One thing that irritates me beyond measure on a lot of procedural shows such as Person of Interest, Elementary and Haven is that characters from a particular episode rarely return. PoI in particular has a gift for making characters interesting enough to care about in just 43 minutes. However, besides a handful we never see them back. Agents of SHIELD seems to take a similar stance but this week we are re-introduced to the protagonist/antagonist Mike Peterson from the shows Pilot. Mike as you may remember, tried to be a superhero but sadly came under the influence of Centipede as it tried to create super soldiers for profit. Because of the unstable nature of the Extremis virus that gives him his extraordinary powers he was at risk of becoming a human bomb at pretty much any moment. Luckily Coulson’s team managed to stop him. As mentioned his powers were given to him by Project Centipede. This episode continues their story arc and so we are also re-introduced to their femme-fatale leader ‘the woman in the flower dress’ or Raina as we learn she is called. The Bridge thus focuses a lot on creating continuity for Agents of SHIELD. The episode is the first part of a two-part story-arc which will conclude on January 7th when the show returns from its brief hiatus.
Phil Coulson recruits Mike Peterson to his team for super-soldier support when soldiers working for Project Centipede spring Edison Po from prison following their perfection of the Centipede Serum. Coulson’s team traces one of the Centipede-powered Soldiers named Brian Hayward to an abandoned factory, walking into an ambush involving the Centipede-powered soldiers. Afterwards, Edison states to Raina that Peterson is her key to Stage 3 of their plan. Coulson’s team discover that the Centipede-powered soldiers were subjected to the same eye implant that kept Akela Amadour captive. Edison tells Raina that he told the Clairvoyant about her and that the last person who tried to find out who the Clairvoyant got a knife. When Peterson calls his son Ace, he ends up learning that Raina is with him as she asks Peterson if he remembers when she told him how she can change his life. Coulson learns from Peterson that Project Centipede want Peterson in exchange for Ace’s safety with no involvement from SHIELD whatsoever. When it comes to the exchange, Coulson escorts Peterson to the trade-off where the twist in the trade involves Coulson being handed over instead. Coulson lets Peterson give him to Raina and surrenders to Project Centipede. Peterson decides to correct his mistake as he tries to go after Raina only for an explosion to prevent the rest of Coulson’s team to follow them. In the process Ward gets shot and Mike is blown up, both their fates remain in doubt. In the final scene on Raina’s helicopter, Coulson states that he won’t give them what they want. Raina states that he only needs to give Project Centipede the info regarding how he died and came back to life.
‘The Bridge’ re-introduces Project Centipede as the main antagonists of the show. I say re-introduces because the episode does take it’s time to set everything up for the inevitable showdown to follow in January. It is difficult to properly judge this episode without having seen the second episode of the arc but I like to think that Agents of SHIELD is finally getting the story telling aspects correctly. After the last batch of episodes deepened out the characters more we are now learning more about their interpersonal relations. As such they feel a lot less like a gang of superheroes but instead have real character depth. ‘The Bridge’ manages to pull some punches with regards to Skye trying to find her parents. It was a story that I believed sidetracked Skye too much. Apparently Melinda May thought so too and actually offered an ultimatum to Skye. She should try to help the team and not just herself.
Centipede has also grown as the antagonistic villain organization. The mysterious Raina is getting even more creepier, this time with a flair of child-like innocence that is hard to understand. ‘The Bridge’ suffers from a somewhat predictable ending. After the foreshadowing from previous weeks it was obvious that Coulson would feature in a larger role. His capture by Centipede will give the show the right impetus to answering the question of how he survived Loki’s attack. Though I wonder whether fans will keep their interest once that has been revealed.
Score; 7.9 / A somewhat slow-starting episode that feels too open-ended. I guess we will have to wait until part 2 for all the answers.