“We all have our secrets”
‘The Dirty Half Dozen’ was a very entertaining ‘Agents of SHIELD’ episode. It was a tie-in episode that neatly wove in the current plot lines into the bigger blanket of Avengers: Age of Ultron. It did so without feeling forced or unnecessary (see, for example, Season 1’s ‘The Well). ‘Melinda’ was definitely the high point of the series, but this is a close second. We had a good old-school SHIELD reunion, a great tracking scene of Skye kicking ass, a mission-within-a-mission, and some cracking dialogue and one liners courtesy of (and directed at) Grant Ward. After a shaky start, the second half of season 2 is hitting its stride.
The episode kicks off with Raina’s premonitions, one of which came true in short order when Gordon came back with a bloodied head. Cal reveals to everybody that Skye was Jiaying’s daughter (but it met with a subdued reaction, not the raging reaction that Jiaying had promised Skye…). Skye pleads to Jiaying to save Lincoln and Raina says she has seen Skye save him…Jiaying agrees, and Gordon takes Skye back to SHIELD (and back home?). One teleportation later, and Skye appears on the BASE.
Coulson plans a mission to save Deathlok and Lincoln from the hands of List. With the addition of Skye, the old Season 1-era SHIELD is back in action! A lingering shot of the old team feels quaint and crowd-pleasing at the same time. As Ward says, “my actions destroyed this…they were good times.” Of course, the episode quality wasn’t great, but the show was kept afloat by the dialogue and banter. And the swipes at Ward as SHIELD are planning their rescue mission are gold. “I’m still happy I shot you,” Skye smiles after Ward’s attempted apology. Everyone gets a good dig, using words rather than actions to harm Ward. But the rest of the team put aside their differences with Ward for the sake of the mission.
“This is something I have to do”
There was the mission, then there was the mission-within-the-mission. Coulson’s looking for Loki’s sceptre (we only find that out at the end of the episode), to give us a link to Avengers: Age of Ultron. No one else in SHIELD knows about it. Maria Hill pops up in a nice little cameo. However, there are several other covert motivations at hand. Ward reassures Kara/Agent 33 that he will help her reconnect with her past when the mission is over. That’s true, but only because he escapes and leaves Kara with SHIELD. On the phone to Coulson, he explains that there isn’t enough good left inside him to help Kara. But SHIELD can help her regain her memories. A touching move from Ward, an act of redemption from a man we have grown to loathe. Has love turned his heart from black to red? There is obviously still some good left in him.
He was also involved in the scene where Simmon’s motivations became actions. Earlier, she had told Fitz that she was willing to save the team from the dangerous Ward. She showed Fitz some of those funky disintegration bombs to prove her point. She tried to use the bomb on Ward, but Bakshi tries to save him. One bomb later, Bakshi is a goner. While not exactly a murderer, Simmons plotted to murder someone…what has she become? As Ward says, “I’m disappointed in you.” First thinking about killing the ‘enhanced,’ then thinking about killing Ward. What happened to her?
‘The Dirty Half Dozen’ was not only filled with great character moments and cracking dialogue, but action that never let up when it got going. It peaked with a tracking shot of Skye kicking ass (without her powers), taking out Hydra agents in sweeping and slick moves reminiscent of May. It may well be the best ‘Agents of SHIELD’ action scene we’ve seen (in a quiet moment to myself, I compared it to THAT fight scene in ‘Daredevil’…but I wouldn’t go that far again!) Skye also got a chance to blow some baddies away with her new and focused powers. She is a force to be reckoned with!
The episode managed to progress the ongoing plots in ‘Agents of SHIELD’ and nicely link in with Avengers: Age of Ultron, which was no mean task. Raina’s prediction of “metal man tearing our world apart” in the closing moments was heavy handed, but after such an exciting episode, it was easily forgiven. The continued quality of ‘Agents of SHIELD’ looks promising as we enter the last episodes of season 2!
VERDICT: 8/10. Almost up there with ‘Melinda,’ quality-wise. Action, character, dialogue…everything gelled together gracefully!
(Click here for my review of Avengers: Age of Ultron)