Agents of SHIELD, Season 2, Episode 15: “One Door Closes”
Written by Lauren LeFranc and Rafe Judkins
Directed by David Solomon
Airs Tuesdays at 9pm (ET) on ABC
The episode title “One Door Closes” is a play on the old saying, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” Agents of SHIELD is focused almost exclusively on Agent-now-Director Coulson and his team, even more so after the fall of SHIELD. In “One Door Closes”, the writers of Agents of SHIELD ask the audience a lot of important questions. Are Coulson and his team in charge because they are the best people for the job, or does the audience want Coulson in charge because it is the only possibility they have been presented with? Is he only the director of SHIELD because Fury wanted him in charge and knew that Coulson would continue Fury’s style of leadership? If this is all true, is it really for the best?
The episode is channeling Battlestar Galactica’s Pegasus storyline, which is appropriate, since Edward James Olmos is in the middle of the action. In the Pegasus storyline, Battlestar Galactica shows the fall of mankind to the Cylons on the Pegasus, as opposed to on the Galactica. In comparison, Agents of SHIELD shows the fall of SHIELD from Bobbi, Mack, and Robert Gonzales’ perspectives, as opposed to Coulson’s team’s viewpoint. Like Battlestar Galactica, the emphasis is put on each team’s leadership style and tactics. Neither one is necessarily good or evil, but someone has to be in charge. Nick Fury’s absence leaves a power vacuum, and as Gonzales puts it, Coulson is obviously groomed to be Fury’s successor. The writers don’t cast Gonzales an enemy of SHIELD itself, but rather an enemy of monarchies, Fury’s reign in particular. Good guys trying to do the right thing in opposing manners is always much more interesting than another mustache-twirling villain or an angry chaos-driven psychopath. Kyle MacLachlan covers all of Agents of SHIELD’s angry psychopath needs.
Olmos and the show’s writers play on viewer expectation again with the characterization of Robert Gonzales. On Battlestar Galactica, Olmos’ Adama is a military man who expects the people around him to respect rank and follow orders. In the beginning of the flashback, Olmos plays Gonzales very similarly to Adama, and offers to sacrifice his own life to help Bobbi complete a suicide mission. He follows the orders given by Director Fury without question, even though Fury is thought to be dead. The unexpected twist comes when Bobbi forces him to change his mind. Instead of blindly following orders that would have sacrificed many SHIELD agents’ lives, he stands with Bobbi, Mack, and Izzy to fight. It is a big damn heroes moment, bound to remind viewers of the Firefly crew or the best moments of Battlestar Galactica. The fall of SHIELD transforms Coulson’s ragtag team into the establishment, forcing an unready Coulson to fill Fury’s shoes, and it turns Gonzales and his team into something truly radical in Fury’s SHIELD, a democracy. This is a good meaty conflict for Agents of SHIELD to take on through the rest of the season. It is going to pit friend against friend, like Bobbi and Simmons, or Mack and Fitz in “One Door Closes”, and could give its cast some real moments to shine, even while fanboys and fangirls mourn the possible end of the Mack/Fitz bromance.
The episode also has another great play on perspective with Skye’s rescue or kidnapping attempt, depending on one’s point of view. Skye’s change of heart, and her decision to leave with Gordon, isn’t communicated with a heavy-handed monologue or a voice-over like season 1’s “Seeds”. The writers and directors trust Chloe Bennet with communicating this change almost entirely without dialogue, like Skye discovering a giant fist-print in the metal wall and putting together who built her cabin retreat and for what purpose. Bennet is either improving as an actress, or is much more comfortable as reluctantly super-powered Skye than as rebel hacker Skye. Either way, it is a very good thing the writers did not listen to the fans who were ready to give up on Skye back in “T.R.A.C.K.S.”.
“One Door Closes” shakes up the formula of Agents of SHIELD in season 2 in the same way that “Turn, Turn Turn” shakes up season 1, though it is a much gutsier move in “One Door Closes”. Season 1 is a mixed bag at best, but season 2 is really great. Changing the show up is a risk. Breaking up these fan favorite relationships is likely to cause a Tumblr mutiny. It is a confident move, however, and with “One Door Closes”, the team behind Agents of SHIELD proves that it is more interested in making great TV than playing it safe.
On a few last notes, Simmons’ lying skills have improved a lot since “T.R.A.C.K.S.”, probably because of her time undercover at Hydra, and it is impressive that she fools Bobbi with her absent-minded professor routine. Also, Olmos gets the quote of the episode: “That man there had an ax. Now, I have it.”