It only took eight episodes into season three for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to finally hit its stride in a cohesive fashion and in doing so, had possibly the best episode of their season thus far. From beginning to the end, AoS moved seamlessly in presenting all of its various plot points, along with twists and turns without getting confusing. It also brought to a head, what will probably be the driving story motivation or premise, moving forward this season and what will culminate into the Secret Warriors.
“Many Heads, One Tale” involved multiple story threads but, they all came to a neat intersecting common ground, in which the series can move forwar. With last week presenting Rosalind as another HYDRA agent under Gideon Malick, Coulson sets his team up to infiltrate the ATCU and find out exactly what the organization is doing with Inhumans while simultaneously questioning Rosalind about her intentions and loyalties. Coulson uses Lance and Bobbi to physically infiltrate the ATCU, while Daisy and Mack feed them information and access, to various parts of the base. On the HYDRA side, Gideon Malick tries to assassinate Ward, who survives this attempt and tracks down a secret vault used by the Struckers. Malick is surprised Ward was able to survive the assassination and find the vault as well. Malick then decides it is best to have Ward as an ally, then revealing to him the secret of HYDRA’s history. These are the two biggest plot threads, with two smaller ones involving Melinda and Lincoln, who both must reconcile with the events that Andrew caused. While the other involves Fitz and Simmons, who are still trying to work through the current bump in their relationship, which finally reaches a turning point many have been waiting for since season one.
To start, I think the misdirect of Rosalind was a great decision on the writer’s part and it pushed the relationship between Coulson and Rosalind, in an interesting direction, both in their personal lives, as well as with their teams or agencies. Coulson’s mistrust, allowed for SHIELD to infiltrate the ATCU, helping to reveal Malick’s involvement in trying to create his own team of Inhumans. While at the same time, it really brought to a head what this season has been about since the beginning, as the Secret Warriors. With what will most likely happen at some point, is Malick and Ward’s team of Inhumans or “super people”, going head to head against SHIELD’s. This could mean anything from guest roles or introductions of more prominent Marvel heroes and villains, plus something closer to the comic counterpart. And since Rosalind is not HYDRA, it also reopens my theory about her having a bigger role in the MCU’s future as the director of SWORD, maybe.
Another huge plus of this episode is the growth and change of the character’s themselves. Ward season one, was largely boring and pretty plain, without many defining or interesting character traits. To then becoming a fascinating villain over the past two seasons, who’s not only badass but, is someone you can love to hate. When Ward has screen time now, you know something big is about to happen.
There’s also, of course, the big kiss between Fitz and Simmons, which many have been waiting for since season one and it finally happened. But what made this moment even more crucial, is what brought them to this point. Simmons was upset that Fitz was being too perfect and too helpful, trying to work through her own feelings about him, as well as with Will. The entire set up to the kiss had emotional weight and will have massive complications in the future for the two characters. Another big change in character over time is Melinda. Who in this episode apologizes to Lincoln for what Andrew did, feeling she should have known beforehand about what he’d become before Andrew killed all of those people and Andrew’s friends as Lash. The way AoS has brought Melinda through the emotional ringer throughout the series thus far and the decisions she’s had to make, bring her to such a vulnerable position now.
“Many Heads, One Tale” is the best episode of SHIELD so far this season and it seems the best is yet to come.
While these next points are not as heavy as the others, it always a treat to watch Bobbi and Lance interact with one another, when they’re in the field. It’s so Whedon-esque in how he’s written Marvel characters in the movies, it just happens to be the same now with a couple. I hope they don’t end up overdoing these two in the future, because right now it’s the perfect amount of exposure without oversaturating them. Also, seeing Daisy go from the loner hacker, to essentially a commanding officer of sorts within SHIELD, is something that you probably didn’t expect at the beginning of the series. She’s come a long way, and I look forward to seeing her continue this trend.
To conclude, this is by far AoS’s best episode, as well as its most SHIELD liked episode this season. They focused heavily on espionage action, Marvel style, while heavily developing their characters in the process. Everything about this episode is what AoS does best. Sold storylines, involving misdirects and unexpected revelations but, still relying heavily on the characters they have been developing throughout the series. AoS should pick up from this point onward.