As the series trundles happily along with rest of the Marvel circus it’s a constant worry that it will find a steady pace and plateau, and although some fine plot points have been established it is difficult to know whether or not these writers can be trusted to sustain them. Like watching a child hold a Ming vase and wondering whether they are admiring the intricate paintwork or if they are wondering what it will look like in smaller pieces.
This is an interesting episode that moves the story along instead of dangling them in front of our gnashing teeth like juicy morsels of potential entertainment. The episode begins with the bulkiest and shiftiest of bartenders who may as well have Hydra’s theme tune following him around at all times. He and his Hydra homies unleash a weaponised version of the Obelisk which takes out most of the room. It’s a well-constructed scene as when the bodies drop you begin to instantly question why only some are affected and start unravelling the elaborate riddle of who is being targeted and why. The fact is they haven’t perfect it, simple but nice. In a world of ridiculous and unexplained technology crafted by magical engineers it’s nice to have a plot of “Erm, we don’t know!”. Bakshi growls in his Britishly evil accent that this is the first of many failures and explain Whitehall’s obsession with obtaining the Obelisk.
Raina slithers on screen again like a poisonous snake filled with the venom of disappointment, it’s literally a struggle to keep such a boring character relevant and involved. You could literally write her lines on some paper, drape a flowery dress on it and it would be more of a character. She visits Skye’s dad who is operating on two shifty character’s and “value their secrecy” omitting to criminal, back alley dealings. When Reina asks for the Obelisk to give to Whitehall she is berated as Skye’s dad mentions him taking her in off the street and gives her the limpest strangling of all time while asking if Whitehall “scares you more than me?”. Skye’s dad fumes that all he wants is Skye brought to him and that Reina has failed. This establishes him as a bad guy and the question mark next to his morals dissolves quicker than the confidence of an England World Cup campaign.
Raina sets her plan of survival into motion as she insists of shoving her blank features onto the screen at every opportunity. The first part begins when she sees Simmons messaging Coulson from a Hydra base where she is undercover. Reina then meets with Coulson and says she will send the photograph incriminating Simmons to Hydra unless Skye goes with her to her dad. What follows is initially a great moment as Coulson refuses to a panicking Raina, showing a brutal and surprising edge as he distances himself from the plight of Simmons. Meanwhile Simmons is questioned by a Hydra Agent played by Adrianne Palicki who finds her cyber ‘messaging paper’. In a glorious moment Simmons shows her adaptation to undercover life, she slips her other messaging paper into a colleagues drawer and he is beaten and dragged away buying Simmons more time. She looks aptly shaken but resolved in her harsh actions which are against character in a great way and portray a brilliant desperation to survive.
The photo sends to Hydra and Raina has a hand left empty of cards to play. Hunter implants her with a bug as they explain they will wait for Hydra to take her and she can either suffer or help Shield from the inside. This is clever and a refreshing disdain for Shield’s enemies, much different from the Boy Scout image marvel tend to favour. Simmons runs and is aided by the Hydra agent (Palicki) who turns out to be Mockingbird or Bobbi Morse to the surprise of no geek with the Internet and any of the five senses. Her introduction may be as blunt as a patriotic, vibranium shield to the face but it’s fine enough and well shot. They escape from the roof as Tripplett actually gets a job and flies a Jet to save them all by himself! Yay! Don’t worry he still gets a trademark eyebrow raise and “damn” for good measure. Coulson’s brave decision to refuse Raina is tarnished though as we find out he only refused knowing that Bobbi is in place to save Simmons. This retains his pure image and heart for his team but misses a chance to show his guts and grit beyond safe measures.
Skye runs to her dads surgery and finds he’s not there but the men he killed have unsurprisingly not moved much. He watches from the camera and is upset to hear her disgust at his failure to control his rage. He then goes to Hydra with the obelisk and asks that they work together to destroy Coulson.
This is a busy episode so not much else is added to flesh out our motley crew of not insignificant size. Coulson does reveal to Skye that he believes she may be an alien however and that he is drawing the alien symbols after he cunningly left some carvings on his desk. Chloe Bennet seems a very adept actress as Skye and hopefully she will be allowed more range further than pop culture references and sex appeal. She takes the pain of possibly alien origins and a murderous dad with trendy insults and seems content to hug it out. This is a wasted opportunity for depth and instead of showing strength makes the more dramatic storylines for her seem like background noise.
The team are still gelling well with witty banter and background stories emerging. Bobbi Morse is a welcome addition and gives Agents Of Shield a bona fide comic character as a constant, to wear like a membership pass to the Marvel universe. It was a fair enough introduction but sadly the ending revelation of her being Hunter’s ex wife is just too forced. The connections between our supposedly rag tag bunch are too strong and common making the world seem smaller and more convenient, the canned laughter and Matthew Perry cameo lurk scarily close to this line.
Fitz and Simmons are finally reunited to the holy union of FitzSimmons to rediscover their ‘chemistry’ and tie our heartstrings back together. This event has been long awaited and finely built up but sadly very stunted and anti climactic. The lines are awkward and basic without being believable and genuine. This is sad without tragic and skirted over to the point of frustration. Also it would be nice to know why Fitz’s inbuilt Simmons keeps ‘admiring’ Mack as this basically means Fitz himself is enjoying his physique. Interesting character building or nothing at all, time will helpfully tell.
Ward and Skye have another chat as Ward explains that Raina was the source of his information and show concern for Skye’s safety when he worries she was drawing the symbols. Skye doesn’t believe him until Raina proves it to be true which hints at Ward gaining back Skye’s trust to a doomed and hopefully watchable end of season conclusion.
Skye’s dad is fine (Kyle MacLachlan) although when he finishes Skye’s sentence of him being a “monster” it’s a large slice of ham acting leaving a bitter taste. His cry of anguish makes Darth Vader’s “noooooo” cry seem Oscar winning in comparison. I cling onto the belief that this storyline can find its pace and meaning soon.
The verdict: To say this episode has the most happen in it, it feels one of the more empty episodes and a little rushed. Hopefully this means that there is plenty more to fit in to the remaining episodes and this one is still solid and entertaining.