, on the condition that Trip becomes Simmons’ responsibility. Fitz tells Coulson that they don’t have any cloaking, so they’ll need to stay above radar as long as they can and then hide as soon as they land. Simmons tells Coulson that they’re well-supplied medically, but only have enough food to last two days. Trip tells Coulson that they’re leaking fuel and he can’t fix the leak until they land. Skye’s news is slightly better, as they do have internet, so Coulson has her scrub the identities of every member of the team to get them off of the grid. Skye tells Coulson that they’ll be Agents of nothing, which seems to bother Coulson, but he gives her his secure phone to try to reach Ward. He tells her to gather up everyone’s badges, then goes to deliver the bad news to May that they’ve only got four hours of flight time because of the leaking fuel line. May asks where they’re going, only for Coulson to reveal that he has no idea.

Skye calls Ward and tells him that Coulson had her erase their identities. Ward plays it off and feeds her a line of nonsense about taking a detour to the Fridge. Naively, Skye buys it, and she promises to keep him in the loop. Ward flirts with her and argues with Garrett after hanging up the phone. Ward is upset about Skye getting shot, and Garrett is equally upset about Ward’s feelings getting in the way of his assignment. Garrett asks Raina to resume Phase Three of the Centipede project and reveals that they have a slew of drugs from the Guest House. Raina tells Garrett she’ll do it, but she says she’ll need money, which Garrett says is no problem. Ward gives her the hard drive containing all of the information from the Bus, and then he and Garrett prepare to storm the Fridge.

As the Bus skims over a large body of water, Skye turns in the team’s badges, telling Coulson that Simmons got choked up and that she herself finally felt like she was part of something, only for it to mean nothing. They talk about Coulson’s history with S.H.I.E.L.D. and being recruited by Fury. Coulson reveals a safe in the wall and opens it to grab his badge, which is flashing a series of coordinates. Coulson says it can only be the work of one man, and they go to tell the team. The coordinates go to somewhere in the Canadian wilderness, and FitzSimmons and Trip are skeptical about the origins of the coordinates. Coulson says Fury gave him his badge and that they swore an oath, and tells them that Fury also gave him the plane, and if anyone wants off, the chutes are in the bay. Meanwhile, Garrett gets a sit-rep from one of the Hydra agents who was at the Cube. Ward and Raina discuss Raina’s disappointment in Garrett not being a real clairvoyant, and also Ward’s loyalty to Garrett for pulling him out of a hell. He reveals that he earned Coulson’s trust by jumping out of a plane without a parachute and then got intimate with May because she was the most likely to find him out. Being Skye’s SO allowed him to find out about the unknown variable, and telling Coulson that he didn’t want to be a part of the team was his way of ensuring that Coulson fought to keep him on the team. Raina says that Coulson is a good man, and Ward reveals that he does owe Coulson something for being willing to lay down his life for him, but that he owes Garrett everything.

May asks Coulson if he’s okay, and he tells her to stop pretending to care about his well-being. May tries to confiscate Coulson’s weapon, but Coulson refuses and also refuses to believe that Fury is dead. May suggest that Hydra might be mind-controlling Coulson, but he says Fury requested the surgery that brought him back to life. May reveals that someone besides Fury called for the surgery but that she doesn’t know who. She says without Fury, they have no idea if Hydra is controlling Coulson, which is why Fury assigned her to watch him. He angrily tells May to leave. In the science bay, Fitz and Trip argue over how much loyalty they should be showing Coulson. Simmons sides with Trip, and Fitz gets a dig in at Simmons, telling her “It’s times like these you stick with the guy you believe in.”

