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Recap / Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S2 E4 "Face My Enemy"

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While on a mission to learn more about the secrets of the mysterious writing, Coulson finds himself attacked by the only person he can trust: Agent Melinda May. Meanwhile the rest of the team is trapped in an explosive situation, and it's up to Fitz to save them—but is he up to it?


Tropes:

  • Ambiguous Situation: What the audience (and Fitz) still doesn't know is whether or not the deep cover mission was Simmons's idea, and thus, if she did it to get away from Fitz.
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  • Artistic License – Religion: After the painting survives a fire at a church, the local priest calls it a miracle and is slightly annoyed when his superior says investigation is required. In reality the Catholic church requires an investigation of any alleged miracle before any official is allowed to agree one ocurred, and rejects more than 99% of claims. A priest would know that and not be surprised by his superior’s statement.
  • Asskicking Pose: Hooboy, do Agent 33 and May break them out for their fight.
  • Bring It: When Agent 33 grabs a pair of knives, May assumes one of her asskicking poses and does the gesture with her hand.
  • Bilingual Bonus: May and the host at the party, speaking un-subtitled Spanish.
    May: (flirting) I believe that it's better [to give] than to receive.
    Soto: (flirting back) You're my kind of woman!
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  • Bluff the Impostor: When Agent 33 (posing as May) agrees to go out for a coffee with Coulson, he immediately punches her in the face.
  • Break the Cutie: It's implied that part of what makes Fitz antisocial now is the fact that Simmons left S.H.I.E.L.D. and he perceives it to be a rejection of his confession.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: Coulson uses a neat eye hologram to get him and May into a restricted lift.
  • Central Theme: This episode's based on moving on and facing reality. Coulson wants someone to put him down if he becomes like Garrett. Fitz has been hallucinating Simmons because he can't deal with the fact that she left him.
  • Character Death: Agent 33 gets electrocuted by May, but there's no He's Dead, Jim to confirm it. It's entirely possible that, like Bakshi, she was simply knocked out long enough for Coulson and May to escape.
  • Continuity Nod:
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    • The masks that Bakshi and Agent 33 use are very similar to the photo-veil mask Black Widow used in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
    • The holographic eye scan Coulson uses to access the elevator is similar to the tech Loki used in The Avengers.
  • Combat Stilettos: Averted: May complains about being forced to wear heels and wanting to wear flats. Later, Agent 33 takes off her heels (the same pair, nonetheless) before getting in a fight with May.
  • Cutting the Knot: Coulson and May have to get through a Laser Hallway. Coulson takes the cellphone showing the lasers and preps himself to sneak through. May rolls her eyes and simply walks ahead. She sets off the alarms and points out that security already knows they're downstairs.
  • Danger Takes A Back Seat: Whitehall pops up in the backseat of Raina's car in The Stinger.
  • Designated Girl Fight/Mirror Match: May vs. Agent 33, who's still disguised as May.
  • Evil All Along: Subverted. It appears Talbot is in league with HYDRA, until May gets in a fight with him and discovers it's a mask.
  • Eviler Than Thou: Raina finds out the hard way that she bit off way more than she can chew by getting on Whitehall's bad side. You almost feel sorry for her.
  • Fanservice: It's an entire episode of May either in a very nice dress or her underwear, and with some time spent handcuffed to a chair in the latter.
    • And for the "general crowd pleasing" definition of "fanservice": having two Mays fight each other. As Coulson says, "I can't believe I'm the only one seeing this."
  • Faux Affably Evil: Whitehall, up to this point, while obviously ruthless, was polite and almost apologetic while brainwashing Agent 33. Then he shows up in The Stinger and dispassionately talks about physically torturing a woman for a week.
  • "Hey, You!" Haymaker: Coulson to the guard downstairs.
  • It's the Best Whatever, Ever!: Coulson comes back on comms, interrupting Hunter's story.
    Mack: Best timing ever.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: May kicks ass in a party dress and then fights Agent 33, who (long story) is now wearing said dress.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Kick the Manipulative Bitch in this case. No matter how much of a scumbag Whitehall himself is, it was deeply satisfying seeing him forcibly shutting Raina up and putting outright terror on her face.
  • Laser Hallway: Coulson and May come across one of these. May just wades right through them, as the baddies already know where they are.
