Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 19: “The Only Light In The Darkness” Review


In “The Only Light In The Darkness”, Coulson must save his ex-girlfriend (Amy Acker) from a mentally unstable prisoner who recently escaped S.H.I.E.L.D.’s most secure base. Meanwhile, Skye uncovers an emotionally devastating betrayal.

Continue reading for a spoiler filled review of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 19.

Let’s Discuss What Happened!

The Only Light In The Darkness: Taking a serialized approach to the second half of this season has resulted in some episodes advancing the story further than others. While this week’s instalment is not in a holding pattern, the story involving an escaped prisoner from the Fridge felt like a bit of a sidetrack even though it’s directly connected to what happened in the last episode. After the reveal of Ward’s true loyalties in “Turn, Turn, Turn”, the build up to the events at Providence is the central story I’m most invested in.

The difference between an egg and a rock: The lie detector is a fun story device to reinforce what we know about our agents. For viewers who have jumped in on the show post Winter Soldier, it’s a good summation of each character in a nutshell and how they differ from one another by the their answers. Plus, new tidbits are revealed, the most interesting of which is that Agent Triplett’s grandfather was a Howling Commando.

Despite Ward inflicting pain on himself to disrupt the lie detector’s baseline, it’s odd how after repeated questions about his connections to Hydra and purpose for arriving at the Providence base, Agent Koenig would let him off the hook so easily just because he truthfully answered, “Skye, I came back for her.” which hardly equates to “I’m not with Hydra.” It’s an oversight that cost Koenig, who’s usually uptight about protocol, his life.


Turn On The Bright Lights: This episode’s B-story is reminiscent of the early episodes, serviceable but hardly gripping entertainment. Marcus Daniels (known in the comics as “Blackout”) functioned more like an obstacle for the agents and as a contrivance to get Coulson’s cellist ex-girlfriend into the story than as a proper villain of the week.

The bright light of this subplot is the introduction of Audrey, played by Amy Acker (Angel, Much Ado About Nothing). Acker’s solid performance conveyed her strong feelings for Coulson though the two characters didn’t interact with each other until the end, but even then she was in a daze from the dark force blast. Audrey and Coulson are each other’s light in the darkness, something that I’d be invested in exploring as the show moves forward. There are a number of similarities between Acker’s role as Fred (Winifred) in Joss Whedon’s Angel and Agent Simmons, I wouldn’t be surprised if the former served as a character blueprint for the latter.

In a similar way to how Coulson couldn’t reveal himself to Audrey, Fitz made a significant sacrifice of his own. It’s endearing how Fitz didn’t come forward with the whole truth to Simmons by putting her above his own desires – or least that’s I how interpreted it. As jealous as Fitz is about Triplett, he’s learning to accept change, more specifically he’s no longer the sole object of Simmon’s adoration.


Mary Sue Poots vs Ward: The show’s two most polarizing characters carried the other major storyline of the episode. Had this occurred at the beginning of the season, I would have doubts if the writers could pull it off but the dynamic of their relationship has become more compelling to me since the Hydra twist. Ward is deceitful and deadly but he’s surprisingly truthful about his childhood and describing himself as a “bad man”. Ward is clearly manipulating and using Skye but at the same time, some of his feelings for her could be genuine for all I know. Skye’s moment of truth at discovering Ward’s betrayal is pretty gut-wrenching and its quick thinking how she quickly composed herself so she could turn the tables on Ward.

Agent May: One of the reoccurring themes is where to draw the line between following orders and choosing between right and wrong. For Coulson, the damage caused by May’s betrayal is irreparable at this point, even if she was only carrying out Nick Fury’s orders. Coulson’s strong outburst at May felt true to his character after the turmoil he’s been through. This is a good direction rather than taking a quick, easy route to rebuilding his friendship with May.

