Since the beginning of Agents of SHIELD’s second season the question of whether government organizations would hunt down SHIELD has been mentioned. Certainly General Talbot appeared keen to do so but if anything his attempts were only half-hearted, in fact he seems to have built up a rapport with Coulson over their mutual enemy HYDRA. In this weeks episode, A Fractured House, HYDRA commits a false flag attack on the UN in retaliation over last weeks events. Though Talbot appears skeptical it was SHIELD his boss, senator Ward, appears convinced. At first this may seem as though finally the thumbscrews are put onto Coulson when the earth’s various governments get together to hunt down every SHIELD operative. Instead, the viewer quickly surmises that senator Ward like his brother Grant Ward is a member of HYDRA and attempts to take over the agencies tasked with hunting down SHIELD. Once this becomes clear the episode starts to lose some of its steam. Yet the viewer may just have been wrong-footed for no reason!
With the main meat of the story fully explained before 10 minutes are over viewers are mostly guided around scenes that clear up events that happened during the previous weeks. Hunter’s reintroduction with his ex-wide Bobbi Morse (AKA Mockingbird) remains painful. Bobbi is surprised to find that Hunter trashed her name with her colleagues and even asks agent May if she still talks to her ex-husband. Meanwhile Simmons asks Fitz to repair the hard-drive she stole from HYDRA, but with his present state of mind Fitz merely delays the work needlessly. Skye is tasked with getting Grant to open up about his brother, he warns her that Senator Christian Ward takes pleasure in hurting other people. Ward seems undeterred by Skye’s questions and turns the tables on her by asking if she found her father. Coulson berates her afterwards for allowing Ward to dictate how the interrogation proceeded.
Hunter, May and Morse are meanwhile sent on the track of the person who manufactured the weapons used in the UN attack. Simmons suggests that a person in Taiwan, Mr. Toshiro Mori, is responsible as she saw some of the data while working for HYDRA. Morse meets with him at his villa and they appear to be intimate, to the annoyance of Hunter. Toshiro remains skeptical of her as he heard she works for SHIELD, but admits he manufactured the ‘splinter bombs’ as he called them. At that moment his bodyguards receive confirmation that Morse works for SHIELD, she is saved by Hunter and May much to her annoyance. Simmons meanwhile has no luck with the hard-drive, she wants help from Fitz but he can’t help but bring up the events that led her to take on the HYDRA mission.
Coulson confronts Senator Ward with the facts surrounding the UN attack, but the senator seems mostly unconcerned until Coulson mentions he has his brother Grant as a prisoner and threatens to tell everyone he works for HYDRA. Coulson confronts the Senator with the story of how he told Grant to torture their other brother, but the senator denies it ever happened. Meanwhile Skye questions Grant and hears that his brother Christian will always smile while he manipulates and hurts other people. Grant then tells the story of how HYDRA found her and her mother in China. After HYDRA killed her mother Skye’s father lost it and tore up the village they lived in. Skye demands Ward help her to find her father, but she instead betrays him by stating him he will be put into his brother custody after a bargain has been struck.
Coulson reminds May that despite the deal with Senator Ward if Beckers is assassinated by HYDRA every UN member will come after SHIELD regardless. Coulson confronts Ward with the transfer, Ward demands they try and work together but Coulson replies he thinks him a delusional son of a bitch. The wording indicates that it may just be the case that Ward will not come back into SHIELD. Coulson tells Ward that his brother intends to put him on trial and then execute him. When Ward replies that politically his brother would gain by that Coulson tells him they are thus not so different. Coulson is meanwhile warned that Becker’s travelling history shows coincidences with HYDRA head Whitehall and he knows he had been fooled. SHIELD loses some agents in Belgium before May, Hunter and Morse can take out the HYDRA strike team and confront Becker.
During Ward’s transfer into US custody Simmons threatens to kill him. As Senator Ward is holding a speech announcing the impending trials Ward manages to slip his hands through the handcuffs by dislocating his thumb. He kills all of his guards. The last scene of the episode shows how a man walks into a tattoo parlor and demand the work on his tattoo continues. When he removes his shirt he reveals his body covered with the cryptic alien language Coulson has been obsessing over.
In the first paragraph I mentioned that it was obvious to the viewer that Senator Ward was working for HYDRA. This may not have been true but the word is still out on that. What was true was the main story never really managed to make a big impact. It was good, but not brilliant because events were too predictable. The side stories were the main meat of the episode. The confrontation between Hunter and his ex-wife Morse gives viewers a better impression of both. Hunter threatens to leave SHIELD during the episode but Morse invites him to stay, bringing some closure to both. The confrontation between Simmons and Fitz was perhaps too heavy handed, the level of drama simply did not match events. The whole Fitz having lost his abilities feels too artificial and not actually possible of giving viewers the returns they need to justify it. With Ward having escaped I believe we can finally expect him to become the interesting traitor Coulson made him out to be.
Score; 7 .5. The episode is not a memorable one but it is decent enough, it does what needs to be done.
This was Agents Of SHIELD S2Ep6 A Fractured House Review, the show will be back in two weeks on November 11th with the episode ‘The Writing on the Wall’. You can view the promo below.