At the Fridge, Ward and a handcuffed Garrett get dropped off on the roof, which is the only entrance to the one hundred story building. They approach the door, but the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents inside have orders not to let anyone inside without Hand present. Ward says she’s meeting with every remaining high-ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. agent that’s left because of the war going on. He asks if they want him to radio her and have her turn the plane around, and they tell him that’s exactly what he’ll have to do. He acts like he’s going to call Hand, but a helicopter starts shooting at Ward and Garrett. It flies away momentarily and Ward tries to get them to let him and Garrett in, and they finally relent when the helicopter comes back. They all make for the elevator, where Ward shoots both of them in the head and Garrett shakes off his cuffs. They don gas masks and continue their elevator ride. Garrett and Ward are joined by a team of Hydra agents and as they roam the Fridge, Garrett talks about locking up Johnny Horton, who gave himself lion’s paws for hands. (Nice little nod to the Marvel Comics character The Griffin there.) Garrett reveals that S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Slingshot program doesn’t actually shoot anything (except the occasional monkey) into space, and they raid the storage area that contains all of the supposedly disposed-of items. Garrett grabs the 0-8-4 from episode two and starts using it to blow holes in walls.

In the Canadian wilderness, Coulson tells the team that they don’t have to go with him, but that he’s going because he believes in Fury. The rest of the team follows, knowing that they’re out of fuel and that a NATO satellite is going to reveal their position in less than eight hours. Back at the Fridge, Ward holds the Berzerker staff from the Thor: The Dark World tie-in episode, and Garrett continues blowing holes in walls, eventually releasing all of the supercriminals, who he hopes will keep Coulson busy. Ward reveals to a disbelieving Garrett that there is another, secret level below the bottom of the Fridge, and they even bet a dinner on it, which Ward wins when he blows a hole in the floor. Coulson leads an increasingly skeptical team through the Canadian woodland. Fitz and Simmons have a moment that would suggest that they missed their chance for a connection, and May and Skye argue about what May’s actual mission was. May tells Skye a different story than what she told Coulson, trying to convince Skye that Coulson might be losing his mind now that he knows the reality of how he was brought back to life. Finally, Coulson stumbles to the coordinates to find...absolutely nothing. Skye asks how long they should look before they head back, and Coulson says they won’t be going back because they have no fuel. Simmons, May, and Coulson get hostile with one another, and Coulson says that they can’t let Hydra define them. Coulson sees the team’s unwillingness to believe him, and he apologizes, gives up, and flings his badge...which gets shot out of the air by an automated turret. The team takes cover behind some rocks and Coulson steps into the opening to prove to them that it’s a S.H.I.E.L.D. base. Coulson identifies himself to the turret, which disarms and welcomes him as a door slides open in the rock.

Back at Garrett’s Havana hideout, Raina reveals that Skye’s hard drive will erase all data if anyone other than Skye tries to access it. Coulson and the team are greeted by Eric Koenig (Patton Oswalt), who welcomes them into Providence (which is his name for the secret base that doesn’t actually have a name). He gives them a tour of the facility before telling them that Fury didn’t make it out of Washington and that the Fridge has fallen. Skye calls Ward while Koenig asks to speak with Coulson in private. He shows Coulson his office and gets sidetracked before revealing that he’s been there since the Chitauri invasion and also that Fury is still alive. He tells Coulson that he is only authorized to tell Coulson and not his team that Fury is still alive and that no one knows where he is. Coulson doesn’t want to keep secrets from his team, but Coulson reluctantly agrees to keep Fury’s secret.

Ward gets off of the phone with Skye and tells Garrett that he’ll get the job done. As Garrett pulls on a turtleneck (Sterling Archer would approve!), we see that he’s got some cybernetic parts on the left side of his torso, which is a nod to his comic book counterpart. Garrett gives Ward twenty-four hours to get the password to the hard drive and get out if he wants to do it without hurting anyone on the team. Otherwise, he’ll have to “cross the team out and bring [Garrett] the girl”. Garrett roughs Ward up to better sell his story, and Ward shows up at Providence, where he walks right in to a waiting Skye. She checks on him and suggests that Simmons takes a look at him before they get the drink they discussed last episode. Back in Cuba, Quinn yells at Garrett, who blows him off until Quinn reveals that Raina told him that Garrett isn’t a clairvoyant. Quinn says he’s out, but Garrett says that he has a “special gift” for Quinn, before taking him to a box that contains Gravitonium (and, presumably, Graviton).

Weekly Whedon-isms

“How many so far? Seven?” “Three.”

“Just a very high level S.H.I.E.L.D. clearance...and a persuasive personality.”

“You need to replace the ground wires.” “You need to shhh. Shhhh - both of you.”

