Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “A Hen In The Wolf House” Review

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Posted October 23, 2014 by Kenneth Rodriguez in Comic Books

If you would like to catch-up with last week’s episode, you can find it here.

Also, If you would like to see the official Avengers: Age Of Ultron trailer that was meant to be premiered in next week’s episode now, [thanks to some underhanded “leakers” (read **Cough** HYDRA **Cough**)] you can find that here

 
Simmons fitting in at HYDRA

Simmons fitting in at HYDRA

So, this week’s AoS was far and above last week’s generally light plot elements, packing the episode with almost too much plot and action. The writers have figured out how to move along at a breakneck speed while still giving the viewer a healthy dose of back-story to explain all the new characters and situations they are seeing. Plot threads are tied up, storylines settled, and tension for big reveals are left hanging with just enough satisfaction to leave you pumped for more. It seems this show has really hit its stride, got over all the speed bumps from its freshman outing and finally found its groove,.. just in time for the midseason climax in a few weeks, but on to this week’s happenings.

We begin at a military wedding, with a standard tv wedding best man speech until something,.. happens. All of the guests begin to keel over, and we see they have been poisoned by the champagne they were drinking, and it wasn’t any ordinary poison. Turns out all the caterers were HYDRA agents, and they spiked the drinks with some kind of Obelisk-derived poison, causing all of the guests to turn to stone, similar to Agent Hartley. The team begins to investigate the Obelisk-related incident (I was hoping for an NCIS crossover with all the Navy soldiers dead and everything, but alas it was not to be), and decide they need to get some intel from HYDRA to determine what they are doing with its powers. During their conversation, Skye gets a gander at Coulson’s desk and the carvings in them, it turns out he has not been able to completely stave off his… compulsions. She begins questioning him about it since he tasked her with investigating them, and he tells her any details are classified, which probes her to ask even harsher questions about his sudden change to leaving her in the dark about everything. Coulson then reprimands her about questioning his authority as director, and threatens “a conversation you won’t be able to handle”, which she does not take very well. May warns Coulson about leaving her in the dark, but he can’t afford to have her always undermining him in front of other agents, regardless of their previous history.

 

The Doctor and Raina... talking

The Doctor and Raina… talking

We then are taken to the creepy workshop of Skye’s father “The Doctor” (Kyle McLachlan) and the illegal backroom surgeries he is taking care of for some pretty rough looking crooks. Raina bursts in and needs to talk to him (since Dr. Whitehall threatened to kill her in 48 hours if she didn’t bring the Obelisk to him), and he is not amused by her interrupting his.. sensitive work. She is begging and pleading with him to let her take the Obelisk for a short time, until she can figure out how to get it back, but “The Doctor” is having none of it, he needs it to convince Skye that he is her father, as its “The only thing that will let her understand him” and finding her is his top priority. She begs him that she will get Skye for him, and he flies off the handle at her suggestion. As he is choking her to death, he reminds Raina that he picked her up out of the gutter, when all she had were her grandmother’s stories and she reminds him that he promised to make them come true (it seems Raina’s fascination with superhumans stem from these stories, which makes me wonder who her grandmother was). He is choking her within an inch of her life, as he seems to be superhumanly strong and really can’t control himself very well, but releases her from his employment and gives up on her. She runs away, knowing she needs to find something to save herself from Whitehall.

At HYDRA HQ, we see Simmons is trying to fit into her job there and gather as much intel as possible. All scientists are called up to a giant evil meeting with Dr. Whitehall, who wants the scientists to explain why their Obelisk-poison plot from earlier didn’t kill every individual they tested it on, though they weren’t completely upset since these officers were part of an anti-HYDRA task force. He points out Simmons specifically, and asks her opinion on the matter, proving that he is very aware of her presence. She claims that they didn’t do anything wrong in the design of the weapon, they just need a sample of the Obelisk to make it work, and it could have the potential to kill millions or billions of people. To this, her lab partner responds “isn’t it great?”…. whoa, that’s a whole new level of evil. This scene goes to illustrate a little of how corporations of evil like this function, looking for the ways to kill millions to gain world domination, and just how much the people that work for them buy into their rhetoric. Simmons goes out for lunch and uses a flexible display to dictate her intel about HYDRA’s world domination plants by text to speech (could that be any more conspicuous?) and then tells the display to disguise itself as a fish taco menu, which she discards.

