Man, this was a good episode. Not so much for the action scenes, the reveals, or any of that, but just for the sheer amount of groundwork laid for the rest of the season. There’s enough foreboding foreshadowing forecast in this…. third episode to make material for at least the rest of this season, if not part of the next.
If you haven’t watched it, I’m about to go into detail. So please comply and stop reading here. You will find that patience will be rewarded.
Making Friends and Influencing People
So we see behind the curtain a bit and see immortal Hydra scientist Dr. Whitehall being very creepy as he tries to brainwash an extremely uncooperative subject (who seems to be an ex-SHIELD agent, number 33). She fights, he persists. He’s lived however long now, what’s another few more hours.
We get to see an awesome sixties-spy-movie adaptation of Jemma Simmons’ wake-up routine, and also get to see the real Simmons for the first time this season. She merrily bounces off to work, where she sits at her lab table to examine some samples. Cut to camera two, Hydra logo on the wall behind her, like no big deal.
With our SHIELD team, Coulson has just returned from an unsuccessful recruitment mission, frustrated that they keep losing the “best and the brightest to Hydra”. Skye has been training with May – seemingly equally between skills and keeping her heart rate down and her emotions under control. From the first episode last Season, Skye was the hot head who wanted May to teach her how to be the Ice Queen.
Speaking of chilling out, we get to see our second gifted created by SHIELD. I’ll count Deathlok, and now Donnie Gill, the engineering student from The Academy who started frosting the windows of his helicopter lift? Yeah. He has honed those powers, learned to control them, and can now instantly freeze people with his icy grip. And he does so. A lot.
Luckily for a lot of people, Simmons is a double agent, working for SHIELD inside Hydra. There’s a switch for you. She and Coulson share a very healthy meal in her apartment, and she tells him that Hydra’s looking for Donnie. That means SHIELD is now looking for Donnie. Either to keep him safe, keep him out of the hands of the enemy, get him onto their side, or whatever it takes to make sure he’s not an evil force in the world.
Fitz is left behind while everyone else goes on a mission. He decides to explore the base, knowing they’re hiding things from him, and he finds one of them: Ward. Big confrontation. Everyone on the team was hurt by Ward’s betrayal, but Fitz is the only one with semi-permanent damage – due to the prolonged oxygen deprivation. And since he’s bad with words, he decides to show Ward exactly what he means and turns down the prisoner’s oxygen. We don’t get to see him turn it back on, but it looks like it wasn’t long enough to cause any damage this time.
Hydra and SHIELD both close in on Donnie on a ship frozen in a Moroccan harbor. Hydra is sending Simmons in first, partially to test her loyalty, partially because she knew Donnie and might be able to break through the somewhat icy reception he’s given before. While they talk, she almost gets taken about by the new guy who doesn’t know her well enough. Luckily, May recognizes her and shoots him just a little bit so he doesn’t kill Simmons. A chase ensues, leaving Donnie with Hydra on one side of a frozen door and our team locked inside. Whitehall’s crony reactivates Donnie’s programming. Yup, he’d been brainwashed before – he helped Hydra take over the Sandbox – and now he’s back on Hydra’s side.
He starts freezing the boat (with SHIELD trapped inside), but Skye takes him out with a sniper rifle.
They let Simmons and Hydra escape, to maintain her cover, and they take home a bunch of Hydra crates from the cargo ship. Everyone’s happy.
Except Hydra is recognizing that SHIELD is becoming a threat (duh). Unfortunately, they also recognize Simmons is an asset (also duh) and start making plans to bring her “upstairs”. Oh, and Ward just straight up tells Skye that her dad is alive and looking for her. And her little FitBit thingy shows her pulse shooting through the roof.
Reactions and Thoughts
This is a very well told episode. There is a lot of time given to things that will be important later, when there won’t be time to explain them.
They spent quite a lot of time showing the brainwashing process in detail. They also made a point of the subject being a very tough cookie to crumble, yet by the end of the episode she is happy to comply. A lot of the words used to brainwash, reactivate that brainwashing, and just to communicate with the subjects seemed familiar to how Creel was communicating. Clearly, Hydra is not above brainwashing Gifteds, or important agents. Ward pointed out that it doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.
Speculation! Simmons is going to get brainwashed. Coulson will think she’s still on his side, and that’ll cost him…something. They’ll get her back, but there’s always the threat of someone reactivating her. Does anyone else see the story going this direction? Out of everything, that seems like the biggest threat to SHIELD for me.
Fitz now knows that Simmons is on an assignment, though he doesn’t know what kind. You can tell he’s still hurt, but he’s not broken. He also knows there’s a lot being withheld from him because Coulson is Director, so yeah. We also saw his morals shift a little in this episode. He was very close to killing Ward. I was nervous just because I’m still not certain how well his brain works in which capacities. It seems to just be communication, but if he has one of his tantrums too long to remember to turn the oxygen back on, we could have had a very dead Ward on the plane. Or one who forgot all the intel he’s being kept around to tell.
Also, how did Fitz get a hold of that iPad that controlled all that stuff? I’ll buy him breaking into the Vault, but really, who left that just sitting around?
We also saw Skye’s first kill. How that’s going to affect her, what that truly means to her, we’ll find out. Probably next episode.
Speaking of next episode, the preview of next week had some interesting points. First, May and Coulson tango. That’s just going to be fun. Second, the painting they’re investigating has more of that circle-circle-dot-dot kind of code that seems to be everywhere (Russian compound, obelisk, Garret and Coulson’s brains…). This code is definitely the driving force of this season, and I kind of want it as a rug. And then explosions, fight scenes, laser grids, this is going to be spy-tastic.
I’m looking forward to getting more answers, but I know I’m just going to get more questions.
Until next week, Geek Out!