Contains Spoilers… get over it.
So the show runners for Agent's of SHIELD have been saying all season long that they're building up to something. And with episode 17 finally…
the Rock has come back to… it really did all come together.
In fact there's really very little to criticise in Turn, Turn, Turn. Not only was it action packed (I think they've been saving up their budget) but the tension just kept ratcheting up and up.
Obviously this is an episode that couldn't happen without Captain America: The Winter Solider but equally obviously they knew that and they've been carefully seeding the previous episodes with elements that dovetailed perfectly here. By the end of the episode not only is SHIELD shattered, but in many ways so is the team. Yes technically they are still functioning as a group (most of them) but there are so many tensions and secrets that a lot of the trust is missing. I really hope they don't drop the ball on the consequences of what we've seen in the last few episodes.
If you had watched some of the earlier episodes it might not have been obvious why Agent Coulson was the star of the show (beyond his Marvel movie connections) but in this episode its obvious. He is the moral compass and heart of the team. And now he represents what SHIELD was supposed to be.
Going into this episode I was expecting some surprises. I haven't seen The Winter Soldier, but spoilers don't scare me so I knew about Hydra and having read the comics I knew what that meant. I watched, looking for the inevitable turncoats. So the first one was no surprise. Satisfactorily done but not a surprise.
Ward on the other hand. Well… I didn't catch that until almost the end. Not until he gave Coulson that look as he left with Victoria Hand. Very nicely played. Because his story and motivations work both ways. All the pieces fit.
And that wasn't the only way they messed with the viewers. Victoria Hand's theory that Coulson was Hydra made perfect sense. She laid out the evidence and damn if you hadn't watched those episodes you'd have bought it completely.
So it's clear this isn't a last minute "fix" for a broken show. This is where they intended to go all along. The problem is that because of the timing of Winter Soldier they essentially had to tread water for months. They really weren't able to kick into high gear until the last four episodes. And they've squandered a lot of goodwill (not to mention audience) in the process. I'm not sure if they'll be able to make all of that back again.
They've got three episodes left to consolidate and capitalize on what they did with episode 17. And there's plenty of good material to work with. We're going to see Maria Hill again, and Nick Fury; the issue of the Clairvoyant may not be entirely resolved; What will they do when they find out about Ward; Skye's story remains far from resolved; and of course Melinda May isn't on the best of terms with her team these days. Plus there's HYDRA to address. Oh and that Kree body.
In fact the only negative thing I have to say about this episode at all is that it seems like a waste to kill of Victoria Hand like this. She's such a great character and I think the ending was strong enough even without that.