“The minute we land, we’ll be hard-pressed to hide.” “Great.” “I’m afraid our food rations will only last a couple of days at best.” “Perfect.” “Bad news.” “No kidding.” “Skye, please tell me something good.” “We have internet. “Yay. And boy, have I lowered my expectations.”

“Here, give him a call. Hearing how Garrett has settled into his tiny, windowless, permanent home might actually cheer me up.”

“Tom Brady? You hate the Patriots.” “The Agent Grant Ward that she knows doesn’t.”

“The Fridge?” “Oh, you’ve heard of it? We’re going to raid it.”

“Hail Hydra!” “Alright, alright, put your arms down, Komiskey - you look like a West Texas cheerleader at a pep rally.”

“You don’t seem like her type.” “I’m everyone’s type.”

“He’s chasing the White Whale.” “Have you even read Moby Dick?” “Yeah, have you?” “That’s not the point.”

“How the hell did Hydra know that you and Hand were coming?” “We told them.”

“I’ve never been so happy to buy a man a steak dinner in my life!” “Wait’ll you see the bill.”

“It was my badge.” “It was your...well, that’s going to be hard to replace, but very soon you’re going to be issued your very own lanyard. Lanyards for others will be distributed on a case-by-case basis.”

“We’re racking up major Call of Duty hours. You play?” “Of course. Lately, not so much.”

“Great! Maybe ask Agent May to pull the plane in? I’ve got a parking space for it and everything.”

Reader Referendum

Readers Voice of Logic and Jack Revenge had a nice little exchange last week:

Voice of Logic started things off:

I wouldn't rule out Zola as the Clairvoyant just yet. Garrett may have fessed up to it, but that doesn't mean it is true. Zola and his algorithm could very easily still come into play on the show as the true Clairvoyant.

I loved Ward as a HYDRA agent, and I really hope they don't do the whole double turn thing, where he didn't actually kill Hand, or the other two agents, but he pretended so he could get closer to Garrett and HYDRA.

We’ve already had one fake Clairvoyant, so I won’t rule out that Garrett too is also a fake; however, the way things played out the last two weeks, my money is still on him to be the Clairvoyant. And I totally agree about Ward - when the season started (and pretty much any time there’s a fight scene), I thought the character had a ton of potential, but he’s just been written as being so boring. Hopefully going to work for Hydra will change that.

And Jack Revenge’s reply?

I don't think who the Clairvoyant is really matters anymore now that Hydra has revealed itself. We have a core of Strucker, Zola, Garrett, Ward and Dethlok, and they'll maybe release Graviton and Blizzard for some havok. Since there isn't a lot left of SHIELD or Coulson's team, I would expect them to add to their ranks and Dethlok to eventually switch sides. I also wouldn't be surprised to see Ward get some upgrades, and maybe tease some Red Skull elements.

Since we saw Strucker experimenting with Loki's Sceptre, which had a lot to do with mind control, I'm wondering whether that had just as much to do with people following along with Hydra as everything growing for 70 years or whatever. We've already seen scenes of the Avengers fighting the Hulk in Age of Ultron. I'm not sure a fight between Ultron and Hulk does much for anyone, so does anybody think they'd have Strucker use the Sceptre on him and dare take the Hulk, who was so wildly popular in the first Avengers, out of the movie early on? The fringe benefit to this would be possibly setting up Planet Hulk.

I could go on and on and on really. Isn't it great how much we know, but how little we're sure of?

Deathlok joining the side of the angels (or at least the slightly less bad devils) would certainly fit with the comics depiction of the character. If Skye is going to appeal to anyone and bring them back to the team, I certainly hope that it’s Mike Peterson. As for Loki’s scepter, I don’t think it played any role in the Hydra infiltration - S.H.I.E.L.D. basically brought a basket of snakes into their house and hoped they’d turn into puppies; instead, they just learned how to hide and recruit new snakes. I’m also in agreement with Voice of Logic regarding Hulk fighting Iron Man in the footage we’ve seen from The Avengers: Age of Ultron, in that I think from what I’ve read, Ultron starts out as one of Tony’s suits and then as he gets more powerful modifies and upgrades himself, so that was probably a relatively newly-sentient Ultron that Hulk was attempting to smash.

