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Recap / Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S1 E18 "Providence"

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Coulson with Eric Koenig (Patton Oswalt).

With Colonel Glenn Talbot now on their trail, Coulson and his team seek refuge in the last place anyone would look, where they begin to uncover S.H.I.E.L.D.'s most dangerous secrets—secrets that could destroy them all.


  • The Alcatraz: The Fridge makes its on-screen debut in this episode. It's a massive tower with no ground-level exits, only one entrance/exit on the roof accessible by helipad, and the door is reinforced to such an extent that the machinegun on a gunship fails to penetrate.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Garrett and Ward lead a HYDRA raid on the Fridge, stealing all the superweapons and releasing all the prisoners.
  • Artifact Title: Discussed, in a sense. The agents of Coulson's team erase themselves from S.H.I.E.L.D.'s records, and wonder if they can really be called agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. anymore. Col. Talbot hammers home the situation:
    Talbot: I'd like to talk to whoever's in charge.
    Coulson: Agent Phil Coulson.
    Talbot: Mr. Coulson...
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  • Beard of Evil: Ward seems to be working on one. He even Lampshades it at one point.
  • Benevolent Boss: Despite being a Diabolical Mastermind, Garrett shows shades of this within his group, going as far to give both Quinn and Raina funding and the tools and equipment they need.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Ward ends up bleeding out the mouth after Garrett roughs him up enough for their Wounded Gazelle Gambit to work. Given the beating he took earlier from the 12 agents he took down... easily justified.
  • Body Horror:
    • Garrett managed to sneak away some of the other GH serums from the T.A.H.I.T.I. facility. Unfortunately for him, they're less "miracle cure" and more "horrendous mutation".
    • Garrett himself has some nasty neck scarring (hence the turtlenecks) and some kind of cybernetic augmentation on his left side. He wants Coulson's "Jesus juice" to fix whatever is wrong with him.
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  • Broken Pedestal: Raina is more than a little disappointed that the "Clairvoyant" is anything but. Ian Quinn, on the other hand, is more annoyed at the trouble Garrett's made for him.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: One of the prisoners shown breaking out of the Fridge is Marcus Daniels a.k.a. Blackout, the villain of the next episode.
  • Continuity Cavalcade:
    • Garrett raiding the Fridge allows for every superweapon from the show to make a return: Quinn gets the Gravitonium back, Ward and Garrett use the WWII laser to blast out the prisoners in the Fridge, and one scene shows Ward eyeing the Berserker Staff.
    • In regards to the movies, the destruction of the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarriers were shown to be on the news In-Universe, and Fury and his involvement with the Tesseract is mentioned by Garrett.
    • The Slingshot from Episode 2 is mentioned, and revealed to be a lie — as Garrett lampshades, Fury would never let potentially useful tech like that go to waste.
    • Koenig mentions that only Maria Hill, Captain America, and "a couple others" know Fury is alive. Those would be Black Widow and Falcon.
    • Ward implies to Skye that he's a New England Patriots fan (though Garrett calls him out on it), which lines up with his claim in an earlier episode that he grew up in Massachusetts.
    • Ward points out how his initial refusal to join Coulson's team in the Pilot (he even quotes the exact words he used then) and his skydiving to save Simmons in "FZZT" were all part of the act to make the team trust him more.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: S.H.I.E.L.D. is apparently passive-aggressive about the treatment of its less dangerous prisoners. Quinn complains that he was given three straight meals of meatloaf, but wasn't allowed a fork.
  • Crazy-Prepared:
    • Skye rigged the hard drive containing all the sensitive information from the Bus to wipe itself if anyone other than her tries to access it.
    • Coulson enacts the Odyssey protocol, which has all agents going to ground to keep S.H.I.E.L.D.'s secrets out of anyone else's hands.
    • Director Fury hid a covert signalling system inside Coulson's badge giving the coordinates of an ubersecret base to fall back on if S.H.I.E.L.D. ever fell.
      Coulson: There's only one person who could have sent these [coordinates]. And this is totally his style.
