‘The Dirty Half Dozen’
For those of you who have watched Avengers: Age of Ultron, ‘The Dirty Half Dozen’ will no doubt send you into a nerdgasm of epic proportions with its references, Easter Eggs and gimmicky Avengers nods and tie-ins.
This week’s episode of Agents of SHIELD first aired in the US the week before Marvel’s box office opened in US cinemas, serving as a legitimate prequel to the superhero epic. Indeed for die-hard Marvel fans, a lot was explained. It turns out, Coulson was the one who gave the Avengers the information they need in regards to Baron Von Struker and his secret experiments going on in Sokovia. Or to look at it in a more nitpicky way, Coulson was in fact the catalyst for most of what transpired in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
But what of the episode in question? Did the gimmicks, references and Marvel Easter Eggs enhance the show or merely make it feel like a cheap afterthought? It’s actually a little bit of both. While the references did enhance the MCU and SHIELD’s role within it, it also felt like a cheap way to tie the show back into its cinematic origins.
It’s a fine line, one that SHIELD has struggled to tread in the past. Unlike the Hydra uprising of season one, this little prequel felt like what it was: a marketing tool rather than something to enhance and broaden the scope of the universe. The show has done a terrific job of late to justify its existence, becoming a show in its own right, rather than an experiment for the Marvel execs. Did this week’s references detract from the story though? Maybe. Did it matter? Not particularly. Was it fun? Yes, absolutely.
For the first time since season one, Coulson’s original team is back together for one last ride and things are naturally a little awkward. Nobody trusts Ward, obviously, Skye has new fangled earthquake powers, Simmons is now thirsting for blood like never before, and May is still pretty pissed at Coulson for keeping her in the dark this whole time. His “He was the only therapist I could talk to about my alien writing impulses” line was probably the single most laughably ridiculous line I’ve ever heard.
The assault on the Hydra base was a glorious thrill ride, worthy of the Marvel brand. Yes, it’s a shame about the Bus, but hey, you have to admit, that’s a pretty epic way of secretly infiltrating an evil organization’s secret compound. The highlight of course was Skye’s proficient single shot takedown of an entire Hydra unit on her way to rescue Lincoln. Technically sound, the feat was executed beautifully.
Elsewhere, Simmons actually tries to kill Ward while his back is turned. Pretty cold for a character who started life as a charming, cute British nerd. Instead she ends up disintegrating Bakshi (finally) and Ward, against all better judgment, decides to spare Simmons’ life and do a runner.
The Inhuman plotline and the subplots involving Cal and Jiaying kinda took a back seat this week, which is a shame because they’ve just started to become interesting. Still, now that we’ve had the obligatory nod to Avengers, the show can really ramp things up for the final two episodes.
Overall, a pretty great action packed episode this week, even if it was at the expense of the larger story being told.