Agents of SHIELD keeps on chugging along through the second season, and once again, I can’t tell if a ton of things are happening or if nothing is. Like the ones before it, the fifth episode — “A Hen in the Wolf House” — continues the trend of contributing a tiny bit towards the main arcs without providing much in terms of a standalone episode.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing the series. I still find each episode highly entertaining. But whereas the first season featured an established team and SHIELD-related missions involving specific objects or characters, this go-round is a hodgepodge of buildup.
That’s mostly because of the post-Winter Soldier Marvel Universe we live in, where HYDRA and SHIELD are merely competing evil acronyms in the eyes of the average human. Season 2 is all about reconstructing a team and recruiting assets while slowly building toward our four-plot crescendo (Coulson’s carvings, Skye’s dad, FitzSimmons and the larger point of identifying another Infinity Stone in the fight against HYDRA), but that unfortunately leaves the week-to-week goings-on a bit lacking.
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Getting the Hens Out the Wolf House
The main point of the episode is to bring Simmons back to the team, thus making FitzSimmons (and us, by default) whole again, as well as introducing yet another rather obscure superhero/SHIELD agent into the mix. Blizzard and The Absorbing Man have made brief appearances this season, but methinks uber-hottie Bobbi Morse, aka The Mockingbird, is here to stay (condolences to Xena Warrior Princess).
Morse is sent by Coulson to infiltrate HYDRA to keep an eye on Simmons, who is also infiltrating HYDRA, but we don’t know that in the beginning (though — spoiler alert to me — a Google search of “Bobbi Morse” didn’t leave much to chance). Instead, we see a bunch of Navy dudes go from celebrating a wedding to dying a nasty death of particularly obelisk-like symptoms. But since only a few of them died, the mission to replicate the power of the Infinity Stone without the actual Infinity Stone is a failure in HYDRA’s six-tentacled eyes.
Dr. Whitehall asks Simmons if she would be able to weaponize the obelisk should he get his hands on it (courtesy his deal/threat with Raina); she says yes before sending a secret message to SHIELD while the girl in the flower dress watches, and the stage is set for Ms. Jemma to make a hasty exit from the facility.
Raina, who is rarely scared of anyone or anything, is caught between the rock that is Skye’s dad and the hard place that is Whitehall’s barbarism. After being told she has 48 hours to deliver the obelisk, she first takes a crack at How I Met Your Mother‘s The Captain. But Orsen Hodge also has a touch of the Hulk in him.
Trey MacDougal (sorry if you have to Google all these Kyle MacLachlan references) takes a break from sewing up a bullet-ridden hooligan to tell Raina she’d be better off begging Whitehall, because he’s not showing her any mercy after she failed to deliver his daughter. He grabs her by the throat and calmly explains that he’s just trying to put his family back together. She leaves, and Special Agent Dale Cooper kills the hooligan and his buddy.
Raina tries to blackmail Coulson into giving her Skye to appease Zack Carey (that one is Showgirls, with Jesse Spano. What do you want me to do? The guy is credited only as “Skye’s father,” and he just established that Skye isn’t even her real name!), threatening to reveal Simmons as a mole. He calls her bluff and every computer screen at HYDRA is plastered with Simmons’ mug, but thankfully Bobbi Morse is also revealed as a badass mole and sneaks her out (by subtly jumping off the roof and onto a cloaked SHIELD jet).
The Axis of Evil Forms
Raina begs Coulson to take her in, but he instead will use her to get to Whitehall. HYDRA will be looking for her at some point, and whether SHIELD is there when they find her is her call. She gives them Ray Manzarek’s address, and Skye goes ahead to catch a glimpse of dear old dad. But all that’s left is a framed picture of MacLachlan from his Blue Velvet days.
He watches via iPad from his car, but then smashes hours of Chinese labor camp handiwork after the SHIELD team finds the throat-slashed thugs and Skye declares papa bear a monster.
Since it’s naturally all Coulson’s fault, the dude from Made in Jersey (slim pickens at this point) brings the Obelisk — or “The Diviner” as it’s known in its native tongue — to Whitehall. And all he wants in exchange is the SHIELD director dead … as well as everyone else.
The Voltron That is FitzSimmons, and Other Loose Ends
Poor Fitzy is finally starting to accept the fact that his visions of Simmons are only in his mind, and then the real one shows up and is like, hey, how’s it going? Hopefully, this will help his words come back at a faster pace, and we can get back to the witty banter as opposed to the awkward romantic tension. Though with the way Fitz’s subconscious is praising Mack’s physique and Simmons is practically giddy over Little Miss Call Me Bobbi, we could be in for a much more interesting pair of love stories.
Oh, and the Mockingbird is Hunter’s ex-wife. So that should be fun.
As for the alien carvings, Skye presses Coulson and eventually finds out that he is following in John Garrett’s footsteps as far as reacting to the GH serum. And that dude went stone-cold crazy. So the fact that Skye hasn’t yet picked up an Exacto-Knife leads Coulson to theorize that she already had the alien DNA in her, a hypothesis that does not sit well with her. But she thinks the etchings are a map, so more to come in that department.
So, do you see what I mean? From all that, you’d think a whole hell of a lot was going on each week. Yet when you’re watching, it doesn’t feel like it’s progressing much at all. I know we’re building towards something massive, and far be it for me to ever question Marvel (okay, starting from when the plans for The Avengers were hatched), so I’m not concerned. But it feels like an emphasis on the slow roll at the present.
What do you think? Are you satisfied with the way things are moving forward? Are you tiring of the tease, or are you loving every tantalizing tingle? Are you a fan of the whole season being laid out as a buildup to Age of Ultron (with the first trailer coming during next week’s show), or do you want more meat?
Personally, I’m interested in seeing where this all goes. But I’m also a bit impatient in getting there.
You can watch Agents of SHIELD every Tuesday at 9pm on ABC.
(Image courtesy of ABC)