It’s no secret that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was energized by the twist in Captain America: The Winter Soldier where it was revealed that S.H.I.E.L.D. had a HYDRA infection for the entirety of its existence, waiting for its moment to flame up, absorb its host and then take over the world. Momentum though hasn’t been season two’s problem. Indeed, the show has been nearly overstuffed with new characters and developments, and despite the thinning of the herd since the winter break, this show is still bursting with potential. Once again, S.H.I.E.L.D. ran through about three-and-a-half episodes worth of stories, bringing Coulson and the gang into conflict with the other S.H.I.E.L.D. we still hardly know, even if the episode helps in those regards, too.
If there’s one thing I appreciate about the way that S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s characters are written it’s that they’re supposed to be smart, and they are. Something like The Blacklist, which I also recap, consistently finds its supposedly professional and above-capable federal agents making stupid mistakes, all in order to service the plot, which more often than not makes the whole thing seem dumber. Dumb is not a word I’d associate with the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. though, at least in the instance of knowing who to trust. Live and learn, I suppose.
Following up on Coulson and May’s conversation last week, they both pushed Mack and Bobbi to find out who they’re working for. Coulson basically lures Mack into a false sense of security until he springs the trap with about half-dozen agents with guns trained on the mechanic. Meanwhile, we get the May/Morse fight that we didn’t know we needed as the two highly skilled martial artists tear up Coulson’s office when Bobbi goes for Fury’s tool box. Mack and Bobbi were forced to improvise, which set up the episode as a kind of cat-and-mouse game between them and the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. Prime, but that wasn’t what the show had in mind.
Did anyone else guess that Simmons was playing dumb when Bobbi found her in the locker room? I did, and Elizabeth Henstridge played it out so good as Simmons absentmindedly rummaged through a box to find some doodad that tased Bobbi. It was definitely a Hall of Fame bit of badassness by Simmons, which in terms of extreme emotion was only matched by Fitz’s disappointment that his new friend Mack was some kind of double agent. In another inverse, it was Mack that was getting emotional, trying to get Fitz to move away from a wall. Despite ambivalent feelings about Coulson, there’s clearly mixed feelings about the separate S.H.I.E.L.D.s and the friends they’ve made.
Yes, it turned out that Bobbi and Mack weren’t trying to escape, but were making a hole for S.H.I.E.L.D. 2, up to and including Gonzales. The Coulson/Gonzales face-off was front and center, and the disagreement between the teams seems to be about a matter of degrees. Gonzales was on the receiving end of more of Nick Fury’s mysterious and draconian orders and understandably holds a lot of resentment about the man’s decisions and his secrets. Coulson, meanwhile, has been acting in good faith as Fury’s hand chose successor, using Fury’s tools but trying to make a different S.H.I.E.L.D. The problem is that Gonzales doesn’t see much of a difference.