Reviews

MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: “A Hen In The Wolf House”

ELIZABETH HENSTRIDGE, ADAM KULBERSH

Man, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. just keeps getting better. This time last year, the episodes were still a little slow going, especially in terms of character development. Tonight? Episode Five, and I feel like we’re watching an entirely different show — which is a very good thing.

So we begin with a fancy naval officer wedding, where a best man speech is currently underway. There’s a wait staff passing around champagne for the obligatory toast, and somehow, you just get a feeling that this isn’t going to end well. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. The guests drink and then end up convulsing and dead, and the Hydra/undercover wait staff makes their getaway as they relay their report to Bakshi.

Back at base, Coulson is approached by his team as he’s scribbling something onto his desk. (Is it the code? Yep, it’s totally the code.) They discuss their options and as Coulson mentions connections to the Obelisk, Skye starts to realize he’s intentionally skirting her questions. Poor Coulson. May advises him to let Skye in on his secret, and you can tell it’s killing him to keep things in the dark. But Coulson is Director now, and that means that he has to protect the people he cares about – even if it means having to lie.

Meanwhile, The Doctor (Kyle MacLachlan) is working on his patients in private, because you should always do your work in super secret undercover spaces. Raina shows up and asks for the Obelisk back, but The Doctor isn’t quite ready to give it up. We know that Raina has been working for The Doctor, and there’s an interesting exchange where the two discuss their history, including the fact that The Doctor apparently took her in from the streets. (He’s just racking up all the father points, isn’t he?) I find it interesting that Raina’s obviously not his real daughter, yet he chooses to harbor a found family connection with her in the same way Coulson does with Skye.

Anyway, turns out that The Doctor is a little crazy – like actually totally crazy. He’s got anger issues, and he kind of loses it when Raina backhandedly insults him, which in turns makes me actually feel bad for Flowers. (I know, I know.) There’s a lot of exposition dropped in this scene, but the big takeaway is that according to The Doctor, Skye isn’t Skye’s real name. Hmmm. So Skye’s a possible alien, her father has anger issues, and her real name could be something even more strange? Sign me up for theorizing, Marvel. You’ve got my attention.

At Hydra, Bakshi drags Simmons and her lab parter to a meeting, where Whitehall is present. He’s not happy with how the Obelisk has performed, and notes “our founder had the Tesseract,” a nice nod to Red Skull and Hydra’s history. He basically asks Simmons if the Obelisk can be weaponized, which she affirms. Let’s all take a moment and continue to be proud of little Jemma Simmons lying her way through one of the most lethal organizations in the country, okay?

Back on The Bus, Fitz is watching a shirtless Mack work out, and I fully believe this shot was included to make up for lack of shirtless Ward. Last week, I wondered if Fitz’s inclusion into the group finally meant that Imaginary!Simmons would be gone, so I was a little surprised to find her still around – albeit as a reminder to Fitz that he can let her go and move on. Skye continues to examine the code on the back of the painting obtained in last week’s mission, trying to find clues about what Coulson might be hiding from her. Lance drops by and basically nudges her into being nosy by suggesting she start with someone who might know about Hydra secrets: Grant Ward.

Ward thinks that Skye finally came back to him because she wanted to know about her father, but Skye insists that’s not true. He continues to prod her by telling her that Raina knows her father, but Skye’s not having any of it, and rightly so – it would be foolish of her to trust Ward so easily after everything that happened last season. To his credit, he’s actually forthcoming when Skye asks him about the code, if not ominous about what the results could be. He tells Skye about Garrett’s experience with it after he was injected with the GH serum, and that once he started writing, he was pretty much gone…so much so that Ward was actually glad when S.H.I.E.L.D. put him down. “Whatever took his place, I don’t think it was meant to survive,” he cautions.

While Raina goes to Hydra and stalks Simmons sending her messages to S.H.I.E.L.D., Skye goes to Coulson, who already knows that she’s been talking to Ward. He tells her that May’s been keeping an eye on him, and that he knows everything that’s happening is from the formula. Skye eventually realizes they’ve been monitoring her as well, since she was injected with the same GH compound when they saved her life. She hasn’t shown signs of being affected, though, and Coulson thinks that’s because there’s a possibility she could be an alien. Really? An alien? (Yes, Skye. An alien.)

Back at Hydra, Simmons is in the middle of working when alarms go off, signaling the fact that something’s wrong – and also the arrival of our very own Bobbi Morse, aka Mockingbird. Adrianne Palicki absolutely killed it in this role. I can’t wait to see her become more engrained in the show, but more about that later. Bobbi is apparently someone who specializes in finding secrets, and, well, Simmons is looking rather suspicious.

And Bobbi? She’s good. Like, really good, in only the way seasoned agents can be. Simmons has been doing okay with her undercover stuff so far, but watching Bobbi work makes you realize how much more experience she has with this type of thing. She manages to figure out Simmons hasn’t been at Hydra long, and while she’s interrogating her, Simmons manages to pawn off the device she’s been using to send her message to her lab mate. Sorry, Possibly-Only-Friend-That-Simmons-Has! Later, Bobbi also ambushes Simmons in the bathroom, trying to grill her further.

Coulson arranges to meet with Raina for dinner (with appropriate back-up, of course). Coulson wants the Obelisk, and Raina parrots that they want the same thing. She then shows Coulson a picture of Simmons sending S.H.I.E.L.D. messages, before threatening that he has two minutes to cooperate before she sends the picture to everyone in Hydra’s channels. Knowing that Skye is listening in on the conversation, she also drops comments about her father, which leads Skye to realize Ward was telling the truth. Skye tries to go outside and stop Coulson from outing Simmons, but May stops her, assuring her Coulson has a plan.

