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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - 1.10 "The Bridge": Fall Finale Recap and Review: Your Bridge to New Episodes

    The fall finale for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “The Bridge,” did a wonderful job of wrapping up the first half of the freshman season of the series, pulling in elements from throughout the fall episodes. The episode was written by Shalisha Francis and directed by Holly Dale: both new names to the series. Francis has only previously written for Castle. Dale, on the other hand, has a long resume that includes series such as Castle, NCIS, Dexter, Grimm, Falling Skies, and The Firm.

    I held back this review to act as a “bridge” between the fall and winter runs of the show, so this review may be a bit more recappy than usual in preparation for tonight’s new episode “The Magical Place.” The episode itself acts as a bridge to the second half of the season, the title playing on the final scene which is set on the bridge, and the central question that has followed us and Coulson (Clark Gregg) throughout the series so far: what happened to him on that bridge between life and death, between The Avengers and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

    The episode begins with Edison Po (Cullen Douglas) being broken out of Havenworth Prison by super soldiers. Skye (Chloe Bennet) is continuing to look for her parents and has assembled a likely group of female agents who might be the one who left her at the orphanage. Coulson points out that the agent who dropped her off wasn’t necessarily her mother. Coulson also tells Skye that he’s asked May (Ming-Na Wen) to help, and Skye isn’t happy as she wanted to keep it private.

    Meanwhile, May is trying to keep her relationship with Ward (Brett Dalton) private. There’s another great sparring scene between the two. May beats him because she’s read his file and knows his weaknesses, including that he doesn’t play well with others. Ward flirts with her saying, “Not anymore,” which is also a reflection of how much he’s come to care for the whole team. May shuts him down, attempting to maintain a professional relationship at work, but not before we see Coulson possibly over hearing the exchange.

    There’s a great scene of the whole team reviewing the case in the ready room. Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) is very excited to learn that the super soldiers are Centipede recruits and gushes “Chan’s platelets solved their combustion problem. Now they can create super soldiers with no forever explosion!” Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) suggests she might not want to be so enthusiastic about it. I love that the two of them are brilliant, yet still use such whimsical terms for things like “forever sleep.” This was a nice way for the episode to weave in episode 5.

    In order to fight the super soldiers, Coulson has recruited Mike Peterson (J August Richards) from the first episode. I loved how proud Fitz and Simmons were of themselves when he told them that their “night-night” gun had stabilized the extremis in him.

    May isn’t happy to see Mike on the plane and she isn’t happy when Coulson tells her Skye may come to her with questions about her parents. As Mike comes on the plane, May says let’s deal with one mistake at a time. The comment is quite ambiguous and could refer to letting Mike join the team, letting Skye look for her parents, agreeing to help Skye look for her parents... or something else. Is it possible that May is the agent who left Skye at the orphanage? Is it possible that May is Skye’s mother? Or a relative of some kind? It might help to explain why Coulson was so insistent that May join the team.

    May shuts Skye down each time she tries to talk to her about her parents. The first time, May insists they’re on a mission and don’t have time to discuss it. The second time, Skye interrupts May and Ward fighting over the attack in the warehouse. May accuses Ward of taking a punch for her and he assures her that he only did it for tactical reasons – she’s a better fighter and had a better chance against the super soldiers. When Skye walks in on the end of that conversation, May really blasts her and tells her she has to decide if she wants to be on the team. May tells Skye that Coulson doesn’t want to tell Skye the truth, but she doesn’t tell Skye the truth either. She does say to her if you can’t put aside your personal attachments, you shouldn’t be here. May is struggling as her own tightly controlled emotions are starting to unravel and she’s starting to care for these people.

    Ward is also reluctant to let Mike on the team. Everything Ward does in the episode demonstrates how much he too has changed. He’s concerned over exposing the team to an element that can’t control or rely on, and in some ways, Mike is also a threat to Ward’s own role within the team. Ward comments that powers are “cheating” even though he thinks Mike’s suit is pretty cool.

    Coulson is cautious about integrating Mike into the team as well. He has Fitz and Simmons run a battery of tests and suit him up for the field. Fitz and Simmons were hilarious as Simmons is impressed with Mike’s physique and Fitz is just a little jealous until Mike shows the right amount of respect for the suit Fitz is making for him.