Of all the agents, May might just have the most mysterious past. Will we get to meet her ex-husband who was hinted at earlier in the episode? What does she want with Maria Hill? Luckily, we can cross out killing Maria, though it’s kind of funny that May’s mother would need to ask. Speaking of May’s mother, played by Tsai Chin who previously worked with Ming-Na Wen in Joy Luck Club, how will she factor into all of this?

The Wrap Up

Escaped prisoner Marcus Daniels wasn’t a compelling character but this episode’s true villain – Agent Ward stepped up his game again by murdering poor, gullible Agent Koenig. The switch from Skye getting played by Ward to her pulling one over on her former supervising officer could potentially lead to some promising moments. The keyword is “potential”, it’s something that was difficult for many fans to envision in the early days of the show but these last run of episodes have set up what could be a terrific finale.

What do you think May is up to? What do you think about Coulson’s girlfriend?

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Posted on April 22, 2014, in Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., Television and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Amy Acker is great on Person of Interest. My favorite question was the what’s in the box question. Everyone else chose small box things except for Fitz who put Simmons in it. Sorry to see Koenig go and I wonder what agency May’s mother works for and for what country. It was an okay episode over-all. It moved the plot along.

    • I saw a little bit of Amy Acker in PoI and she is great, a different character than her other roles. I liked May’s answer of Machete. I’m with you about Koenig, he could have been a fun character who drops in every once in a while. It’s an okay episode for me too. Thanks for commenting as always!

  2. Great recap dude, first time I’m here to comment on time lol. I read your review and I agree with it so much, this episode had a lot of cool and interesting elements, however the main plot involving Blackout was so wasted and uninteresting.

    I like Amy Acker, while I only really know her from Dollhouse, I really liked her and she was great in this episode, her lines about Coulson were delivered well and you can believe they had something special. I’m just annoyed that she along with villain were the less interesting side of the episode.

    I’m still feeling for my man Fitz, that point when Ward told me not to leave it too late to talk to Simmons, while cheesy was so true and that point when Simmons came to him to say that Triplett thought that there was a problem was the perfect opportunity for Fitz to say how he felt. But he still let the moment pass, the dude’s gonna get left in the dust. While I’m not against Simmons and Triplett hooking up and I think it’d be a nice new dynamic in the group, I’m still wondering where this puts my man Fitz.

    What stood out was the Q&A with the team on Koenig’s lie detector machine. Those answers were both insightful and hilarious, I love Fitz and Simmons, especially Fitz and his answer about the box on the deserted island haha. Like you I was surprised to see Ward playing Skye, only for her to do the same thing to him, lies upon lies! XD

    Was gutted to see May leave the crew, but with her fratcured relationship with Coulson is pretty much over since he wants nothing to do with her. The only thing she has going for her was Coulson, she said it herself and if he doesn’t want her she has no other option except to bail. It saddens me but at the time makes me wonder what she wants from Maria Hill.

    For me I was disappointed, the episode wasn’t a total failure, but it wasn’t as compelling as the last few adventures.

    • Hey man! After watching an episode, sometime it’s nice to get things off the chest while it’s fresh on the mind, eh. Wasted and uninteresting is pretty much how I feel about Blackout which why I dismissed it as the b-story haha.

      If you ever catch up on Angel, Acker’s character is introduced at the end of Season 2 and each season after she evolves and changes. In this episode, her acting made me sympathize a bit but the story didn’t have an emotional punch for me.

      It’s a little funny when Ward tries to give words of wisdom or show affection, people think it’s out of character, which it is. Fitz had his chance, it’s going to be awkward if Simmons has public displays of affection with Triplett.

      The lie detector was a good bit. I wonder what Coulson’s answers would be if had to go through the test. This is a good episode for Skye, I hope she knows what she’s gotten her self into, but she wasn’t left with much of a choice.

      May is a part of the team for Coulson and without that reason, I can see why she packed her bags. If she stayed, Ward would have killed her … or tried. I hope the Maria Hill guest appearance next episode will be something like Lady Sif’s visit, not just a brief cameo.

