Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. might as well have been renamed after another ABC drama tonight, Secrets & Lies. Okay… so I’ve never actually watched Secrets & Lies, but S.H.I.E.L.D. had more than enough of both tonight, so the title would have been fitting.
Secrets and lies were at the heart of the three main arcs in “Love in the Time of Hyrdra,” as Skye and Coulson continued to grapple with the former’s newfound powers, Mack and Bobbi revealed what’s been going on with the “real” S.H.I.E.L.D., and Ward took Agent 33 on as his new mentee. All these webs of lies are bound to have repercussions for the S.H.I.E.L.D. we’ve come to know and love, so let’s take a look at how they affected the team in the short term and what that might mean for the rest of the season.
Coulson and Skye
Skye’s powers remain unstable, and May agrees with her ex-husband Andrew’s diagnosis from the last episode. She should be removed from active field duty as long as she presents a threat.
Coulson is reticent to isolate Skye. He cares for her like a father would a daughter—which is a good thing considering her actual father is a murderous psychopath. But he can’t deny that even as Skye heals from her accidentally self-inflicted wounds, she’s still a giant safety question mark.
So Coulson asks Skye to take a trip with him to an unknown location. Clark Gregg proves once again why so many Marvel fans wanted Coulson brought back from the dead in the first place as he speaks with Skye. He describes working with his father for years on a car, initially begrudging him for all the work but coming out of the experience with a newfound gratitude for the project.
That car was a 1962 red Corvette, which just so happens to now fly, but Coulson uses his beloved Lola for a reason. At its heart, Lola is still a Corvette that had a lot of love and work put into it. Whatever Skye is transforming into, at her core, she’s still the Skye Coulson loves and trusts, and they’re going to work to make sure that remains true. Gregg imbues the scene with such a gentle but light tone that I’d be okay with a S.H.I.E.L.D. episode consisting of Coulson telling stories for 45 minutes.
Unfortunately, the work he mentions requires bringing Skye to a remote cabin, complete with a laser fence, where she can come to terms with her powers. Coulson tries to soften the blow of her exile—Steve Rogers hid out there after his defrosting—but she’s still angered by this decision.
She wants to be free, to be with the team, but Coulson needs her and the team to be as safe as possible while they try to understand what’s happening. In the meantime, he leaves her with a set of gloves that will help inhibit her powers—which apparently have some side effects that go unexplained—as he returns to unknowingly deal with the ticking time bomb that is his team.
And while that bomb doesn’t go off in “Hydra,” the fuse has certainly been lit. Mack brings Hunter to a boardroom at this supposed second S.H.I.E.L.D., where he’s introduced to four leaders, chief among them Agent Robert Gonzales (Edward James Olmos).
Gonzales reveals they hope to rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D. while avoiding the mistakes they believe Nick Fury made. Namely, keeping too many secrets, and it’s something they fear Coulson is continuing. So they are plotting a takeover, with Bobbi and Mack collecting intel.
But Hunter is not so inclined to turn on Coulson, and he has a hard time believing Bobbi would want to do the same. While Mack goes back to S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ to save face with Coulson and May, Hunter and Bobbi have a heart to heart.
Hunter is worried that the rekindling of their romance was just a front for her hidden agenda with this new S.H.I.E.L.D. Bobbi protests, but Hunter asks her to prove it, to run away with him so they can have their lives back. Bobbi can’t let go of all the work she’s done and the cause she believes in. Hunter won’t follow suit, however, and flees the mysterious location. He escapes only to realize he’s stranded in the middle of an ocean on an airship.
Luckily, he commandeers a submarine and makes his way back to the mainland. Weaver estimates it will take him about 12 hours to reach dry land. In the meantime, Bobbi wants to return to S.H.I.E.L.D. and initiate their takeover plans. Calderon is incredulous at the idea with only 12 hours to pull it off. But Bobbi’s not worried. She only needs six.
