Marvel's Agents of SHIELD had its big mid-season finale (When did we start calling non-finales "finales"? Seems disingenuous.) and it was an explosive tying together of various loose ends and Ominous Big Bad hints - even if it didn't offer a lot of answers. So what did you guys think of it?
Me? I'm more concerned with my stated goal of shoehorning in random Marvel Comics connections where there are none. This episode didn't offer a lot in the way of comic references, but more are promised. It does, however, offer a lot in of in-series references.
First, the creatively common spoiler-light recap: This episode opens with a "previously on" montage. Haven't seen one of those on this series. Feels quaint. Then moves into the main story as Centipede is upping its game and Mike Peterson from the pilot episode is called in for support. Things go from bad to worse to worser as things lead up to the big cliffhanger leading into the season's second half.
On with the Mid-Season Extravaganza:
Here we get a look at US prisons in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Havenworth Federal Penitentiary. Marvel has no shortage of fictional prisons though, and with the up-coming Luke Cage Netflix series, it's a shame they couldn't've used Seagate Prison. Still, cool name.
A few more hints at Skye's heritage are dropped with references to Agent Katherine Shane (born 1968) , a Level 4 weapons systems expert who ran ops with Coulson in the 90s. May also seems to know something but has no interest in digging up old unpleasantness. Fan-theory suggests May could be Skye's mom, but I'm still not seeing it.
A bit of fan service is addressed directly as Coulson pines over his lost cellist (who plays second chair), first mentioned in the Avengers movie, then slyly alluded to in "The Well." No sign of an actual appearance, but it seems only a matter of time.
Coulson also encourages a bit of old-school espionage as he digs out what are apparently false identities for SHIELD agents, including homicide Detective G. A. Brown of Washington DC and Dan Filch of the Ohio State Gaming Commission, the later is used by Ward, somewhat unsuccessfully.
Pretty significantly, Mike Peterson is back from the pilot! Although he has nothing to do with his comic book counterpart, he has grown into his own as a character. Part of SHIELD's burgeoning super-agent program, Peterson has been at the academy training hard to become a full agent - and apparently trying to beat Captain America's bulldozer-tackling record. Wait... since when can Cap tackle bulldozers? Eh, don't knock it. It's fun to think of him trying to join the big leagues. We also get a bit more of Ace, who's been spending time with his Aunt Mindy. Peterson fits in well with the main cast - Ward distrusts him, Skye roots for him and Simmons swoons for him - and he'd be a great regular addition, but given how the episode ends, that doesn't seem to be where they're going with this. Time will tell.
When Peterson suits up, the music crescendos - a pretty ostentatious theme song for a two-appearance hero, but alright.
The suit itself is both medical diagnostic tool and layered high-tech protection. Costumes have long been significant in the Marvel U, not just Iron Man's armor, but the ubiquitous unstable molecule suits for any occasion pioneered by Reed Richards. More relevant here, however, are the technologically-improved X-Men school uniforms, which much like Peterson's suit, served multiple utilitarian functions.
Centipede gets fleshed out a bit more this episode. The mysteriously malicious Raina seems even more crazy than before. Her equally enigmatic superior from prison is fully named as Edison Po, an ex-marine turned Clairvoyant liaison. We meet a jacked-up Centipede soldier named Brian Hayward (and his college-educated sister Laura); the Night-Night Gun is useless against him, but an exploding eyeball can be a deadly thing. Po is most interesting as actor Cullen Douglas plays him quite menacingly. If this guy gets more appearances, I could see him making the leap Coulson did, and becoming a comic book character.
Speaking of exploding eyes though, it seems that the technology Vanchat (also known as villain-not-yet-appearing-in-this-series) used to manipulate Akela Amador is also part of Centipede's repertoire. These guys are in everything. It seems likely that instead of three different behind-the-scenes Big Bads - Centipede, Vanchat and Ian Quinn from "The Asset" - could be part of one large conspiracy. I'm not sure if that's good or bad in terms of series development.
No more hints on who (or what) the Clairvoyant is, beyond the fact that he is referenced with male pronouns, so presumably it's a dude. Coulson repeats the earlier stated premise that psychics are a myth. Me? I'm not buying it. Even without mutants, there are too many cool psychics in the Marvel Universe to just sweep under the rug.
Melinda May, meanwhile, continues to kick ass. Her icy stare of death threatens friends and foes, and as in "The Well," she uses two sticks to fight quite effectively. Has she been trained in escrima fighting? And can two sticks become her signature weapons? Here's hoping!
As the fight goes on, Peterson gets stabbed pretty bad in the torso. This is an on-going problem for superheroes, so if Mike really wants to earn his cape, he better get used to it.
Speaking of problem areas for superheroes, this episode's eponymous bridge portends bad stuff Peterson and Coulson.
Comic book heroes don't do well with bridges.
And that does it for the first half of the first season, we'll see how it does in the ratings. SHIELD will be back before you know it, and in the meantime I'll be working on a few "Secrets of SHIELD" movie posts for later on. So, until next time, agents!