    • Director Fury not destroying technology via the Slingshot is this in terms of using technology in the future, though that backfires.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: May suspected that Coulson was being irrational (a consequence of knowing about the procedure for his resurrection), not thinking clearly, and leading the group into a ghost chase in the frozen tundra. That there's no base, that Fury didn't send any signal, that it's all in his mind. Finally, it hits him, he goes on a rant... and the hidden base is revealed.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Fitz and Simmons have an almost-heartwarming moment towards the end when Simmons says at least they still have each other. It gets ruined though when Fitz tells her he wishes things wouldn't change, referring to them being together, but Simmons thinks he's talking about S.H.IE.L.D., and says, "it's too late for that."
  • Evolving Credits: The S.H.I.E.L.D. logo at the end is shown as just the logo, since S.H.I.E.L.D. itself is pretty much defunct.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Simmons and Triplett seem to have developed this kind of relationship after the events of "Turn, Turn, Turn", and now apparently trust each other completely. Coulson and Fitz are notably less keen to have Triplett on the Bus.
  • From Bad to Worse: S.H.I.E.L.D. has been labeled a terrorist organization, and the world's militaries are hunting down surviving agents. Centipede raids the Fridge, getting their hands on everything and everyone S.H.I.E.L.D. has ever deemed dangerous (since the Slingshot was a lie). And when Team Coulson hears about that, Skye calls Ward to check on him and gives him the location of the ultra-secret Providence base, which will be raided by HYDRA in 24 hours if he can't get the password to Skye's hard drive out of her. The only good news this episode is that Centipede hasn't been able to crack the hard drive containing all the secrets Coulson discovered — and as mentioned, Ward is fast on his way to fixing that problem. Also, Fury's alive but in hiding.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Coulson has Skye wipe all record of the team's existence, something she refers to as "the nuclear option". However, he makes it clear that this is their only option at this point.
  • Heroic BSoD: Coulson starts to go into one when it looks like there's nothing at the coordinates Fury sent him, ranting about how their lives still need to have meaning. Luckily, he's proven right soon afterwards.
  • I Lied: Eric Koenig reveals that Fury is not dead to Coulson after he moves out of earshot from the rest of his team.
  • Internal Reveal: Coulson learns that Fury isn't dead.
  • Is That a Threat?: Coulson asks if Koenig is threatening him. He says he is.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The characters end up addressing how "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." is becoming an Artifact Title, as they wonder whether they're still agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or agents of nothing.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Inverted; after all of the loops he's been locked out of throughout the season, only Coulson is made privy to Fury's survival.
  • Losing the Team Spirit: Team Coulson is demoralized and leaks team spirit faster than the Bus leaks fuel. By the time they arrive at Fury's coordinates, everyone except Coulson (and Skye, to an extent) has lost it entirely, and even Coulson reached his breaking point.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Ward isn't technically loyal to HYDRA — he's loyal to Garrett, but since Garrett is loyal to HYDRA, there's little difference in practice.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Before making the entire team an Un-person, Skye notes that they will become "agents of nothing". "Agent of Nothing" is the name of a Nick Fury story arc.
    • Garrett's secret entrance to his HYDRA hideout by a lowered chair in a barber shop is how agents entered S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters in the Nick Fury comics back in the 1960s.
    • Colonel Talbot is a recurring Hulk antagonist.
    • Garrett mentions that he arrested a "Johnny Horton", a guy who somehow was able to transplant lion's paws instead of hands. In the comics, Johnny Horton is the supervillain known as the Griffin.
    • The snow gear the team wears sports the more organic, comic book version of the logo, rather than the one shown in the credits and at HQ.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Skye's unknowingly leaked the location of Fury's secret base to HYDRA by bringing Ward to the base.
    • Fury not disposing of dangerous tech via the Slingshot, as he claimed, means it's all now in HYDRA's hands.
    • Ward knows where the Gravitonium is because Coulson told him in the previous episode.
  • Oh, Crap!: Coulson pitches his S.H.I.E.L.D. badge when it seems like they were led on a wild goose chase. Cue an automated turret popping up, blasting it out of the sky, and everyone taking cover.
  • One-Word Title
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Raina has her moments, such as referring to Coulson as "a good man".
    • Ward admitted genuine affection for Skye. He also seems to have a Villainous Friendship with Garrett.
