YOUR FACE! YOUR BEAUTIFUL FACE!
Rin says: It was so good having Elsa back, doing what she does best. Freezing ships in lakes.
Cmon Donnie. Conceal, don’t feel.
Sophy says: So far Agents of SHIELD is doing a much better job of incorporating Frozen into its narrative than Once Upon A Time. Unsurprising.
Rin says: I hope this show never stops zooming in on Simmons. And did she do something with her hair? It’s looking beautifully hydrated.
Sophy says: You didn’t. I mean, I know you did and I also know you would, but you didn’t.
Simmons is looking mighty shampoo commercial, I have to say. And I’d love to pretend that our pants being off is purely down to the composition of these shots BUT IT ISN’T.
Best Reminder that Joss is back :’)
“I have trouble with words, so, um…it’s probably best that I show you.”
Rin says: Oh man.. OH MAN. This scene was so intense, and I like that they’re giving these big moments to us early on in the season instead of dragging it out, but it still feels like we’ve been building up to moments like these for ages? AOS really succeeded in making it feel as if this world continued to spin during the hiatus, and we’re just getting dropped back into it after months of development. A huge part of that is due to the brilliance of these actors, when Fitz sees Ward again and has a mini-anxiety attack it feels so real. I laughed at Ward’s insanity when he said it was good to see Fitz because it was so absurd, but also kind of perfect in showing Ward’s mental state.
What Ward said about doing his best to save Fitzsimmons… I believe. I remember watching that scene where he starts punching in the command to dump the room in the ocean, and thinking that this was the best way Ward could think of to not kill Fitzsimmons. For me that was the whole point of the flashback of Ward not shooting the dog, here he was faced with the same decision Garrett gave him all those years ago and even after everything Ward has done, he’s unable to follow through. And knowing that Garrett would have finished the job, like he did to the dog, he had to get Fitzsimmons off the bus. Obviously there are a million other ways Ward could have gone about ‘saving’ Fitzsimmons that would have been relatively risk free. But given that Ward is fucking insane, I’m pretty sure it made sense in his crazy head — that he was still doing right by Fitzsimmons in giving them a fighting chance. Does that exempt him from his actions because his intentions were good? Fuck no. And that’s the brilliance of this show because they punish the fact that Ward’s actions were still wrong despite his intentions. Intentions do not absolve your actions or the end result. (Unless it’s GLEE HAHAHA CHEAP SHOT FUCK YOU SHOW). If you’re speeding in your car and crash into someone else, obviously your intention was never to do so, but that still makes you a fucking idiot who should be penalised. Now having said that, it is intent that is the difference between being forgiveable or unforgivable. There’s a reason all the bad spells in Harry Potter are called unforgivable curses you guys. NO ONE ACCIDENTALLY AVADA KEDAVRA’S SOMEONE AND SAYS THEY MEANT WELL. Ward didn’t want to kill Fitzsimmons, and sure that’s sort of a normal thing for a person to feel, but for a person like Ward — who we saw put a bullet in peoples heads without a second thought, it does at least mean something.
Ward is the bad guy, okay? He is. He is not a good person. BUT. And again, brilliance of the show, it’s details like this that give him a sliver of hope. I will never stop loving on this show for what they’ve created in Ward, and the places it will indeed go.
I will also never stop loving the show for giving us Fitz. This is kind of a mean thing to say, but I love that he’s damaged and as a result willing to do things we would have never of seen him do in the previous season. Who knew a spot of torture was in Fitz’ repertoire? Not me.
Sophy says: The great thing about the Ward plot in 121 is the ambiguity of it. Whilst I, like Rin, felt instinctively that Ward didn’t kill the dog back then, the way they left us with the target hovering left a lot of people convinced that he did. And that’s the point, isn’t it? Even now we’re supposed to be questioning every word that comes out of his mouth no matter how much we may want to believe some things are true. Some things like he didn’t actually want Fitz and Simmons to die when he ejected them from the ship – like he didn’t actively intend for Fitz to be damaged the way he is – or worse.
