Classified spoilers ahead. Watch episode seven before proceeding.
We get a little more serious about the spy games in Marvel’s agents of SHIELD: The Hub. Then again, we don’t. It’s quite a tightrope that the show walks on each episode as they try to bring forth the cloak and dagger and the quirky geek credentials. Sometimes it works, sometimes it falls a little flat. In the end, the show eschews the brain for the heart, but that is a good thing than a bad one for the most part.
If it was Simmons’ time to shine last week, this week it’s Fitz. The show begins with Coulson getting captured of all people. It’s a ruse of course, as he’s really going in to save his would-be interrogator, an undercover SHIELD agent. It’s time to visit The Hub, one of SHIELD’s classified locations.
As everyone’s focused on what the outcome of the information will be, you can see Skye’s curiosity perk up. This is obviously a place with a wealth of information, including the classified documents that explain her parents’ disappearance. Unfortunately she, Fitz and Simmons are shut off from the briefing room once the rest of the mission is classified Level 8 . Only Agents May and Ward are allowed to come along with Coulson as Level 8 Agent Victoria Hand reveals the situation.
A separatist movement (Star Wars lexicon: when they’re good they’re rebels, when they’re bad they’re separatists) wants to split from Russia and Georgia. To achieve their means, they’ve somehow acquired/built a device that can trigger weapons to fire at a distance – including missiles and nuclear devices. This calls for a black ops operative, which would be Ward and a high tech specialist. Cue Leo Fitz getting his cart of gadgets stuck in an automatic door.
The dynamic of the odd couple works well with Ward and Fitz, and of course the ackward scientist (that’s Fitz in case you need to know) is trying to take it seriously. It doesn’t help when Simmons can’t help it but pack him a sandwich for his adventure. Eventually they’re on their way.
The unlikely duo end up in a bit of pickle at their first destination. As they get stop at gunpoint at a noisy bar they learn that their contact is dead. With the rest of the patrons excited about a sports game, the leader is quick about ordering their execution in the back room. The power goes out and Fitz saves the day by fixing the problem and bringing the game back on. As the group changes their minds and helps the duo cross the border, Fitz reveals to Ward he’s responsible for the fusebox failure thanks to one of this gadgets. It’s a cool moment.
In the meantime, Skye has recruited Simmons to help her plant a device so she can hack into The Hub’s computers. This is the part where I didn’t like the mix of funny and smart of the show. Are we advocating big brother or revelry against the system? Simmons is supposed to be funny when she’s concerned about a court martial, but breaking into an information concerning national security… isn’t that considered treason? To make matters worse Simmons ends up being confronted by a SHIELD agent and using the night-night gun on him. This side quest story just seemed a bit too cheesy.
Although Skye originally expressed that her intrusion will allow her to find out what has happened to Ward and Fitz, she gets sidetracked the moment she sees she also has access to classified documentation. I’ll try to ignore the huge oversight that she finds the one concerning her parents by entering a date. I guess nothing else happened that day. The whole purpose of the scene is to show that when she’s running out of time she eventually quits her personal search to find her comrades. So she will put her team before her own goals – well actually after her own goals because time was running out, but I get it – she’s cool. The setup is a bit weak, but they wanted to explain how she works around her constraining bracelet.
Meanwhile, Fitz and Ward are on the case infiltrating the industrial complex where the overkill device is kept. Briefly after Skye has discovered there is no extraction planned, Ward discovers that very same fact as he signals the exfil team… and gets no response, but stays silent. He clears the way for Fitz to reach the device and disarm it. As time runs out, Ward tells a very busy Fitz about how they’ve been sent on a suicide mission. Fitz response is to finish what he started. He even manages to extract part of the device to create a small disruptor that he can use to disable firearms at a short distance.
Back at The Hub, Skye confronts Coulson with what she has learned and gets scolded. That is followed by Coulson getting scolded by Hand in exactly the same fashion. Skye and Simmons get May involved and decide to organize their own extraction team, which Coulson of course ends up joining. The rescue party bandwagon can start rolling.
This actually leads to a cool scene when Ward and Fitz and the audience get to see the Bus’ VTOL capabilities (Vertical Take Off and Landing). Instead of showing off some armament, May turns the turbines on the bad guys and blows them away. It’s a bit cheesy but it works.
The part that it doesn’t work for me is when Agent Victoria Hand states that there was no exfil team because Coulson’s team “didn’t need one” which makes the whole tension unnecessary. Was the team being tested? Or just Skye? Wouldn’t Simmons still need to explain herself after shooting a SHIELD Agent, stun gun or not? Despite it all, it was worth to see Ward and Fitz on the field. Now I want to try making Fitz’ sandwich that Ward throws away.
The epilogue gives us Coulson with a peace offering for Skye. The person who dropped her off at the orphanage was a SHIELD agent. Please tell me this is not going to end in Skye being his daughter. To top it off, May discovers that Coulson knows more – there’s a dead body on a photograph. And finally, Coulson tries to use his Level 8 to get information about coming back to life – to learn that he can’t.
That will do for now.