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Recap / Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S1 E16 "End of the Beginning"

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Coulson and his team recruit a handful of S.H.I.E.L.D. colleagues to help track down Deathlok and the mysterious Clairvoyant.


Tropes:

  • Acting Unnatural: This time it's Fitz, who stutters for a good few seconds before mumbling something about recalibrating an unnamed part when May catches him snooping around Bus communications. She actually buys it at first, until she notices her line has been cut, at which point she figured out what he was up to.
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: The Clairvoyant uses this to goad Ward into shooting Thomas Nash; specifically, he makes a number of threats, up to and including the murder of Skye. Except that Ward knew all along Nash wasn't the real Clairvoyant, so this was just part of his cover.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Agent Blake has no problem believing in astrology, but can't accept the idea of psychics. May calls him out on this.
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  • Arm Cannon: Deathlok gets an arm-mounted rocket launcher.
  • Batman Gambit: The team devises one in order to find the Clairvoyant without him knowing they're onto him. It's a good plan, but it doesn't work.
  • Berserk Button: Coulson really doesn't like to be betrayed. He was mad at Skye in the past. This time, with May, he's apoplectic.
  • Bond One-Liner: Victoria Hand delivers one after Ward has shot Thomas Nash, while the others are reeling with shock:
    Victoria Hand: Bet the Clairvoyant didn't see that one coming.
  • The Bus Came Back: Agents Hand, Sitwell, Blake, Triplett, and Garrett all appear.
  • Call-Back: Fitz uses the search drones from "Repairs".
  • Call-Forward: During the episode, Agent Sitwell receives an assignment on the Lemurian Star.
  • Cliffhanger: The Bus is remotely hijacked, and Victoria Hand tells a group of people to kill everyone aboard (except Coulson, whom she claims for herself).
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  • Continuity Nod: When setting up their plan to track down the Clairvoyant, Coulson explains how they'll avoid being tracked by compartmentalizing the information so that only Skye will have the whole picture. Captain America and Nick Fury have a similar discussion in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where Cap notes that it's Fury who's at the top of the chain.
  • Cyborg: Deathlok's been given quite a few enhancements since his last appearance. This includes full body armor, a secondary Centipede implant on his spine, subdermal armor that covers half his skull, mechanical reinforcement of his neck joint, and an external arm cannon which can interface with his nervous system for mental control.
  • Dark Lord on Life Support: Subverted. When S.H.I.E.L.D. finds the man they believe to be the Clairvoyant, he turns out to be a totally paralyzed man who requires a ventilator and an electronic voice box. However, he's just a decoy for the real Clairvoyant.
  • Death Glare: May gives a brief one to Fitz for not keeping his mouth shut about the encrypted phone line.
  • Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit: Thomas Nash is initially thought to be the Clairvoyant, but Coulson realizes it was a little too easy for them to find and kill him. Skye then discovers that all the information he supposedly divined would be available to a high-ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.
  • Double Agent: Victoria Hand, or so it appears.
  • The Dragon: As of this episode Deathlok fills this role to The Clairvoyant.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Simmons walks into the lab and immediately starts telling Fitz about her covert research into the T.A.H.I.T.I. serum, failing to notice that May is standing literally right next to him.
  • Finishing Stomp: Deathlok does this to Blake, though it's angled in such a way that the viewer can't see precisely what he stomped.
  • He Knows Too Much: May tries to hunt down Fitz with an Icer after he finds and disables her secret secure line. Coulson and Skye interrupt.
  • Hero Killer: Deathlok manages to put Agent Blake in critical condition. With his enhancements, S.H.I.E.L.D. goes for a full assault team during their next confrontation.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When Fitz is on the encrypted line with Simmons, nearly the first thing he says is "Don't use my name, Jemma."
  • I Can Explain: May tries this to explain why she was hunting down Fitz and why she's working as a mole, but insists it can't be on the Bus. Coulson, who's been Locked Out of the Loop the entire season, insists she spill the beans now.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Agent Blake attempts this on Mike Peterson, only to be told that Mike Peterson is dead.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: A PG variant. When Blake is listening to Coulson's debrief on the Clairvoyant, he says he'll need more coffee.
