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Recap / Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S1 E19 "The Only Light in the Darkness"

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Audrey Nathan.
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Things get personal for Agent Coulson, who must race against time to save his former girlfriend, the cello-playing Audrey Nathan (Amy Acker).


Tropes:

  • Alone with the Psycho: Skye figures out Ward is a HYDRA infiltrator while no one else is (alive) at Providence.
  • Artistic License – Military: The NSA doesn't operate American spy satellites. That's the responsibility of the far-lesser known National Reconnaissance Office.
  • As You Know: Fitz lampshades this when explaining Darkforce.
  • Bad Liar: Simmons, yet again. She tries to deceive Audrey into thinking they're from the CIA. Audrey easily figures out they're from S.H.I.E.L.D., but she doesn't mind since since S.H.I.E.L.D. saved her the last time Marcus showed up.
  • Beautiful Void: Audrey and Daniels are literally the only characters shown in Portland, where the scenes exclusively take place at night.
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  • Blinded by the Light: Coulson manages to escape detection by Audrey despite standing practically right in front of her by virtue of his gamma-powered spotlight preventing her from seeing the person holding it.
  • Call-Back: Skye encoded the hard drive so it can only be decrypted at a specific location. She pulled this same trick in the pilot when caught by Coulson.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Fitz just can't bring himself to admit his increasingly obvious feelings for Simmons, even when Ward urges him to. Coulson subtly sets things up for him to do so, and even Simmons is noticing his jealous hostility towards Triplett, though she apparently can't work out the reason behind his behaviour.
  • The Cape: Now more than ever, Coulson resembles his idol. Despite the fact that the world at large thinks he's a terrorist and he has little in the way of resources or authority, he insists on "being the SHIELD" that protects the innocent.
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  • Character Death: Agent Koenig is offed by Ward, and Marcus Daniels is blown up by Coulson's team.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Set up but not fired: There's a lingering shot of Skye looking at one of the "windows" which change images occasionally just before she allows Ward to find her.
    • Early in the episode, Skye discovers that the Providence lanyard badges are also tracking devices, and when Ward walks in Koenig hides his tablet under a stack of papers. After Ward kills Koenig, Skye tracks down Koenig with his tablet and discovers his corpse.
  • Crazy-Prepared:
    • Fury designed a lie detector that checks against 96 different variables and is so accurate that Black Widow supposedly couldn't beat it (and even if she could, Fury would never admit it).
    • Not only is Skye's flashdrive rigged so that only she can access it, and programmed to delete all its data otherwise, but she has to be in a specific place for it to work.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Part of Koenig's test involves the subject's knowledge of Project Insight and Alexander Pierce, two major parts of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
    • The polygraph test was designed around Black Widow.
    • Bruce Banner designed the energy absorption device used to take down Daniels. Coulson snarks that knowing Dr Banner was responsible for a device utilising gamma radiation doesn't make him feel much better about the potential safety of the design.
    • Triplett is revealed to be the grandson of one of the Howling Commandos from Captain America: The First Avenger.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Ward garrotted Koenig.
  • Dirty Business: Fitz agrees that The Plan to stop Daniels for good is "not ideal", but they don't have any other choices.
  • Double-Meaning Title: In the past, Marcus Daniels had called Audrey "his only light in the darkness". It becomes a Literal Metaphor when it's taken into account that Daniels can absorb all light into himself. The title may also refer to Ward finally showing his true colours around the good guys and Skye discovering this, alluding to HYDRA's message two episodes earlier: "Out of the Darkness, Into the Light: HYDRA."
  • *Drool* Hello: Blood dripping onto Skye's tablet shows her where Koenig's body is.
  • Dude, Where's Our Car?: Coulson's group reacts this way when they land and find the Bus is no longer parked at Providence.
  • Energy Absorption: Anything electrical is drained when Marcus walks by. This includes lights, hence the codename "Blackout".
  • Exact Words: How Ward eventually passes the lie detector. He truthfully says he is associated with HYDRA (because "we all are" and S.H.I.E.L.D. has been compromised at its highest levels) and only came to Providence for Skye.
  • Eye Lights Out: The first victim of Blackout dies when the light reflected in his eyes goes dark but the light is external.