The Doctor looking creepy

The Doctor looking creepy

Back at the Playground, Skye is pouring over the Miracle Painting with the alien carvings in the back trying to find answers. Hunter comes by and convinces her there is something more there with Coulson, and she should dig deeper until she cracks his armor. She agrees, but decides to see what Ward has to say about it first, which turns out to be some interesting tidbits. First, he explains to her that Raina knows her father and he can get them together, which she wholeheartedly dismisses as BS. She then switches gears to the carvings, and if he knows anything about them, to which he replies that Garrett started drawing them just after he was exposed to the GH 325 serum, just as we expected. He tells her once he started carving, the man Ward knew was gone, and Garrett was getting worse all the time. He asks Skye if the carvings are hers, which triggers her to realize that the carvings she saw earlier on Coulson’s desk weren’t just sketches he was using to work out the problem, their his carvings and he is going down the same path Garrett did. Skye, terrified for Coulson’s life, runs to him to ask if it is all true. He finally decides to tell her the whole truth, that he has been keeping her in the dark because he was worried the same thing would happen to her because of her GH 325 exposure, and they needed to monitor her progress. Coulson apparently didn’t start carving until he say Garrett’s, so they wanted to see if Coulson’s carvings would trigger the same effect in Skye. The fact that it has had no effect on her leads them to conclude that maybe the Kree DNA in the GH formula didn’t do anything to her because it was already there to begin with, maybe Skye is actually part alien, which they can’t entirely rule out with all the craziness occurring in their lives. She then takes another look at the carvings and comes up with a “crazy” idea… May be the carvings are actually a map. (Lets be fair, who didn’t see the carving’s grid of circles and lines and immediately think it was a map? This shouldn’t be a shocking revelation, though I think it’s actually a map of a genome, not a location, hinting at Inhuman experiments maybe??)

Raina calls and interrupts the revelation party, offering some intel to Coulson. They meet at a fancy restaurant, with the posturing of friendship between old colleagues seen in every spy movie meeting between frien-emies intact. She threatens to release a picture she captured of Simmons disguising the intel to everyone at HYDRA if Coulson doesn’t comply with her wishes to hand Skye over to her. She sets a 2-minute timer and they begin to argue, threaten and posture over who is going to budge first, the clock ticking ever closer. Skye is hearing the conversation and realizes that Ward wasn’t lying when he said Raina could get her to her father, and begins to try and say she will hand herself over to save Simmons, which May has to violently shut down, as Coulson has a plan. It seems he does, as he lets the timer his zero which outs Simmons, stunning Raina and leaving her empty handed, as that was her only play to corner Coulson. They implant a tracking device into her as well, and tell her they will help her against Whitehall as long as she makes herself useful in the process.

Bobbi Morse a.k.a. Mockingbird

Bobbi Morse a.k.a. Mockingbird

Turns out HYDRA HQ found out there was a mole, and Simmons’ fish taco menu disguise for the intel wasn’t as good as she thought. There’s a special enforcer on the case, Agent Bobbi Morse (a.k.a. Mockingbird in the comics, played by the Adrianne Palicki of the cancelled Wonder Woman tv pilot and Friday Night Lights fame). Since comics fans know she is actually a hero with a very deep connection to the Avengers in the books, we immediately know she must be doing undercover work, but she is completely into her role as a HYDRA enforcer. She asks Simmons specifically if she is the mole, since her extensive track record with S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t lend to her credibility as a HYDRA loyal. Simmons is terrified of her, and since she is not a great liar, is worried she will be caught red handed. She has some extra disguising intel displays in her desk, and luckily is able to hide them in her lab assistant’s desk before its searched, as payback for his it’s awesome to commit genocide comment earlier. They catch him with it and she thinks she is in the clear after framing him, but finds Agent Morse waiting for her as she exits a bathroom stall. She grills Simmons with more questions, making sure she knows HYDRA is everywhere, and we get the dramatic irony here since the audience knows its only a matter of time before the charade is dropped from Bobbi’s end, but Simmons is scared beyond her wits by her. It turns out this dynamic won’t last long, as Coulson calling Raina’s hand ends up really releasing the incriminating photo to everyone at HYDRA and the assault teams immediately begin swarming to capture Simmons. We then get to see that Bobbi was prepared for this(having been another double agent for Coulson within HYDRA) and she takes out her comic book counterpart’s battle staves and kicks some serious butt, making sure Simmons makes her way out safely. They jump off the roof in a last ditch effort, only to be caught by a waiting cloaked Quinjet piloted by Agent Triplett himself. (Seriously, not one Wonder Woman joke for Adrianne, with her kicking butt and jumping into an invisible jet? What a missed opportunity writers).

