– Spoiler Review –
While not everything was on point this week, Agents of SHIELD impresses again with “Face My Enemy.” It had a heaping dose of humor, a wish fulfillment fight, and a pre-credits ending which really hit the heavy notes, making for another entertaining episode in AoS’s enjoyable sophomore run.
When a 300 year old painting contains the alien writing that both Coulson and Garret have drawn, the team makes obtaining said artifact their number one priority. It’s so important that Coulson takes a rare field assignment to retrieve it, but of course his old partner and current monitor May goes along for the ride. Their banter, especially related to their past together as younger agents, hasn’t been heard in quite some time and it was refreshing and very funny to hear. With all the events going on lately, it’s not immediately rememberable they were partners, and perilously close, some time ago. Coulson uses their cover as a couple to broach the subject of what to do
if when he goes bonkers from the alien substance coursing through his body, but the usually withdrawn May won’t have any of that type of talk because she believes it’s just not going to happen.
The rest of the team spends their time on the Bus bonding, something Fitz, who seemed to be making strides forward after last week, declines to take part in. Not There-Simmons tries her best to convince Fitz joining in will be the best thing for him, but the team’s subject matter regarding broken hearts is just too close for comfort at this point. Everyone else gets a little flirtatious, at least Hunter and later Trip do with Skye, not helping Fitz’s reluctance to talk about or focus on the missing love of his life.
General Talbot makes a reappearance this week, throwing off not just Coulson and May, but viewers too. It’s quickly revealed he’s under Hydra’s orders to gain the same painting, which forces Coulson and May to retrieve it faster and more sloppily than planned. Again, them working together provides the laughs, with one of my favorite parts being the laser grid obstacle. Coulson is just about to get ready to Entrapment his way through when May waltzs in and sets off the alarms, since, “They already knew we’re here.” When it turns out Talbot already has the painting, Coulson and May flee, only to run into him as he offers Coulson a deal to collaborate on deciphering it. They don’t bite because something feels off about Talbot, so May goes after him to ascertain what’s really going.
May meets ex-SHEILD agent 33 (the brainwashed agent from last week) rifling through some conveniently placed Hydra files and barges in to bring her down/in, but the combined team of Talbot and 33 knock her out. Here it’s revealed Talbot is being mimicked by Sunil, Whitehall’s second in command, with some crazy new mask technology that would make Ethan Hunt and the Impossible Mission Force very jealous. 33 proceeds to mask herself as May, infiltrating the Bus (leaving a present to boot) and Coulson’s trust. But the witty banter with May and Coulson reminding us of their shared time gets the better of 33’s ruse because hilariously May doesn’t like coffee.
I’d love to talk on and on about what follows, but you have to see it to believe it, or as Coulson puts it, “I can’t believe I’m the only one seeing this right now.” 33, still in May disguise and borrowed dress, faces off against lingerie-clad May in one of the most impressive fights I’ve seen on TV in a long time. Not only was the choreography stellar, but the effects of having two May’s on the screen at once looked pretty flawless.
While the brutal chick-smack down is taking place, Fitz forces himself back into the team to rescue the Bus from sabotage and it was great to see everyone having patience with his issues despite the rather dire situation they found themselves in. He ends the episode in a better place, finally admitting Simmons leaving him has been keeping him down, making her (temporarily) disappear as he drinks beer and bonds with Mack and Hunter.
Most of “Face My Enemy” was full of fun and humor, but the pre-credits ending scene changed the tone rather effectively, hitting a few feels along the way. Coulson and May finally discuss the plan for what to do when Coulson goes crazy, and as much as May wants to fights for her plan to hide him away at some cabin, Coulson turns a quote on her from the beginning of the episode and orders her to shoot him dead instead. It’s a really charged scene, which admittedly got a tear or two from me, as it plays off their earlier fun in a really big way. Now I’m legitimately worried we might see Coulson die…again…but for good this time.
Here are a few other things:
- I think “Face My Enemy” is referring to both the mask and Fitz’s struggle facing his biggest enemy, himself.
- Skye’s just as invested in the alien writing as Coulson, seeing as she got the same drug inside her. Could she unlock a way to stop both her and Coulson from going bonkers? She’s definitely hard at work on it at the end of this episode.
- Hearing Ming-Na Wen laugh was awesome, and hilariously used here.
- The scene with Coulson contacting the real Talbot has me doubting he’s the real Talbot/a good guy still. From masks to brainwashing, it’s not easy to tell who’s a friend or any enemy anymore.
- May’s final line to 33 is spot-on: “If you were really me you wouldn’t talk so much.”
- Whitehall’s line about operating on someone and trying to keep them alive for weeks reminded me of Gretchen Lowell from the Chelsea Cain series of thriller novels, where she did that to the main character in the first book…it wasn’t pretty.
Raina gets an unpleasant first meeting with Whitehall, who attaches some deadly device to her hand in exchange for the Obelisk she stole. Whitehall continues to show his effectiveness as a villain and I’m excited to see to what ends he’ll truly go to get what he wants. Besides some of the conveniences, like openly labeled Hydra things and bonding time, the well-balance fun, humor, and drama marks “Face My Enemy” as another great entry in Agents of SHIELD‘s second season, though it’ll be hard to top the May vs ‘May’ battle anytime soon.
+ May vs May!
+ Banter between May and Coulson
+ May and Coulson’s final scene
+ Whitehall isn’t messing around
– Some conveniences
MARVEL’S AGENTS OF SHIELD REVIEWS:
Season Two: 2.1 Shadows | 2.2 Heavy is the Head | 2.3 Making Friends and Influencing People | 2.5 A Hen in the Wolf House | 2.6 A Fractured House | 2.7 The Writing on the Wall | 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.
MARVEL’S AGENT CARTER REVIEWS:
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