TV Review: Agents of SHIELD: “The Dirty Half Dozen”

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(Editor’s note: Welcome back to our coverage of Agents of SHIELD, from now until the end of the season, William will be joined by Agents of SHIELD super fan Zoe as they discuss the last stretch of episodes).

William: I think there’s a good chance that “The Dirty Half Dozen” is going to remind people a lot of “Turn, Turn, Turn” for a number of reasons, as it’s the first episode since that Winter Soldier tie-in that we’ve had all our Agents of SHIELD together, on the same team, working towards a larger goal. It also serves as a springboard for a larger Marvel movie. Before talk about any larger MCU connections, what did you think about having the team finally back together again?

Zoe: It was an interesting and often hilarious team up. Things sure have changed, though. Most notably – Skye has flourished under May’s training and Simmons willing to kill a man who has wronged her. The dynamic was better than I was expecting

William: I love that the episode is played like a caper, but infused with the spy elements of the show we’ve come to love. Despite the very clear tension, how much fun was it to see the gang all back together to pull off the ole’ ‘one last mission’ troupe? I think you’re a bit harsher on Ward than I am (mostly because I find him incredibly interesting if nothing else), but he does raise a good point about the family dynamic of the team and that’s something that’s been missing in this backhalf of Season 2 and was refreshing to have again.

Zoe: Yes. About what we discussed last week and how other characters get pushed to the side, I’d also argue that a lot of our team hasn’t had the same kind of screen time as others this whole season. It was refreshing for this to feel like a season 1 episode by having them all do their respective tasks. What made it more fun, though, was everything was out in the open. Everyone was purely themselves, Ward included.

William: Which is so refreshing to have. What did you think of the actual mission itself? Blowing up the bus was a nice touch – nice to kill your darlings and such, but there’s a lot of good, fun stuff to see once we work through the machinations of what Gonzales wants from Coulson and such.

Zoe: Of course not everything can be wrapped up in a pretty bow. Gonzales, what is your deal, man? Can he really not see the hypocrisy of his actions or is he just blindly flying through the motions? The visuals of the mission were great. The tracking shot of Skye really reminded me of True Detective‘s “Who Goes There” in terms of fluidity of the subject’s actions, which pleased me to no end. As far as Gonzales goes, I don’t really know what to think or feel but exasperation at the man! What’s your read on him?

William: It’s certainly all one take, but it reminds me so much more of John Wick than it does True Detective. Semantics aside, it’s an impressive feat and one that works well because it’s a great visual display of just how far Skye has come and just how threatening she is even without using her powers. Gonzales represents the old school way of thinking – the same kind of thinking that got Fury into trouble during Winter Soldier. It feels like a bit of a retread, sadly and I’m hoping we’ll move away from it as we move into these final episodes.

Zoe: Guess who never saw John Wick! It’s me. I never saw John Wick. But I did see The Winter Soldier and I’m curious about why you feel that way about Gonzales. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Gonzales at least saying he wants more transparency and that essentially Fury and Coulson being so secretive is problematic? I feel as though with the Ultron tie in, AoS is actually showing us that Coulson was right all along to have secrets. At least in terms of the wider universe arcs, I got the impression that they’re trying to tell us that Coulson was right all along.

William: The bit I was referencing was the fact that Gonzales keeping Inhumans smells of Fury having access to mountains of power and hoarding that power to himself. Let’s talk about that bit of Age of Ultron tie-in. I thought it was an interesting touch that even though SHIELD doesn’t exist anymore that it’s Coulson still gets to send in the troops to take out Hydra once and for all.

Zoe: Agreed on both counts, though I suppose the latter was always bound to happen. He’s been after Hydra since SHIELD fell and every former member that is higher ranking is elsewhere. How did you feel about Raina divining the upcoming events?

William: That bit felt WAY more forced to me than the intel that Coulson pulled in. Perhaps it’ll make more sense as to why the Inhumans decide to come after SHIELD next week, but, yeah. I wasn’t much of a fan

Zoe: Total agreement here. It was so on the nose, too much of a “Ooooh, a storm is brewing,” kind of thing. Last year’s movie tie-in was so shocking!

William: I think it was always going to be tough to top the incredible nature of ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’ – but the execution here definitely left something to be desired, which is a shame – it’s the only black mark on what was another fun episode.

Zoe: And so emotionally satisfying. Our heroes are safe. Mack and Hunter’s make up session was realistic and compelling. Lincoln and Mike are alive. It’s only the calm before the storm.

William: And it feels that way in a subtle manner – we’re clearly building to something much more.

Quick Thoughts:

– “Really starting to wish I hadn’t eaten that Hot Pocket earlier!” – WG

– Coulson, why are you eating Hot Pockets? Honestly, man. You once judged Simmons’ bare fridge! – Z

– Simmons, much like a Lannister, always pays her debts. What a great character moment. – WG

– “I thought her gift was spinning really fast to collect gold rings.” That was way harsh, Tai.

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