      Compared to what we know the show is capable of, this episode fell short. Just three more episodes left. Thanks so much for commenting!

  3. I think that May “may” be the loyal Shield agent while Ward, has gone to the dark side Or will it be the the reverse? We shall see. I’m enjoying the show. A little weak on the girlfriend theme, but It gets better every week.

    • The agent’s loyalties are pretty unpredictable, I guess it’s possible Ward could flip sides again at the last minute … the show likes to do twists. Very cool that you’re enjoying the show, just a couple of more episodes to go before the finale.

  4. Great write-up! I agree that the subplot with the guy controlling electricity did feel like a bit of a sidetrack and more like the show’s old format. However, there’s enough strong stuff going on around that subplot in this episode that it didn’t bother me as much. I liked the introduction of Coulson’s girlfriend and the way they are portraying the character. I hope her character is included in the show again in the future. I felt sorry for poor Fitz; I think it’s so sweet about how much he cares for Simmons, but that his main priority is what’s best for her. The last part of the show was pretty suspenseful, with Skye learning the truth about Ward. I admired her for recovering quickly and for being able to bluff in such a tense situation. I think Ward has gone too far to the dark side at this point to be brought back, but the show could surprise us, like it has in the past. I like the new level of suspense that is in the show, and I want to keep watching each week to find what happens next.

    • Thanks so much! The bad guy has cool powers but the story didn’t hook me in. I cared more about the stuff going on at Providence which was building up since the big twist. I also liked Coulson’s ex-girlfriend, it felt like an introduction as the story only cracked the surface of their relationship and they didn’t get to interact with each other. Poor Fitz, he let his chance pass him by and it was big of him not to cause any more drama. Probably my favorite part of the episode is Skye discovering the truth. I also thought it’s cool how she bluffed him, way smarter than confronting him. Looks like the network will be watching the ratings for the last two episodes closely before deciding to renew the show for a second season.

  5. May leaving the team was a surprise. I was hoping Coulson suspected something was up with Ward and left May behind to watch him. But their argument about following orders and doing what’s right was heartfelt and so they were fighting for real. Still, May taking offense and choosing to leave was surprising as I thought the character would stay and fight for SHIELD no matter what. However, her departure probably saved her life, seeing Ward with the gun when he spoke to her. She could easily handle him of course, but her guard was down. Like the others she totally did not suspect anything was wrong with Ward.

    Speaking of Ward, him killing Koenig I guess is a confirmation he had really gone bad! Poor Koenig, I liked him and I too would have liked to see him come back as a recurring role.

    I think I remember Coulson mentioning a romantic interest in an early episode, probably while in conversation with Ward, so it’s interesting to see here who he was referring to. It’s touching he cares enough about her not to reveal he’s alive, so as not to keep her hopes up about any future together. Likewise with Fitz. I’d like to think he hides his feelings from Simmons in case she really likes Triplett, and doesn’t want to make her feel awkward or conflicted about it. Although with Simmons sweet and caring character, she was probably just being friendly and supportive to Triplett.

    Glad to see May’s character is set to get even more interesting, and with the introduction to her mum, to boot, who seems to be some agent as well! 🙂

    • May’s background is mysterious. Learning her mom is also some sort of agent adds to the intrigue like she comes from a family of spies. I like that May is off on her own adventure. Without having Coulson’s trust it’ll be hard for her to be a contributing part of the team. Leaving the base saved her life, it’s pretty cold that Ward was planning on killing her after their supposed relationship.

      I was a little disappointed when Koenig died. He had a fun sense of humour that could have been a good addition to the series on a reoccurring basis.

      That’s how interpreted what Fitz did as well, that he didn’t want to cause unnecessary drama and let Simmons pursue Triplett if that’s what makes her happy. Although there was an initial spark between Simmons and Triplett, the show hasn’t delved into it any further. With the overarching story taking center stage they’ll probably develop their friendship or relationship next season, assuming both of them stay live. 🙂

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