After Agent Eric Koenig (Patton Oswalt) puts all the members of Coulson‘s (Clark Gregg) team through a rigorous lie-detector test to confirm their loyalties, one which Ward (Brett Dalton) only passes thanks to the constant pain of his injuries and masking his real intentions of rejoining the team by admitting his feelings for Skye (Chloe Bennet), Coulson heads out with a team to stop Blackout (Patrick Brennan). After being freed from The Fridge the villain who has the ability to absorb all light and energy into himself heads to Portland to resume his stalking of a very important cellist (Amy Acker) who just so happens to be Coulson’s ex-girlfriend.
Better than any episode of the series so far, “The Only Light in the Darkness” builds the tension on two storylines at once as Coulson (while hiding from the woman who believes he’s still dead) and his team take on the super-villain and Skye discovers the truth about the man she’s been steadily falling for since the show began. Although each story flails a little after the pay-off, I’m glad to see Whedon-designed show refrain from killing Acker (again) opening up an opportunity for her to return somewhere down the line. The same can’t be said for either Blackout or Koenig, both of whom could have used more screentime before being written off so quickly.
May‘s (Ming-Na Wen) choice to leave the team and Ward and Skye disappearing without a trace leave Coulson’s team in shambles which isn’t likely to be helped by next week’s arrival of Ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) who may finally get a chance to become a more fully fleshed-out character like her comic book counterpart should Smulders stay on for multiple episodes. I’d also expect some payoff to Skye’s time in the closet in the form of some kind of message alerting her teammates to Ward’s true motives which she is still struggling to deal with, while painting on a brave face, as the episode concludes.