Instant Reaction: Agents of SHIELD – “Face My Enemy”

*Update: My full recap of “Face My Enemy” is now live.  Read it here!

Now that is what I’m talking about!  After three tense, dramatic episodes, including catching up with Simmons last weekSHIELD ramped up the comedy and the action tonight, giving us something that felt like the third act of a film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Tonight was full of many fantastic quotes (many of which are below), some great moments for Philinda (Coulson/May) shippers, and some all-around ass kicking.  It had its drama too, and it’s character development.  In all, this was about as close as you could get to my ideal SHIELD stand-alone episode, and while I wouldn’t want this every week, it was perfectly placed as the season’s fourth episode.  Here are my instant reactions to the episode, and remember to check back later in the week for my full recap.

  • Favorite Quote: Melinda May: “I’ll give you 500 dollars right now for a pair of flats.”
  • I loved that the humor was out in full force tonight.  Obviously the episode was filled with some killer quotable lines, but there were plenty of other gags too.  I particularly enjoyed Coulson preparing himself to traverse the laser grid only to have May simply walk through it or May’s scream as she charged down Bakshi.  While I don’t want Agents of SHIELD to be come a full-on comedy, there has to be a good helping of humor every now and then.  As I’ve said before, every episode of the show doesn’t have to cram everything inside it, either plot or tone, but as a whole the season needs to embody everything that people love about the show.  Big character moments, humor, plot twists, mysteries, action, etc.  While it might not have been the most earth shattering episode as far as major developments go, it hit a home run with humor, action and character.
  • Favorite Quote: Coulson: “Yes, she’s laughing.  I think the worst of it’s over now.”  May: “My face hurts.”
  • Speaking of action, how awesome was that fight?  Ming-Na Wen is, of course, a goddess and a badass, but she outdid herself tonight.  This was almost as good as her fight with Ward last season (though obviously not as deeply satisfying and fulfilling).  I have to give a big shoutout to both the episode’s director and the visual effects team for doing such a fantastic job with the face mapping so that they could have those great shots of two Ming-Na Wen’s fighting each other instead of Wen fighting an obvious stunt double.  All it takes is a couple of shots to establish that we’re seeing doubles for our minds to fill it in for the other shots.  But the stunt choreography and Wen’s stuntwork was absolutely killer, as was that shot of May slamming Agent 33’s face into the table.  I wanted to stand up and cheer!
  • Favorite Quote: Skye: “That’s more words than I’ve heard her say in a year!”
  • Just because the episode was filled with humor and action doesn’t mean there wasn’t some good character development.  Once again Fitz (and Ian De Caestecker) shone brightly, this time struggling with whether to try to join in with the group and bond or withdraw and talk to his imagined version of Simmons.  I’m still torn on whether Fitz is genuinely hallucinating, or is intentionally imaging Simmons as a way to cope.  It seems like he’s less excited by her company than he was before, but the way that she keeps encouraging him makes me think that he created her as a way to force himself to have some perspective.  I was so glad he took that beer at the end of the episode, after saving the day.  Still, we got our first real confirmation that he’s bothered by more than just his mental condition, as he seems pretty bitter that Simmons left after he confessed his feelings.  It’ll be interesting to see how that all shakes out once the pair of them are back together.
  • Favorite Quote: May: “We’re modern.”
  • I have to say that I totally fell for Talbot being HYDRA.  It seemed so obvious that his hatred of everything relating to espionage (and SHIELD in particular) would be cover for him working for HYDRA, so when we first saw him checking in with Whitehall, I was completely sold.  Of course, having him actually be Bakshi in disguise was a nice twist, although other, more observant people than I am might have seen it coming.  Still, it did help hammer home the fact that absolutely no one can be trusted these days.
  • Favorite Quote: Hunter: “This way?”  Fitz: “Dear god, no.”
  • One thing I absolutely loved was the appearance of the facial disguise technology from Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  Disguises like this are nothing new, and in this case seems like an obvious homage to Mission Impossible (this episode resembled the old MI show a lot), but I liked it for more than it’s obvious use.  SHIELD is obviously meant to tie in to the MCU, and it’s generally expected that it will do so by direct plot connections with the movies.  Obviously The Winter Soldier changed the game for SHIELD last season, and the did a sort-of crossover with Thor: The Dark World, but what I like much more than that are the little nods.  Last season we saw Fitz’s “Mouse Hole,” only for it to show up in The Winter Soldier when Fury and Hill needed to make quick getaways.  It really helped the show feel like a part of the same universe, much moreso than a simple crossover episode.  And it works both ways, getting to see tech that first appeared in the film show up on the show is just as effective.  Cameos are great, but they can’t happen every episode, and little things like this do a lot more to secure the connection than endless references to the Battle of New York.
  • Favorite Quote: Coulson: “May hates coffee.”
  • I’m still not sure what to make of the final, post-credits scene, particularly when combined with the preview for next week.  How does Raina’s “recruitment” by HYDRA factor in to Simmons being potentially exposed as a mole and Raina’s deal with Coulson.  Obviously we’ll find out next week, but I’ll try to put together a theory by the time I publish my full recap.
  • Favorite Quote: Coulson: “And she wanted to get coffee.”  May: “Did you punch her in the face?”  Coulson: “I did.”
  • The Coulson/May dynamic has never been hotter, more flirty, or more fun than it was tonight.  They’re definitely the mother/father of the team, but it’s nice to see them relating to each other and even having fun beyond just being parental units to the group.  I wouldn’t go so far to say I’m a Philinda shipper, in that I want them to have a romantic relationship, but I love their chemistry, their partnership, and their trust.  I also love that they have a history upon which that trust seems to be built.  Whether that was a romantic history back in the day, I’m not sure one way or the other.  But they obviously have a relationship that is more than professional, especially given May’s insistence that she would never kill Coulson no matter what happens to him.  I love these two, and I want to see as much of them as possible, particularly in situations that don’t always feel like the end of the world.

What do you think?  Did you enjoy “Face My Enemy”?  Did you like the humor level of the episode?  What’d you think of the action?  Could Melinda May be any more amazing/beautiful/hilarious/badass/perfect?  Do you like the May/Coulson dynamic?  Do you think Fitz is really growing/progressing, or do you think he’s just putting up a front?  Were you happy that Ward was missing tonight?  What will the team learn from the painting, and how did it survive the fire?  What was your favorite line from the night?  Let me know in the comments!

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