Last week on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., we had the chance to see Coulson and May taking some time out to attend a party. Of course, they were actually looking for a mysterious painting which had some of those crazy symbols on it. You know, the same ones that Coulson has been carving on pretty much everything he sees. Poor Raina was being threatened by H.Y.R.D.A. because they wanted the obelisk back. And Simmons was deep undercover in the middle of H.Y.R.D.A. territory. This week resolves a lot of complications that season two has set up this far, while preparing us for a much bigger ride in the near future.
We begin at a wedding. Some top Navy folks end up the victim of a poison champagne cocktail. Naturally, S.H.I.E.L.D. gets wind of it and it’s up to them to figure out what’s happening. Of course, this is just the set-up. The real confrontation comes down to the three parties that are currently at war – S.H.I.E.L.D., H.Y.D.R.A. and Team Skye’s Dad + Raina. The majority of the episode, however, really feeds from what’s going on with Raina and Simmons.
Simmons is still working for H.Y.D.R.A. She’s proven herself a bit with her “loyalty” in the last episode, so they’re bringing her closer into the fold. But when shit goes bad, they start to suspect that she may be a mole. An ill-tempered H.Y.D.R.A. officer decides that Simmons is full of crap and harasses her a bit, but it’s not the people around her that Simmons really needs to look out for.
Raina is having a bit of an issue with H.Y.R.D.A. threatening her, so she’s trying to get the obelisk back from Skye’s father. He’s not really into that, so she has to seek out an alternate route. She contacts Coulson and tries to blackmail him. She’s been doing her homework and knows that Simmons is working undercover and threatens to expose her if Coulson won’t hand over Skye. Apparently, Skye’s daddy really wants to meet with his estranged daughter and that meeting is the only hope that Raina has of getting the obelisk back so she can make a deal with Whitehall. But Coulson is having none of it…
Thus begins Simmons’ exposure and the subsequent extraction of the agent from the heart of H.Y.D.R.A. badness. And… the introduction of a familiar face – Bobbi Morse, AKA Mockingbird. Yes, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has finally brought a popular character to the show with, it seems, the intention of keeping her around for a while.
In the meanwhile, we get Skye delving into the strange writing habit that Coulson is afflicted with. She heads to Ward for some answers and gets enough to convince her that her boss might have a problem or two. It seems as if the GH formula had this effect before, on Garrett (in season one), and now Coulson is showing symptoms. Of course, Garrett went bat-shit crazy when he took the formula, so is Coulson going to transform into a lunatic as well?
So far, the season is going pretty well. ‘A Hen in the Wolf House’ provides some much-needed plot progression even if it does lack the normal action requirement for S.H.I.E.L.D. We’re seeing less quippy dialogue and when it does pop up it naturally flows into the show without feeling forced.
As far as the plot goes, we’re finally getting a tease that we may begin to know more concerning the GH formula, what’s wrong with Coulson’s nugget and about Skye being an 084. We’re getting more hints as to the alien origins of the artifacts and how they may play into the show in a way that is more than just “complication of the week”. It’s something you can really tell they’ve been setting up since season one and, if the writers hold their own, it might just pay off. Also, I’m kinda liking Skye’s father. He’s a bit of crazy mixed with (sorta) super powers and promises to be something violently interesting in the future.
On the not-so-good side, I was a bit disappointed with the actress they chose to play Mockingbird. I know all super heroes look like they just walked out of a modeling gig, but Adrianne Palicki comes across more as a Barbie doll than an agent. She’s got some physicality, which is required of a character like Mockingbird, but the supermodel aesthetic isn’t working for me. I’m eager to see more so I can make a better judgment on this. Which, if the show is being honest, is very likely, for it appears as if Bobbie Morse is going to be a regular addition to the S.H.I.E.L.D. team. The major bad side I see here is the bullshit cliché “Hunter’s ex-wife” subplot they have going on. Seriously, guys? Do you really need to go to these lengths to create artificial tension and “wacky” moments?
Next week, H.Y.D.R.A. launches the ultimate smear campaign against S.H.I.E.L.D. A campaign that involves murdering a bunch of people. What’s more, it seems as if only the hated traitor Ward can get the team out of this jam. Check out the trailer for ‘A Fractured House’ below: