Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 20: “Nothing Personal” Review”

Maria Hill Cobie Smulders

In “Nothing Personal”, Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) teams up with the Agents while Ward forces Skye to decrypt the hard drive.

Continue reading for a spoiler filled recap of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 20.

Let’s Discuss What Happened!

Nothing Personal: Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is in the home stretch of a back to back seven episode run. While it is premature to give a verdict on this story arc without knowing how it concludes, the show has certainly benefited from building upon the momentum of each preceding episode. The minor blip in an otherwise solid run so far is “The Only Light In The Darkness”, which missed the mark as a character building opportunity for Coulson and as a villain-of-the-week episode. In retrospect, the tangent to Portland where Coulson’s ex-girlfriend resides felt like a plot point needed to isolate Ward and Skye in the remote Providence base. Focussing primarily on the Ward is Hydra story, “Nothing Personal” is a return to a confident and tighter story like many in the second half of this season.

Where It All Started: Coming back to the diner where Skye first met Mike Peterson at this late point in the season is like the “after” in a before and after snapshot on these characters as well as the agencies they once belonged to. In her Rising Tide hackactivist days, Skye would have jumped at the chance to uncover conspiracies and unleash secrets to the world online. Now as a former Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Skye’s stalling for time to prevent a hack on a hard drive containing dangerous information if in the wrong hands. This is another strong episode for Skye. She’s clever to write Ward is Hydra message that Fitz found, booby-trapped the decrypted hard drive and saved Ward even if he didn’t deserve to be saved.

I’m Not A Nazi: The two most changed characters from the first episode is Mike and Ward. Mike has become a half cyborg nicked name Deathlok while the previously bland, cardboard cut-out Ward is revealed to literally be a cut-throat Hydra agent. If there’s a similarity that can be drawn from these two is how their perceived lack of agency has led them down a dark, villainous path which may not necessarily be their true nature. Ward’s duty to follow through on his mission and moral obligation to Garrett, something that will be better defined in next episode’s flashbacks, shapes his decision-making. As for Deathlock, he doesn’t believe he has a choice since disobeying direct orders would result in his and/or his son’s death.

Agents Of S.T.A.R.K.: Continuing with the where it all started theme, not seen on the show since the pilot episode is Maria Hill. Even though Maria had some decent scenes in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, this episode gives us a better understanding of who she is and what makes her tick. As Nick Fury’s second in command she’s a natural leader but she’s also not afraid to quickly admit her mistakes like vetting Ward in the pilot and temporarily aligning with Glenn Talbot. Assuming that there is a Season 2, this episode as well as Lady Sif’s “Yes Men”, are good pieces to show other MCU actors how their characters could be utilized on the television series.

Coulson’s Coffin: Special guest appearances can be tricky to pull off but having Maria Hill give the riddle about the buried information and helping Team Coulson made her feel integral to how the story played out. And the flash drive hidden in Coulson’s coffin is exactly what May needed to rebuild her trust with Coulson and give him the answers he’s been searching for. ‘Tahiti is a magical place’ was first mentioned in the pilot so it’s quite fitting to come back full circle (or is that 180 degrees). After drawing out this mystery for so long, to reveal that Project Tahiti is to resurrect an Avenger in case one of them dies and that Coulson was the man behind it is not as an impactful as it could have been.


The Wrap Up

It’s hard to compete with the super powers and nobility of Lady Sif; however, Maria Hill more than held her own as a special guest character. The cornerstone of this episode focussed on Skye coming to terms with Ward’s betrayal which showcased one of Chloe Bennet’s strongest performances so far. Skye may never be a fan favorite but if she continues to be emotionally authentic and makes smart decisions it’s possible she can win over some more viewers. Then again, Skye’s dishevelled, wind-blown hair after free-falling in the car with some wonky special effects might have her detractors rolling their eyes, the same ones who complain how unrealistically perfect her hair normally is. Just one more episode to go before the finale!

Did Skye make the right decision to save Ward? What do you think about Maria Hill?

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Posted on April 30, 2014, in Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., Television and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. I thought Ward and Skye’s dramatic dialogue in the plane, after Deathlock catches her, was pretty good. She sold it pretty for someone I haven’t been overly impressed with on this show.

    I do think the depths of May’s allegiance to Coulson is a little far fetched. She’s never seemed desperate to please anyone before, but she has a soft spot for Coulson to the point where she’ll feign abandonment only to dig up his grave to discover the truth behind Tahiti for him? I dunno, little hard to believe.

    • Early in the season their scenes fell flat but the drama between Ward and Skye this episode worked well. I also thought the actress stepped it up.

      The writers could do more to explore the history between Coulson and May to help us understand their connection better. Having said that, May’s action weren’t an issue for me. 🙂 The thing that was odd to me was Fury putting a top secret flash drive in Coulson’s empty coffin. Thanks so much for commenting!

      • Yeah good point on the flash drive. I guess if you don’t want your enemies to know of it, you’d hide it in a dead mans coffin. But it didn’t seem to possess any information crucial to Fury. Only that Tahiti didn’t work. It seemed to only be valuable to Coulson in that it showed him as one of the creator’s of it. Curious.

  2. When did this show get so good? It’s made all the pain from the first half worth sticking it out. I’m really excited to see where it’s heading.

