Agents of SHIELD, Season 1, Episode 19, “The Only Light in the Darkness”
Written by Monica Owusu-Breen
Directed by Vincent Misiano
Airs Tuesdays at 8pm EST on ABC
“The Only Light in the Darkness” opens with Ward getting patched up by Simmons as he feeds false information to Coulson and the gang. Ward claims that he was too late to stop Hydra from taking over the Fridge and releasing super-villains previously captured by SHIELD, including a villain Coulson captured personally, Marcus Daniels (Patrick Brennan). Hearing this news, Coulson decides to take part of the team to protect Audrey Nathan (Amy Acker), Marcus Daniels’ last target and the woman he called “the only light in the darkness.” She is also Coulson’s mysterious cellist, the last woman he was romantically involved with before the attacks in New York. Agent Koenig (Patton Oswalt) isn’t keen on anyone leaving the secret hide-out, so he forces everyone to submit to a lie-detector test before allowing anyone to leave.
The two main storylines of the episode are Koenig growing suspicious of Ward’s motives and Coulson, Fitz, Simmons, and Triplett tracking down Audrey to protect her from Marcus Daniels. In the scenes at the hide-out, Koenig’s lie-detector test provides some comic relief and small character revelations. Koenig asks, “You’re washed up on a desert island, and there is a box on the beach. What is in the box?” Fitz answers, “Simmons.” Simmons answers, “A Tardis.” Even though May passes the test, Coulson still treats her coldly and refuses to forgive her unless she reveals who green-lit the TAHITI project. As the team’s leaders, their continued bickering is sad and painful to watch, and it indicates again that the show’s writers are ready to break down everything, from SHIELD to May and Coulson’s friendship.
Amy Acker, a Whedon alum, fits in well with the rest of the cast. Her first scene with Simmons trying to pass for CIA is very funny, and throughout the episode, Audrey serves as a reminder of the kind of man Coulson can be. Right now, Coulson is watching the world he knew crumble around him, and he is unfairly taking his anger out on May. The audience needs to be reminded why Coulson is a beloved character, and the storyline with Audrey gives him a big hero moment and a heartbreaking decision to let her go, for now.
Speaking of heartbreaking, Skye now knows why Ward came back, and unfortunately, this revelation comes after Ward murders Koenig. I understand that the show cannot keep a guest star like Patton Oswalt for long, especially when Bill Paxton will be the show’s Big Bad at least until the end of the season, but I wanted more time with this character. What is it about Agent Koenig that earned him the trust of Fury, and if Koenig had stayed alive, would his paranoia have helped or hurt Coulson’s team in the long-term? Despite this small disappointment, there is a nice bit of editing work done in combining Skye’s search for Koenig’s body with Coulson’s showdown with Marcus Daniels. The big reveal shot of Koenig’s body dripping blood down onto Skye’s head is also surprisingly dark and definitely the most disturbing moment of the show so far, and it sets the stakes high for next week. May is off to find Maria Hill; Ward and Skye are flying into the heart of Hydra; the remaining members of Coulson’s team are still on the run; and it is unclear who will survive through the end of the season.
Marvel Easter Egg – Triplett is the grandson of Gabriel Jones, one of Captain America’s Howling Commandos.
– Rachel Kolb