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Agents OF SHIELD: Turn, Turn, Turn

Agents Of SHIELD Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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#21 Raijin

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 06:00 PM

A good plot twist should be unexpected but you should be able to look back and say, "Oh, yeah it all totally makes sense." I didn't see it with ward aside from killing the fake Clairvoyant, but that came so late in the show, just before the twist that it isn't as effective. Otherwise Ward seemed to be perfectly straightforward or I'm forgetting something. It feels like this was not planned from the start but something made up along the way.

I'm not buying it yet. But it would make the show more interesting if Ward isn't a good guy somehow again.

#22 sierraleone

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 06:24 PM

View PostChristopher, on 09 April 2014 - 01:58 PM, said:

I don't doubt he's conflicted; as Dalton said in the interview, you can't spend that much time with a group of people without developing some attachments. But I also don't doubt that he's genuinely a HYDRA plant, rather than a good guy just pretending to be with HYDRA. It seemed clear to me that Garrett expected Ward to free him. He wasn't surprised when Ward shot Hand and the guards. So they were working together before this.

What I find unexpected is how much resistance I'm seeing to the idea that Ward was really a traitor all along. I mean, all this time I've heard little positive being said about the character; generally the reactions I hear range from neutrality to actively wishing he'd be written out of the show. And yet now I'm seeing so much unexpected loyalty to the character, people refusing to believe that he isn't still a good guy. I mean, I'd think more people would be happy to discover he was really a bad guy, because it instantly makes him much more interesting.

I imagine it probably because people trust him (even if they don't like him) and they thought they knew him. It makes it that much more effective, but generally audiences are used to the bad sleeper agents being, if not less-well know, at least more indication shows up that something is off. Much was commented on by other characters saying lately how Ward was letting his emotions control him, and not just over the killing of the clairvoyant-herring. Though, perhaps it was him realizing he wasn't as comfortable with his Hydra-path as he was before (or his path as sleeper-agent-in-hydra if other theories are correct).

In my head I am trying to go over his conversation with May again, where he 'interrogates' her over her 'sleeper-agentness' to see if there was anything of interest. I wonder if he really fall in love with Skye and/or he was putting on that he did to help explain away his various idiosyncrasies.
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#23 Cardie

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 06:27 PM

When Harry Lennix turned out to be the Big Bad on Dollhouse, I was pretty impressed.  Since that's a Whedon product, perhaps it guided them on Ward's betrayal. But I agree with G-Man that the whole last shot of him staring down at the blood around Hand's hand was a strange directing choice. If they want us to believe he's totally bad for a long time (and of course if he really is bad), then she and her aides have to be dead. If it is a fakeout, then I'd expect for us to learn that she's alive fairly soon.

To be precise, if Ward is deep undercover, I would expect that they planted him within the suspect Hydra organization quite a while ago, which would explain why Garret expected him to rescue him. I also found the midair order to execute Garret pretty odd unless Hand was up to something.
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#24 NeuralClone

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 06:40 PM

View PostCardie, on 09 April 2014 - 06:27 PM, said:

When Harry Lennix turned out to be the Big Bad on Dollhouse, I was pretty impressed.  Since that's a Whedon product, perhaps it guided them on Ward's betrayal.
That truly was a truly awesome plot twist. Also, not only was Dollhouse a Whedon product but two of the producers for Agents of SHIELD (Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen) were heavily involved with that show.
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#25 Christopher

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 07:05 PM

View PostBklnScott, on 09 April 2014 - 04:36 PM, said:

I think some people are just a little bit astounded at the idea that this show had something this lively up its sleeve all along. I'd just like to see them commit to it before I give them kudos ... The reset button trope became a trope for a reason.

But the showrunners have been aware from the start of what The Winter Soldier was going to do, and that movie
Spoiler
So it makes sense that the show would go the same route.

Really, knowing what we know now, it seems evident to me that the reason the show seemed fairly bland and unambitious before is because they were deliberately hiding their real plans. We thought it was just about the team dealing with exotic threats and tracking down this Centipede organization, but that was the misdirect, the facade the show had to keep up until TWS came out and they could finally show their hand. Which is why I wish the show had been a winter premiere instead, or that TWS had come out earlier, so that this reveal could've come at the halfway point of the season instead of so close to the end. The pacing would've been better that way, I think.


