Agent Darryl reporting in with this weeks “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” mission debrief – S2 Ep.5, codename: “A Hen In the Wolf House”
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 agents not read this review until after they have watched the MAOS episode “A Hen In the Wolf House.” Enjoy!
This week begins with a wedding ceremony, featuring a very large fountain in the centre, where a number of Naval officers are in attendance. As everyone raises a glass and takes a sip to toast the bride and groom, many of the guests fall to the ground, suffering from what appears to be the effects of the deadly 084 known as the Obelisk. The banquet porters all load up in a van and hightail it out of there as they report in to Bakshi with the results. They’ve tested a derivative of the Obelisk using another victim’s flesh as a sample, but by HYDRA’s count, the results are not great: Only 8 confirmed dead, the rest, sick and frightened.
At the “Playground,” Trip, Hunter, Skye and May are also reviewing the deadly wedding’s results with slightly more empathy. As they enter Coulson’s office, Phil is scratching some very familiar symbols onto the top of his desk. As the team reviews options to get a closer look at the scene of the crime, Phil confirms the case is being dealt with tightly through the Navy and CDC, so there’s no access. Trip suggests pulling Simmons’ strings to get some intel, HYDRA-side, but there’s been no contact from her yet. Skye notices Coulson’s desktop carvings, but he brushes it off, so she and Hunter try to get Coulson to open up about the “source” of fresh carving samples he’s been providing her. Coulson immediately and aggressively pulls rank and shut them down. Yeowtch! That stings. After the team vacates the office, summarily chastised, May hangs back and suggests to Coulson that he open up to Skye, since she is personally involved in the alien hieroglyphic mystery, as well.
Meanwhile, we get a glimpse into the life of Skye’s mysterious father, “The Doctor,” as he performs a back alley bullet extraction for two petty thugs. Raina interrupts and begs for the Obelisk back. In a dramatic exchange between the two, we learn that Raina can’t decide who she fears more: Daniel Whitehall or the Doctor. It seems Big Skye Daddy is also aware of Whitehall’s advanced age . . . interesting, not to mention the hints about Raina’s own backstory. Instead of turning over the Obelisk though, he sends Raina to beg for mercy from Whitehall and seems to give everyone in the room the impression that he has some serious control issues.
In HYDRA’s labs, Simmons and her former supervisor/current lab partner Kenneth are trying to untangle the secrets of Bessie the Hellcow (an enemy of Howard the Duck’s in the Marvel comics and fun little nod to Guardians of the Galaxy’s after credits scene starring the web-footed wonder himself), when Bakshi calls them both into a packed boardroom and they’re both given information packets. Kenneth immediately recognizes Whitehall as ONE of HYDRA’s new heads. Although it’s quickly determined that the reverse is not the case, Simmons however, does make an impression on Whitehall. Of course, Bakshi did talk her up quite a bit a few episodes ago and who knows what’s happened in the meantime . . . He quizzes her on whether the Obelisk could be turned into a weapon once it’s hand and seems happy with her response. Kenneth thinks it’s pretty awesome to kill billions of people. Simmons, less so.
On the “Bus,” “Jemma-ny Cricket” and Fitz quietly note the actions of Skye and Hunter before “Phantom” Simmons takes an interest in Mac’s physique and Fitz boldly confronts her with her own unreality. Seems I’d put all my money on the wrong reveal here. So now Fitz finally manages to overcome his sense of loneliness in Simmons’ absence and with that, she disappears. Skye and Hunter’s actions, meanwhile, amount to her swiping the painting from last week’s caper to study it privately and Hunter following to make it a little less private. Hunter slyly pushes Skye into snooping further into Coulson’s involvement with the alien script while once again dropping nebulous backstory details about him and his ex-wife before suggesting Skye question Ward to learn more. Which she then immediately does. Ward spills that his source for information on Skye’s father is Raina before they get into the business of the hieroglyphics, a conversation that really amounts to a recap of last season’s appearances of the alien writing.
