Agents Of ShieldWriters: Shalisha Francis,

Director: Holly Dale,

Starring: Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, J. August Richards, Ruth Negga, Cullen Douglas,

Synopsis: After three men displaying signs of the Centipede experiments free a man from prison, the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. must enlist the help of their first foe in order to track down the woman in the flower dress.

Halfway through the season, roughly anyways, and it’s time to put Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. to rest until the new year. But how do you bring a season to its mid-season finale and make it both suspenseful and conclusive? Well, episode 10, ‘The Bridge’ does a relatively good job at bringing all the elements from the previous episodes and shoving them together to make an enjoyable and tense addition.

This episode sees the mysterious inmate who we have seen before, Edison Po (Douglas) broken free from prison. It’s an exciting scene that contains plenty of action as well as some awesome shots which sometimes elevate the show from its TV status. Douglas’ performance is very strong throughout, as he is presented as a psychopathic villain, but doesn’t overact. In fact, he plays it calm, and it is more to do with his subtle gestures and what we hear from other characters than crazy eyeball twitching and cackling. After he is taken from prison and his connection to Centipede is revealed, S.H.I.E.L.D. decide to recruit the help of their first adversary, Mike Peterson (Richards).

Peterson has managed to control his explosive Extremis powers and has been training with S.H.I.E.L.D. Peterson is the focus of this episode, which works extremely well in a number of ways. First of all, it means that, in this mid-season finale, none of the agents try and steal the spotlight for too long. With the emotional weight on Peterson’s reform as well as his relationship with his son, the rest of the characters are allowed to settle in to their comfortable roles. Sometimes in TV, exploration of characters should come second to plot. It also means that everyone gets equal screentime, with enough emphasis on the ongoing relationships, Skye’s backstory, and Coulson’s mental state to remind us where the show is headed without being intrusive to this week’s story.

This equal divide also means that the more annoying factors, such as Fitz, Simmons, and Skye’s dialogue, is kept to a minimum, although some fairly obvious moments such as the “he’s standing right behind me” after badmouthing a person, just seems too simple for a show that is related to big cinematic blockbusters. The bad guys and their operation are actually the most intriguing element this week, with the wonderful Ruth Negga returning and adding some manipulative layers to her villainess. The operation also hints at somebody known as the Clairvoyent, although S.H.I.E.L.D.’s constant denial of people with psychic ability still seems odd to me.

During a great assault on the villains, as Peterson battles alongside S.H.I.E.L.D.,  we get to see our possible first superhero joining the good guys. He’s not given a name, nor is he given a decent suit, and his powers don’t really impress that much due to budget constraints, but at least the show is getting there. The finale is truly epic, as the writers throw absolutely everything at the audience to ensure you return in 2014. Cliffhangers abound, and new questions are left unanswered. How will the team cope? Is that character really dead? What’s the end game? Who are Skye’s parents? What really happened to Coulson after THE AVENGERS? I can’t answer any of these, but if the show can remain this exciting, then I’ll certainly be back to find out.

Best Bit: The final moments that practically beg you to return. It may have been an easy way to be sure of viewer return figures, but it doesn’t make it any less effective.

4 StarsMarvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be back on Channel 4 at 8 PM on 10th January 2014.