View PostRaijin, on 09 April 2014 - 06:00 PM, said:

A good plot twist should be unexpected but you should be able to look back and say, "Oh, yeah it all totally makes sense." I didn't see it with ward aside from killing the fake Clairvoyant, but that came so late in the show, just before the twist that it isn't as effective. Otherwise Ward seemed to be perfectly straightforward or I'm forgetting something. It feels like this was not planned from the start but something made up along the way.

In retrospect, I think it does add up pretty well, and the clues were seeded subtly and disguised as other things. We knew from the start that he was a trained killer and that he had poor interpersonal skills. We've been shown he has a ruthless streak. They told us up front that he wasn't a nice guy, but then went to a lot of trouble to show him apparently learning to be nicer under the team's influence. So we thought it was just a redeemable character flaw, but now it turns out it was a clue to his true nature. And we were told pretty early that he had an abusive and messed-up childhood, which is the sort of thing that can drive a person down a dark path.


View Postsierraleone, on 09 April 2014 - 06:24 PM, said:

I imagine it probably because people trust him (even if they don't like him) and they thought they knew him. It makes it that much more effective, but generally audiences are used to the bad sleeper agents being, if not less-well know, at least more indication shows up that something is off. Much was commented on by other characters saying lately how Ward was letting his emotions control him, and not just over the killing of the clairvoyant-herring. Though, perhaps it was him realizing he wasn't as comfortable with his Hydra-path as he was before (or his path as sleeper-agent-in-hydra if other theories are correct).

I think it was just another misdirect. We were led to think that his killing of the fake Clairvoyant was the result of his emotions getting out of control, in order to divert us from the fact that it was a calculated murder that had been part of Garrett's plan all along, that he was supposed to kill the decoy in order to make Coulson's team believe they'd defeated the Clairvoyant. Coulson even asked Ward last week if he'd been under somebody's orders to kill the guy. And Coulson has good instincts. All of Ward's excuses about losing control were just part of maintaining his cover.


View PostCardie, on 09 April 2014 - 06:27 PM, said:

When Harry Lennix turned out to be the Big Bad on Dollhouse, I was pretty impressed.  Since that's a Whedon product, perhaps it guided them on Ward's betrayal.

Again, I think it grew more out of TWS. That movie was about the discovery that many trusted people within SHIELD had been HYDRA agents all along. This is a show about a SHIELD team, so it makes sense that they'd include the same revelation. Given how pervasive HYDRA's presence was within the organization, and given that the regular cast of this show features five SHIELD agents, it was simply a statistical probability that there would be a HYDRA operative among them.


Quote

But I agree with G-Man that the whole last shot of him staring down at the blood around Hand's hand was a strange directing choice. If they want us to believe he's totally bad for a long time (and of course if he really is bad), then she and her aides have to be dead. If it is a fakeout, then I'd expect for us to learn that she's alive fairly soon.

Here's a thought: When they showed that shot of, err, Victoria's hand, I was expecting it to twitch and reveal that she was still alive. I bet a lot of people were expecting that. So maybe that was the fakeout: They set us up to think they were going to reveal she was still alive... and then they didn't. And then Ward looked at the camera as if to say "Gotcha! She's really dead, folks. I'm evil. Deal with it."


Quote

To be precise, if Ward is deep undercover, I would expect that they planted him within the suspect Hydra organization quite a while ago, which would explain why Garret expected him to rescue him.

And if Ward is genuinely loyal to HYDRA, that would also explain it. So that isn't really evidence either way.

I think that if Fury were aware of the presence of HYDRA within SHIELD, he wouldn't have been so taken off-guard in the movie and wouldn't have let Operation Insight get so far. So I don't buy the idea that Ward is a good guy planted inside the bad guys. That feels like wishful thinking to me. He's already a bad guy who was planted inside the good guys, and it makes sense that he was.


Quote

I also found the midair order to execute Garret pretty odd unless Hand was up to something.

