‘Face My Enemy’
‘Fun’ is very much the emphasis in this week’s Agents of SHIELD. While the last three weeks have been somewhat on the dour, more serious side of things, ‘Face My Enemy’ felt like a genuine attempt to inject some much needed levity into the show.
And, for the most part, the change of pace is incredibly welcome. From Coulson and May exercising their Fred and Ginger routine, to the gang in shock and awe at May laughing, to the May on May fight scene, there is a lot to like in this week’s episode, despite its flaws.
The story was yet another weak entry in what is becoming a worrying trend of weak stories this season. May and Coulson go undercover at a swanky party to retrieve a five hundred year old painting that not only mysteriously survived a church fire, but also has the mysterious alien symbols carved into the back of its canvas.
It was great to see Coulson and May let loose. While the dance felt slightly contrived, it did allows us a little bit of insight into their relationship and early days as SHIELD agents. We don’t get much, but Clark Gregg and Ming Na Wen’s interplay sells the couple’s history and makes the dynamic believable, particularly when the conversation took a darker side in relation to Coulson’s deteriorating condition.
It was also great to see May out of her comfort zone. The team’s reaction to her laughing and making conversation was one of the best and funniest moments of the series thus far. It reveals another layer to May, a vulnerability that has been lacking from her character, especially in regards to her feelings towards Coulson and what he makes her promise to do at the end of the episode.
The rest of the team remain sidelined for the majority of this episode, having little more to do than observe and listen to Hunter bitch about his “hell-beast” of an ex-wife. Fitz is still talking with imaginary Simmons, but now that we’ve seen real life Simmons in the flesh, we finally see the stark difference between Fitz’s version and real life Simmons, making for a truly interesting reunion whenever that comes about.
Back with May and Coulson and it isn’t long before General Talbot shows up, also in pursuit of the mysterious painting. Of course, Talbot is actually Bakshi wearing a facial mesh similar to what Black Widow used in Captain America: Winter Soldier. I don’t know about the rest of you, but it feels that Hydra are becoming more and more cartoonish every week. Seriously, is Bakshi like the only henchman that Whitehall has at his disposal?
It’s at this point in the episode that the writers seemed to forget that there was ever a painting to be retrieved and instead devote most of their time to making sure that the May on May fight scene happened. While it was fun to watch, I can’t help but think that this episode would’ve benefited from us actually learning some answers in regards to the alien writing. But alas, like last week, the story falls flat, with the plot device of the painting going nowhere, merely revealing that somebody else is carving these same symbols.
However, where the episode falls flat on plot, it revels in its character beats; Fitz finally bonding with Hunter after saving the Bus was a wonderfully quiet bromantic moment, and the final scene between May and Coulson is one of the strongest in a long time for this show.
‘Face My Enemy’ won’t be winning any points for its story or advancing the main arc of the series, but it scores high on the character front. Most important of all, it seems that Agents of SHIELD has finally found its sense of fun once again.