  • Latex Perfection: HYDRA has a programmable mask that allows an agent to perfectly look and sound like another person.
  • Male Gaze: May's introduction in the episode is getting ready for the undercover mission. A couple close-ups of her bare feet during the second half of the episode. Maybe Joss Whedon suggested that?
  • Meaningful Echo: When May tries to refuse Coulson's order to kill him if he goes off the rails like Garrett, he gives her the same speech about facing reality and not being misled by sentiment that she gave him near the beginning of the episode.
  • Mercy Kill: Coulson has ordered May to do this if he starts going crazy like Garrett did.
  • Minored In Ass Kicking: Inverted. May apparently took an elective course in ballroom dancing at the Academy, as she mentions offhandedly at one point. She mentions she dropped it two weeks later.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Although justified in that he didn't know Bakshi was impersonating Talbot, until Coulson approached him, Bakshi had no idea S.H.I.E.L.D. was present (or if he suspected it, didn't know who they might be) and he had to consult with Agent 33 and look through files he had on S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives to figure out who May and Coulson actually were.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: HYDRA returns the favor to Coulson when, instead of simply taking the painting which Bakshi had already acquired, Whitehall decides to use it as bait to trap S.H.I.E.L.D. and, for some reason, doesn't have backup on site, and doesn't arrange for the painting to be picked up ahead of time. Coulson not only gets the painting, he's able to inform Talbot about HYDRA's impersonation.
  • Noodle Incident: Coulson and May's first mission together. Whatever happened, it involved a coffee shop in Sausalito, not having an exit plan, and May spending five hours in San Francisco Bay.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Talbot's at the party!
      Coulson: There goes our cover.
    • When Bakshi realizes that May has freed herself and is running in his direction, he has this magnificent expression of fear.
    • After Coulson has stunned Bakshi unconscious with the I.C.E.R., he hears Bakshi's comms link requesting an update. Coulson realizes that with no response from Bakshi, HYDRA mooks will soon swarm the place.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Used for comedic value. Hearing May laugh and talk so much while undercover freaks the team out.
    • Agent 33 agreeing too readily with Coulson's plans while disguised as May causes Coulson to get suspicious, resulting in him trying a Bluff the Imposter trick. If Coulson told her to take him out in the event that he goes crazy, and told her to take his place as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., the real May would argue.
    • The real Talbot basically implies this to Director Coulson, concerning why he did not realize the other Talbot was a fake by the very fact that the situation involving "him" had to do with a painting.
  • Polyamory: When May introduces Coulson as her husband after flirting with the host of the party, she waves it off as an open marriage.
    May: We're modern.
  • Ship Tease:
    • The whole episode is one long Coulson/May Ship Tease, but particularly at the beginning when they were dancing.
    • Though the non-imaginary Simmons once again does not appear, Fitz's Dying Declaration of Love and her apparent rejection of it get discussed all over the place.
    • Skye and Hunter make a point of declaring that they don't find one another attractive. Mack, Trip and Fitz clearly don't buy it.
  • Shout-Out: The episode is directed by the creator of Mortal Kombat: Legacy, as becomes clear with May and 33's combat stances before their fight.
  • There Is Another: The painting is old, but the the alien writing on the back was carved more recently. This can only mean that there's another person with GH-325 in their system somewhere in the world.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: Fitz manages to form a coherent sentence without the help of Imagined!Simmons near the conclusion of the episode.
  • Torture Technician: Whitehall nonchalantly tells Raina that he once tortured a woman for a week and that it takes a great deal of skill to ensure someone is in pain and agony for that length of time without dying or passing out.
  • Undercover as Lovers: May and Coulson pose as a married couple.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Coulson hates laser grids. Thankfully for him, he and May have been found out by HYDRA anyway.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Coulson and May are courteous enough to hack in a secure channel to let Talbot know that HYDRA impersonated him with a photo-veil capable of mimicking his face and voice. He tells them that he's starting to miss the days where the enemy was less complicated to fight and deal with.
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