Hand may have been technically on the side of the angels, but her methods were still pretty harsh. Part of what the film suggested was that HYDRA had been influencing SHIELD for so long that it had promoted the embrace of harsh and amoral methods, made SHIELD more like HYDRA. Created global threats that had made SHIELD more paranoid and aggressive in response, pushing it in the direction HYDRA wanted it to go. So it's logical that its upper echelons would include people like Hand, people who, while not knowingly serving HYDRA, were not really any more ethical or merciful than they were. Hand was willing to shoot down Garrett and the Bus merely for suspecting that they were allied with HYDRA, because she'd bought into the shoot-first mentality that had come to dominate the agency since the Chitauri Invasion, if not sooner.

The Victoria Hand of the comics, I gather, is a morally ambiguous figure, initially part of Norman Osborn's corrupted form of SHIELD, enacting his harsh and morally questionable policies, but eventually revealed to be a dupe unaware of the full extent of his evil, and going on to be more of an uneasy ally to the heroes.
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#26 RJDiogenes

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 07:19 PM

Well, this was pretty disappointing, but pretty much what I expected from what I've been reading.

Basically we had lots of running and shooting, fighting and shooting, aerial dogfights and shooting, explosions and shooting. We had arbitrary traitors with no hint of motivation and forced conflict between former friends. Twisty plot twists. Everything you thought you knew is a lie. And next week, everything you thought you knew this week will be a lie. And the week after next, everything you thought you knew next week will be a lie.

Hand definitely did make some bad decisions. Her little test of Triplett probably weeded out a lot of loyal agents who were wisely trying to bide their time. And Simmons never even answered. And suggesting that Garrett be executed-- by Ward-- was just plain weird.  And arbitrary.

It wasn't all bad. Fitz had some great lines and gave a great performance. And I liked the little conversation about whether it was "cut off a head" or "cut off a limb."

Oh, well, maybe they'll make something out of this, but I miss SHIELD already.
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#27 Niko

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 07:58 PM

View PostCardie, on 09 April 2014 - 06:27 PM, said:

To be precise, if Ward is deep undercover, I would expect that they planted him within the suspect Hydra organization quite a while ago, which would explain why Garret expected him to rescue him.
This is what is bugging me about the possibility of a triple-agent flip... for Ward to be a satisfying plant, he'd have to have been planted long ago (as opposed to something cooked up between him volunteering and the plane scene).  But everyone from Fury on down seem completely blindsided by the presence of Hydra in their midst at all, let alone the extent of the incursion.  If they had enough suspicion to involve Ward in some deep-cover sting, it makes SHIELD look pretty ridiculous for getting caught with their pants down this way.

So, I'm definitely rooting for Ward to be truly bad, but it's hard to trust them to let it be a true game-changer.  I guess it's good that this wasn't the season ender, so we should get a more definitive picture without waiting all summer for confirmation one way or the other.  :p

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#28 Christopher

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 07:59 PM

Here's an interview with Whedon and Tancharoen where they reveal some of the hints they seeded about Ward:

http://www.comicbook...rticle&id=52037

Excerpt:

Quote

Tancharoen: Yes, we have. And I think it'll be interesting for the viewer once they see the big reveal to go back and look at places where those seeds have been planted. In episode #10, there's a nice, private moment that Ward has with Coulson -- they're in Lola, and I think they're going to see a Centipede soldier's sister, and they're just having a conversation, finally, about their personal lives. Coulson brings up that he had someone in his past, a cellist, and that he had dinners at the Richmond, and that's something that comes up later -- that's a tool that Raina uses to help coerce Coulson to get into the machine in episode #11.

And then in "Seeds," there's a really nice moment where Skye is standing at the wall of valor, and we hear Coulson's voice off-camera saying that the world is full of evil, pain, lies and death -- and the camera pans and lands on Ward when he says "lies" and "evil."

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#29 NeuralClone

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 08:09 PM

View PostNiko, on 09 April 2014 - 07:58 PM, said:

This is what is bugging me about the possibility of a triple-agent flip... for Ward to be a satisfying plant, he'd have to have been planted long ago (as opposed to something cooked up between him volunteering and the plane scene).  But everyone from Fury on down seem completely blindsided by the presence of Hydra in their midst at all, let alone the extent of the incursion.  If they had enough suspicion to involve Ward in some deep-cover sting, it makes SHIELD look pretty ridiculous for getting caught with their pants down this way.