And you could say that’s a no-brainer, because when Fitz told him he knew he cared about them Ward admitted that he did, and he did it quietly, sincerely, such that only he himself could hear it. That was one of the few moments we have when we know Ward wasn’t being manipulative – when we know he was being true to himself and his feelings. So how could anyone think he was doing anything other than giving them their best chance? Well, there’s the fact that he also admitted it was a weakness – the caring. It’s a reasonable interpretation of that scene to think that Ward ejected them from the ship rather than trying to find another way to save them as a way of crushing that weakness and insisting on not caring. It’s an equally reasonable interpretation of that scene to think that Ward cares about them, yes, and it’s a weakness, yes, but only to the point that he needs them to die out of his sight – just like he needed the dog to die out of his sight.
It’s sensible to question whether Ward’s explanation for what he did is the truth or whether it’s something he’s saying to try to regain trust and get out of his cell or even whether it’s a version of events he has sold to himself in solitude as an attempt to cope with his own horror at his actions.
Like Rin says, there were other ways Ward could have at least considered to try to save Fitz and Simmons’ lives. It can hardly be said that he was giving them their best chance at survival by sending them plunging to the bottom of the ocean in a box, okay? No matter how smart and resourceful he knows they are. But then at the same time, I still believe he knew he was giving them some chance of survival and thereby acting in direct contravention of Garrett’s orders.
And I guess this is why I think that either Garrett shot the dog or nobody shot the dog and it got away. Because killing the dog, even from a distance, would have meant taking decisive action to end its life. This is not something Ward was able to do with Fitz and Simmons. He didn’t have the guts to stand up for them or the courage to actually change teams. But neither did he have the heart to send for Garrett and bust through that door one way or another and finish the job.
He loved that dog. It was his friend. He loved Fitz. He was his friend. These are things that remain true about Ward even though he’s a lying scumbag, even though he put all his faith in a madman, even though he’s willing to commit cold-blooded murder and call it following orders. Like Rin says that’s the brilliance of the writing. People are not defined by the worst parts of themselves whether we’d like them to be or not. We can call Ward a bad person and maybe we’d be right – maybe we could call him worse, even – but we can’t say that he doesn’t have a heart.
And speaking of hearts, Iain just broke mine in this scene. When you go and look at the caps above you don’t even need to hear his shuddering breaths or him telling Ward that he destroyed the parts of him that mattered most – that made him who he is – you don’t even need to hear him pleading with Ward to stop saying things like “It’s really good to see you,” to stop being here, on this ship where they used to be friends, and nobody even told him. You can see all of that in the look in his eyes, in the way he slumps recoilingly in his chair, the way he covers his eyes with tense hands.
And his delivery on “Because of what you did to me! I’m damaged!” was just perfection. Meanwhile as Rin points out it’s kind of surprising to find that Fitz is capable of torture, right? OUR ADORABLE LITTLE CARDIGAN WEARING FITZ IS ALL GROWN UP AND TORTURING PEOPLE. Well. One person. Who kind of deserves it quite a lot. But still, it was pretty harsh, and in the moment I wasn’t even sure he was going to stop if Ward hadn’t hooked onto the Elsa thing and how he needed to give him information to help the team. He was kind of in the ‘No oxygen for Ward’ zone and it was a little bit scary.
But that’s the thing. Fitz is a changed person because of what Ward did. It would be foolish to expect that change to be limited to not finding the right words to express himself. Damage to the brain manifests itself in myriad strange and unpredictable ways, and when you factor in the anger and frustration he’s feeling at what someone he thought was his friend did to him and the way it’s changed his life… you can see why he’d want to show him what Hypoxia was rather than telling him.
And it just makes me so sad, you guys. Because I remember Fitz’s little puppy face – YES THAT WAS INTENTIONAL – while he was pleading with Ward to help them and telling him he knows he’s a good person. You could say he was just saying whatever he needed to in the moment in the hopes of winning Ward over to their side… but I think he honestly meant it. I think that Fitz’s friendship with Ward mattered a lot to him. I think having Ward’s respect? Mattered a lot to him. And to find out that all along he was playing him? That none of it meant anything? That chances are Ward was snarking about him behind his back to his Hydra buddies?