    • I like what’s happening too! Actor Clark Gregg said that the first half of the season was like eating the healthy part of a meal and that the second half is like dessert. Turns out he was right. 🙂

  3. Another great episode from S.H.I.E.L.D. One where I finally thought Skye was awesome – she did such a good job at keeping Ward it the dark about what she was really doing and it seemed like she finally got a decent story line other than being the tech person who can supposedly relate to everyone else. Agree that the effects with Lola were bad and the choice to make Skye’s hair look that way was really bad (I’d have to blame the make-up people for that). If they can make Skye more like this in a hopeful season two, I may end up liking her.

    She did make the right decision to save Ward – if she goes around killing everyone that would make her more like Hydra or an overall bad person not worthy of being a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.

    Interesting to see how much Ward has changed now that his true self has been revealed. He’s no longer a blah character. Coulson rocks as usual and was happy to see May back with the team. I don’t remember Hill from the pilot at all. I think I blocked some of the earlier episodes out, which in hindsight is a bad thing since it was all a build up.

    Looking forward to the final two and hoping for a 2nd season!

    • The show is on a roll, let’s hope it doesn’t stop. The writers utilized Skye much better. She can’t fight her way out of a problem like May but within her capabilities turned the tables on Ward. He was the one who got played for a change. Lately the show has toned down the cheesy humour, Skye’s crazy hair felt like something they would have done in the early episodes. That’ll be the day when Skye wins you over. 🙂

      I also think Skye made the right decision to save Ward. She’s not a murderer and she’d be more like Ward without her morality. On top of saving Ward, she did something to the hard drive that we’ll find out more next week.

      I guess Garrett knew that Skye would save Ward which is why Garrett risked Ward’s life. But will Ward see it like that or will that put a dent in his loyalty. I’m really quite curious what they’ll do with Ward. Will they try to redeem him or kill him off in the finale. There’s been some criticism on other reviews about the fast pace of these episodes but I’m enjoying it. The team needed to quickly learn about Ward and May needed to get back to the team with only 2 episodes left.

  4. This episode belonged in so many ways to Skye and Fitz. When Fitz freaked out after finding out about Ward’s betrayal I felt it so deeply. Skye’s continued attempts to thwart Ward and the “you’re a Nazi” speech were all fantastic.

    Just a really solid episode. So glad this show is finally delivering on it’s potential.

    • I’m glad you brought up Fitz, I really felt for him. Skye’s dialogue is on the money and I liked how she brought up the Red Skull.

      Everything on the show is clicking, imagine what the writers could do in Season 2. Thanks so much for commenting!

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  6. Now that How I Met Your Mother has ended, I’m holding out hope that Cobie could join the Agents of SHIELD show on a more permanent. And how cool would it be to have Agent 13 join the show after Revenge ends? Regardless of next season and beyond, I’m pumped for the final two episodes and I think next week’s look at Ward’s past should be fantastic.

    • I really liked seeing more of Maria Hill in this episode. I’d be excited if she joins the cast now that H.I.M.Y.M. has wrapped. Agent 13 is another intriguing character I’d be interested in learning more about and seeing what’s she’s up to. I’m looking forward to Ward’s flashbacks too, it should be great. Let’s hope they saved the best stuff for last!

  7. “You’re a Nazi” Best part. Didn’t care for much else 😀

  8. Nice to see Maria Hill back on this show. I’m hoping to start catching up to this again, curious to see the tie back to The Winter Soldier.

    • I enjoyed Maria Hill in this episode quite a bit, more than her appearance in Avengers. A good jumping in point is on episode 13 if you want to skip the earlier stuff. 🙂 The Winter Soldier tie-in is episode 18 (and everything after). Thanks so much for commenting!

  9. Great write-up, another strong episode in what has turned out to be a solid run. The episode with Coulson’s girlfriend and villain-of-the-week did feel like a bit of a departure, but things are definitely back on track and I like how each episode continues to build on the one that preceded it. It’s interesting to watch how Skye and Ward have evolved. Historically they have been my least favorite characters but there’s been a lot of really strong character development for them lately, particularly this episode. I thought the scene with them on the plane, where Skye takes him to task for being a Nazi, was some of the strongest dialogue we’ve seen from the two of them this season. I also liked the guest appearance of Maria Hill; I thought she fit into the show well and I hope she becomes at least a semi-regular on the show. Fitz continues to be my favorite character, and watching his reaction to Ward’s betrayal breaks your heart. I can’t remember what the name of the actor who plays Fitz is, but he does a really good job with the character. I’m looking forward to the final few episodes. It was interesting about Project Tahiti being about resurrecting an Avenger. I kinda wish this revelation had been just a bit more dramatic, but again, there could still be layers of mystery and I think this is a more interesting explanation, at least, than the explanation we got earlier in the season.

    • Thank you! I liked how this episode focussed on the main story arc which I’m most invested in. Having said that, I do hope to revisit Coulson’s girlfriend down the line and even the villain of the week, if he’s not dead. The development on Skye is really good this episode. A lot of fans loved the scene on the plane, and I agree it’s some of the strongest dialogue we’ve from these two so far. Several episodes ago, we were worried about Skye and Ward getting together. Now they’re enemies and everyone likes it that way haha. Fitz has grown on me quite a bit, it does break the heart to see him hurt so bad. The actor deserves credit too for creating an endearing character without as much screen time as some others like Skye. The Project Tahiti reveal didn’t get me that excited compared to Ward’s betrayal. But your right, it’s a better explanation than the one earlier in the season. Great hearing your thoughts on the episode!

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