So, I'm definitely rooting for Ward to be truly bad, but it's hard to trust them to let it be a true game-changer.  I guess it's good that this wasn't the season ender, so we should get a more definitive picture without waiting all summer for confirmation one way or the other.  :p
I agree. If Ward is a double or triple agent (or whatever he'd be in this case), then that would have implied that SHIELD knew about HYDRA's infiltration...and let them almost wipe about 20+ million people on the planet just to get someone on the inside. That's a pretty poor plan. There would be far less risky ways to embed a SHIELD agent in HYDRA that wouldn't put so many people at risk. However, if Fury was completely caught off guard by their existence (this is Nick "I don't trust ANYONE" Fury, remember) and if other high ranking SHIELD members were unaware of it, it seems very unlikely that Ward would be an undercover SHIELD agent intending to get into HYDRA. The very existence of HYDRA was unknown until Cap and Natasha uncovered it in The Winter Soldier.

I can definitely see them going in a direction with this where Ward's dedication to HYDRA's cause is questioned and that makes him doubt where he belongs. Maybe then he'll decide to start working against HYDRA. But for now I think it seems likely he's a HYDRA member and always has been.

View PostChristopher, on 09 April 2014 - 07:59 PM, said:

Here's an interview with Whedon and Tancharoen where they reveal some of the hints they seeded about Ward:

http://www.comicbook...rticle&id=52037

Excerpt:

Quote

Tancharoen: Yes, we have. And I think it'll be interesting for the viewer once they see the big reveal to go back and look at places where those seeds have been planted. In episode #10, there's a nice, private moment that Ward has with Coulson -- they're in Lola, and I think they're going to see a Centipede soldier's sister, and they're just having a conversation, finally, about their personal lives. Coulson brings up that he had someone in his past, a cellist, and that he had dinners at the Richmond, and that's something that comes up later -- that's a tool that Raina uses to help coerce Coulson to get into the machine in episode #11.

And then in "Seeds," there's a really nice moment where Skye is standing at the wall of valor, and we hear Coulson's voice off-camera saying that the world is full of evil, pain, lies and death -- and the camera pans and lands on Ward when he says "lies" and "evil."
Those are some pretty weak pieces of foreshadowing.

Edited by NeuralClone, 09 April 2014 - 08:10 PM.

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#30 DWF

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 08:30 PM

View PostNeuralClone, on 09 April 2014 - 12:33 AM, said:

It's a good thing Coulson is such a good judge of character! :sarcasm:

You can't just blame Coulson it was May who really put the team together. But then you really could blame Fury in a way too, whatever vetting process SHIELD agents go though it failed to catch their loyalites to Hydra. But then as it's been said pride goeth before a fall and SHIELD was full of pride.
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#31 243Skunk

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 09:03 PM

I'm going to have to agree with Christopher. Its a classic Wheadon twist. It isn't like he hasn't done this type of thing in, like, every single show he's done (or had gone on long enough for it to develop).

One plot hole, though (or maybe I'm missing something)...after they had knocked out Garrett and Hand comes into the room, Coulson jumps up in the air and goes "I"M NOT HYDRA!!!!" At this point, how does he know that Hand was on his side, and would not have gone "Um, OK?" and dumped him right then and there? Coulson didn't know Hand was NOT HYDRA at that point, and as far as he knew he was the only one left out of the HYDRA lie.

#32 DWF

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 09:35 PM

Since they knew from the conception of the series how TWS would end, I can't really call it a Whedon twist traditional or not. Normally for Joss Whedon the big bad is reveled towards the middle of a gfiven season, but here we don't have a clear big bad. And if Hand was a Hydra agent she'd know that Coulson was SHIELD agent or not as long as he was a Hydra agent in her eyes she'd come in shooting as with Simmons convincing her otherwise saved his life.
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#33 243Skunk

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 09:42 PM

Quote

And if Hand was a Hydra agent she'd know that Coulson was SHIELD agent or not as long as he was a Hydra agent in her eyes she'd come in shooting as with Simmons convincing her otherwise saved his life.

