Agents of SHIELD, Season 1, Episode 18, “Providence”
Written by Brent Fletcher
Directed by Milan Cheylov
Airs Tuesdays at 8pm EST on ABC
In the aftermath of SHIELD’s destruction, Agents of SHIELD splits “Providence” between the remaining members of Coulson’s team trying to figure out what is next and Ward and Garrett heading off to the Fridge for evil plotting and mustache-twirling. At first, Coulson wants to go completely off the grid, but he rethinks this plan when he discovers glowing coordinates on his SHIELD badge. He believes the coordinates are a clue from Fury himself as to where to go and how to find him. May, however, thinks that Coulson isn’t thinking clearly in the aftermath of SHIELD’s demise, and she worries that his decisions are putting everyone else in danger.
“Turn, Turn, Turn” and Captain America: Winter Soldier are both action-heavy, but “Providence” is more about the laughs. Bill Paxton relishes his role as the show’s newest villain, channeling Sweeney Todd in a scene with Raina, a barber shop, and a very special chair. Brett Dalton also seems much more comfortable playing Ward the double agent, than Ward, Coulson’s muscle and Skye’s love interest. Ward’s tricks and conniving are played with smug satisfaction and barely restrained glee. At one point, he fools two SHIELD agents into letting him and Garrett into the Fridge and with a snide remark, he shoots them. Unless Ward is the Severus Snape of Agents of SHIELD, I am having trouble believing he is secretly spying for Coulson and the last remnants of SHIELD.
Speaking of laughs, Patton Oswalt makes his debut on Agents of SHIELD this week as Agent Eric Koenig. Koenig is a SHIELD agent who turned a hide-out into his own personal bunker after the attacks on New York City. He provides geeky comic relief as he gushes over Agent Coulson in the way Coulson gushed over Captain America, but under the surface, there is a hint of cowardice and paranoia. When people like Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, and Phil Coulson were running into the battle of New York, Koenig was hiding away in a SHIELD bunker, and as he said, he has been hiding alone ever since. What kind of a man is Koenig, and should Coulson and his team trust him?
Aside from the humor and entertaining villain moments, what makes “Providence” a really fantastic episode is how it keeps the story moving forward while calling back to the early part of the season. Ian Quinn is back. Asgardian weaponry from “The Well” is back. Even Gravitonium is back, and it is all building to a big finale. The end of the episode is a giant “Thank you” from the writers to loyal viewers who stuck with the show, and the unresolved future of Ward and Skye and lingering questions about Koenig set up an intriguing final stretch of the season.