I mean, sure, the worst part is that Ward dropped him and Simmons to the bottom of the ocean in a box. But that doesn’t mean that the personal betrayal isn’t a big deal too. Which means that the fact that it wasn’t all just a joke to Ward – that it wasn’t all just fake… that would mean something for Fitz, I think. Or it will when he’s able to believe and/or process it. I could be wrong but my money is on Fitz being able to reconnect to Ward before the others can. We shall see.
Rin says: Guh, I love how this season is all about how everyone has been changed because of Ward. I love that it has taken a very serious toll on everyone, they’re all a little more guarded, more willing to do things that they weren’t willing to do before. I can’t remember another time when a single reveal/betrayal has influenced and changed the shape of a show and its story than what they did with Ward. Okay sure, a large part of that was also just the rise of Hydra and the fall of Shield, but emotionally that didn’t have as large of an impact on our team as Ward. We’re getting like, the smaller intimate paint-me-like-one-of-your-french-girls look at the bigger picture of Hydra’s rise, and it’s just..so genius. BECAUSE IT’S LIKE, WHEDONS HAVE CONTROL OVER BOTH PICTURES PRETTY MUCH. AVENGERS IS LIKE, THE FLASHY BIG BROTHER WHO IS PERFECTLY SCULPTED AND SHIELD IS THE SISTER WHO KIND OF LOOKS LIKE DIANNA AGRON AND YOU APPRECIATE THE BIG BROTHER BUT REALLY, YOU WANT TO MARRY THE DIANNAPPELGANGER AND STROKE HER HAIR BECAUSE WHO WOULDN’T.
…that was weird. I don’t apologise.
Sophy says: Okay but. I’ll apologise for you, because they all know you’re not really sorry. So.
“Because while a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent is considering right and wrong, Hydra’s already taken the shot.”
Sophy says: This was so damn smart. Looks like Ward doesn’t realize that he taught Skye everything she needed to know about Hydra and what it takes to defeat them when he tore her new family apart. There is no question that she has changed. Once upon a time she didn’t have the guts to fire on Quinn. Now she shoots to kill with Elsa, a troubled kid whose cause she might once have championed – somebody who might deserve a second chance (or two).
And then she sat in the Fitzsimmons room and was all “it reminds me of before” and we all remembered that whether or not she’s now the kind of agent who’s capable of killing Elsas when she needs to, she’s still Skye – still vulnerable, still compassionate, still heartbroken by everything that has happened. And then she tells May she’s worried about Simmons in Hydra on account of what a terrible liar she is (AND SHE SAYS SHE LOVES HER AND MY HEART FLOODS WITH SKIMMONS FEELS BUT THAT’S ANOTHER STORY) and May tells her “Not anymore,” and that’s when we know how much Simmons has changed too. And not just in the way where she has bouncy hair and no ties and is Fitzless. In the way where she’s older and further away. And she’s ready to do things that need to be done.
And then everything’s all sad and I’m thinking about how much innocence everyone has lost and May looks at Skye like some kind of SKYE’S MUM and tells her that Simmons is “good” and “SHE’S NOT THE ONLY ONE.” And okay she didn’t say it in all caps but I felt it in all caps because just by saying that – just by giving that praise and support to Skye – she made everything okay for her. And it was beautiful.
Rin says: It really was clever to have Ward set that up and then see Skye follow through without hesitation. What I appreciated the most is that they didn’t make some big deal about it, they just showed us and left us to connect the dots ourselves. There wasn’t some big OMG YOU SHOT ELSA I DON’T LIKE WHO YOU’RE BECOMING SKYE, because everyone is pretty much on the same page — the stakes have changed and there isn’t any time for second guessing. That doesn’t mean they’re going to go around killing everyone whenever they can, but it does mean that if their lives are in danger, or someone is too much of a liability, they will take the shot.
Skye talking about Simmons makes my heart soar. Especially because of the callback to the time they were the most adorable worst undercover agents ever.It was such an effective way to highlight just how far they’ve come, and MAY COMMENDING SIMMONS AND SKYE LIKE THE PROUD MAMA BEAR SHE IS. Guh, just let me fall through the Veil in the Department of Mysteries and go with peace.
“Did she want to leave?”