Yeah, but I'm not necessarily concerned about Hand......to me it seemed as though Coulson just threw down his gun and didn't seek cover as soon as she walked in, and seemed convinced that she wouldn't shoot him on sight with the admonition that "I"M NOT HYDRA!" How did he know that Hand was still loyal? As far as I saw, he didn't.

If it were me, I wouldn't necessarly shot as soon as she walked in, but I sure as hell wouldn't have dropped a weapon and just trusted in faith that Hand wouldn't have popped him in the head.  I'd at least seek cover...there was plenty of it in that room.

#34 DWF

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 09:52 PM

She was convinced that Coulson was a Hydra agent and told Simmons as such as far Coulson was concerned she was a SHIELD agent otherwise Hand would've killed Simmons instead of letting her go.
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#35 243Skunk

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 09:58 PM

^ Yeah, but how was he convinced? That's what I'm asking. He had no proof. He didn't know Simmonds was a still alive, a hostage, or even a turncoat.

Edited by 243Skunk, 09 April 2014 - 10:23 PM.


#36 Christopher

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Posted 09 April 2014 - 11:44 PM

If I remember right, the scene you're talking about came after Coulson had realized Garrett was the HYDRA mole. And he knew that Hand had tried to shoot Garrett down, which meant they were on opposite sides. He'd initially thought that Hand was the HYDRA agent and Garrett was the loyal one, but once he knew Garrett was the HYDRA agent, it followed that Hand was on SHIELD's side.
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#37 Cardie

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 12:35 AM

I haven't seen Winter Soldier, so didn't realize that no one suspected that vestiges of Hydra might still be lurking out there. Not that I have any idea what Hydra is either, also not having seen Captain America, nor read the comic--not a fan of comic book inspired stories at all.
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#38 NeuralClone

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 01:48 AM

View PostCardie, on 10 April 2014 - 12:35 AM, said:

I haven't seen Winter Soldier, so didn't realize that no one suspected that vestiges of Hydra might still be lurking out there. Not that I have any idea what Hydra is either, also not having seen Captain America, nor read the comic--not a fan of comic book inspired stories at all.
Spoilers for The First Avenger and The Winter Soldier follow. Although at this point, I think spoilers for those movies are a given.

The short version is HYDRA is an offshoot of the Nazi Party from World War II. Their leader, Johann Schmidt (eventually called Red Skull due his appearance after extensive experimentation), was obsessed with becoming a godlike being and thought himself superior to Hitler. HYDRA as a whole felt they were superior to the rest of humanity and wanted to dominate the planet. While their ideology started in line with the Nazi Party, it was shown to have evolved into something else entirely, although their desire to dominate anyone they considered to be lesser than them remained intact.

The organization was thought to have been largely destroyed during WWII by Captain America's final mission before he disappeared, and I don't think anyone suspected it might still be around 70 years later. They certainly didn't expect it to be so embedded in SHIELD. Even Nick Fury was caught off guard. Red Skull's chief biochemist, Arnim Zola, was recruited by SHIELD as a consultant after WWII. Him, along with a few others, restarted HYDRA in secret and slowly grew the organization until it completely corrupted SHIELD from within. At the end of his life, Dr. Zola found a way to preserve his mind in a large computer in an old SHIELD facility and continue to act as the leader of the new HYDRA.

Bringing about world order by eliminating chaos and anyone deemed lesser than them seems to be fairly important to the modern version of HYDRA. Since HYDRA was only just recently exposed in the MCU after about 70 years, a lot about the modern organization remains unknown. HYDRA is well-known for always having a contingency plan in place. They often say that if you cut off one head of HYDRA, two more grow back in its place (not unlike the mythical creature).

Edited by NeuralClone, 10 April 2014 - 02:00 AM.

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#39 G-man

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 07:12 AM

View PostDWF, on 09 April 2014 - 08:30 PM, said:

View PostNeuralClone, on 09 April 2014 - 12:33 AM, said:

It's a good thing Coulson is such a good judge of character! :sarcasm:

You can't just blame Coulson it was May who really put the team together. But then you really could blame Fury in a way too, whatever vetting process SHIELD agents go though it failed to catch their loyalites to Hydra. But then as it's been said pride goeth before a fall and SHIELD was full of pride.

