Recap: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – “The Bridge”

After a week off Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back, with the final episode of 2013.  That’s right, SHIELD won’t be back until January 7th, so we’ll have to wait until then to see how tonight’s shocking ending is resolved.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Last time we got a fun standalone story that gave us an interesting explanation for ghosts and a good helping of insight into Melinda May.  Last night’s episode went the other direction, with less in the way of character development (at least for our regulars) but our biggest “mythology” episode yet.  That’s right, Centipede is back, and they keep getting more threatening with each appearance.  So without further ado, let’s jump right in to “The Bridge”, written by Shalisha Francis and directed by Holly Dale.

The episode actually begins with a fairly extensive “Previously on…” segment, which signals right from the beginning that “The Bridge” will have bigger stakes than a simple standalone episode.  We open in a federal prison, where the mysterious man we met at the end of “Girl in the Flower Dress” is eating his breakfast.  If you don’t remember, this is the man that Raina, a recruiter for Centipede, met with to discuss the project’s plans and to ask to contact the “Clairvoyant.”  The man sits alone at his table and when another inmate who is twice the size of the man sits down at the table, the man simply says, “That seat is taken,” causing the big inmate to get up and find another seat.  Soon afterwards, a hole is blown in the ceiling and a guy who looks like a solider rappels down into the prison.  The guards try to attack him but he has enormous strength, clearly having been infused with Extremis by Centipede, and they’re thrown across the room.  He turns to our mysterious man to say that they’re ready to go, but the man rebukes the soldier for not calling him “sir.”  Once he is spoken to with the appropriate respect he joins the solider and makes his escape.

Onboard the Bus, Skye is in her bunk continuing the search for her parents.  Coulson peeks his head in and she explains how she’s been searching the database of agents, looking for any women who were working for SHIELD at the time and were the right age to be her mother, hoping one of them might be the woman who dropped her off at the orphanage.  Coulson reminds her that the woman who dropped her off was a SHIELD agent, but that doesn’t mean that she was her mother.  Skye doesn’t particularly care about that detail, and tells Coulson that she could make a lot more progress if he’d remove her “internet nanny” bracelet.  He gives her a firm no, but says that he’s asked May to help her with the search because he knows how much it means to her.  Skye’s a little upset by this, because she was hoping to keep her search just between her and Coulson, but he assures Skye that May knows the meaning of private.

Meanwhile, May and Ward are sparring in the cargo hold.  They’re both in peak form, both speedy and inventive, but May fakes Ward out with a slick move and knocks him on his ass.  As they discuss their moves, Ward is reminded of some other moves that May possesses, and starts flirting with her, but she shuts him down with a cold “Not here.”  The crew gathers for a mission briefing, where they watch a clip of the prison break.  Simmons is excited that Centipede finally seems to have solved the issue with Extremis of people exploding, but Fitz reminds her that the fact that the bad guys have perfected their weapons is not a good thing.  The mysterious man is identified as Edison Po, a former marine and an expert in tactics, who was sent to prison for stabbing his friend’s eyes out with a steak knife in a restaurant.  Skye says that that’s strange, because he “doesn’t look crazy…. I’m kidding, the guy’s a walking mug shot.”  The crew wonders whether they’re going to have any backup on this mission, and Coulson vaguely answers that they’ll sort of have backup.

Cut to the backup, who is none other than Mike Peterson (guest star J. August Richards), former Extremis experiment and superhero wannabe, who was shot by Ward at the end of the first episode in order to keep him from exploding.  He’s now working for SHIELD and we see him training on a field, about to tackle one of those dummies they use for football training, except that this dummy is attached to an enormous bulldozer (probably weighing about 115 tons based on its size).  He rams into the dummy and pushes the dozer across the field, leaving long gouges in the turf, and when he reaches the end he turns to a man with a stopwatch and hopefully asks, “Did I beat Captain America’s time?”  “Not even close,” the man replies.  Peterson turns around to see Coulson strolling up, who offers a chance to go on a mission.  “Put the bulldozer back where you found it.  We need you to suit up,” he says.

Back on the Bus Peterson comes aboard, looking sharp in a nice suit, but May is not happy about it.  She questions his motives and his loyalty, not to mention the fact that things didn’t exactly go smoothly the last time they dealt with him.  Coulson adds that while he’s got her in a bad mood he might as well confess that he told Skye that May was searching for information on Skye’s parents, and that “she may come to you” looking for answers.  May gives Coulson a look of fury but says they should deal with “one mistake at a time.”  Coulson talks to Peterson, who says that he knows that he’s been given a privilege, and that he wants to do the best he can.  Coulson says that everyone deserves a second chance, but that Peterson should be clear that he won’t be getting a third.