  • Reality Ensues: In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we don't see the aftermath of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s destruction or the reveal of all their secrets that much. In this episode, it turns out that the US Government has declared them a terrorist organization and is sending "peacekeeping troops" to arrest them (or simply kill them).
  • The Reveal: May reveals that there was someone else in charge of the T.A.H.I.T.I. project, though only Fury knows who.
  • Secret Keeper: Only a select few people are revealed to be allowed to know that Fury is alive. Eric Koenig (being in charge of Providence), Maria Hill (as his immediate second in command), Captain America, Coulson, and "a couple of others" (Black Widow and Falcon, according to the movie).
  • Ship Tease: Quite a few scenes teasing Fitz×Simmons and Simmons×Triplett. There's also a couple of nice moments for Skye×Ward, although these have taken on a very sinister tone for the audience, despite several hints that Ward's feelings for Skye might not be entirely feigned.
  • Shown Their Work: The coordinates given on Coulson's badge (49°27'41" – 80°03'40") really are in Canada, approximately 150 miles south of Hudson Bay.
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: When May brings up the possibility that whoever brought Coulson back to life might've been part of HYDRA and that he's acting irrationally for wanting to follow Fury's coordinates, Coulson tells her to zip it.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • Garrett stating "[The Fridge?] We're going to raid it." Raiding the fridge?
    • Garrett and Ward talk football a bit, with Garrett commenting on how Ward hates the Patriots. Of course the team he hates is the Patriots.
    • The coordinates on Coulson's badge are in the Canadian Shield.
  • Strange Salute: The two-armed "Hail HYDRA!" salute makes its first modern-day appearance here. Garrett mocks it as ridiculous, describing it as making the person look like "a West Texas cheerleader at a pep rally".
  • Title Drop:
    • "Providence" is the name of the secret base that Coulson's team take refuge in.
    • In terms of the show itself, a couple characters wonder if they're still "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." at this point.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer to this episode showed Team Coulson finding Providence in the snow, making Losing the Team Spirit and Coulson's Heroic BSoD considerably less tense for the viewers than it is for the characters.
  • Trojan Horse: Garrett gives Quinn back his ball of gravitonium, but as anyone who watched The Stinger of "The Asset" knows, Dr. Franklin Hallnote  is still alive inside.
  • Trojan Prisoner: Ward and Garrett try this at the Fridge, with Ward pretending to bring Garrett in as a prisoner. The guards don't buy it, as they've been instructed not to let anyone except Victoria Hand in. So Ward and Garrett need a different plan...
  • Turn in Your Badge: The whole team has to do this because being associated with S.H.I.E.L.D. is no longer a good thing. However, Coulson uses his badge to find the ultra secret S.H.I.E.L.D. base and will be given a new "lanyard".
  • Un-person: Coulson has Skye scrub the entire team's identities so they can better go underground.
  • Villainous Fashion Sense: Garrett wears a distinctive purple turtleneck whenever he's at the HYDRA base. One scene implies that his thick clothing may be to conceal his neck scarring and cybernetic implants.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Raina is brought to meet Garrett in person while he's getting a haircut.
  • We Need a Distraction: Garrett engineers a breakout at the Fridge so Coulson will have his hands full dealing with the escapees.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Garrett invokes this when he jokingly tells Ward about locking up a man named Johnny Horton who had lion's paws for hands in the Fridge. In the comics, John Horton is a minor supervillain called the Griffin.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Coulson gets an earful when he reveals that he's put everything into investigating the coordinates he believes were sent by Fury, to the point that the Bus no longer has the fuel to go anywhere. His team is furious that he led them to a frozen middle of nowhere to "chase ghosts".
  • Worth It: Garrett blows his cover while standing in an elevator with two armed S.H.I.E.L.D. soldiers because "It was too good a line."
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit:
    • Ward and Garrett infiltrate the Fridge by getting a HYDRA gunship to fire on their position. The agents inside, previously ordered to deny access to anyone but Agent Hand, allow them inside to take cover.
    • Ward has Garrett give him a good beating prior to his return to the team, in order to sell the story that Garrett got the better of him.
  • You Were Trying Too Hard: Coulson finds Providence when he gives up on figuring out what the coordinates mean, hurls his badge away in frustration, and a gun pops up and starts shooting at it.


Example of: