Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (2013) season 2, episode 4
"Face My Enemy"
WRITER: DREW Z. GREENBERG
DIRECTOR: KEVIN TANCHAROEN
AIR DATE: October 14 2014
Coulson (Clark Gregg) and company find themselves in more trouble this week in 'Face My Enemy', which features the director and May (Ming-Na Wen) going under cover to retrieve an item with the same kind of alien writing that has been preoccupying Coulson during his occasional episodes. This at least gives Coulson a chance to get out in the field and get into the thick of things, something he hasn’t had much chance to do since being given the reins to a pared down S.H.I.E.L.D. by former director Fury.
The item in question is what Hitchcock would have called the Maguffin; it’s of importance only because more than one side wants it, but of itself, it means nothing. Coulson and May going in to get it, and it means going under cover at a party. This includes dancing and laughing - the sound of May laughing stuns the rest of the team, who are on support detail and listening in. It’s such a strange sound to them that they’re horrified by it, but it’s a funny touch, and we so rarely get to see May smile that it’s refreshing.
Coulson and May
They’re not the only ones about. Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) is lurking around- though there’s a twist to his presence. Raina (Ruth Negga) is involved, as is Hydra as a whole, with the mysterious Daniel Whitehall (Reed Diamond) pulling strings as he goes along. And when you throw in impersonation technology that we first saw in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it leaves you speculating on who’s posing as who.
There’s a bit of a Mission Impossible sensibility to the whole episode (though that’s not a bad thing). From going undercover to literally masking oneself with the face of another, you can see the influences. We get ourselves a May versus May showdown (and such a fun showdown it is), but we also get to see the relationship between Coulson and May strongly play out. He worries that he might end up going down the same road to psychosis as Garrett, and asks May to deal with him when that time comes. It is a measure of the trust he has in her. By contrast, May won’t let herself think of that as inevitable- her loyalty to him is one that demands that if it goes that far, she’d take care of him, not off him. It’s a nice character touch for both of them, and the actors bring that across. It’s also fun to see them just having fun (even if it is undercover), and to see them both playing out the physical, bad ass secret agent side of things (I would not want to get on Melinda May’s bad side).
The show got off to a slow start last year until finding its feet by tying into the Hydra story in the Captain America sequel. Thus far this season has been going well, developing characters, building an ongoing storyline and dropping hints of the future. And they’ve got a really good Big Bad lurking in the shadows in the form of Whitehall. We’ll just have to wait to find out how he’s managed to look so young after seventy years.