**WARNING: This recap contains spoilers from the episode “End of the Beginning” of ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Read at your own risk.
After another (and thankfully the final) hiatus mid-season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returned on Tuesday (4/1) to set up Captain America: The Winter Soldier in a way no one could ever imagine.
When we last saw these agents, we had learned that Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Skye (Chloe Bennet) are now hell-bent on finding the Clairvoyant, since he ordered Ian Quinn (David Conrad) to kill Skye. We also learned that Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) has a secret phone line in the cockpit reporting back to some headquarters (either The Hub or The Triskelion) keeping tabs and logs on Coulson. After overhearing Coulson and Skye’s latest conversation, she reported “He knows. I repeat, Coulson knows.”
After a brief Deathlok (J. August Richards) attack on Agent Garrett (Bill Paxton) and Agent Tripplet (B.J. Britt), “End of the Beginning” starts off with all the prominent S.H.I.E.L.D. agents we’ve met across the movies and show we’ve interacted with (Coulson, Jasper Sitwell [Maximiliano Hernandez], Victoria Hand [Saffron Burrows], Agent Blake [Titus Welliver], and Garret) witnessing Skye, after 15 episode, finally become an actual Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Skye quickly adapts to her role, taking charge of the search for Deathlok, and more importantly, the Clarivoyant.
After a brief attack from Deathlok that nearly resulted Blake getting killed (not before Blake shot GPS trackers at Deathlok), all these agents, save for Sitwell (who got called away to have a pretty important role in Captain America) and Victoria Hand, who is running command back at The Hub, converge on an abandoned racetrack in Pensacola, FL, where they find a vegetative old man, who seems to be the Clairvoyant. As the Clairvoyant begins to taunt and anger Coulson, Ward (Brett Dalton) loses his cool and kills the man.
Back on The Bus, with Tripplet and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) at The Hub, Coulson confesses to Skye that finding the Clairvoyant is too easy, and together they realized that the Clairvoyant doesn’t have telepathy, as had been assumed, but rather that he has security clearance from S.H.I.E.L.D.. Now, as Coulson brutally interrogates Ward, asking if he was ordered to kill the fake Clairvoyant, Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) finds May’s phone line, and tells Skye, who tells Coulson, and they both hold May at gunpoint in front of the lab as she had been chasing Fitz around the plane (to kill him?). As Coulson calls out May for being a traitor, it becomes clear to the audience that May has no idea what Coulson is talking about (the Clairvoyant being a part of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and that she, in a way, thought she was helping Phil. As this argument continues, the Bus takes a strangely sharp turn towards, now headed to the Hub, where Victoria Hand says “when they land, kill all the others, and bring Coulson to me.”WOW. “End of the Beginning” is truly the best S.H.I.E.L.D. episode of the season. Is Victoria Hand really the Clairvoyant, or, like May and the vegetative old man, is she working for someone else? The new title, Uprising (As inAgents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Uprising [an event leading up to Cap 2]), is starting to make sense, with S.H.I.E.L.D. clearly in peril. As the rest of the cast has urged, and as I will now, before next week’s episode “Turn, Turn, Turn,” go see Captain America: The Winter Soldier, because, as has been advertised since the beginning of 2014, it’s all connected. Episode Rating: 9 of 10 Written by: Brian Leary *All Images Courtesy of Google Images