Sophy says: OKAY AND THEN. When May has finished being Skye’s mum, Coulson comes in and decides to be Fitz’s dad and basically tell him how important he is and how much progress he’s made although because he’s Coulson and he’s generally being all weird and distant and corporate these days it feels significantly more awkward than it did with May and Skye. And then you think ‘Since when did May and Skye’s interactions become the least awkward ones?’ and you just marvel at how far those two have come.
Moving on. Yes, Fitz and Coulson’s scene is awkward and you might think that’s because Coulson is unnerved or angry about Fitz almost trying to kill Ward, but honestly I don’t think that’s it. It’s almost like he was going through the motions even bringing that up and Fitz treated it with the casualness it merited. He almost killed Ward but he didn’t. He’s not a killer. It’s as simple as that. No matter how much in that moment he didn’t want to stop hurting Ward, he did stop. And as changed as he is, he still has that certainty, that he always would.
So no, Fitz exacting a little revenge on Ward isn’t what’s upsetting Coulson. What’s upsetting Coulson is that he hates that he has to have Ward there at all. He hates that he has to keep someone around his people who lied to them and sold them out – who tried to kill them when it came down to it, depending on how you look at it. This is what being the man at the top means – having to make decisions that leave you uncomfortable and awkward around people you care about. And it’s doubly difficult when you’re the man at the top of a very small pile, because there aren’t ever three ways to get what you need in those circumstances – there’s one way – a half a way, maybe, and it’s usually not pretty.
Coulson’s good at keeping secrets. But not when it’s somebody he cares and about they have a right to know. So he didn’t tell Fitz Simmons was undercover at Hydra – because take how much Skye was worried about her and multiply that by eleventy million and you’ll have Fitz running to where Hydra is with a butter knife screaming. But he did tell him the part he could tell him to soothe him – that Simmons was on an assignment and that’s why she left. That she didn’t just disappear on him for the sake of it.
But Fitz isn’t stupid. He knows which question to ask next: “Did she ask to go on the assignment? Did she want to leave?”
Coulson won’t answer that except to say what she’s doing is important, which tells Fitz everything he needs to know. OR SO HE THINKS.
FITZ YOU IDIOT DO YOU THINK IT’S EVEN POSSIBLE THAT SHE’S NOT LOOKING FOR A CURE FOR YOU? HAVE A LITTLE FAITH, MAN.
Rin says: If there was someone worse than Simmons at lying, it’s Coulson. At least you can kind of write-off Simmons’ as being socially awkward, but Coulson flat out avoids answering questions ALL THE TIME AND IT’S SO OBVIOUS. It’s probably something he needs to work on, being a Director and all. But I love that he is as upfront as he can be to Fitz, he owes him that much. It was such a dad move when he told Fitz there was a lot that he doesn’t tell him, but also I like that he kind of got angry at Fitz for what he did to Ward. He doesn’t want Fitz to stray towards the dark side, despite understanding he has ample motivation to want to hurt Ward. Coulson is no longer walking around eggshells with Fitz, he realises that he isn’t completely broken, he still has a place on the team even if it’s not in the same capacity as before. He’s proven himself twice now by helping them stop Sponge Man and now Elsa.
Of course Simmons’ is trying to find a way to heal Fitz. ALTHOUGH I also wouldn’t mind if it was all about avoidance and not wanting to deal with the pain.
Best Reminder that Joss is LOL
“Call me Jemma.”
Sophy says: Her posture in that third cap is killing me.
Rin says: Her posture really is something special, but so is the way the guy reacted to her trying to make friends.
I am praying there is a scene in the next episode where she took him to karaoke. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE. Also her delivery on ‘Call me Jemma’ …so. good.
Sophy says: I know Simmons is moving on and up but I’m going to miss her attempts at friendship with random tubby coworker. What they had was special.
“May shot me.”
“Man, I wanted to be the one.”
Sophy says: BAHAHAHAHAHHA. This was probably my favourite aspect of British Guy’s presence on the show so far. As you might guess I’m not a fan and therefore haven’t bothered to retain his name. He is British Guy until Rin comes and writes in this section.
And look, I’m not going to prejudge, because we’ve just barely been introduced to the character, but… I don’t like him and I don’t trust him and I need him to leave Skye alone forever and also everybody gets to shoot him at some point in the season.
Rin says: I DON’T KNOW HIS NAME OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD.