Except what you're overlooking is that for 70 years SHIELD was HYDRA, and HYDRA was SHIELD.

SHIELD had, much like the post-WWII US, taken the personnel and technologies of HYDRA to use for their own purposes against the "greater threat" of the Soviets.  Consequently, the old HYDRA hands began their infiltration and influence on SHIELD, secretly ridding themselves of those individuals who began to suspect their existance.

Think about it:  Given the degree of compartmentalization that SHIELD had, any clandestine meetings, additional orders, filing secret reports, etc. would be accepted as being standard SHIELD routine, because it was standard SHIELD routine.

Therefore, the good and loyal agents of SHIELD had no reason to even suspect that HYDRA existed, especially if HYDRA was keeping SHIELD's attention focused on all the other threats that were out there (CENTIPEDE; AIM; the Clairvoyant; etc.).

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#40 BklnScott

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Posted 10 April 2014 - 07:49 AM

View PostNeuralClone, on 09 April 2014 - 08:09 PM, said:

Those are some pretty weak pieces of foreshadowing.

I haven't gone back and watched earlier episodes (the horror) but based on Jed & Maurissa's description, I actually think it was pretty well-done, especially the incidence of the camera landing on Ward when Coulson says "lies" and "evil" - that's a dead giveaway, in hindsight, and a textbook use of filmic foreshadowing, which you're not necessarily supposed to notice in the moment (especially if a reveal is being played for surprise, as this one was, instead of suspense).

And - for what it's worth - I didn't notice... though I haven't been that into the show so I haven't been watching that closely.

Chris - I am not saying they didn't properly prepare for this twist. It appears they did. I figured all along that the Clairvoyant, Centipede, Tahiti, and a number of the other seemingly disparate forces the team faced in the first half-season would ultimately be revealed as facets of Hydra, and posted as much in the review threads. (The name "centipede" was suspect from the start - you cut it in half, and the back half can grow a new head, right? Sounds familiar...)

I also figured they would have someone - perhaps several someones - turn evil in concert with the big Cap2 reveal - and that the Bus team would subsequently continue to fight the good fight underground, as outlaws, bringing the show closer to its Firefly DNA.  (Coulson has finally completed his - interminable - evolution from true believing company guy into a full-on lost-his-faith Mal Reynolds figure. The question is: is Ward a Jayne? Or an Angelus? And if the latter, is there a way to turn him back into Angel?)

That said, I assumed the traitors would be recurring players - Hand, Garrett and Triplett - and surely not any of the regulars. Swapping Trip out for Ward - and flipping the script on the comic book version of Hand to reveal that the TV show iteration remained loyal (if not ethical) to the end - is cleverer than I had given the show credit for. (But I would argue that I was right not to give them that credit. They hadn't earned it.)

My concern is that they will find a way to back out on Ward - to make him a Hydra victim, too, one who is redeemable and who they (read: Skye) will try to redeem. (Maybe Garrett had him conditioned/brainwashed.) The cliffhanger ending is notable not just for what happened but for what did not happen. Ward did not declare himself Hydra. He did not smirk malevolently - which you might expect him to do if this is the day he's been waiting for his whole adult life. Instead, the stinger holds on what I would characterize as a pained, conflicted close-up of Ward who avoids making eye contact with the camera - with us - until the last moment.

I call that an ending that communicates Ward's shame over what he's done. I think the ending asks - in Stan Lee's voice - "Did you really see what you thought you saw? Tune in next week, true believers!"

So I will tune in next week - and hold congratulations for making Ward evil until they establish that he really is evil, and not the Manchurian Candidate. Maybe in the next episode they show him doing something that really, truly can't be taken back - like trying to kill one of the regulars. Preferably Skye. (Not because she's terrible and I can't stand her but because she's his protege and his love-interest. If he's really evil, really repudiating his former comrades, he'll go after her first.) But even that might be written off as the results of Winter Soldier-like conditioning...

We shall see.

ETA: re: Tahiti - Was this installation just one of the number of super-secret Hydra medical experimentation facilities mentioned by Baron von Strucker in the Cap2 mid-credits stinger? If so, when will Coulson - and Skye - begin to manifest their powers?

Edited by BklnScott, 10 April 2014 - 08:33 AM.

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