Welcome back, true believers! Recapping from last week’s episode: Fitz is still crazy, Coulson’s still busy, May’s still fighting, Ward’s still in lockdown, and yet Simmons was still nowhere to be found. Tonight’s episode, entitled, “Making Friends and Influencing People”, will show us what has become of Agent Simmons and her apparent heel turn against the team to join the ranks of Hydra. Also in this episode, the return of one of the super powered baddies from the first season, Blizzard. Is Simmons really an agent of Hydra? Will the team be able to talk some sense into her? Will Spider-Man really be brought into the Avengers movie franchise? Two of these questions will be answered once you hit the jump…
We start our episode off with agents of Hydra beginning to pick off former agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., in order to bring them into their fold. Somewhat of a Clockwork Orange vibe, only to lead into a very upbeat and happy scene of the absent Agent Simmons, running through her seemingly normal morning routine. She wakes up, she brushes her teeth, she runs on the treadmill, and goes to her office, that just so happens to be run by Hydra. Above all else this season, one of the great things that the producers learned from the previous chapter was to put the characters into uncomfortable and out of the box scenarios. Having Agent Simmons go from studious lab rat of the team into being an undercover agent in the depths of Hydra is a nice twist, and gives us some nice moments with the character that were necessary from her being a cog in the ensemble wheel.
There’s another side to this coin however in the fact that the entire scheme that Coulson and Simmons cooked up seemed a tad flimsy at best. It’s amazing that she got as far as she did with the idea that she simply was working for “science” and Hydra accepted that explanation lock, stock, and barrel. One would think they would have strapped Simmons in the Clockwork Orange chair, much like the tortured Agent 33, but it’s a minor quibble. I think Hydra really works for this season, as well as the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general, by being nearly as charismatic as the heroes they’re fighting. It’s the reason why we’re able to relate to characters like Magneto or Dr. Doom, in so much as, a different step in the opposite direction and our heroes could have easily become those they fought. This version of Hydra is great to watch in their explanation can almost make sense, albeit they are still extremely twisted. I hope that we get a good figurehead on the same level as Bill Paxton’s Garrett from last season.
My favorite scene of the night came in the form of Fitz finally confronting the now Hannibal Lecter-esque Agent Ward. Prior to this scene, Fitz seemed to be wearing a little thin throughout the night, displaying his brain damage by merely forgetting a word here and there and needing the new recruit, Mac, to communicate with the rest of the team. Upon meeting Ward once again, Fitz breaks down and nearly kills Ward, taking the oxygen from his cell, much like the situation Fitz found himself in. Seeing Fitz’s desperation and anger here, not only at Ward, but about his situation in not being able to help his teammates on the field, rang true here and Iain De Caestecker did a great job throughout it.
The “magic macguffin” of the episode came in the form of Marvel’s Blizzard, returning this season as a kid on the run, attempting to be recruited by both S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra. The ice effects were OK, though I wish they would cut loose a little in the powers department. Just last week, while he ultimately put on some of the better scenes of the episode, Crusher Creel’s powers were scaled back. Having Blizzard here simply encasing whatever he touched into ice made me long for Xmen: Days of Future Past’s Iceman as he zipped from wall to wall on bridges made of ice. As for the character himself, Gill’s pretty much your standard angry youth, nothing to really write home about.
Ultimately, I thought the episode was solid as it set up Simmons’ new situation and gave some more motivations into what exactly Hydra is up to. I think the problem with their being so many moving parts to the series is that we only have so much time per episode though. Agent Hunter, who was such a focal point during last week’s story, was relegated to background player with a wise crack here and there to Agent May. As the season moves forward, I hope we can give a little more focus on some of the more shallow aspects of the show.
– Some fantastic humor throughout this episode, especially the Coulson/Simmons dinner scene.
– They sure are seemingly setting up the path of Fitz becoming a full blown villain. With the way Coulson treated him at the end and his continuing mental decay, perhaps he’ll be joining Hydra at some point later on.
– Skye shooting Gill at the end was somewhat surprising, guess she really has transitioned into a full on agent. Her scenes with Ward were also played to great effect.
– In my heart of hearts, I was somewhat hoping that Blizzard would join the team. While it’s cool to see a character from the Marvel Universe appear here and there throughout the episodes, it would be nice to see someone with powers join up the team and kick butt alongside the rest of the non-powered folks.
– “I imagine they’re all Ward.”
– “Apology 470, Agent May.”
– “Sriracha? Beer? That’s all? What kind of diet is that?”
– “While I cook, you debrief.”
– “Have you made friends?”
– “I’m not afraid. I’m pissed off.”
– “What the hell man! I just took out the boomers!”
– “You don’t give the orders, Trainspotting.” “But I’m not Scottish!”