Meanwhile, Skye decides to go off on her own to check out the safe-house Raina told them her father was last using. She goes in, scared but determined, and finds the place to be empty, save for a picture of her father holding her as a baby. Coulson shows up to console her, saying “You’re having one hell of a day, huh?”, well that’s an understatement. We see that her father is observing this all through hidden cameras in the safe-house, relenting that he can’t be there to see her himself. May calls in that the place is clear, but there is something they need to see. As they arrive, they see a gruesome scene, with the two crooks “The Doctor” was helping earlier brutally murdered; it seems with knives and pure superhuman strength. Upon seeing the destruction he has caused, Skye claims he is actually a monster, which her father does not take too keenly, destroying his tablet in a rage and driving off into the night. Back at the Playground, Simmons is reunited with the team, and begins to have an awkward reconnection with Fitz, I am very interested to see where that progresses. Earlier in the episode we were shown that Fitz has begun to resent the imaginary Simmons his subconscious has dreamed up, and is finally starting to move on by making new friends with Mac and Hunter, so will the subconscious Simmons show up to talk to him while real Simmons is standing in front of him? Also, subconscious Simmons made it a point to explain what a “beefcake” of a man Mac was, and being an extension of himself, that means it was really Fitz admitting that and he didn’t seem to surprised about it. Was this an indication that maybe Fitz is actually bisexual, and he is actually attracted to Mac, which is another reason he allowed Mac to help him out with his speech problems and became such fast friends? This would explain his moving on from Simmons, his extreme attachment to Ward, and maybe the first indication of an LBGT character in the MCU? Hmm, an interesting thought.

Mockingbird as she will appear in full costume!

Mockingbird as she will appear in full costume!

It is also revealed that the crazy ex-wife Hunter is always talking about turns out to be none other than Bobbi Morse herself, and she used to be blond (just like her comic counterpart) but dyed it for the mission (clever Marvel, if you hadn’t given away her identity in the promo ads). We see Skye vow to take out her father no matter what, as we are shown just what he is up to now. It seems “The Doctor” wanted a meeting with Dr. Whitehall since Raina informed him he was very interested in The Obelisk, and decides to just waltz right into the HYDRA offices. When the security guards try to restrain him, he goes psycho on them, stabbing one and beating the other with his briefcase. Then, just as smoothly wipes blood off the desk and resumes his calm business demeanor (Really, Kyle McLachlan is just perfect for this role, I’m not sure anyone else could pull off the transitions from manic rage to friendly doctor so well). Turns out The Doctor wants to team up with HYDRA instead of working against each other to get Coulson, and he is willing to show them how to use the Obelisk – or The Diviner as he states it’s called in its native tongue (Kree?) – The enemy of my enemy is in full force here.

WOW! This episode really pulled out all the stops in accelerating the story train to a level this show has never experienced before. Stories like Fitz moving on and finding new friends in Mac and Hunter, and Skye finding out Coulson was carving the symbols could’ve easily been season-long stories, but they have decided to bump up the pacing exponentially over least season, getting me excited for all the new material they seem to want to get to as fast as possible. I do think the Simmons/Morse dynamic could’ve been really interesting, having two double agents in HYDRA, with one in the dark about the other’s identity could’ve given us a fascinating look into the machinations of HYDRA, but they barely scratched the surface with it. Raina’s dilemma between the two major powers seems to put her in a very interesting place, hopefully somewhere that will have her character evolve and show just why she is supposed to be so important when she isn’t just a henchman anymore. The Whitehall/Skye’s dad team-up was unexpected, as the show seemed to be setting up the two-bad guy dynamic, and it makes me wonder just who will have the power when they are working “together”, as Skye’s dad really doesn’t seem to like people undermining him.

Whitehall is not pleased to see The Doctor

Whitehall is not pleased to see The Doctor

Speaking of Skye’s father, his superhuman strength and extreme temperament seem to point to his bigger placement as a character, leading to some theories as to his comics counterpart. My favorite goes along with the dominating theory for the direction of the MCU, in that Skye, her father and Raina will be revealed to be Inhumans in some capacity (I have written about this theory before, here). Skye’s father’s personality seems to point to his identity being Maximus the Mad of Inhuman fame, and Skye and Raina being some permutation of other famous Inhuman characters. It is unlikely they will be introduced exactly as they appear in the comics, as their storylines are a bit… complicated to say the least. It is more likely the Obelisk – or The Diviner – is somehow activating the dormant powers of humans who have Kree DNA in them (similar to the Terrigen-mist fueled Inhumans, who were experimented on by the Kree [the blue aliens that showed up in AoS Season 1 and Guardians of the Galaxy]). This could lead to a storyline similar to Inhumanity in the comics, where HYDRA’s plan to cause a mass extinction event with the Obelisk derived poison leads to the activation of dormant powers of people all over the world with Kree DNA in them. This would solve the problem of introducing powers to so many different characters in the MCU( hello Iron Fist, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, Ms. Marvel), and maybe reverse the formula Captain America: The Winter Solider had on last season, this time Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s events having massive effects on the wider MCU. Either way this week’s episode was fantastic, and really sets up some awesome things in the future, and I can’t wait to see what happens.


About the Author

Kenneth Rodriguez

Kenny has been completing his pokedex since Pokemon Yellow, ever ready for his next test, comics in hand. He thinks Mass Effect is the best game series ever,.. period and loves TV and Movies dearly. Follow him on Twitter @k_rod14