Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Frenemy of My Enemy”

(Episode 2.18)

TV Reviews
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Frenemy of My Enemy”

Coulson and Hunter and Mike won’t fail! To save Fitz! From his tail!
S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.0 is gonna be floored when we strike a deal with Grant Ward!

And thus ends tonight’s teaser. Why start with cheerleading? Because action Fitz, that’s why. Also this scene is pretty much the only clean win in tonight’s episode, so let’s celebrate with our heroes where we can.

It’s hard to sum up the theme of an episode in one line, but Coulson pretty much nails it tonight: “Trust me? I ought to shoot you for saying that.” Because if there’s one thing we learn tonight, it’s that you literally shouldn’t trust anyone on this show. Ever. Like Never Ever. And if you think you might like to trust someone just reconsider it because… you know…it’s not going to work out.

Example 1: If you’re Skye’s murderous dad Cal, don’t trust the wife and daughter you’ve sacrificed everything to reunite.

Cal’s got a lot going for him as a character. His motivation is grounded and understandable. His emotional reactions are interesting. And in his crazy confrontation tactics there’s even a lot of humor. All that being said, I wouldn’t say I usually feel “bad” for him as a character, because no matter how sympathetic he might be, Cal is still a violent sociopath with a dubious history of medical practice.

But tonight, it was non-stop, “Aw, Cal no.” It starts with a bit of conversation about last week’s family dinner between Cal and Jiaying. Jiaying; who genuinely seems to see him as an annoyance more than anything else. Seriously, the more I see this couple together, the more sympathy I have for Cal, because Jiaying is definitely playing him. Even beyond her scheme of sending him home and separating him without warning from his newly reformed family, there is still something up with this lady. She’s constantly playing an end game that I think we just don’t see yet, and I wouldn’t put it past her to sacrifice Skye for that end game, if the need arises.

Speaking of Skye, she’s not going to be winning Daughter of the Year anytime soon, but at least she’s trying. It shows some really nice (if a bit abrupt) character development that she is starting to sympathize with Cal a little bit, and I think we can all understand her concern that he may blow up if they just abandon him. I mean, he just doesn’t have a lot going for him. In this episode alone we find out he lives in a roach-infested building in Milwaukee, and that his last name is Johnson. His reaction to Skye wanting to spend the day with him (the now Twitter-famous “Best Day Ever”) turns him into an 11-year-old girl, but let’s be honest—getting the exact thing you want turns all of us into 11-year-old girls.

Want to test this theory? I can pretty much promise you that as a fan of this show you will have one or several of these moments during your midnight watch of Age of Ultron. Now, think how you’d feel if you sat down to watch Age of Ultron only to have your local movie theater announce that they’ve decided to cancel the midnight premiere. Not hard to understand Cal dive-bombing Gordon and Skye as they escape at the end of the episode after all.

Side note: “Daisy Johnson” is somehow the most generic, “magical,” and vaguely inappropriate name I’ve ever heard. And Daisy you might want to build up some anti-trust walls as well. Because having a mom who is comfortable delivering any variant of the “Sometimes as a leader…” speeches to you, means you may very well fall into the category of things they have to do, but would rather not in the future. Skye, you in danger, girl.

Example 2: If you’re a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, immediately stop trusting the one person you think you can trust most.

May, don’t trust Jemma to have told you everything about Fury’s toolbox. Jemma, stop trusting May not to rat you out for creating a fake version of Fury’s toolbox. And if you’re Bobbi, don’t trust S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.0 and their micro focus on finding Coulson. And also don’t trust Jemma. And maybe May too. Just to be safe.

Example 3: Hydra. This should go without saying. Don’t trust Hydra.

Don’t trust Mr. Ominous, who looks far less ominous when he’s hog-tied and locked in a truck. He will find a way to betray you and kidnap your cyborg. He’s a jerk. It’s in his jerk nature.

Don’t trust Dr. List. One, because he will double cross you and make you “prove your loyalty,” even if you’re clearly super evil. Also it’s hard to get behind a Hydra scientist who chants “Hail Hydra” the way most of us say hi to an annoying neighbor if we bump into them before we’ve had a chance to grab coffee.

Example 4: If you’re Lincoln, don’t trust the writer’s to help progress your love life. In the end it will only result in you stalking Skye for half an episode before being captured. Though they will build in a meet-cute style fall in an attempt to create some awkward sexual tension.

Example 5: Ward. I mean, if last season taught us nothing else, it taught us not to trust Ward. Don’t trust him to go along with your plan, Coulson, especially if you’ve essentially given him no choice in the matter. I think we all knew before his conversation with Kara in the back seat that his plan was not going to be to follow Coulson’s lead.

At least Fitz seems to remember that trusting Ward is a bad idea. Now, if only he could sense when in a conversation attacking Ward is the right course of action. It would save so much energy while flying around between missions, and so much embarrassment while being the only one not holding a weapon in a Mexican standoff.

Example 6: And this one’s the heartbreaker. Don’t trust Coulson. May, don’t trust that Coulson is telling you everything. Ward, don’t trust anyone, but particularly not Coulson when he gives you his word as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. because right now an argument could be made that he is not the acting Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Finally, we should not trust Coulson, not only because he’s threatening to shoot people in tonight’s episode, but because anyone who turns himself over to S.H.I.E.L.D 2.0 is definitely playing the long-con.

Katherine Siegel is a Chicago-based freelance writer and director and a regular contributor to Paste. You can find out more by checking out her website, or follow her on Twitter.

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