Agents of SHIELD is back once more, this time with the promise of no more funky scheduling until the end of the season. Last time we saw our heroes facing an Asgardian visitor and ended with the revelation that May has been spying on Coulson and company for some unknown authority. Tonight our team decided to intensify the search for the Clairvoyant along with pretty much every agent who isn’t Nick Fury or Maria Hill, giving us an exciting episode that upped the mystery level even higher. All of this happened while simultaneously setting us up for the premiere of Captain America: The Winter Soldier this weekend, which will lead directly into next week’s episode. So let’s jump right into “End of the Beginning” written by Paul Zbyszewski and directed by Bobby Roth.
After a rather ominous “Previously on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD,” we catch up with Agent John Garrett and his partner Trip (returning guest stars Bill Paxton and B.J. Britt), who are at a safehouse in Sydney while on the trail of the Clairvoyant. Garret’s just happy the safe house actually has beds, but Trip misses the 1,000 thread-count sheets with satin finish in Cairo. Garrett wants to call Coulson to discuss the possible identities of the Clairvoyant, who he thinks might have one been rejected from inclusion on the Index of “gifted” individuals maintained by SHIELD. (Garrett just hopes it’s not the Amazing Kreskin.) Before Garrett can do more than take a sip of his drink, however, Mike Peterson/Deathlok smashes through the door. Garrett shoots him twice to no effect, while Trip zaps him with an intense-looking taser that brings him to his knees. Garrett orders Trip to use an ICER on him, but the projectile just bounces off Deathlok’s skull. Deathlok rips the electrified taseresque devices off of himself and leaps through the ceiling, leaving a Mike Peterson-shaped hole in the roof which Garrett actually seems rather impressed by.
Our crew has taken the Bus for a rendezvous aboard an aircraft carrier (helicarrier?) in the middle of the ocean. The loading bay doors open and a host of familiar faces board the Bus. In addition to Garrett and Trip we have Sitwell, Blake and Agent Hand, who reminds Coulson that they could just have had a teleconference. Sitwell remarks that their meeting is a little unconventional, but Blake correctly points out that unconventional is Coulson’s m.o. these days. However, Coulson won’t tell them what’s going on until they’re safely 50,000 feet in the air over the North Pole.
Once they’ve reached their cruising altitude, Garrett and Coulson explain that they hope their location combined with the Northern Lights might help scramble the Clairvoyant’s psychic waves enough to keep their meeting a secret. Blake points out that SHIELD’s official stance on psychics is that they don’t exist. Coulson explains that he’s not suddenly a believer, but that his experience with Lorelei has opened his mind a bit. He’s pissed off that the Clairvoyant has been stealing plays from their playbook and wants to see if they can find him.
They think that Deathlok’s attack on Garrett means they’re getting close, and they explain that they’ve narrowed the list down to 13 suspects. Given how many cases they’ve encountered, it’s probable they’ve had a run in with the Clairvoyant at some point, even if they might have dismissed his supposed abilities at the time. Hand rightly points out that the Clairvoyant might still see this coming, but Coulson wants to split up the group and keep the information separate in order to make it harder to foresee, and he praises Skye’s abilities in pattern recognition and analysis and says that she’ll do the matchmaking for the teams and the targets.
Speaking of Skye, she’s down in the lab with Fitzsimmons giving the latest in a long line of blood samples. She assures them that she feels fine, but they’re obviously still concerned and curious about the GH-325 drug that brought her back and led to her unbelievable (or just strange) recovery. Simmons tells her that she wants to send the blood sample to a bigger lab for analysis, but Skye, who knows at least as much as Coulson does, says that they shouldn’t go against Coulson’s orders. “So you’re saying we should obey the rules?” Simmons points out. “Who are you and what have you done with Skye?” Fitz asks. Before they can discuss it anymore, Ward shows up to tell Skye that the “top brass” wants to see her.
She agrees with Coulson’s plan to pair every off, but suggests they run a double blind, with her giving one member in the pair the location of the target and the other the identity of the target, further compartmentalizing the information. Garrett likes how she thinks, but when she asks how she’ll get access to the classified files Coulson has a surprise for her. He makes her an official Agent of SHIELD, with a badge and everything. Coulson points out that she’s earned it, passing every exam with flying colors (“For a Level 1 agent,” Hand points out.), she’s put her life on the line and has earned it. After some hugs the group breaks up, but Ward hangs back. Skye thanks him personally for being such a patient S.O., and says that she couldn’t have done it without him. He disagrees, however, saying that he does believe some things are meant to be.