My favourite thing is that May recognised Simmons from behind. I’m going to put that down to May going with Skimmons to the salon as they got their brand new season 2 hair.
BUT ALSO I’M JUST A BIG FAN OF EVERYBODY DOING WHAT THEY CAN TO HELP SIMMONS PRETEND TO BE HYDRA. Which includes shooting one of your own.
Cutest of the Scoobies
God Help The Girl
Sophy says: GOOD MORNING AGENT SIMMONS. The most important thing I have to say is go look at this.
Rin says: Rofl I was going to link to that…
I kind of wish we had a mini montage of everyone’s morning routine now, like Skye slowly getting out of bed and throwing on as much black as she can, maybe eating an energy bar as she leaves. May gets up disgustingly early to do her tai chi, Coulson hardly sleeps anyway, Ward wakes up in his cell counting the minutes until he’ll see Skye again, I don’t want to think about Fitz though because everything Fitz makes me sad. Like he’d walk out of the house without remembered to put a cardigan on, and he’d get halfway to work and have to go back
GOD HELP THE GIRL IS MY NEW RINGTONE AND MAYBE I HAD TO RING MYSELF TO TRY IT OUT BECAUSE NO ONE EVER CALLS ME BECAUSE THAT’S THE WAY I LIKE IT.
Sophy says: I WILL CALL YOU AND THEN HANG UP JUST SO YOU CAN HEAR IT.
WHAT SONG WOULD PLAY OVER FITZ AND HIS CARDIGAN. I THINK MAYBE SOMETHING BY EVANESCENCE.
And Ward would have this because it’s what Coulson has played loudly every morning. For an hour.
Please sir, we’d like some more
“No. I was never brainwashed. Everything I did, good and bad…I did of my own free will.”
Rin says: I am in awe in Ward’s ability to seem crazier and crazier each time we see him. I really have to again give props to BD for his amazing portrayal of Ward, facial hair included. He’s doing incredible things with his eyes and voice this season though, and he makes it hard to be able to distinguish what his motives are. Because he continues to come across as sincere, but to what end I have no fucking clue. Was he really telling the truth when he says that his loyalties were to Garrett and not Hydra? And just because Garrett is gone, that means he wants to do right by the guys that KILLED HIM? I honestly don’t know anything Ward could do to prove that he was now a ‘good’ guy. The only thing he hasn’t done is actually die. And well, that’d kind of be the end of his arc wouldn’t it. Out of all the possibilities that his character can go, I see him sacrificing himself for the team as the most viable option. BUT THAT WOULD BE YEARS FROM NOW, OKAY? I don’t want Ward to leave us until the very end when we have to say goodbye to everyone.
It was so great that the writers decided to address the Hydra brainwashing immediately too, because in this moment we are Skye. We are wondering just as much as she is if there was a chance that that’s what happened with Ward, and he shuts that theory down in a blink of an eye. It makes me happy that they’re not afraid for Ward to own all of his actions, and have to pay the full consequences with no cop-outs. I know so many shows that would have taken the easy way out with that one, but not a Whedon show okay? They live for this stuff.
Sophy says: So out of everything Ward has said since he’s been having his crazy basement talks, this is probably what meant the most to me. Because he took responsibility. He didn’t try to latch onto any old excuse that came his way and that’s what makes me lean toward believing the excuses he does give. Generally speaking, the first step towards being able to forgive someone for whatever shit they’ve pulled on you is when they own up to that shit – when they admit what they did without qualification so that at least you know that they understand why you’re mad at them. This is why I was slightly side-eyeing Ward’s conversation with Fitz in which he told him he was trying to give him and Simmons a fighting chance when he ejected them. I actually more or less believe that that’s the case, or at least that it’s what he told himself at the time. But that doesn’t change the fact that his actions led to Fitz nearly dying and winding up brain-damaged, and I kept thinking how maybe Fitz wouldn’t have had to show him what that felt like if he’d believed that Ward got it in the first place. I don’t think this was exactly Ward’s intention, but it did wind up seeming like he was trying to cast his actions in a positive light when really, whether he was trying to help them at the eleventh hour or not, it’s his fault a hundred times over that Fitzsimmons ever ended up in that situation. So it was a relief when he told Skye that he owns his actions – all of them – everything that ultimately caused Fitz’s suffering.
