Agents of SHIELD, Season 2, Episode 6: “A Fractured House”
Written by Rafe Judkins and Lauren LeFranc
Directed by Ron Underwood
Airs Tuesdays at 9pm ET on ABC
For the first time in season two, “A Fractured House” focuses most of an episode on Ward, and he is an effective catalyst for the action despite being locked in a basement for most of the episode. The show takes a darker turn with an attack on the United Nations and throwing discs that disintegrate their victims, but thanks to a new team pairing, there is plenty of good humor to prevent the episode from getting too bleak.
“A Fractured House” is an appropriate title for an episode focused on Ward because so many of the conflicts in the team from season two can be traced back to Ward’s betrayal and his continued manipulation of Skye in season two. If Ward had not left Fitz and Simmons at the bottom of the ocean, Fitz would not be struggling to communicate, and his relationship with Simmons would have never been tested in such a painful way. Ward’s willingness to reunite Skye with her father could cause more conflict between Skye and Coulson down the road, and double-agents like Ward are the reason why SHIELD is broken and scattered across the globe in the first place.
The title is also a reference to Ward’s estrangement from his brother and perhaps a hint as to why he wants to put Skye’s family back together again. Now that Coulson has told Ward unequivocally that he will never be a part of Coulson’s team ever again and Christian has made it clear that Ward is not welcome home, Ward’s obsession with Skye and her father could consume him and transform him into the big bad of season two. I was not expecting the writers to let Ward loose so early into the season, but now that he has escaped from Coulson and his brother, Ward can really cause some problems for SHIELD.
Fortunately, not all of “A Fractured House” is Ward’s manipulations and Fitz and Simmons fighting. I don’t think Agents of SHIELD fans could take much more of Fitz and Simmons fighting. It is just too sad and unlike Fitz, I don’t get Mac’s big, strong arms to comfort me when Simmons walks out again. In the lighter side of the episode, Hunter, Bobbi, and May are thrown together for a mission and they are the perfect threesome. All three characters are competent fighters, so the action sequences are better and give the fight choreographers more possibilities, and Hunter and Bobbi’s past relationship gives the writers plenty of material for snappy come-backs.
May is the resident eye-roller of the team and she reminds Hunter that she doesn’t really like him and does not care about his past marriage to Bobbi. The mission also gives Bobbi the chance to show off her range of skills, which includes seducing their target over a cup of tea, and Hunter is totally not jealous. Writers Rafe Judkins and Lauren LeFranc have shown that these three characters work really well together, and hopefully they will be teamed up more in the future.
“A Fractured House” balances a lot of different tones in the episode with Fitz and Simmons’ interpersonal dramas, May/Hunter/Bobbi action and hilarity, and the deaths of more SHIELD agents. The episode itself, however, does not feel fractured. These parts are all fitting together seamlessly, much like the best episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Firefly. “A Fractured House” is not a funny episode of Agents of SHIELD or a serious episode; it easily falls into both categories. It is not plot-heavy or strictly a character piece, there is plenty of both, not only with Ward, but Fitz and Simmons as well.
Most importantly, this is not a filler episode. I am not walking away from “A Fractured House” anxious to get through the next few episodes so that something will happen. I am eager for the next installment because of everything that has already happened and everything that is set up here. Marvel and ABC premiered additional footage from The Avengers: Age of Ultron during Agents of SHIELD in hopes that viewers would tune in. If they did watch, “A Fractured House” gave them a good show and a few reasons to give Agents of SHIELD another chance.