  • Feed the Mole: Heavily implied to be what Skye will do following the end of the episode. As the only one who knows the location where the hard drive can be decrypted, she's in a position to lead him on a merry wild goose chase.
  • Fingore: Ward inserts a small piece of metal into his finger as part of his attempt to fool Koenig's lie detector.
  • Gilligan Cut: Coulson goes from saying he's making a splinter team to go after Daniels to being told by Koenig he's not doing that, within the space of one scene.
  • Godzilla Threshold: You know you're desperate when your best course of action is gamma ray Hand Cannons that might make your target stronger.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Ward calls Fitz out on his behavior toward Triplett, stopping just short of explicitly saying that he's just envious of the dynamic he has with Simmons.
  • He Knows Too Much: Koenig gets offed by Ward when Skye is able to get a surveillance feed from the raid on the Fridge. Ward then distracts Skye so she doesn't personally look into it, since he still needs her.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Coulson refuses to reveal himself to Audrey, as much as it pains him, because she's healing from his loss and moving on.
  • Idiot Ball: Eric Koenig develops an abrupt case of Genre Blindness during the "debriefing" with Ward. Despite his suspicions that Ward may be a HYDRA agent and the super-sensitive lie detector throwing big red warnings all over the place, one adroit answer from Ward (with a liberal use of Exact Words) is enough to get Eric to trust him completely. He doesn't even talk to Coulson or any of the other agents who've passed debriefing and warn them or ask them to keep an eye on Ward.
  • Internal Reveal: Skye discovers that Ward is The Mole after finding Koenig's body. She has a short BSOD, but comes out in time to reset Ward's penny indicator.
  • Irony: Fitz allows himself to give vent to his Green-Eyed Monster-induced concerns about Triplett only when talking to Ward, who actually is someone whose motives he ought to be worried about.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Given a nod when Koenig describes hacking the NSA as poking the "big, scary, waterboarding bear".
  • Just Following Orders: Ward admits to Skye that the story with his brothers from "The Well" was not entirely true; that was actually his older brother coercing Ward himself into bullying their younger brother. Given that Ward is a Consummate Liar, it's unknown if any of this is true but he told the same story to Raina in his Hydra persona.
  • Killed Offscreen: Koenig, by Ward. He closes the door so the audience doesn't see.
  • Lampshade Hanging: When Skye, in the lie-detector chair, admits to Koenig that the orphanage saddled her with the name "Mary Sue Poots".
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: Coulson, Fitz-Simmons, and Triplett go to Portland to stop Daniels, while Ward, Skye, May, and Koenig remain back at Providence.
  • Lie Detector: Fury's custom lie detector checks against an impressive 96 variables. Ward shoves a piece of metal into his finger in an attempt to skew the test results, but it almost reveals him anyway. He only beats it when he honestly admits he came back to find Skye, which is technically true but lacking context.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Marcus Daniels' powers are used via the Darkforce, a known darkness-related energy force in the Marvel Universe.
    • Eric Koenig says if his grandfather was one of the Howling Commandos, he would have it tattooed on his chest. In the comics, Koenig was one of Sgt. Fury's Howling Commandos, a German who defected when the Nazis killed his sister.
    • Simmon's "One thing on an island" question is answered with The TARDIS. The eponymous Doctor had been MARVEL property for 20 years, complete with his own Marvel wiki page. note 
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Lampshaded with Darkforce.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: If Coulson hadn't chewed out May, prompting her to leave the team, she might have been around to stop Ward from killing Koenig and abducting Skye.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Ward has trouble hiding his apprehension when told that Fury's custom lie detector chair was designed to beat Romanov.
    • Skye has a huge one when she realizes Ward is a HYDRA agent and she's now alone in the base with him.
  • Pet the Dog: Ward, of all people, gets several over the course of the episode:
    • He was preparing to kill May, but when he sees she's leaving and therefore won't be a problem for him, lets her go unharmed.
    • He tries to convince Fitz to tell Simmons how he feels about her, in case he doesn't get the chance to later on. He didn't gain anything from saying it other than possibly arranging it so they could die slightly happier, and his irritation when Fitz feigns ignorance makes his initial attempt to be kind seem genuine.