    I loved Coulson and Ward bonding a bit in Lola as they talk about women on the way to get intell from the sister of one of the super soldiers. Coulson tells Ward that women are puzzles and admits he’s solved a few in his day. We get some insight into what Coulson likes in a romantic partner: someone who is artistic and cultured – a beautiful woman playing the cello – and who also laughs at his jokes – a nice bonus. We also learn that he hasn’t seen the cellist he was dating in the films, since he “died” as he had to maintain S.H.I.E.L.D. protocol. Of course, this is how he knew to tell Randolph in episode 8 about the great symphony in Portland. Ward suggests it might have been different if she’d been an agent. Coulson tells Ward that in his experience that never ends well. This makes me wonder if Coulson did overhear Ward and May earlier in the episode. The scene also features Gregg really working the wheel in Lola on a perfectly straight road! Gregg tweeted in response to the teasing he received over the scene that Lola’s wheel has a lot of play!

    Mike helps them to identify Raina (Ruth Negga) as she was the one to recruit them. We also learn that there is another villain for them to worry about – a mysterious clairvoyant. Coulson maintains that there is no such thing and suggests it might be an alias. There are a number of villains in the Marvel universe with this power actually, though no one villain called the Claivoyant (at least that I could find – correct me if I’m wrong!)

    Coulson demonstrates his understanding of people by using an “old tool” – the lottery story: “Nothing makes people more suspicious than a handsome man offering them money.” He also understands what Mike is going through. He sees that Mike hasn’t seen his son, Ace, since he was recruited. Mike thinks his son sees him as a monster. Coulson tells Mike he will have to make a choice at some point – he’ll have to choose S.H.I.E.L.D. or his family. Coulson tells him that he made the choice and chose S.H.I.E.L.D. It does seem that Coulson may regret that choice based on his earlier comments to Ward. I also wonder if this is why both Skye and May are on the team and why he seems to be turning a blind eye to Ward and May’s relationship.

    There’s another great fight scene when the team confronts the super soldiers. We’ve already seen that they have more centipede hardware on them then Mike, so he has a hard time against them. I loved Coulson putting up his fists like he’s going to punch the box car hurtling at him. Fitz, Simmons, and Skye provide backup and working as a team, they win. Skye detects an odd electronic signal, and at the end of the fight, Hayward is killed by an eye camera/bomb as we saw back in episode 4.

    Raina recognizes Mike as she and Po watch the fight. I loved how the episode set us up to believe that they were after Mike. Po says, “What he (Mike) has is your key to stage three.” It seems like he’s referring to the fact that Mike still has his powers without being injected, but in fact, he’s referring to Coulson who is in the freeze frame they’re looking at. Raina and Po have a very creepy relationship and Raina seems willing to do anything to meet the clairvoyant. Po tells her no one else can meet him or know anything about him.

    Raina kidnaps Ace and it seems as though it’s a bid to get Mike when in fact the endgame is to get Coulson. May wants to go with Mike, but he requested Coulson – another clue. Ward is positioned on sniper rifle, but the exchange is choreographed to prevent his getting a clear shot. Mike promises to make it right and it seems he’s apologizing for giving himself up, but in fact, he’s already apologizing for giving up Coulson. Mike tried to make it right by attacking Raina, but Raina tells Mike that her employer cares nothing for her life. Mike grabs her with the hand that Simmons put the tracking scent on and Coulson touches Mike, so I wonder if the team will be able to track one of them. Coulson absolves Mike and understands him putting his son first – “You made the only choice you had.” Coulson can make the tough call because he has no one – other than the team – waiting for him.

    Coulson is injected with something to knock him out and Raina takes him. Mike is apparently blown up going back to try to rescue Coulson. May won’t let Ward take the shot in case they kill Coulson. Skye and May look utterly devastated when they think that Coulson may be dead while Fitz and Simmons look shocked. Ward is shot as the helicopter makes its escape. I think the whole cast did a wonderful job in these final scenes. Coulson represents a father figure for all of them, but perhaps most especially for Skye. May and Coulson also have a particularly long and close relationship as well. We’ve seen these relationships fleshed out over the first part of this season.

    The final scene reveals what Centipede wants from Coulson: “We want you to tell us about the day after you died.”

    I thought this was a fantastic episode that brought together threads from virtually every episode this fall. We’ve seen the team come together and grow, and now it’s time to see if the team that Coulson built can save him. It also seems like we will finally get an answer to what happened in Tahiti. Are you excited about the return of SHIELD tonight? What’s your theory about what happened in Tahiti? What grade would you give the show for its fall run? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!


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