In the briefing room Ward seems to be of the same opinion as May, and definitely does not want someone with Peterson’s record working with them.  Simmons points out that Skye had a questionable background but that she has fit in well.  Skye’s a bit offended at the implication, but then concedes that it’s true.  Ward doesn’t care, though, and keeps ranting about Peterson until everyone gets really quiet and he says, “He’s standing right behind me, isn’t he?”  Old jokes are the best jokes, I suppose.  Skye is a bit more welcoming, and asks about Peterson’s son, who is doing well and seems to be happy.  The rest of the group arrives, and they start looking into Po’s background, coming across another former solider named Brian Hayward, who has disappeared but whose sister is a college teacher.  So they set off for Cleveland to make contact with her.

Peterson goes to talk to Coulson in his office, wondering what his orders are.  He knows that he was brought along for fieldwork, given his abilities, but Coulson wants him to be tested first.  Peterson’s a little disappointed by this, especially considering how much testing he’s had to cope with since the incident in the first episode, but Coulson say it is as much for his benefit as for their reassurance.  Down in the lab, Simmons takes his measurements for his new suit, though Fitz reminds her that they have a scanner for that and she doesn’t need to be doing it by hand.  She’s a bit flustered by Peterson’s “hard body” and jabbers away, but Fitz is more interested in the Centipede device that is still attached to his arm.  Peterson says that they tried to take it off but it was permanently attached to him.  He then thanks the pair for inventing the night-night gun, because being shot was what saved his life.  It sort of froze him in that moment, allowing his body to absorb the serum which is why he still has his powers despite not getting any more Extremis injections.

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6 thoughts on “Recap: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – “The Bridge”

  1. “Coulson says that everyone deserves a second chance, but that Peterson should be clear that he won’t be getting a third.” Soooooooooooooo… was the whole ending Peterson blowing his second chance? Or was it all set up neatly by Coulson to get him inside Centipede???

    Favorite line: “Psychics are a myth”… “so is Thor”. And here we are in the Marvel Universe which is full of people like Jean Grey and Professor X (even if they belong to a different franchise and nobody can mention mutants here in SHIELD). I watched “X-Men/Last Stand” and “Wolverine/Origins” the other night (Woverine: stuff blows up, Hugh Jackman snarls a lot)(Last Stand: iconic shot of The Two Most Awesome Gentlemen Of Our Time (Sirs Gandalf and Piccard)… which led to some comparisons between X-Men (of which I have read many of the comics) and Avengers (of which I have reaqd none of the comics but loved the films). That may be a whole dissertation in itself (hint hint), but my overall observation was Avengers/SHIELD is very science fiction/technology based, and X-Men has a high level of “magic”. Call it mutant superpowers, but most of them would be equally at home in Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School for Wizardry as in Prof X’s School for Wizard… whatever.

    I am wondering if The Clairvoyant is some sort of alternate personality for our Hannibal Lector clone, Po. (why is he named after a teletubby????).

    Not really entirely sure Peterson is dead… I mean, superpowers! And Bridge… might have made it into the water… might be able to rectify the situation with Coulson (there is a third chance).

    Well: January is gonna be a busy month: Sherlock, SHIELD, have to wait till April for Winter Soldier…

    As for waiting, let me tell you about all the fandoms I love…
    LOTR/Hobbit/Harry Potter: a year between films, ten + between LOTR and Hobbit.
    Sherlock. Died. DIED!! Wait, I read the Reichenback Fall, I saw the Iron Man version, he’s not dead…. BUT HOWWWWWWWW???????? (bwaaa haaa haa, we’ll make you wait until next season, and it’ll only be three episodes, arghhhh, grrrrrr, Mofftisssssss!!!!)
    I’m not even mentioning the Supernatural fandom, they’re all over my tumblr with their falling angels and stuff….. aaaugh.
    And Thor? Pick a girl, please. Just one.
    SHIELD is easy.
    Sort of.

    I do hope they don’t drag out the Tahiti thing too long. I hate dangling participles and other loose ends. Suspense is great, up to a point. They’ve reached the point. Still fascinated by a tumblr post in which a fan observed that in the first Captain America film, a tennish kid running with a trash can lid painted like Cap’s SHIELD is being called home to dinner…. his name appears to be Phil.

    Phil is 80??? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

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  2. When the credits rolled at the end my response was “and THAT’S a Whedon show.” Knowing that death does *not* mean a character is gone, I’m praying that Gunn (sorry, Peterson lol) comes back… Whedonesque rarely kills off a (protagonist) character that dramatically without devoting some time to it concluding the episode, but we’ll see.

    Great way to end the year, very smart to give the general public a cliff hanger to bring them back in ’14… I keep worrying that the public will bail of Joss again and we’ll lose this… but so far I think it’s been a good mix of “commercial action” and Whedonesque fandom. Can’t wait to see how they wrap up the season… has there been any word on a second season yet?

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