Agent Darryl reporting in with this week’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” mission debrief – S2 Ep.3, codename: “Making Friends and Influencing People”
Warning! This debrief is fairly detailed and contains multiple spoilers for “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”! For the best possible experience, it’s recommended that you not read this review until after you’ve watched the MAOS episode “Heavy Is the Head.” . . . ZZZZXXXHHKXXZZZXSSSKKRKZZZXZZZ . . .
. . . ENCRYPTED S.H.I.E.L.D. TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED . . .
. . . RECEIVING DATA PACKET . . .
. . . DECRYPTING . . .
. . . DATA LINK . . . OK
. . . ORIGIN . . . UNKNOWN
TAKE A DEEP BREATH . . .
CALM YOUR MIND . . .
YOU KNOW WHAT’S BEST . . .
WHAT’S BEST IS YOU COMPLY . . .
COMPLIANCE WILL BE REWARDED . . .
ARE YOU READY TO COMPLY “WE GOT THE GEEK” READERS?
. . . END INCOMING TRANSMISSION . . .
. . . Ahem. My apologies for the transmission break there. Let’s continue.
Herr Whitehall reveals that he’s been a wine snob since he was a broke-@$$ Nazi-era HYDRA recruit while speaking with HYDRA Guy (Bakshi, his name is Mr. Bakshi!). Let’s see, $10 for a case . . . now they’re worth $2000 a bottle . . . carry the 2 . . . wait, how many bottles to a case? Sorry, math was never this agent’s strong suit. Oh hey, and reference right off the bat to that patience “Ghostie” Simmons was prescribing last week. I have no idea who Agent 33 is, but things don’t look good for her in the immediate future. My first thoughts during this scene swerved from “Jacob Loves You” from “LOST” to the “Ludovico Treatment” in “A Clockwork Orange.” And it’s called the “Faustus Method!” Awesome! This is totally up Doctor Faustus’ alley and now I’m really hoping we’ll get an actual appearance from the bad doctor himself soon.
And we finally get to see “for real” Simmons! Ah “Belle & Sebastian,” I’m not going to lie, seeing my wife geek out to the music just a little during this segment pretty much made the whole episode for me. Well done, Marvel.
Geez Simmons, you get up, run and then hardly even touch your breakfast burrito. God help the girl, indeed. That’s hardly any way to start your day now that you’re working for . . . oh, I see. HYDRA. Well then . . . THAT’s what you’ve been up to.
Cut to Skye blowing away HYDRA targets in the shooting gallery of the “Playground.” Looks like we’ve got this season’s major conflict being set up here. May gives Skye the standard SO lecture of the week before throwing a hot pose with a sniper rifle. Mac and Hunter roll up and Hunter quickly loses a bet to Mac over whether Skye had attended S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy or not. May drops some heavy hints that it isn’t over between her and Hunter since last week’s “Icer” incident. Hunter gets Skye to give up how she’s never crossed anyone off and I’m left with the distinct impression that he’s fishing for intel on her.
Coulson gets back from a trip in the “Bus” and confirms to May that Agent 33 has been lost to HYDRA. We already knew that she’d been captured, of course, but something about the wording Phil uses makes me think he’s referring to something deeper.
Simmons meanwhile, is on the hot seat with her new boss. He needs as much information as possible on “Project Blizzard” and Simmons happens to notice the subject in question is actually Donnie Gill from last season’s episode “Seeds.”
Aaaand then we cut to Donnie himself, now hiding out in Marrakech, Morocco. Funny, there was a mention of Morocco last season, too. I’ll have to go back and look into it further. After Donnie’s suspicions are roused, he freezes his host and when two HYDRA agents try to intercept, he turns one into a spy-sicle and spooks the other into rabbiting. Donnie checks the frozen agent’s itinerary and confirms they were to capture him and meet up at a ship docked nearby before he splits the scene.
After a long day of hailing in the name of HYDRA, Simmons finally gets home . . . but someone’s gotten there first. It’s Coulson and after a quick fake out, which ultimately confirms Simmons’ breakfast was an undercover communiqué to S.H.I.E.L.D. after all, they sit down to a grass-fed steak and potato dinner (And kale! Can’t forget to note Trevor Slattery’s favorite from the One-Shot “All Hail the King”, can we?).
As Simmons gives Coulson the low down on HYDRA’s interest in Donnie Gill, Coulson in turn drops some tips on how to advance while undercover and let’s her know Fitz is doing okay. Then, through the magic of television, we’re whisked ahead a day with Coulson back at the “Playground.” We get a quick fill in on what Donnie had been up to at the “Sandbox” since last season and since Fitz knew him best, Phil presses for as much as he can remember about him. Fitz has some trouble finishing his sentences and Mac does his best to do it for him. It really does look like the beginning of a beautiful friendship for MacFitz.
Maybe it’s just me, but it sounded like each of Mac’s sentence-finishers was a description of the seven dwarfs. “Angry? (Grumpy) On drugs? (Dopey) Friendly? (Happy) Sleepy? (well duh, that’s the one that got me thinking on this track)”. Fitz then makes a crack about contacting Simmons if they want more intel and, considering the scene just before, it hits pretty close to home.
Meanwhile, the Skye/Ward angle continues to bore me to death as Grant spills fairly obvious HYDRA policy when recruiting “Gifteds.”
Donnie arrives at the Port of Casablanca and freezes the ship in its berth. Subtle.
Simmons tries to lay on the charm with her boss, but gets called to the principal’s office for her efforts. Seems Bakshi’s not happy about something he’s found out about her. Uh oh. As it turns out though, HYDRA’s well aware of where Jemma is from, it’s her previous connection to Donnie Gill that has Bakshi’s hackles up. He presses her for more information and she brazens it out. Well done, Simmons. However, Bakshi all but promises that her loyalty will be tested.
