Oh, the suspense is maddening! Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is generating some serious momentum with its post-Captain America: The Winter Soldier episodes and tonight's episode was no exception, as "The Only Light in the Darkness" divided the group. Spoilers if you haven't seen it yet!
Coulson took FitzSimmons and Triplett to Portland to protect the love of his life, Amy Acker's Audrey. Meanwhile, Ward stayed back at Providence with Koenig (Patton Oswalt) and Skye, and May (kind of) and used the privacy to carry out some of his plans.
We'll start with Coulson's side of the story, since that's pretty quick. Upon learning that S.H.I.E.L.D.'s rehabilitation inmates had been released, Coulson's first priority was to get to Audrey (Amy Acker), the cellist he was once seeing and is clearly still very much in love with. She thinks he's dead and Coulson didn't do anything to change that tonight as he rushed off to Portland to track down Marcus Daniels ("Blackout"), a guy with superhuman abilities who was stalking Audrey once upon a time. Learning he was among the released inmates, Coulson knew Daniels would head straight for Audrey, which he did. Amidst all this Hydra chaos, Coulson didn't hesitate to get to this woman when he suspected she might be in danger, which I think is a mark of just how devoted he is, though he's no longer with her.
FitzSimmons, Coulson and Triplett used Audrey as bait and set up a device to take down Daniels. Audrey was in on the plan, though she never knew Coulson was a part of it. And she revealed that she fell for Coulson when he helped her deal with Daniels the first time around.
Though we might have speculated that Audrey was secretly evil or Hydra or a S.H.I.E.L.D. spy -- all of the above is still possible, I guess -- tonight's episode gave no indication that Acker's character was anything other than a beautiful, kind cellist who loves Coulson as much as he loves her.
Meanwhile, at Providence, Koenig insisted on using Nick Fury's super-lie detector, but that turned out to be pretty pointless. For all its bells and whistles, Ward was still able to lie his way through the test. He did raise Koenig's suspicions with a few of his answers, but in the end, he stretched the truth about his motives to pass the test. I blame Koenig for not asking the right questions, or for being too satisfied with Ward's "I'm here for Skye" answer -- technically not a lie, as we know Ward returned to Providence to get Skye to decrypt the flash drive -- not to ask more questions to make absolutely sure Ward was on the level. It cost Koenig his life in the end, which is disappointing. Patton Oswalt is awesome.
After Skye hacked the NSA, Ward quietly snuffed out Koenig and hid his body in a closet. Afterward, he had a heart to heart talk with Skye wherein he told her he wasn't a good man and reminded us in the process that he has a dark history involving his brothers. I'm going to speculate that a lot of what Ward was saying to Skye was the truth, not just as it relates to his family history -- his bullying brother made him torment their younger brother -- but as it relates to the remorse he seemed to show when he talked about the situation. I think maybe Ward is forcing himself to accept that he's just a bad guy so that he can accept the things he's done and has to do for Garrett. Maybe it's easier to ignore the guilt and brand himself "bad" than it is to accept his choices.
I'm also going to guess that Garrett used Ward's guilt to manipulate him, but that's really just a guess based on my theory that Ward's actions are based a lot more on misplaced loyalty for Garrett than they are for Hydra. And I'm kind of hopeful that there's a way back for Ward. Redemption would be a great arc for him.
Skye ended up finding Koenig's body, but she was quick-thinking enough to hide that fact and pretend like everything was fine. She knows Ward is Hydra, that much is clear. And based on the conversation she had with him on the plane, she knows Ward needs her to decrypt the hard drive. But what good is any of that now that she's stuck with Ward and headed off on the bus to wherever he's taking her?
I think/hope Skye left a message for Coulson and his team. She put the penny back where Ward had it so he wouldn't know she'd been in that closet. And we saw her staring at that framed photo. I don't know what that meant, but it seemed like she got it together after that, so maybe she figured out a stealthy way to leave behind a message to Coulson that Ward is Hydra. And that would be a good thing, as Coulson and his half-team returned to find the bus gone and Providence abandoned.
Where's May? She took off, telling Ward the only reason she stuck around was for Coulson and it's clear now he's never going to forgive her. Unbeknownst to May, Coulson did decide to forgive her tonight after his encounter with Audrey. May was last seen riding in the car with her mother, who's apparently retired-something. She didn't specify what agency she was a part of but she her own contacts, which she used to track down Maria Hill. Yes! We know Cobie Smulders will appear in next week's episode, and now we know who might be involved in bringing her back into the story. (Catch a glimpse of her here!)
One last thing before we wrap this up. Skye said the NSA stuff she found was all monitors of a rooftop of a building. Any guesses as to what that is? There are just three more episodes of Season 1 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so we may have our answer soon enough! In the meantime, this was another great episode, and if things continue to build up as they have been in recent weeks, we're in for a mammoth of a finale!
Photo Credit: ©ABC