The Ninjabot

Read “The Writing on the Wall” – Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review

Posted on November 12, 2014 at 7:00 am by Amanda Andonian

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Last time on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Ward escaped from S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, some weird guy was tattooing the alien writing on his body, and S.H.I.E.L.D. was getting back on its feet again. I predicted that the show would either focus on the hunt for Ward or the hunt for the answers to the alien writing, but it decided to go both ways! Rather than leave either storyline waiting in the wings, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. now has enough players to split the teams up and go after different objectives. It’s a means of storytelling that works really well for the show, allowing it to move forward quickly without having to force ten characters into the same room all the time. Everyone has their own part in moving things forward without bogging down the show in pointless back and forth so that each person gets some screen time.

Moving on to the meat of “The Writing on the Wall,” Coulson’s hypography (i.e. the constant carving on the walls) is getting a little out of hand. He confides to Skye that he can’t stop it, and if they don’t figure out what it means soon, then he may go the way of Agent Garrett. Despite Skye’s insight that the writing is a map, not a language, she has no additional information on what it means or where it’s a map to. They’ve hit a wall, and there are no more leads. Fortunately, they do get a breakthrough; unfortunately, it’s in the form of a brutal ritualized murder, and the victim has the alien writing carved into her dead body. Coulson tells Skye that he knows that woman was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agents so they go to check out the crime scene, only to find dozens of canvases that the woman painted of the alien writing.

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S.H.I.E.L.D. gets ahold of the murdered woman’s body, and Simmons uncovers the fact that she has the alien serum GH-325 in her blood: the same serum that was used to save Coulson and Skye’s lives. Since they know that the serum was what induced Agent Garrett’s hypography and drove him crazy, Simmons expresses concern that Skye and Coulson might be suffering from it too. Of course, she doesn’t know yet that Coulson has been struggling with it for months. That clue then leads Coulson to insist on going into the memory machine that Raina used on him last season so that he can recover his memories of the murdered agent.

Though it almost kills him, he remembers the experiments that S.H.I.E.L.D. did on dying agents with GH-325 in order to turn back the tide of death, but then each patient began to go insane from the implanted genetic memories from the alien host’s blood. This kind of pseudoscience gets a little annoying, but I mostly stayed on-board with it since it also explains why Fury wiped Coulson’s memory right away after saving his life. He didn’t want to risk Coulson going insane, so he re-implanted Coulson’s memories as a way of stemming the tide. Of course, we know now that it didn’t quite work.

Using those clues, Coulson and the others track down the former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent’s murderer, who just so happens to be another one of the GH-325 patients. He’s started to remember his former life, and he’s desperate to find the answers to what the writing means. Unfortunately, that includes murdering innocent people. They go after the guy, they end up at another GH-325 patient’s house, and after a thrilling fight scene, they realize that the “map” is actually the blueprints for a city. The last GH-325 patient had unwittingly built the whole thing in his garage. How fortuitous! Uncovering that knowledge seems to cure both Coulson and the murder of their insane need to unlock what the writing is, and they both go back to normal. Well, except for the part where the other guy is a murderer. He just ends up going to jail.

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While all this is happening, May, Bobbi, Hunter, and Trip are on the search for Ward. This storyline was somewhat less interesting to me because of the way that Ward is constantly one step ahead of them the whole time. I suppose I can buy the fact that Ward is an exceptional agent who’s so good that he can smell a tail a mile away, but it still bothered me that the whole team was constantly just one step behind him. Even when they thought that they’d managed to gain the upper hand, Ward was still in control. I also find it difficult to buy the fact that he made Bobbi just because she was on the same page of her book after ten minutes. I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves reading the same paragraph over and over again from time to time!

Setting aside the Ward storyline, “The Writing on the Wall” was a great episode in terms of unfolding the mystery of the alien writing, as well as continuing to show us who all of these new people are and what their role in S.H.I.E.L.D. is going to be. Bobbi and Hunter are best when they’re out in the field on a mission, and Mack is best when cracking apparently unsolvable problems in the lab. I especially liked how the writers make it clear that Simmons and Mack don’t really like each other, but it’s always in really small, subtle moments that could easily go unremarked upon, but add a level of tension to their relationship that will no doubt come to a head later in the season. Simmons is obviously jealous of Mack’s influence with Fitz; but she also knows that he’s the one best able to help Fitz, so she mostly stays out of their way. That doesn’t stop her from getting a few annoyed looks and barbed words in, though!

What did you think of last night’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Where is the alien city? What does it all mean? Let us know what you think in the comments!

“The Writing on the Wall” – B

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 2 Episode 7, “The Writing on the Wall,” aired on ABC November 11th, 2014.

You can follow Amanda on Twitter at @reiko516 for more geek news.

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