The first two episodes of Season 2 have shown how far Agents of Shield had come over since the start of Season 1. They offered up a well told complete story while opening intriguing teases of what we are going to expect from the season, and that is, so far, high hopes. This ep promises to delve deeper into the new world of Shield vs. HYDRA battle for assets.
This episode opens with a creepy Clockwork Orange style scene where Whitehall and Bakshi are preparing former Shield Agent 33 for a future of compliance to HYDRA orders (a key word for HYDRA given its effect on the Absorbing man last ep) The creepiness continues with Simmons(!) waking to God Help the Girl by Belle and Sebastian. Guess what, she’s now working for HYDRA! We next move on to May offering some shooting lessons to Skye, and introduces her to a sniper rife. Pay attention viewer, this is all foreshadowing. It’s a little more obvious than we’re used to, but done with panache.
Back to Simmons. As with last episode spending time concentrating on Hunter, this ep centers around her and her new life as an agent of HYDRA. Note: It doesn’t get any less creepy. After a disturbing discussion with her boss in the lab, Simmons realizes she’s been researching former friend Donnie Gill (who we met last year on his way to becoming Blizzard). Getting home, and paranoid enough to pull her gun, she finds Coulson has shown up to cook her dinner and debrief her (not as kinky as that might sound). Oh, of course, she’s a mole. Over dinner he discusses the requirements of being a successful undercover agent, i.e., its all about making friends. After that there is a debriefing of the team – they need to get a hold of Donnie before HYDRA does.
However, HYDRA, as usual is several steps ahead and has already found Donnie, who has been hiding out in Marrakesh. Paranoid Donnie freezes his current employer, then one of the HYDRA agents come to recruit him. He then heads off to port to pro-actively deal with the problem, starting with icing up a freighter in Marakesh. You’d think someone would notice.
We get another interview between Sky and Ward, again Silence of the Lambs style. Things veer dangerously personal, before Skye brings it back to HYDRA. Ward advises that HYDRA has already won, because they don’t consider right or wrong in what they do. Back at HYDRA, Simmons gets a scare when she’s called up to the 25th floor and has an interview with Bakshi regarding her Shield past, her connection to Donnie and her loyalty to HYDRA. This is mirrored by Whitehall chatting amiably about individuality and equality as only a Nazi can while he continues to have Agent 33 brainwashed. Simmons soon finds herself brought in to recruit Donnie. However Donnie has had enough of working for HYDRA, and intends on taking out any HYDRA agent coming after him. Yes, then tension and the body count is ratcheting up.
Angry and paranoid Fitz, back at base, has figured out that someone is being kept downstairs, sees it’s Ward and uses the opportunity for some healthy expression of his continuing rage (if you consider cutting Ward’s air supply healthY, that is). Again, this offers more evidence that his current state is now primarily psychologically driven. Thankfully, Coulson takes what Fitz did as well as could be expected.
Despite Coulson’s advice Simmons handle the re-recruitment of Donnie badly, to the point that Bakshi has her begin the compliance mantra that he used on Creel. Tension is amped up further as Coulson learns from Ward through Fitz, what we’ve guessed: HYDRA has already made quality use of Donnie – he helped them take the Sandbox.
Luckily for Simmons, May spots she is the one talking to Donnie and shoots Hunter before he takes out Simmons, and so preserves her cover. Bakshi orders Donnie to ice the ship, but HYDRA is thwarted of using him as a weapon in the future by a sniper shot from, yes, Skye. So maybe Ward is wrong about HYDRA having the upper hand over Shield re: morality.
Note: All through this episode Skye’s solidity as a field agent has be through repeatedly checking her heartbeat reader on her wrist, and for the most part she keeps it low, at least until Ward mentions her dad, and that he’s looking for her. Then it skyrockets.
Overall, a clear win for Shield, acknowledged by Bakshi and Whitehall, although they have only limited knowledge yet of what they are dealing with, including who’s running it. And, hey, it looks like Simmons’s getting a promotion, but just to remind us what a promotion can end up as, we get a brief visit to the top HYDRA pair from the now, ‘compliant’ Agent 33.
A bit of a weaker story compared to previous two, not having either the intensity or pace of the opening, nor the deeper reflection shown in ep 2. We get a chance to see more of how both Skye and Simmons have grown and changed, and we got a Fitz breakthrough, so things are still moving forward, which is always a good thing. If the episode has any major narrative faults, it that the heavy foreshadowing ensured this was a fairly predictable ep, as well as one that spends much of its narrative foreshadowing what is to come. Still, above average.