Meanwhile, Raina shows up at HYDRA’s very public corporate HQ and notices Simmons leaving the building to scarf some “Pescado Loco” and follows. Simmons gives us, and a snoopy little Raina, a demo of the fast food dead drop protocol we’ve only gotten glimpses of so far to alert S.H.I.E.L.D. of HYDRA’s plans to use the Obelisk to cause a global disaster.
Skye bursts into Coulson’s office to confront him about the truth of his carving source . . . himself. Phil quickly surmises Skye pieced it together after speaking with Ward and assures her he’s got it under control. He also admits to Skye that she’d been closely observed (which might explain May being her SO now) to see if she exhibited any of the side effects Garrett and Coulson had after being injected with GH325. Because she hadn’t, Coulson confesses it may be because she’s an alien herself (it’s not completely out there, I mean it had been pretty firmly established last season that Skye was an 084). As Skye tries to wrap her head around this, May steps in to let Coulson know Raina is calling again. We don’t even know where the “Playground” is! How did she even get this number? Coulson picks up and they set up a meeting over a matter she describes as urgent.
At HYDRA, we’re introduced to Security Chief Barbara Morse and she’s on the hunt for the mole sending secret messages to S.H.I.E.L.D. in crazy high-tech fish taco wrappers. Look out Simmons, it looks like Raina went dumpster diving and then dropped that off at reception to blow your cover! Morse gives Simmons the hairy eyeball and Jemma continues to impress me with her skill at brazening out a tense situation, but it’s not solid. Fortunately, at that moment Kenneth gets pinched for having a flex screen/taco wrapper in his desk drawer. Jemma, Jemma, Jemma. I know he wants to see billions dead, but you are so naughty planting that on him!
Phil waits for Raina at a restaurant named “La Comtesse Furieuse.” Uh, hello! What? “The Furious Countess?” Sounds to me like one of my all-time favorite female S.H.I.E.L.D. agents might be showing up some time soon. That would be Nick Fury’s main squeeze, the Countess Valentina Allegra de Fontaine. Suddenly the prominent fountain in the opening scene is taking on a lot more meaning. Hunter sits at a table nearby as May covers the kitchen door and Skye sweet-talks the Chef. Raina steps in and immediately begins charming Phil as they sit down. Hunter picks up on Raina’s flirtatious nature right away. Coulson’s definitely running the smart play keeping level headed agents around to back him up when dealing with her. They exchange some soft-spoken banter over the Obelisk and the Raina throws down her trump card: A picture of Simmons crumpling up a fish taco wrapper. Wow. Such damning evidence. But still, I suppose it would be enough to set HYDRA’s Amazonian watchdog on point. And geez, she is TALL standing next to Simmons in the bathroom as she continues to menace her. It’s clear to see why Adrianne Palicki had been cast as the Distinguished Competition’s Wonder Woman at one time. Raina threatens to send her photo of “FishSimmons” to HYDRA in exchange for Skye, which totally blindsides Phil . . . to say nothing of Skye’s reaction as Coulson asks why and she hears the answer over the open comm: to be reunited with her father. Phil doesn’t negotiate and May holds Skye back from busting in. Skye SAYS it’s to save Simmons and questions Coulson’s judgment in his current state, but it’s pretty clear her desire to find out who her father is completely overrode any S.H.I.E.L.D. training May had drilled into her up to now. May’s backing up Coulson though and holds her back. Raina’s poker face begins to slip and then it’s all over.
The cat is out of the bag. The photo is sent and we cut to Simmons very awkwardly walking to her desk as every HYDRA agent in the room stares her down. There’s a picture of her and the taco wrapper on every monitor. Way to go, Fish Breath. Bakshi enters with two goons and Simmons makes a break for it, but is soon faced down by another two goons and HYDRA’s answer to Isla the She-Wolf herself when, with a look that clearly says “My God, this little twit can’t do a thing and now I’ll have to blow my cover,” Morse suddenly pulls out a distinctive pair of short battle-staves that any regular reader of the now classic “West Coast Avengers” series would recognize right away and whacks the living hell out of the two HYDRA goons as effectively as either Agents May or Romanoff would have. For once in her life, Simmons has no idea what’s going on, but that’s alright, this moment’s for the fans anyway. THIS is Mockingbird and a finer introduction to the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent/West Coast Avenger extraordinaire could not be made.