    • He takes the opportunity to leave Providence with Skye while the rest of The Team are away, potentially circumventing the need to "deal with" them. He still killed Koenig, of course, but he seems genuinely hesitant to harm the people he's lived and worked with for so long. Even his killing of Koenig was driven by necessity as Koenig would be able to see what really happened at the Fridge, giving him no choice in order to keep his cover.
  • Phlebotinum Overload: How Blackout was taken out in the past and present. The first time it just disabled him so S.H.I.E.L.D. could imprison him. Since he's been amped up in the present and because they don't have access to a prison, Fitz devises gamma-powered lights that make him explode.
  • Rain of Blood: How Skye discovers Koenig's body. It drips on her.
  • Retired Badass: Implied with May's mom.
    May's mom: I may be retired, but I still have contacts, and my agency hasn't fallen apart.
  • The Remnant: S.H.I.E.L.D.'s broken status is summed up by Coulson after Blackout escapes the first time.
    Coulson: This is the part where we'd call for back up.
  • Sarcastic Confession: While under the lie detector, Ward says he's with HYDRA after Koenig gets suspicious, then adds that HYDRA had taken over so much of S.H.I.E.L.D. that every S.H.I.E.L.D. agent was complicit in HYDRA's activities whether they knew it or not. To Koenig's credit, he pegs Ward as being evasive and asks a much more direct question.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Daniels was locked in the Fridge, by Coulson, prior to the events of the previous episode. Lacking a can to put him, Coulson decides to kill him outright this time.
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • Ward tries to convince Fitz to tell Simmons how he feels about her, and Coulson seems to be trying to help set up some sort of conversation between them at the end of the episode. It doesn't work.
    • Fitz tries to encourage Coulson to tell Audrey he's still alive, since it seems like what they had was something special.
  • Ship Tease: Coulson/Audrey, Skye/Ward, Fitz/Simmons and Simmons/Triplett all get extended attention in this episode.
  • Shoot the Dog: Coulson, Fitz-Simmons, and Triplett can only stop Daniels by killing him.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Agent Koenig, as part of a polygraph test, asks each Agent what they would expect to find in a mysterious box on a desert island. Simmons' answer? The TARDIS.
    • Fitz's answer to the same question is "Simmons", recalling the Girl in a Box reveal from Firefly.
    • The final fight with Marcus Daniels is similar to Ghostbusters; The Team surrounds the target and focuses "unlicensed phlebotinum accelerators" on him. Also, Audrey is a cellist, as Dana Barrett was in Ghostbusters (1984).
  • Stalker with a Crush: Blackout's obsessed with Audrey, whom he considers to be his "light in the darkness".
  • Took a Level in Badass: Skye. For someone who had no covert training a few months ago, she not only pulled herself together after the shattering discovery that Ward (her crush) was HYDRA and had killed Koenig, but figured out that he left a penny wedged in the doorframe to check if anyone had entered the supply closet where he stashed Koenig and put it back so he wouldn't be suspicious. Then she successfully conned him into thinking his cover was intact, and it's implied she left some form of message behind for the team before leaving with Ward. Remember that Ward was her highly experienced and skilled (more so than even S.H.I.E.L.D. realized) training officer.
  • Touch of Death: Another one of Blackout's abilities—he absorbs the electrical impulses from the nervous system, instantly killing the victim.
  • Trap Is the Only Option: In the end Skye willingly lets herself be "tricked" into going with Ward, without letting on that she knows he's with HYDRA, since with May gone and the rest of the team busy apprehending Blackout there's no one else to help her.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: TV Guides Always Spoil...
    • The fact that Audrey is a former girlfriend of Coulson's was probably supposed to be a surprise to viewers but most TV Guide entries gave that plot point away in their episode summaries.
    • The AoS Facebook page also announced that Amy Acker had been cast as "Coulson's cellist girlfriend mentioned in The Avengers" several weeks before the episode aired.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: There are two main plot threads in this episode: one dealing with Audrey and Blackout in Portland (which involves Coulson, Fitz-Simmons, and Triplett), and the other dealing with Ward's efforts to get Skye's hard drive decrypted back at Providence.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Blackout, who dies at the end of the episode, and Koenig, who dies before he even gets a full episode.

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