After three episodes of pretty much solid on-going storyline, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is taking a break from the plot and angst for a week for an episode full of quick quips, team bantz and awesome fight scenes. It’s essentially gone back to a first-half-of-Season-One-style filler, but episode four feels as much like a filler as a rabbit does a pineapple.
What with Ward being evil and locked in the cellar, Fitz’s brain damage storyline, Simmons acting as a mole at Hydra and the Obelisk, there hasn’t been much time for Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) this season. Thankfully there’s an abundance of May (two of them, in fact) in Face My Enemy, and we get to see her as we’ve never seen her before: in a glittery evening dress, dancing with Coulson and knocked out on the floor in her nightie.
Coulson (Clark Gregg) steps out of a limo on the forecourt of a mansion and adjusts his tuxedo. Behind him, May has traded in her black super spy jacket for an extremely sparkly wrap dress, and climbs out of the car with difficult. Coulson is grinning. May is pissed.
“This is fun, huh? Look, cufflinks!” says Coulson.
“I would pay you $500 right now for a pair of flats,” May grunts.
The pair are at the mansion for a party, using it as a cover for their true mission – stealing a 500-year-old painting engraved with the same markings Coulson’s been carving into walls. They’re posing as Heidi and Charles Martin, a millionaire philanthropist power couple. They have Skye and the rest of the team in their ear pieces. An awful, distressing noise comes from the speaker on the S.H.I.E.L.D. bus.
“What is that?” asks Skye, alarmed.
“That’s May,” says Coulson.
“Is she okay?”
“Yes, she’s laughing. I think the worst of it is over now.”
May finishes her conversation with some rich tycoon or other and glides over to Coulson, smiling a winning but hollow smile. “My face hurts.”
It’s mostly fun and games from there, one-liners and shade-throwing making regular appearances. Coulson and May get into a spot of bother with Hydra operatives, resulting in an awesome hand-to-hand combat-cum-knife fight sequence between May and a May doppelganger. But throughout the episode, darker topics get thrown about: we learn more about Coulson and this symbol carving business, and we find out the lengths the pair would go to protect each other. The whole episode is a testament to May and Coulson’s friendship. It’s a love letter of sorts.
Meanwhile on the S.H.I.E.L.D. bus, we’re back to ‘feeling unbearably sad because of Leopold Fitz’. Hunter, Trip and Mack are all getting to know each other better, and Skye is finally starting to feel like one of the spies. She’s slowly become the type of person who says things like, “the rabbit’s in the hutch,” without a hint of irony. Fitz is particularly lonely. While the team bond over anecdotes about their monster exes, Fitz still talks to imaginary Simmons. Imaginary Simmons keeps trying to encourage him to join in, but to no avail.
“They’re talking, just talking,” says Fitz, “and I’ve been having trouble in that area.”
But suddenly, the S.H.I.E.L.D. bus’s electrical system goes horribly wrong and only Fitz can fix it. He tries to explain what’s messed up, stopping mid-sentence, but the rest of the team shout out helpful suggests like they’re playing the world’s most intense word game. Hooray! Team work!
It’s all sorted out and they’re sharing beers in celebration and Fitz finally gathers up the courage to join in.
“So I don’t have an ex but there was this girl that I like and I told her how I felt but she doesn’t feel the same way as I do so she left.”
There’s a slightly tense moment but Hunter breaks the silence, and says reassuringly, “Her loss there, mate. From what I can see she’s missing out.” They toast to moving on and we die of heartbreak. It’s all gone sad again.