Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Other Side Of The Island: "One Door Closes" Explores "The Real S.H.I.E.L.D.!"

The Good: Decent performances, Engaging plot, Special effects, Moments of character development
The Bad: More plot-heavy than character motivated
The Basics: "One Door Closes" answers a number of questions that have lingered in the second season of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and it does so in a satisfying-enough way to please most fans.

One of the cool ways that Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has managed to keep the Marvel Cinematic Universe alive and well in the collective unconscious of viewers is to make allusions to the Marvel films. Chief among the Marvel films to get referenced in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is Captain America: The Winter Soldier (reviewed here!). "One Door Closes" is yet another Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode that heavily relies upon that film.

Picking up after "Love In The Time Of H.Y.D.R.A." (reviewed here!), "One Door Closes" is analogous to the Lost episode "The Other 48 Days," which retold Lost from the perspective of those in the tail section of the plane. "One Door Closes" explores the post-Winter Soldier events from the perspective of Mack, Bobbi Morse and the S.H.I.E.L.D. survivors/loyalists in the immediate wake of H.Y.D.R.A. taking over S.H.I.E.L.D.

Opening during the H.Y.D.R.A. takeover of S.H.I.E.L.D., Mack is cornered by a H.Y.D.R.A. agent when he is rescued by Bobbi Morse and Agent Hartley. In the present day, Morse returns to Coulson's S.H.I.E.L.D. base, where she and Mack are preparing to move on Coulson's team. Simmons contacts Skye about using the new gauntlets that she designed, but discovers that Skye has not yet tried them. Coulson confronts Mack about the Chief Engineer's true loyalties and when he claims to work for S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson turns his security forces on him. At the same time, May and Bobbi square off before Morse sets off an EMP to evade May. Fitz realizes that Mack and Morse were after Vibranium that Coulson was keeping in his desk and that Morse managed to get Fury's toolbox.

As Coulson's team works to contain the two saboteurs, Skye lets the eyeless man (Gordon) into her safe house. He begins to mentor Skye about her post-mist abilities. While Simmons manages to incapacitate Morse, May discovers that Mack and Morse are not trying to escape the facility, they are helping others break in. Gonzales, Weaver and the rest of the other S.H.I.E.L.D. break into Coulson's base. They successfully take the base and that leads Coulson and Gonzales to face off for an important conversation. While they have their discussion, Morse leads the team to recover Skye.

"One Door Closes" is plot-intensive, but it finally makes decent use of Lucy Lawless. Lawless appeared early in the season and the only real disadvantage of her appearing so efficiently as Hartley in the flashback scenes is that it makes how easily she was dispatched in this season seem ridiculous. And while Hartley's character is strengthened here (and retroactively weakened), Agent Melinda May once again is illustrated to be the uber-efficient badass of Coulson's S.H.I.E.L.D. team. When she and Morse square off, May does what viewers of Fringe find themselves screaming for Olivia Dunham to do every time she squares off with any guy who can outrun her; she shoots at Morse to try to incapacitate her. That's efficiency and it's refreshing to see among people who are supposed to be smart, efficient, super-spies.

Coulson and Gonzales are given an interesting dynamic in "One Door Closes." Both men believe they are the head of the legitimate S.H.I.E.L.D. and much of the episode hinges on the two actors having roughly the same level of screen presence. Clark Gregg is seldom considered as being the same (or similar) caliber as Edward James Olmos, but in "One Door Closes," he illustrates that that is a conversation worth having. Gregg has a subtlety and force to him that he is able to deliver even questionable lines perfectly. To his credit, Gregg is asked to sell one of the toughest lines of the episode and he pulls it off. In fact, when Coulson says that he went looking for Gonzales after the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D., Colson delivers the line with such intensity that only the nitpickers will sit, screaming at the screen, "Bullshit! You were chasing Garrett and never had the time!"

"One Door Closes" also enhances Morse's character by having her take an ethical stand in the takeover of the S.H.I.E.L.D. carrier and while it's refreshing to see her given some depth, it makes one question how Gonzales could actually trust her as part of her inner circle. In re-creating S.H.I.E.L.D., Gonzales would need loyal agents. Morse's first act is to take a stand that shows she cannot just take orders.

The acting in "One Door Closes" is homogeneously good, even when there is not a ton of character development in the episode. "One Door Closes" has pretty awesome special effects, though, and it has enough moments of exploring character relationships to make it one of the better episodes of the season!

For other works with Christine Adams, please check out my reviews of:
"Turn, Turn, Turn" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
"Seeds" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Tron: Legacy
Batman Begins
"The Long Game" - Doctor Who

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. - The Complete Second Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the sophomore season here!


For other television reviews, please check out my Television Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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