Dr. Whitehall, all the while, is giving Agent 33 a lesson on how the giant sequoia flourishes as a metaphor for HYDRA when Bakshi steps in to set up Simmons’ loyalty test just as promised. Whitehall continues applying the “Faustus Method” to Agent 33 and I can’t help feeling this might be a sneak peek into Simmons’ own future.
The S.H.I.E.L.D. gang catches wind of Donnie’s “ice-capades” and then it’s off to Morocco. Trip needs a geography lesson, though. He says ”an iceberg in the Middle East,” but Morocco is in northwest Africa, technically the Near East.
MacFitz stay behind and we learn that we haven’t seen Koenig in awhile because he’s on assignment. Call me crazy, but I have a bad feeling about Billy and his mission. Somehow I don’t think Patton Oswalt will have to worry about losing a regular role on the show, though. Between Coulson’s mysterious “source” and Skye’s cryptic “asset,” Fitz is feeling left out of the loop, but Mac’s just hot to play some X-box since Koenig’s out. I expect it’ll be “Call of Duty” he’ll be playing later.
Meanwhile, Simmons gets trotted out and suited up to meet Donnie on Hydra’s behalf, but it’s pretty bad timing because Donnie’s taking a stand, telling HYDRA he’s not interested and tired of running.
“Ghost” Jemma’s a bit like a twisted Jiminy Cricket. I can’t quite decide if she’s really on Fitz’s side anymore. But, in the end, it looks like her trying to stop Fitz from opening up Vault D while everyone is out is for Fitz’s benefit because he sure seems pretty shaken up facing Ward, his and Simmons’ attempted killer.
In Morocco, Bakshi assures Simmons he’ll be in her ear the entire time she’s with Donnie.
Up above, waaay up above, Skye’s about to leap out of the “Bus” for the first time since last season’s “Lola dive” with Coulson. She looks a little nervous around Hunter, but then just before jumping out of the plane, not so much. Huh. Go figure.
Ward gives Fitz the old prisoner BS, but Fitz ain’t buying it. Finding it too hard to express his hatred with words like Skye, Fitz instead opts to show Ward what it was like to nearly die by purging all the oxygen from his cell. Ward’s a slick talker, though and gives Fitz just the right intel to get Fitz to back off and run for the comm to alert the field team of the jeopardy they’re in.
Simmons makes contact with Donnie, as May, Skye and Hunter board the ship. Fitz interrupts Mac’s X-box time in the “Playground” and sure enough, it’s “Call of Duty” on the screen. He needs help contacting the “Bus” to warn Coulson of whatever juicy tidbit Ward had fed him.
As Simmons continues to try and calmly talk down a deadly Donnie Gill, Bakshi gives her the Zen mantra that helps HYDRA assets to comply.
Fitz lets Coulson know that Donnie had already been recruited to HYDRA at the “Sandbox” and just needs to be activated with the trigger phrase, which of course, is what Simmons is repeating to him right now. Coulson gives the team the order to silence any HYDRA agent speaking to Donnie. Hunter’s got Simmons dead to rights . . . and has no idea who she really is! This really is spy drama at its finest right here.
At the last second, May recognizes Jemma and more than happily shoots Hunter to prevent his kill shot. Trip’s bummed he didn’t get to do it, though (Yeesh, these guys really do hold a grudge against last week’s “Icer” incident!). So now the field team knows Simmons is Coulson’s HYDRA mole and they’ll need to keep her cover from being blown.
Simmons is running from a now very alert and angry Donnie when Bakshi intervenes and puts the HYDRA Zen whammy on him. And just like that, Donnie’s full on HYDRA now. Bakshi’s first order to him is to freeze every S.H.I.E.L.D. agent on board.
It looks bad for the gang, but Skye gets the shot (now that she’s completely proficient with the sniper rifle that May introduced her to the day before) and appears to cross off Donnie in cold blood . . . heh, see what I did there? Simmons shoves Bakshi out of the line of fire, “proving” her loyalty and they escape unharmed. Skye confirms her cover is intact to the field team and it’s all wrapped up.
Later, at the “Playground,” Hunter confirms he and May are now even for the “Icer” animosity, but she just pretty much lets Hunter know that Trip is the next in line to get some sweet come-uppance from him. Trip’s happy he’s still got a chance to get his own licks in, too. May and Skye discuss Simmons’ limited ability to lie under pressure and Skye describes it as a “horrorshow.” Cute. Nice little reference to “A Clockwork Orange,” there. Very appropriate.
Fitz and Coulson have a heart-to-heart about both Ward and Simmons and when Fitz gets just a little high and mighty, Phil reminds him that he IS Director and has all kinds of secrets now.
Back in Whitehall’s office, we’re introduced to his new, completely loyal admin assistant, Agent 33 while Bakshi asks him to move Simmons further up the ladder. I don’t know, I’ve got a really hinky feeling about this being Simmons’ future at HYDRA.
Skye drops in on Vault D to discuss the finer points of brainwashing with Ward. Something Grant confesses to have never partaken of. He says it’s the truth and then once again tries to intrigue Skye’s daddy issues with news of his continued existence. Skye acts like she’s not interested, but then we see her heart rate going through the roof afterwards.
So, now we’ve gotten the payoff to the mystery of what Jemma’s been up to, but there’s still Coulson’s post-GH 325 affliction, Skye and her blood-dripping dad, Raina, the Obelisk and how it all ties back to Agent Carter and the Howlers, plus the strange family history of Eric and Billy Koenig and the fate of Simmons’ career in HYDRA to look forward to!