NEXT: Ward returns, and trouble is on the horizon.[pagebreak]
Ward and Agent 33
Piling onto S.H.I.E.L.D.’s worries is the return of Ward and Agent 33. The two have been on the lam together before kidnapping a guy at a diner to repair the nano mask 33 is wearing. His work allows her to alter at least her face again and hide her scarring.
But that’s only phase one. Ward is looking to train 33 as his protégé in much the same way Garrett taught Ward at a young age. 33 is a little more lost than Ward was—she tries to seduce him in a hotel room with Skye’s face while retaining May’s voice (which may be the creepiest bit of fan fiction ever brought to life on an ABC drama). But he wants to build her back up into whoever she was before Whitehall brainwashed her. She just needs to let her feelings out. The way to do that is by confronting the man who held her captive for Whitehall in the first place, Sunil Bakshi, who is held under air force custody.
So 33 disguises herself as General Talbot’s wife, passing May’s voice off as a cold, to sneak into a government facility. Talbot, only seeing her on a camera and not hearing her, lets her in.
33 then makes a view more transformations on her search for security clearance, and in that time Talbot discovers his wife is still on her way to the facility for Taco Tuesday. He realizes at once that the nano mask must be in play, and attempts to rat out the spy by questioning every woman in the facility.
He fails, but that’s because 33 took on the appearance of a male soldier to successfully complete her mission. She and Ward pay Bakshi a visit down in his cell, where she lands a solid sucker punch to Bakshi’s smug face. He wakes up to find himself tied up in their hotel room, being subjected to the same hypnosis they placed 33 under previously.
By this time, she’s revealed her true face to Ward, and the two seem to be getting along quite well as they settle in for a long night of torture. Bakshi asks if they’ll reward his compliance if he is honest with them. 33 is blunt with her response—nothing he says will make much of a difference.
Whatever the two are up to, Talbot at least warns Coulson that Ward and 33 are on the loose, though what exact threat they pose remains, unsurprisingly a total secret. Add this to their suspicions that Mack, upon his return from supposedly taking care of a drunk Hunter, is hiding something, and the list of troubles Coulson and May will face only continues to grow.
And with Bobbi rushing her timetable, it looks like all these secrets will result in some real trouble in just a matter of hours.
- Am I crazy or was the opening scene of Ward and 33 in the diner an obvious Pulp Fiction homage? The setting and banter resembled that of Honny Bunny and Pumpkin in the diner. Ward even mentions “pumpkin” pancakes. Whether the nod was intentional, the episode felt particularly pop culture heavy, with The Wizard of Oz, Hufflepuff, and The Eagles mentions as well.
- Simmons and Fitz discuss how to treat Skye at the episode’s start, and it feels like an argument Marvel fans would likely have in their position. Do they look at her condition as one similar to Captain America’s, or the Hulk’s? Either way, Fitz argues that both of them saved the world, but Simmons remains convinced Bruce Banner would likely still rather not have to deal with his condition.
- Speaking of FitzSimmons, their relationship continues to remain contentious. Simmons made the inhibitor gloves for Skye, and she continues to lie to Fitz about what she’s up to, as does Coulson. Fitz knows she’s acting out of fear about his and Skye’s changes. But Fitz confronts her, suggesting that she’s the one who’s really changed.
- Gonzales mentions he’s alive because of Isabelle Hartley (Lucy Lawless from her short guest stint), which is a nice way of the show to connect the dots to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s past.
- Was anyone else surprised by how much Talbot was used for laughs in the episode? It felt like an odd tonal shift for a character who’s otherwise been an antagonistic force to the team. Still, I did laugh when he told Coulson and May that, after pointing a gun at his wife, he’s “…Going to be up to my ears in edible arrangements trying to make this right.”
NEXT WEEK: S.H.I.E.L.D. and… the other S.H.I.E.L.D. come face to face as a hostile takeover begins.