09th Dec2014

‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 2×07: The Writing on the Wall’ Review

by ApolloXL5

Written by Craig Titley | Directed by Vincent Misiano

Agents-of-SHIELD-2x6

PLOT:

When a Woman is found dead with the alien writing carved into her body, Coulson goes back into the Memory Machine to find his lost memories of Tahiti and figure out who it’s other patients were. Meanwhile May leads Trip, Bobbi and Hunter as they close in on Ward.

VERDICT:

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. really has come leaps and bounds in the last seven episodes compared to what they achieved in twenty two episodes during it’s previous season (in which the last several were improvements on what came before them), with ‘The Writing on the Wall’ showing just how confident and exciting this series has become in such a short span of time.

This was a tense and dramatic experience as Coulson goes for all or nothing in his pursuit of the meaning of the alien writing, ordering Skye to put him back in the memory machine (telling her to torture him until they have the answers), despite everyone else’s misgivings about it and the Director’s sanity. This really was Clarke Gregg’s hour and he was phenomenal playing an unhinged Coulson and revealing new layers to the character that we had not yet witnessed. It certainly was a good idea to have May elsewhere during this instalment, because I doubt she would have let him do half the things Skye did (let alone trapping his chaperone in the basement).

The series has been playing tease as far as Tahiti is concerned, so to finally get the rest of the answers (as well as more scenes of people begging to be killed while having their memories reworked) was nicely done and shows that this series has learnt how to move a plot-line along and then finish it at the right time, which they did with Coulson finally coming out of his wall carving obsession. The dream-like memory sequences were both intense and disorientating as they mixed what he saw the other patients go through with everything that he too was experiencing (the image of him screaming while being dragged away instead of Derek was a freaky and unnerving moment, playing into the fact that Coulson might be going insane which a few of his team thought he was doing).

It’s good to see Fritz recovering and becoming more confident of himself, the scene between him and Mac while playing a game (pretty sure that was Halo, wasn’t really paying attention to that before now) was definitely a sign-post to the former’s mental state. And is it me or is Mac starting to look a little less friendly all of a sudden, not only with his distrust of Coulson in his deluded state (and also subtly shown at the episode’s end as the Director briefed the team about the map) but also in his choice of words (the whole ‘grab what you want and walk of with it’ didn’t sound right in my mind)

And on to Sebastian Derek (the bad-guy of this episode) and he was excellent (played by Brian Van Holt) as the unhinged (though he doesn’t look it when he is calm) ex-shield assassin that went through the same Tahiti treatment as Coulson. He was not only a formidable opponent, but also came off as generally terrifying during the dream-like memory sequences.

Oh and I loved how the alien map was shown to us as the train-set was viewed from above, that was a really well executed reveal. As was Coulson’s revealing to the rest of his team that it was a city (by doing the opposite of what I just said in the previous sentences), this episode certainly had its fair share of revelations.

Ward was also more interesting this week, easily second guessing his former team-mates (and criticising the new recruits while he is at it) while evading them and going about his business. Which at first glance looked like he was going to rejoin Hydra, only for him to then kill the soldiers and hand Bakshi to Coulson (got to say, I did not see that coming). He even tells Skye that he still wants to help her, but even if he thinks he is doing good (which shows just how unbalanced and dangerous he is), I highly doubt and also hope that he remains an enemy of Shield and…quite possibly Hydra as well (certainly makes for an interesting plot for the character, being an unknown factor between the two secret organisations).

***** 5/5

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