Last week on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., we got to see Skye take her powers out for a little test spin. Unfortunately, she’s not up-to-par, so all she could really do is make things shake around a bit. We also saw Skye-daddy with his band of super folks, but that battle didn’t pan out as dramatically as we’d hoped – it was basically a punch-fest without any really power stuff. And finally, poor Hunter got clobbered by Mack when he skirted a little too close to the Bobbi/Mack mysterious story arc. This week, ‘Love in the Time of HYDRA’ promises to answer those nagging questions about what the hell is going on with Bobbi and Mack, while hopefully giving us something new to chew on. And… it’s the arrival of muthafuckin’ Edward James Olmos! So was it worth the 42-minute chunk of our lives?
We begin this week with the long-delayed return of Ward and his new sidekick, Agent 33 (aka, the lady with the techno-mask that’s stuck in May-face mode). They’re busting up a diner and kidnapping some dude. Turns out that this dude is a tech guy for HYDRA and he has what it takes to fix that mask that’s stuck to Agent 33’s face. A few tweaks later and – BOOM! – she can mimic anyone that she wants.
So Ward immediately uses this to his advantage. They go straight for the US military and General Talbot’s installation. Their target – the HYDRA lackey Bakshi. The very same guy that Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D. handed over to Talbot just a few episodes ago. He has the knowledge that Ward craves and also happens to be the same dude that indoctrinated Agent 33 with the crazy HYDRA mind-control crap, so they both have something to gain.
Back at S.H.I.E.L.D., Skye is still messed up from channeling her powers the wrong way. She thought she was meditating the power overload away, but as it turns out, she was just forcing it inwards and causing some major damage. So Coulson makes the call and sends her off to a safe house where she can relax and learn more about how to use her powers without accidentally destroying herself or one of her teammates. Naturally, Skye isn’t exactly pleased with being taken off the team, no matter what the reason.
And FINALLY, we get to see what Bobbi and Mack have been up to. As it turns out, there’s another S.H.I.E.L.D. organization lurking. They’re not quite the same, however, preferring a policy of transparency as opposed to all the lurking in the shadows that S.H.I.E.L.D. is usually known for. Thus, they’re not very happy with Coulson and the way he runs things. Further, they think that the alien DNA he received thanks to his resurrection is making him dangerous. And so the war of the S.H.I.E.L.D.s begins? Unfortunately for S.H.I.E.L.D. #2, Coulson and May both find Mack to be a bit suspicious and they’re slowly following the leads. And when Hunter escapes, it creates even more complications.
All-in-all, this was one of the better written and executed Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes. If you’re looking for action, then you might want to skip over this one. The primary focus was the ongoing development of the plot and the characters. It’s something that S.H.I.E.L.D. tries to do on a regular basis, but rarely achieves in the way that they did this time around.
I liked the idea that S.H.I.E.L.D. #2 has about Coulson being compromised due to his alien DNA. Despite the other S.H.I.E.L.D. being committed to a different way of secret agenting, they’re still distrusting of the things they can’t understand. It’s been a running theme this season, that distrust, but in this episode they really spelled out how deep those suspicions run. From Coulson to Skye to Ward’s mysterious motives, it feels like the show is trying to play up the gray-area morality that permeates the world of secret agent vs. super baddie. Who is the real bad guy here? I guess it depends on who you happen to be talking to.
Also, I’m enjoying the way the show is building up the relationship between Skye and Coulson. He has to make the compromises that will ensure Skye’s safety, but at the same time he doesn’t want her far from his side. They’re both victims of the alien DNA shuffle and neither one really knows how to deal with it. Thus, they find each other. Much the same way that Ward and Agent 33 seem to have found each other, though their ultimate goal is still shrouded in mystery.
As far as the bad stuff goes, the most annoying thing about this week is something that’s been bugging me the entire season – the Bobbi/Hunter relationship. Sure, S.H.I.E.L.D. needs to have some relationship things going on in the background. But when Hunter completely ignores the ramifications of there being a second S.H.I.E.L.D. in favor of arguing about his and Bobbi’s relationship, it feels a bit out-of-place. The same goes for my other pet-peeve, the development of Simmons this season. She’s doing nothing natural, instead being steered in a direction that does little more than facilitate the angle the show wants to play up. I miss Simmons…
Next week, ‘One Door Closes’ brings the show a little deeper into the darkness. It’s S.H.I.E.L.D. versus S.H.I.E.L.D. and everyone that we’ve grown to know and love is stuck in the middle of the fight. Check out the trailer for that one below: