Coming off of the pleasant but nevertheless distracting detour with the cellist last week, Coulson and company find themselves firmly in main mission mode. With numerous references to the wider comic book universe, some solid action and the return of fan favorite characters Nothing Personal continues AoS’s impressive run into its season finale.
Episode 20 sees the return of both Colbie Smulders as Maria Hill and Adrian Pasdar as Glenn Talbot. While they aren’t major focuses they do add some gravity to the proceedings and help to flash out the ever-expanding MCU. Plus Mariah dropping references to Black Widow, Pepper Potts and Man-Thing is only ever a good thing.
By far the highlight of Nothing Personal came from Skye and Ward, their interactions throughout the entire episode proved to be the most intimate and intense of the whole season. Every time the action shifted to Skye and Ward tension ran high. The dialogue and delivery was expertly handled, making every moment more suspenseful than the last. We get a lot of character development on Ward in particular. The ways the scripts are handling him recently have me thinking we will see him sacrificing himself for the team. Skye standing up to Ward and his reticence to fully defend his superior suggest that a little bit of redemption is on the horizon. One minor tidbit though; having seen Ward take down 20 or so highly trained and heavily armed SHIELD agents single handed, wouldn’t Skye realize her plan was doomed from the get go?
Deathlok was ruthless, he brings the power but you still feel sorry for his situation. J. August Richards gave a masterful performance. The degradation of a loving father into an unwilling cyborg assassin and his embrace of his predicament is a truly phenomenal and disturbing story arc. The slow burn in telling this story, while at first seemed like a bad idea has definitely paid off. “Plan B” has particularly nasty and really shows how far gone Mike Peterson has fallen. I do hope though that Deathlok gets a shot at redemption, it would be interesting to seem him as one of the good guys. The only negative I can find in regards to Deathlok’s portrayal was the squeaky pipe noise he makes every time he moves.
Fitz manages to bring on the feels once again. The way he refused to accept Ward’s betrayal and his questions to Simmons at the end were just great. This does make me believe that Simmons is in fact a HYDRA agent, something I’ve had some thoughts about for a while. Her history working on Mike and the fact that we don’t yet know who his handler is makes me almost absolutely positive I’m right… and it will break my heart to see Fitz have to deal with that.
The mystery man in charge of the TAHITI project ended up being none other… you have to watch it yourselves! I never expected that and it certainly opens up a few alleys in which the show can go down. While I won’t go into the details of whom the mystery man is I will say that the explanation touches on more than just the persons identity. We learn that the program was originally intended for wounded Avengers and that there have been multiple people exposed to these procedures. It really was a great twist and how Coulson reacts to the news will make for some interesting storytelling.
Despite ‘Nothing Personal’ being one of the highlights of the season there were a few notable issues. Some of the humour felt a little forced, akin to some of the earliest episodes, but not enough to detract too much from the story. The largest qualm I had with the episode was the poor effects. The major action sequence was entertaining but a little too much for a TV budget to handle. It was intense but the clear use of green screen and CGI took away any impact the sequence should have left us with. Skye’s hair was funny though.
Nothing Personal did a terrific job filling in blank spots between Cap 2 and the upcoming Age of Ultron, we learned exactly what Hill is doing at Stark Industries (helping privatize global security aka creating Ultron) as well as the status of SHIELD at large and the fact that the Avengers still don’t know Coulson is alive. No one but Coulson seems interested in bringing the organization back together, making it an interesting part of how the show will continue on into the next (hopefully) season. With only 2 episodes left and a few unsolved mysteries still looming in the background expect some big things to come in the following weeks.
Overall I give this episode an 8.5 out of 10