After a couple of really good episodes, ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ returns to Dullsville this week. That’s a shame, but at least we’re introduced to a new character who could prove useful.
Agent Simmons working undercover in HYDRA seemed like a really interesting storyline that could finally give this underutilized character a chance to extend her range. Naturally, the show’s writers have to end it prematurely and bring her back home to dote on Fitz some more. Ho hum.
In ‘A Hen in the Wolf House’, HYDRA’s head baddie Dr. Whitehall has tasked his scientists with reverse engineering the Obelisk artifact, which is currently in the possession of Skye’s as-yet unnamed father (Kyle MacLachlan). Whitehall intends to weaponize it. Simmons frets that such power could result in the deaths of billions of people – to which her nerdy scientist coworker Kenneth opines, “Pretty awesome, huh?”
When Whitehall realizes that he has a mole in the organization, he locks down the lab and brings in an intimidating enforcer (Adrianne Palicki) to root out the traitor. As she sniffs around Simmons, her attention is diverted to Kenneth by the discovery of Simmons’ flex screen thingamabob in his desk. Kenneth gets hauled off for torture and possibly worse.
If it seems out of character for Simmons to set up an innocent person (relatively innocent in this instance, anyway) to be killed, she probably didn’t. We’ll come back to this momentarily.
As that’s happening, Raina is terrified of what Whitehall will do to her if she doesn’t deliver the real Obelisk to him as he demanded. She goes to Skye’s father, who’s currently working as an underworld backroom surgeon for mobsters. He is unmoved by her predicament and refuses to let her have the artifact. Here we learn that Daddy has some very serious anger issues, and he’s really quite pissed off that Raina hasn’t brought his daughter to him yet. Every time he gets mad, we see his face doused in green light. Is that supposed to be a clue that he’s somehow affected by gamma radiation like the Hulk? (Yeah, in case you’ve forgotten, Hulk is part of this universe.)
Out of options, Raina heads to the HYDRA lab to beg Whitehall for mercy. On her way, she spots Simmons acting squirrely, immediately puts 2 and 2 together, and hatches a new plan. Raina contacts Coulson and insists on meeting at a crowded restaurant. She tells him that she knows about Simmons being a mole and threatens to expose her with an emailed photo to HYDRA unless Coulson lets her take Skye back to Daddy (presumably hoping that Daddy will then give her the Obelisk in return, which she can bring to Whitehall and be off the hook with everybody).
Coulson doesn’t like Raina’s deal and calls her bluff. He refuses to give up Skye, even though Skye is willing to go if it will save Simmons. Raina panics (she didn’t actually want to harm Simmons), but can’t back down and lets the email go out. Coulson seems unconcerned.
At the HYDRA lab, everybody got the email. Whitehall and his goons march toward Simmons. She tries to run down some back hallways until she’s blocked by the mean enforcer girl who, rather than take Simmons into custody, goes all badass, beats up a bunch of HYDRA guards, and ferries Simmons to safety. Yes, she’s actually been another S.H.I.E.L.D. mole the whole time, and Coulson knew that she’d protect Simmons. (I assume that she planted the flex screen on Kenneth.) Chased by guards, the two run to the building roof and leap off, landing on an invisible jet piloted by Trip, who escorts them back to base. The enforcer girl introduces herself as Agent Morse, but please call her Bobbi.
Her plan foiled, Raina begs Coulson for asylum. Coulson turns her down. She gives Skye enough information to find Daddy anyway. By the time Skye gets to his warehouse (followed by Coulson), Daddy is already gone, but he’s watching on security cameras. Skye finds some dead mobsters and thinks her father must be a monster. That doesn’t exactly put him in a good mood.
Back at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, Lance is rather shocked to learn that Bobbi is now part of the team, because she’s the she-bitch ex-wife he’s been complaining about! Simmons has an awkward reunion with Fitz. Coulson promises not to lie to Skye anymore, and shows her the alien writing he’s been carving. He still has no idea what it is, but Skye thinks it’s a map.
Whitehall is busy dismantling the HYDRA lab when Daddy suddenly shows up out of the blue, proffering the Obelisk (which he calls “The Diviner”) as a peace offering. He says that they have a common enemy in Coulson, whom he very much wants to kill. In fact, he wants to kill everyone. These two guys working together is probably not a good thing.
Assuming that she doesn’t get killed off in a week like Lucy Lawless did earlier this season, I think that Adrianne Palicki is a good addition to this cast. Kyle MacLachlan is a little hammy (OK, maybe a lot hammy) as Skye’s angry Daddy, but he could be a decent villain. Nevertheless, despite the attempts to throw in some plot twists and a big action climax, this episode felt very predictable and stale to me. It doesn’t have much humor, and I’m disappointed at the sudden wrap-up of the undercover Simmons storyline, which could have been developed into something with a better payoff in the future.
Next week’s episode promises to be accompanied by a trailer for ‘The Avengers: Age of Ultron’, but will the episode itself be any good?