And, well. Coulson better have a plan, because all of a sudden, Simmons’ face is all over Hydra computers – and not in a good way. She does what any sane person in that situation would do and runs the hell away, until she’s cornered by Bakshi and Bobbi and some guards. Surprise! In one of the most epic fight sequences that rivals Natasha Romanoff’s Iron Man 2 moves (seriously, check out that last shot — it’s total Black Widow), Bobbi reveals her cover for S.H.I.E.L.D. and takes down the guards, helping Simmons to escape. That might be one of the most awesome character entrances ever, and I may have run to Tumblr to download all the gifs of Adrianne Palicki being a BAMF and using her batons to take down some bad guys (nice homage to her trademark weaponry in this fight.) The girls make it to the roof and then escape via a quinjet that Trip is piloting. Bobbi reveals that she took Simmons’ hard drive after their conversation in the bathroom, and I’m pretty sure Simmons is fangirling with the same intensity that I am, except I’m doing it in the privacy of my apartment.

Realizing she’s been outsmarted, Raina tells Coulson about Whitehall and asks her to take her in. Coulson refuses and Hunter tags Raina instead, hoping that by using her as bait, she’ll lead them to him. Coulson then asks how to find Skye’s father, and Raina gives Coulson an address before she leaves. It’s only a matter of time before the team figures out that Skye is missing…because of course she is.

By the time Coulson catches up with Skye inside the building, she’s already found nothing except a photograph of her dad with a baby. As she breaks down in Coulson’s arms, we realize that there’s a hidden camera in the room and that The Doctor is watching her from a tablet outside, and having his own feelings as he watches his daughter. May interrupts them to show them the bodies she’s found, which are all of The Doctor’s patients that have been killed by a scalpel. Skye calls her father a monster, and it doesn’t take long for the anger to come out again, before The Doctor drives off in a rage.

When Simmons and Bobbi return home, Coulson reveals that he’s asked Bobbi to join the team. Cue Simmons (and me) jumping for joy. The moment of levity lasts about a second before we realize that Simmons is seeing Fitz for the first time since she left – and yes, that’s real Simmons and real Fitz, not Fitz and his imaginary friend. Again, all the kudos to Iain de Caestecker, who’s knocking all his scenes out of the park. I was wondering how long we would keep Simmons undercover in Hydra, and I’m kind of glad it was only a few episodes – just enough time to show the character growth and difference from Season One Simmons, but without excluding her from the team entirely. Needless to say, I’m happy that everyone is more or less back together.

As Bobbi makes the rounds, we find out that she knows Mack. We also find out that she knows Hunter – like, really knows Hunter, because she was the elusive ex-wife that he kept trying to talk about last week. This is obviously a deviation from comic canon, but I think that it’s an interesting one, and also a good way to bring Bobbi into the mix without stirring up too much with the MCU. Most people had suspected that Bobbi’s inclusion in the show would mean that there would be a connection to Clint/Hawkeye. And while I think we could still see something in that regard, it’s a little hard to establish a relationship like that, especially when it hasn’t been talked about or hinted at. Plus, if the chemistry between that one scene is any indication, I’m already totally on board with more Hunter and Bobbi interaction. (Sidenote: one of my favorite subtle references of the night was Hunter saying, “I prefer you blonde.” While we know Bobbi as being blonde, in Bobbi Morse’s original introduction (1971’s Astonishing Tales #6) she’s actually seen as a brunette. By Astonishing Tales #8, writer Gary Friedrich had furthered the development of the character which led to a hair color change, which was never really explained.)

Skye and Coulson meet in private to talk about Skye’s father, and Skye tells him that she knows they’re going to try to take him down. Coulson is surprisingly honest with her and shows her the code he’s been writing, which Skye deduces is a map. Meanwhile, Bakshi is trying to talk to Whitehall about what happened in the lab when The Doctor appears with a case. After killing the guards in another bout of anger to make his point, he tells Whitehall he’ll bring him the Obelisk and teach him how to survive it, so that he can kill a common enemy: Coulson. Oh yeah, and so he can kill everyone else, too.

So we blew Simmons’ cover with Hydra, we introduced the amazingly awesome Mockingbird, we found out some really good stuff about Skye and her father….but really, that all pales in comparison to the most important part of the hour, where at the end of the episode, ABC revealed next week we would finally be seeing the world broadcast premiere of the Age of Ultron trailer next week. I’m hyper just thinking about it, and let me tell you…if it’s anything like what I saw at Comic Con, you guys are in for a huge treat.

Quoteables:

  • “Yeah, because I’m an alien.”*pause* “Hold on, are you saying I’m an alien?” – Skye
  • “I was trying not to rattle you” – Coulson / “Guess what? EPIC FAIL.” – Skye

 

 

2 thoughts on “MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: “A Hen In The Wolf House”

  1. I loved the dinner scene. The way Coulson was just exuding confidence and had that “IDGAF” attitude with Raina. UGH. And Bobbi…I’m in love!

  2. Great write-up. I so love this series and am so glad they’re keeping up a faster pace this year. Bobbi Morse is already one of my favorites. I also caught the nod to her blonde hair and thought that was cool.

    No spoilers, but recently read some speculation on the true identify of Skye and her father. It made a lot of sense.

    So far I’m good with how they’re handling Ward. Of course I’m convinced that he’ll eventually get out of that basement. It’ll be interesting to see what he does at that point. Personally, I just can’t forgive the things he did at the end of last season and am not a fan of him reconciling with Skye. He doesn’t deserve it.

    Anyway, can’t wait until Tuesday. Too bad “Hydra” leaked the Avengers trailer beforehand. I’ll still be waiting to see it again.

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