The last two episodes of SHIELD have slid a little bit from the opening pair, a little too formulaic, a little heavy in the foreshadowing, and trying a little too hard. Will this episode buck the downward trend, or will it be a boost back up to how the first two worked? There has been news that another classic Marvel character is going to join the team, so I had my hopes. Still, the continuing bad punmenship in episode titles has me still wondering…
A Hen in the Wolf House starts off strong with a wedding reception that goes horribly, horribly wrong. I’ve been to very few that ended this badly, honest. Ironically, it goes disappointingly for HYDRA as well, as their reverse-engineering of what the Obelisk does only killed eight of the guests. Only eight! So disappointing, Whitehall will likely have to call a meeting.
Back at the Shield meeting over the deaths, which turned out to be of a naval anti-HYDRA team, Skye notices that Coulson has been etching something suspicious on his desk, and starts to questions him, but he shuts her down. May advises Coulson that keeping her in the dark won’t end well. To be fair, Skye isn’t the whiny kid he hired on a whim, is she? And yes, that is a very, very good thing for us watching the show. But still, as has been said, death follows her…
We shift to Skye’s dad, who is performing back alley surgery on a thug for his pal. He’s interrupted by Raina, who pleads to borrow the Obelisk back to save her from Whitehall. Dad however freaks out over the fact Raina hasn’t yet been able to make good on her promise to bring him Skye. In the process he almost strangles her, then refuses to give over the Obelisk, sending Raina back to Whitehall to beg for mercy. It’s a powerful, if brutal scene to watch.
Back at HYDRA, we are treated to a reference of Bessie the Hellcow (a potential ex-wife of Hunter’s? she would literally qualify as a demonic hellbeast), before Simmons and her lab partner are called up to a meeting headed by boss Whitehall, who talks glowingly about his plans for the Obelisk. He then asks Simmons about her thoughts on the problem, and is pleased by her response. Her creepy lab partner gleefully appreciates the idea that they could kill millions. Yeah, I think Simmons might be thinking about putting in her two weeks notice.
Conversations between Hunter and Skye are the best. We get a conversation this time that includes the painting, aliens, Coulson, Hunters ex – again – and a suggestion to keep digging. This leads to another session with Ward, funnily enough. While she doesn’t believe that Raina knows how to find her father, he does disturb her deeply when she realizes Coulson might be going the way of Garret. This leads: to Skye confronts Coulson, Coulson comes clean, including thinking not being upfront about his monitoring of her, and the idea she might be an alien from her was a good idea, to which Skye responds: “Well, epic fail!”
Raina, now highly motivated to save her skin, spots Simmons doing a dead drop for Shield, then arranges an appointment with Coulson. Mirroring this, a certain Bobbie Morse shows up with Bakshi in a HYDRA mole-hunting unit. Bobbie ratchets up the tension by singling out Simmons, but Simmons manages to frame her creepy lab partner, and we feel no sympathy for him at all. Nope, none at all.
Coulson meets Raina for dinner, with Skye, Hunter, and May hiding in the restaurant kitchen listening in. Coulson, however, does not bend in the slightest when Raina threatens to reveal Simmons to HYDRA. The two minute countdown is effectively suspenseful, especially when May physically restrains Skye when Raina mentions her dad. Raina literally begs Coulson to stop the countdown, but he stands firm. In the meantime, Bobbie continues to terrorize Simmons, and really seems like she’s enjoying it. Simmons, however, soon finds herself is pursued by Bakshi and several armed guards, as Raina’s evidence is now on every HYDRA monitor. Okay, stop for a moment and think about this.
Right, back to the recap.
Simmons is on the run and about to be captured, but instead, she is saved by Bobbie, who is by coincidence (okay, not really) also a Shield mole within HYDRA. And we get a perfect demo that Bobbie is a relatively big name Marvel hero, Mockingbird. Bobbie gets Simmons to the roof and the two are able to escape with the help of Trip and Shield’s cloaked Quinnjet. Bobbie has also handily grabbed Simmons’s hard drive after their bathroom conversation, so this is a solid win for Shield.
Back at the restaurant a now very worried Raina begs for Coulson’s protection, but he instead tags her with a tracking device and demands she tells him where to find Skye’s dad as well as lead him to Whitehall. Coulson and May then realize Skye has disappeared.
Where is Skye? Already at her dad’s abandoned hideout, where she discovers, with Coulson and the others, the bodies of the two men her father viciously murdered. Watching via hidden camera, her dad realizes to his own horror that his daughter, who he has spent decades trying to reunite with, now knows he is a monster. She also promises Coulson she will do whatever it takes to stop him, as long as he stops hiding things from her. Coulson then shows her his wall carving of the diagram. And while he doesn’t have any idea what it is, Skye tells him she thinks it’s a map.
On return to the Playground, Simmons gushes over Bobbie, then Coulson announces that she’s joining the team. Simmons goes to see Fitz, where they share a strained and awkward reunion. He’s still plenty angry at her for abandoning him, and she looks guilty enough to know she deserves it. While Mac is pleased that Bobbie has joined the team, Hunter is less than pleased. Why? Remember that she-devil ex-wife he’s been going on about? Yeah, he used to be married to Mockingbird. And worse, she admits she was the one that suggested to Coulson he was vouch-worthy.
Lastly, Skye’s dad shows up at Whitehall’s office, murders a couple of guards and then agrees to ally himself with the HYDRA leader, even offering to teach him how to survive the Obelisk, which he says is called the ‘Diviner’ in its creators native tongue. Why? All to help them kill Coulson, (oh, and) “everyone else”.
This episode is back to the season premiere form. For the first time in a couple episodes, the action and music weren’t at odds with each other, the situations didn’t feel forced and the suspense was palpable. The tone also flowed effortlessly, with great transitions from comedy to drama to action and back. Plus, as Mockingbird, Adreinne Paliki was perfect and her chemistry with the gang already natural. Awesome.