[Review] - Agents of SHIELD, Season 2 Episode 5, "A Hen in the Wolf House"

Courtesy of Marvel Television Productions
With the addition of Bobbi Morse to the series, I wonder if the new impetus for character clearances for Agents of SHIELD will be the spin-off characters of other, more A-List characters. The John Cougar Mellencamps to the Avenger's Bruce Springsteen. After all, last year we had an episode where Sif chased down Lorelei, the discount bargain basement version of Enchantress. And here, we see the addition of the comic's Mockingbird, the also-ran of the Hawkeye family. Does this mean the likelihood of SHIELD running into Rick Jones just increased sharply? That a potential Iron Lad appearance isn't off the table?

This episode, I think, meant to give us a better look at this season's adversaries, and give us the best look we've seen so far of Skye's Anger Issues Daddy. Unfortunately, along with some quality material concerning moving events forward, as a side effect it also highlighted the weakest elements of building this plot thread: the enemies aren't that threatening.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that are having a hell of a day.

Some real world information before we begin: in Quebec, Canada right now, the RCMP are investigating a hit-and-run that occurred Monday, where an individual apparently targeted members of the Armed Forces. One of the soldiers has died of their injuries, while the other remains in hospital. The person responsible for this cowardly crime was killed by police shortly after the crash. It has now come to light that this person was under investigation by the RCMP for "radicalization," and while there are no direct ties to any specific terrorist organization, they had seized his passport back in the summer, when they believed he was intending on going to Turkey, with eyes on joining a movement in the Middle East.

All of that is properly terrifying. That terrorist groups are able to sway people with their rhetoric says a great deal more about the social conditions in the modern world then it does about the effectiveness or righteousness of the terrorist message. This is a real world hearts-and-minds campaign that, inexplicably, radical militant groups are succeeding at. And with all of this on the news nightly, Hydra seems less like a global terrorist group and more like... Wall Street brokers. Not helping matters was the "ah shucks" Homer Simpson-esque character that the show positioned over Simmons during her Hydra infiltration. Yes, it's a comic book world, but the MCU has been sold on presenting a realistic depiction of extraordinary events. And Hydra seems neither menacing or super-positioned for world domination.

Part of that is the scale that there series apparently has to work with. They can throw all the maps with blinking red dots all over the globe at us that they want, but until they establish that global threat, all we've seen is a high rise operation and some tailored suits. If SHIELD is meant to be filling in the gaps, and elaborating on the threat introduced in The Winter Solider, and to be followed up in The Age of Ultron and Captain America 3, they aren't succeeding at that mandate. All they are doing is undermining Hydra's potential by making them seem more like pencil pushers than Nazi-born, magic crazy, racial purity lunatics. What made Garrett and Ward effective as baddies at the end of last year was 1) they were working under the radar, 2) they actually carried out operations that did more than kill 8 people at a wedding (seriously, no one ever reports on global Hydra attacks, leading us to believe that they just aren't doing anything), and 3) they acted like a legitimate threat, because they backed up their threats.

At least Skye's father has an excuse for having a rag-tag operation: he's not good with the quality socialization. He's crazy hobo anger man, carrying out back room operations, then murdering those he's laboured to save. His end game is still uncertain, other than getting a hold of Skye and killing a lot of people. He's clearly unstable, and I'm wondering if he's afflicted with the same universal knowledge that Garrett was, just with more of a handle on things (not a complete handle, what with the rage-stabbing). It is an interesting decision on the writer's part to take two poorly defined threats, and merge them. Clearly, it was meant to give us the woeful-tingles, but because we know nothing about one side of the equation and can't really buy the effectiveness of the other, this new combo threat doesn't inspire fear so much as puzzlement.

The new addition to the team is Bobbi Morse, who as a Hydra agent I wasn't sold on at all, but as soon as she revealed her true affiliation suddenly came to life. It seems that with her, we'll have the additional ass-kicker and lady-of-the-snappy-come-back that we had assumed Lucy Lawless would be. By building in pre-established relationships with most of the new team, they skip over the awkwardness of bringing the character into the fold, something the writers have proven isn't their strength. I question the logic in bringing Simmons back into the lab, just when Fitz was beginning to make progress as an interesting individual. I really hope this does start the character on a path back to the mediocrity of last season. And by removing Simmons from Hydra so quickly, it removes a lot of potential growth for her character as well.

In a larger sense, it was a strong episode. Coulson's arc continues to impress, with his dinner with Raina being a standout in terms of the strength of the character's resolve, and Fury-like omniscience. I like the fact that the SHIELD team is getting bigger, giving a real sense that Coulson is succeeding at rebuilding his cherished organization. If the positive trends continue, SHIELD might have a chance of ending this first half of the season stronger than they did at this point last year. Or, they could blow it in one next week. With this show, you just never know.

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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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