Raina, not knowing Simmons had unexpected backup on the inside, is shocked Coulson would hang her out to dry and so, having the upper hand in this battle of wills, Phil presses her for intel. The Doctor is running Raina to get Skye and HYDRA is running her now to get the Obelisk. She begs Coulson to take her in, but he declines. However, it seems he’s got something for her to do anyway because Hunter zaps her leg with a “shieldy-tracer.” So now, being run by the Doctor, HYDRA and Coulson, she’s officially the hardest working spy on this show!
Simmons and Agent “Call me Bobbi, everybody does” Morse make a break for the roof to meet the extraction team she claims is already waiting there, as Bakshi and his two thugs close in. Simmons hits the roof as Bobbi stays behind to confront them, but we never actually see the exchange . . . part of me feels like this might be a setup for Simmons. On the roof, there’s no extraction team. Nothing. Looks like it was all a setup after all. Then, Morse bursts out onto the roof as one remaining HYDRA thug pursues, firing at her. She grabs Simmons and pushes them both over the side of the building seemingly to their deaths . . . only to land ten feet down on nothing! As the Quinjet decloaked, I had to admit I’d forgotten all about both it and Agent Triplett, who opens the hatch of his formerly invisible plane to let Simmons and the former Wonder Woman in. Ha! Take that, DC comics!
As Raina leaves, Phil and May go over the intel she’d just given up and since the Doctor’s address just happens to be close by they decide to swing by and knock . . . but Skye’s already gone to find her father, leaving everyone else behind. At his back alley practice, Skye searches for her father, but it’s abandoned, except for a photo of a much younger Kyle MacLachlan. I’m talkin’ production still from “Blue Velvet” young here. Phil catches up and when she needs it, gives Skye a shoulder to cry on . . . as her father watches it all on a hidden spy camera. Hunter shows up and suddenly Skye is dropping one-liners again. There is definitely some kind of chemistry at work here. May calls in with her recon report of the rest of the building. Seems Doctor Daddy lost control after all and took it out on the two petty criminals we’d seen him with earlier. Yikes. Skye calls him a monster and the Doc, still watching it all on spy cam, flips out.
Afterwards, Agents Triplett, Simmons and Morse . . . er, sorry “Bobbi,” return to the “Playground” and Jemma immediately drops some very disturbing language about brainwashing and complying before we’re treated to the reunion we’ve been waiting for all this season. FitzSimmons is back! Or are they? A lot has changed for both of them and suspect we’ll find out exactly how much next week. Mac is happy to see Bobbi again, but Hunter not so much. THIS is the evil ex-wife he’s grumbled on about at length! This will definitely require a review of every mention Hunter has made of her now. Wow. Did not see that coming. Well done, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Turns out, it was Morse who’d vouched for Hunter to Coulson in the first place, too. Skye spends some time working out some father issues with Coulson, the substitute father figure himself. And after agreeing to keep Skye fully in the loop, he reveals his latest “carving.” He has no idea what it means, but Skye thinks she does. It’s a map.
In Whitehall’s HYDRA office, Bakshi gives his latest report as the Doctor casually strolls on in, rather jocularly, looking for all the world as deadly as a vacuum cleaner salesman about to start his pitch. Then, when Whitehall orders them to eject him from the room, he kills two elite HYDRA guards like it’s nothing. He opens a case holding the Obelisk and reveals that it’s called a “Diviner” in its native tongue. The Doctor offers to teach Whitehall not only how to USE it, but to SURVIVE it, as well. And why? Because they both want Coulson, and everyone else, dead. EVERYONE else? That doesn’t sound good at all . . .