Agents of SHIELD Review: “The Writing on the Wall”

The Writing on the Wall

– Spoiler Review –

The hunt for both Ward and a killer etching the mysterious alien writing into his victims is on this week in “The Writing on the Wall,” a solid, if not completely thrilling return for Agents of SHIELD.

Coulson has been degrading steadily throughout the season and he hits a new low, rigorously etching the alien writing daily. The harried look Clark Gregg brings to Coulson, and how he looks while being in charge but obviously distressed is some of Gregg’s best work in the role. We also got a look at his past as the head of the Tahiti project, which helped the team figure out who was killing ex-Tahiti patients and who was to be the killer’s final target. His time spent in the past, using the happy fun time machine to uncover his memories, drives him over the edge, unwilling to wait to solve the mystery of the writing any longer. I’m glad he got this way, because the alien writing mystery wasn’t going to last for the entire season, and his breakdown expedited the process.

The Writing on the WallThe final living Tahiti subject (convenient) not killing people had hidden the etching’s final piece in his train track creation for his kid (which was a little obvious from the get go). Anyways, Skye’s map theory was partially correct: the etchings turned out to be a 3D model representing a city. What was driving the alien to go there? The city must’ve been on Earth, so where or what is it exactly? And why was he trying to get there so urgently that people injected with this blood got the same desire? These questions are lot more engaging than etchings on a wall and will likely tie into the upcoming films or it at least has the possibility of doing so. Either way, having the secrecy between members of the team (mostly) gone is also refreshing for the team and their dynamics, which have already improved vastly from the first season, going forward.

The Writing on the WallWard got to show off a bit of his skills while on the run from the team. My troubles with figuring out just what his angle has been the whole season is compounded this week by his gift of Sunil, Whitehall’s second in command, to Coulson and crew. While he did murder a guard to get free, he’s done nothing but to try to help the team, especially Skye. They have another weird conversation, this time over the phone, as Ward ready’s himself for…something. His line to Bobbi, “Don’t like to fly,” was pretty funny. And while it made him look good for catching Bobbi, Trip, and Hunter, they all were a little too obvious.

The tattoo artist, Sebastian, from last week not only survived the Tahiti project, but is the one murdering the others and hoping etching them to death will reawaken their memories to help him solve the puzzle. I’m glad Coulson didn’t get this bad (well, he did lock Skye in their cage), but it’s interesting to note both the Sebastian and Hank Thompson (the one with the train track version of the writing), along with Skye, have largely been unaffected by the GH injection. Hank and Skye are the best off, but it continues to be a mystery as to why Skye was the only not to etch any of the writing yet.

Here are a few other things:

  • In Coulson’s memory flashbacks to his time in the Tahiti project, a doctor there says the alien they get the GH serum from is older than the pyramids. Something to remember in the future of the MCU, I suspect.
  • All the Skye and Coulson bonding continues to feed my fear he’ll die for good this season, possibly triggering some type of event that could make Skye gain powers from having the GH in her blood. (And they’re teasing a possible death in next week’s episode….)
  • The internet chatter about the city seems to point to an Inhumans connection, but with that movie not premiering until 2018, it seems like a long ways off to start building up to that. I’m betting it’ll be something else, but I’d have no problem with being wrong, especially if Skye is the first Inhuman…how cool would it be if she gets to be a main player in the movie?
  • We haven’t heard much about Baron Von Strucker since his appearance at the end of The Winter Soldier, but he at least gets a name drop from Ward this week.
  • Not terrible, but the product placement was extremely obvious for the Halo: Master Chief Collection. At least they didn’t have to name it. However, this does make for two Xbox exclusives shown so far…

The Writing on the Wall

With the etchings explained, their mystery not only expands, but is full of more interesting questions and exciting possible answers. The unhinged Coulson brought to life was a true standout performance for Clark Gregg, who we continue to thank for getting this show in the first place. Having the new purposeful Ward on the loose adds another fun flavor to the season, which continued solidly in “The Writing on the Wall.”

+ Creepy Ward causing havoc

+ Coulson and Skye bonding

+ Etchings mostly explained

+ Clark Gregg’s performance

 A few conveniences

Ryan is Mynock Manor’s Head Butler. You can follow him on Twitter @BrushYourTeeth. You can follow the website @MynockManor.

Season Two: 2.1 Shadows | 2.2 Heavy is the Head | 2.3 Making Friends and Influencing People | 2.4 Face My Enemy | 2.5 A Hen in the Wolf House | 2.6 A Fractured House | 2.8 The Things We Bury | 2.9 …Ye Who Enter Here | 2.10 What They Become | 2.11 Aftershocks | 2.12 Who You Really Are | 2.13 One of Us | 2.14 Love in the Time of Hydra | 2.15 One Door Closes | 2.16 Afterlife | 2.17 Melinda | 2.18 The Frenemy of My Enemy | 2.19 The Dirty Half Dozen | 2.20 Scars | 2.21,22: S.O.S.

Season One: 1.1 This is Not the End/1.2 Bridge and Tunnel | 1.3 Time and Tide | 1.4 The Blitzkrieg Button | 1.5 The Iron Ceiling | 1.6 A Sin to Err | 1.7 SNAFU | 1.8 Valediction