Theory of the Week

Alright, so I sincerely doubt that Ward is a triple agent. I firmly believe that he’s in Garrett’s camp, but what if he’s not the only one? What if Trip is also still working for Garrett, unbeknownst to the team and even to Ward? I could see Garrett putting Trip in place as an insurance policy in case Ward’s feelings cause him to compromise the mission. If Ward doesn’t make his deadline and Garrett orders Trip to finish it off, I could see Ward taking a bullet meant for Skye and shooting Trip down with his dying breath. It would certainly fit within the greater context of the rest of the Whedonverse.


Not a whole lot this week, other than the confirmation that both Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and Director Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) will each be appearing in one of the final two episodes of this season.

Also, Garrett’s cyborg parts on his torso were a nice nod to the comics, so I’m actually beginning to think that he’ll hang around beyond the end of this season. They can have Strucker as the main baddie for the movies and let Garrett be his counterpart in the television universe.

Alright, so apparently I just needed an extra week off to recover from ‘End of the Beginning’ and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, because I was really impressed with a lot of stuff this week. The new dynamic between the team, with Coulson not trusting May, May hating it, the blooming romantic triangle between FitzSimmons and Trip, Coulson’s distrust of Trip, and Ward playing Skye so effortlessly - it all just works, and I’m really digging it. And speaking of Ward, I can’t tell you enough how impressed I am with Brett Dalton - before this week, I thought he was hired because he was a good-looking actor in good enough shape to handle the action scenes, but this week he really cut loose and showed off some real acting chops. Sure, he’s not going to win an Oscar, but for a television show set in a comic book universe, he did some truly amazing work. Compare his facial expressions, posture, and body language in this episode to the previous seventeen, and especially when he was playing “good Ward” for Garrett and with Skye, and it’s just incredible to think that a guy who has, to this point, been defined almost entirely by being so one-dimensional, is now suddenly the most dynamic character on the show. And it’s not just his physical portrayal of Ward that was so awesome this episode, it was the conversation with Raina, where he admitted that Coulson was a good guy and that he was the type of guy that you owed something, but that he owed Garrett everything? Just amazing stuff that I never thought I would see from that character or the actor who portrays him.

Also, Ruth Negga, who plays Raina, was almost criminally underused this episode. Her disappointment in finding out that The Clairvoyant was just a run-of-the-mill S.H.I.E.L.D. agent with access to a lot of secrets, and how quickly it was replaced with reluctant compliance at the opportunity to experiment with the remainder of the drugs from the Guest House, was one of the more realistic reactions we’ve seen on this show. Also on point was Fitz getting upset (‘butthurt’ to use the internet parlance) when Simmons is very clearly showing an interest in Trip, when he himself was so busy trying to convince himself he had a shot with Skye that he basically drove her into Trip’s arms. And don’t even get me started on how awesome Patton Oswalt was in his guest role, completely forgetting to tell Coulson that Fury is still alive in favor of telling him about “Nude Beach Wednesdays”. Bill Paxton as John Garrett continues to be a highlight of the show as well

If I had any complaints about this episode, it would be that they pulled the trigger on Ward returning to the team so soon. I think giving the team an episode to get settled into their new secret base and Ward another episode to play the bad guy would’ve given his re-infiltration of the team more emotional weight, but with the end of the season rapidly approaching, I can’t say that I blame them for rushing it either. Oh yeah, and what was up the effects budget this episode? Did they blow it all on the helicopter attack scene and the automated turret, so they couldn’t show the team’s breath as they trekked through the wilderness? Surely they had enough make-up on hand to at least make their cheeks red. From what I’ve read, this ratings have gone up for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in each of the last two weeks, so at least some of the people who tuned out earlier in the season are coming back for the good stuff. Hopefully that trend continues through the season finale and ABC gives a second season their full commitment.

The 411: ‘Providence’ was as solid an episode as we’ve seen from this show to date. It didn’t have the fun flashback pacing of “T.R.A.C.K.S.” or the huge set-up elements like “End of the Beginning”, but to me, it was right there with “Turn Turn Turn” as probably the third best episode of the season.
411 Elite Award
Final Score:  8.8   [ Very Good ]  legend


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