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‘Love In The Time Of Hydra’

Before Iron Man and Captain America face off in next year’s Captain America: Civil War, Coulson and his team have to deal with their own civil war within SHIELD ranks. But unlike last season’s Hydra uprising, this new insurrection comes with a hefty dose of torn loyalties, fractured relationships and more shades of grey than EL James can throw a whip at.

Following on from last week’s whopper of a twist, Mack reveals to Hunter the “Real SHIELD” and, as it turns out, they’re none too happy with the way Coulson has been running things. It seems that they feel that Coulson has been guarding too many secrets for their liking and wish to have a more open and transparent SHIELD than before. In the past, I’ve lamented how SHIELD has suffered from a savage lack of worthy adversaries, but now we have an adversary worth getting excited about. And who better to oppose Coulson than Admiral Adama himself. You couldn’t ask for a better actor than Edward James Olmos. With his gravelly voice and staunch commanding demeanor, the man exudes gravitas.
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Mack and Morse have been gathering intel on Coulson for Gonzalez in order to properly assess Coulson and his actions. Of course, they don’t like what he’s doing and to be honest, they kind of have a point; Coulson does have secrets, and did once have an unhealthy tendency to scrawl vast amounts of alien writing on any surface he could find. Some of his leadership decisions haven’t exactly warranted huge swathes of cheers from the crowd as of late either.

Unlike last season’s Hydra uprising, this new insurrection promises far more complexity, further widening the chasm that has been steadily growing between Coulson and his team. Both SHIELDS want the same thing; both want to protect the world and do what’s right. This new development allows for more internal conflict within Coulson’s team and with Skye being whisked off to a cabin in the woods and divisive opinion about what should be done about her, it seems that those fractures will only steadily grow worse in the weeks to come. We’ve already seen that with Morse and Hunter and we’re seeing that increasingly with Fitz and Simmons.
agents-of-shield-love-in-the-time-of-hydra-02This episode was all about laying the groundwork for what’s to come. At times it felt very expositional but it did answer a few burning questions and open up the door to a far more intriguing opponent than the show has ever had before. There was also some nice character work, with Coulson relaying to Skye his history with his famed Red Corvette and building her up with his father. It wasn’t much, but it was a good bit of back-story into Coulson’s history that we haven’t really delved into before.

There were some huge flaws of course. Ward and Agent 33’s little sojourn into Talbot’s base was frustratingly annoying and shoehorned in to simply fit an action quota. Talbot meanwhile was relegated to nothing more than comic buffoon with his antics – a shame, considering how he began the season.

‘Love in the Time of Hydrawas not a perfect episode, but it was a vast improvement over last week’s travesty. With Gonzalez and his new SHIELD in play, the foundations have been set for what promises to be an epic final third. Here’s hoping it lives up to that promise.

★★★

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