  • In-Joke: Fitz tells Simmons, "I've always pictured you as Watson." He's talking about Dr. Watson from "Sherlock Holmes", but it's also referencing how many fans have commented that actress Elizabeth Henstridge resembles Emma Watson, a resemblance Simmons herself alluded to in the first episode. As Simmons is a biologist, this reference could go triple and include James Watson, one of the discoverers of the double helix of DNA.
  • Kill ’Em All: Hand orders everyone on The Bus taken out, minus Coulson.
  • Leave Him to Me: Agent Hand, regarding Coulson.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Coulson again, and he is absolutely fed up with being on the receiving end of this. When May refuses to name who she's been reporting to, Coulson is pissed off enough to conclude she's working with the Clairvoyant.
  • Mexican Standoff: The episode ends with May pointing a gun at Fitz, and Coulson and Skye pointing their guns at May.
  • Meta Twist: Nash is played by Brad Dourif, who usually plays creepy villains, making it easy to believe he's the Clairvoyant before the twist hits.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The Triskelion is mentioned several times, being one of the settings in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The events of the film seem to run alongside this episode and the next.
    • Mention is also made of a Department H in Canada, a reference to Alpha Flight.
    • The scan of Deathlok, showing the muscle tissue and cybernetics under the skin as well as a glowing red eye, make him look exactly like the character is normally shown in comics.
  • Neck Lift: Deathlok to Agent Blake.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Coulson concludes May is working with the Clairvoyant at the end of the episode. May insists she isn't, but she was hunting down Fitz with an icer and was refusing to name who she's been reporting to.
  • Red Herring:
  • Scar Survey: While discussing with Skye, when her stomach wound is mentioned, Agent Garret talks about several scars he'd received in the line of duty, including showing off a nasty third-degree burn below the neck.
  • Ship Tease: Copious amounts for Ward×Skye, and a pinch of Triplett×Simmons and Fitz×Simmons each.
  • Shout-Out: Garrett hopes that "The Amazing Kreskin", a.k.a. mentalist George Joseph Kresge, isn't the Clairvoyant. He says he used to "love that guy".
  • Sour Supporter: Skye is officially made a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent so she can coordinate The Team. As Coulson lists off her qualifications, Hand quips that she's technically only earned Level 1 clearance, rather than the much higher clearance which is necessary for the mission.
  • The Tag: Unlike most episodes' final scenes, this one uses footage from Captain America: The Winter Soldier; specifically, Fury's car chase up to where he's attacked by the Winter Soldier. It then becomes a more standard trailer.
  • That Man Is Dead: Deathlok says this about Mike Peterson, but the pained way he says it indicates that he may have been forced to say it, or has gone through a Despair Event Horizon over his new position.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Though, as noted on that page, the Winter Soldier's identity isn't a big secret (Marvel had already spoiled it in a special in Agents' time slot the week before, among other places), the trailer paired with this episode blows away any pretext of that being hidden.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Deathlok does this a number of times throughout the episode (most notably in the cold opening), even when he has more than sufficient capabilities to kill his opponents. It's noticeable enough that it becomes one of the clues that Nash is a Red Herring.
  • Wham Episode: Deathlok has a lot more machine in him than just the eye and the leg, the team pieces together that the Clairvoyant is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, May is outed as a mole to the team, Ward is going to face a S.H.I.E.L.D. review, and Victoria Hand is either working against S.H.I.E.L.D. in some fashion or thinks that Coulson is.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: No-one is pleased when Ward shoots the (unarmed) man they believe to be the Clairvoyant. The same applies when May is outed as as mole and is pointing a gun at an unarmed Fitz.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Ward shoots the man they believe to be the Clairvoyant after the latter presses a Berserk Button or two too many.

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