But then of course, it’s marvelously ironic to hear him confidently declare that he was never brainwashed by Garrett when there is no question that that’s exactly what happened. Maybe Ward never got his eyelids tucked out of the way while people from Nazi Germany said special phrases to him. Maybe nobody fitted him with an evil ‘On’ button. But Garrett took a broken teenager out of a bad situation and built him back up the way he wanted. By leaving him in the woods for god knows how many weeks/months/years. With a dog for company. That he later made him shoot or shot himself. Leaving Ward doing his bidding obsessively and mumbling about how his feelings are weakness. In any ordinary real-world sense that’s exactly what brainwashing means. It wasn’t that Ward was an evil person. It wasn’t that he supported Hydra and their goals and so joined forces with Garrett. It was that Garrett trained him to hero-worship him to the point of madness and complete self-abnegation. He basically created Ward’s personality so that Ward’s choices would become the same as his in the future. But what does that mean? Who is Ward if all he’s been is Garrett’s choices all this time?
It’s a fascinating juxtaposition, really. We’re all happy to say that the poor souls who got brainwashed via pulling back the eye curtains are not responsible for their actions once the on switch has been flipped. And yet we baulk at saying that Ward should be considered to have diminished responsibility on account of the way Garrett groomed him from adolescence – even Ward himself baulks at that. What is it that makes the situations so different? Are they really so different? I think that’s the question Shield is asking and I don’t think there will be any easy answers any time soon.
Also I can’t decide whose family I need to know about immediately first, Ward’s or Skye’s. Gimme, gimme, gimme.
Head In Hands
“Sriracha? Beer? That’s all? What kind of diet is that?”
“Well, I also have tea.”
Sophy says: LOOK AT HIM WITH HIS BUNCH OF KALE. LOOK. AT. HIM. And see how fondly Simmons smiles at him. You guys, we should never have doubted her. She would never go rogue on these people, least of all Fitz. Maybe she did ask to go on this assignment and maybe part of the reason for that was to be away from Fitz because it hurt too much and maybe that makes her a bit selfish. But we’re all a bit selfish. And not all of us do as much good in the world as someone like Simmons.
She’s still shoulder to shoulder with all of them even if she’s not there and Coulson is still being a dad to her – maybe even more so than with everybody else. Because maybe it’s easier to be the man he used to be when he’s undercover with her than it is when he’s at work – at home – whatever you want to call it now.
HE MADE HER DINNER YOU GUYS IT WAS SO ADORABLE I JUST CAN’T.
Rin says: Sriracha? Love. BEER?! LOOVVEEE. Simmons, a woman after my own heart.
It made me so happy to see Coulson let down his hair a bit too, this is definitely the most Coulson-like Coulson has been all season and I love that he gets to share that with Simmons. IN SUCH A BEAUTIFUL FATHER LET ME COOK YOU DINNER WAY AND HE SCOLDED HER ABOUT HER FRIDGE YOU GUYS. WHY ARE THEY SO CUTEEEEEE.
Also. When he asked her if she had made friends and she waves her hand at him telling him not to worry. AND SHE STILL CALLS HIM SIR. A big problem when watching this show is not knowing who you love more, because one scene happens and you’re all like, WELL NOTHING COULD POSSIBLY TOP THAT AND THEN SHIT LIKE THIS HAPPENS. The misdirection in the promo was so cheeky of them, but the truth behind Coulson’s “Did you think I wouldn’t find out?” was hardly a let down. Can’t you just picture the bastards who made that promo as giggling little school girls patting themselves on the back?
Finally. Her face when she asks how everyone is, and Coulson full well-knowing that what she really meant to ask was how Fitz was. Coulson knowing how much those two mean to each other is one of my favourite things.
Sophy says: Simmons’ face is so important. Like, when Coulson tells her Fitz is doing okay there is actual undisguised DISAPPOINTMENT on her face. Because a tiny selfish part of her wants him to need her so badly that he could never be okay without her.
I don’t know about you guys but I think absence is making Simmons’ heart grow fonder. HER HEART IN HER PANTS.
Oh god, I just imagined Fitzsimmons having sex. It was so weird. I wonder if it will ever not be weird.