'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' recap: 'One of Us'
Cal returns with a motley crew determined to take back Skye and take down S.H.I.E.L.D.
After last week’s episode felt more in service to the overarching Marvel universe’s plot, “One of Us” focused squarely on moving along the dangling threads on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Coulson’s team has begun to fracture, and “One of Us” very much delved into the show’s many broken relationships and whether or not they could be repaired.
But, as the title suggests, “One of Us” was about belonging—whether that means belonging to the heroes or the villains. On the S.H.I.E.L.D. side of things, that means determining Skye should remain a member of the team. For Cal and his ragtag group, it’s about trying to make society accept them, flaws and all. Even if those flaws include knives in the place of fingernails.
“One of Us” kept much of S.H.I.E.L.D. separate until the climactic, 50-yard-line showdown as it examined those relationships. Here’s how those groupings fared:
Skye, May, and Andrew
Skye is still living in The Cage, but we first see her happily having a meal with Coulson. She’s now on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s gifted index, but she thinks she can control her tremors. Of course, Coulson and the team are less certain and want her to have a full psychological evaluation.
And there’s only one man for the job—May’s ex-husband, Andrew (Blair Underwood). The two’s history rises to the surface when they reunite. Andrew used to work with S.H.I.E.L.D. but has since cut ties. To be fair, May was the one to divorce him and then ignore his calls when he reached out in concern as S.H.I.E.L.D. fell apart.
May convinces him, however, to at least ignore their past grievances and help Skye. Andrew can tell how much she cares, and knowing visible emotion in May is such a rarity, he agrees to help. Skye is initially reticent, but he feeds into her eagerness for May gossip (He and May eloped, but not to Vegas, even though May loves Vegas), and Skye eventually opens up about shooting herself last week with the icer. She offers a simple description for what it feels like when the tremors begin—terrifying.
But Andrew isn’t only spending his time on Skye. He and May are reconnecting, and there most be something special about a guy who can make May laugh. With the small time he has on screen, Underwood does an admirable job of creating a believable and storied relationship.
Their happy moment is cut short when Skye begins shaking everything in her sleep. She later reveals to Andrew she had a nightmare about becoming the enemy. Andrew is concerned that when she tries to calm herself, she isn’t really dealing with her powers and the accompanying emotions, that she’s merely bottling them up. Any shrink will tell you that bottled up emotions are guaranteed to come pouring out at some point.
What’s the solution for that? Well, it will have to wait, as the plane starts shaking again. This time, however, it’s not Skye. It’s May driving the plane on a mission to help her fearless leader…
Coulson (and Bobbi)
Coulson starts off worrying about Skye, but his attention quickly shifts to Skye’s father, as Cal makes his return. Cal’s been assembling his own team, comprised of a roided-up man named Francis (Geo Corvera), a technical wiz in Levi (Ric Sabaria), and the knives-for-nails Karla Faye Gideon (Drea De Matteo). All three are former S.H.I.E.L.D. inmates, and Cal has one more member to add to his mercenary group. So he breaks into Brynmore Psychiatric Hospital, drawing the attention of Coulson and Bobbi.
There, he picks up David A. Angar (Jeff Daniel Phillips), who, thanks to some experimental energy blasts, has a voice that causes anyone who hears it to fall into a catatonic state. So the first lesson is to never bring this guy to karaoke night. The second is that he is a serious threat, and Coulson takes Bobbi with him to investigate the break out at Brynmore. They encounter another high-level inmate, who Bobbi makes quick work of, and discover Angar is long gone.
Cal has taken him to Wisconsin, Coulson’s hometown specifically, in an attempt to lure S.H.I.E.L.D. into the open. He wants to expose them for the monsters he sees them as for treating him and the rest of his group like monsters themselves.
NEXT: Showdown at center field.
So Cal makes a spectacle at the town’s high school (where Coulson’s dad taught history and coached football), having Angar paralyze all of the students in the vicinity. Bobbi and Coulson follow him there, only taking action when Cal reveals he’s broadcasting to the entire town with Angar on the mike.
Coulson walks out to center field to confront Cal. But before either makes a move, May (with Andrew trailing close behind) appears with a gun held to Skye. She promises to shoot her unless Cal stops, but the maniacal ringleader sees through her ruse.
Just as Cal hands Angar the microphone, however, chaos breaks out. The man with no eyes appears and teleports Cal away. That leaves Coulson to knock Angar out while May proves, once again you never want to take on May in a fight, by handling Francis. Bobbi meanwhile chases Karla from the stands into the locker room to stop her. (Sorry Friday Night Lights fans, sadly Adrianne Palicki appearing near a football field did not mean Taylor Kitsch as Tim Riggins was close by.)
The upheaval causes Skye to begin shaking. She tries to remain calm but fails, her skin appearing bruised as she collapses. She awakens on the Bus to discover she suffered over 75 hairline fractures throughout her body. She was turning her powers inward, and the effects make it clear she needs to find another outlet for her powers.
Andrew recommends to May that Skye be taken off the team altogether and brought somewhere safe. May believes she’ll be safer with them. She asks Andrew for more help, but he refuses. He’s moving on, but May and Coulson won’t do the same.
Coulson, in fact, asks Simmons to investigate what in Skye’s DNA could make her develop this power, while bringing absolutely no one in on her research. That may be difficult though considering…
Fitz (and Simmons)
Simmons is initially still angered by Fitz for holding back the information of Skye’s condition. The two eventually return to some sense of normalcy as they gossip about May and Andrew flirting (and Simmons takes delight in hearing May isn’t a great cook and, thus, not a perfect human being).
Bobbi tells her it’s not worth holding the grudge—Fitz was just doing what he thought was right, and lying comes with this job, after all. So she and Fitz, if not completely back to their normal, are making strides in returning to their former selves. Bobbi should hope someone else takes her words to heart, particularly…
Hunter (and Mack… and Bobbi)
After knocking Hunter out at the end of the last episode, Mack has tied Hunter up while Bobbi tries to hide his disappearance. Coulson expresses his concerns, and she hides his disappearance by chalking it up to their romance. He fled when she broke it off, she explains, and Coulson, for now, believes her.
But what’s really going on? Well, Mack brings Hunter to an undisclosed location, telling him that he and Bobbi have been working for another organization that formed in the rubble of what Nick Fury left behind. The real S.H.I.E.L.D., he calls it, and he steps aside to reveal a symbol to Hunter. It looks like the S.H.I.E.L.D. insignia with three stars emblazoned in the middle. It’s not quite the S.W.O.R.D. or S.T.R.I.K.E. symbols, giving us all a full week of theory spinning to engage in until more is revealed.
- Tag: Cal is brought to the same room the man with no eyes inhabited in the “Aftershocks” flashback to 1983. The man informs Cal what happens to him is up to someone else though, leading Cal out to meet that mysterious entity.
- Cal reveals his temper and strength are the result of chemical tests he ran on himself while speaking with his cohorts at a diner. (Hopefully the cup he smashes was full of some damn fine coffee). In fact, his entire group is made up of people on the Index who aren’t necessarily gifted, a distinction Simmons makes. All of their skills are manmade.
- Some truly disturbing imagery comes from Cal’s crew, from Karla’s fingers to Angar’s jaw, but the creepiest moment arrives when Angar let out a sonic strike at the football field. All of the kids collapse, but so does a hail of birds careening into the turf. It’s no The Birds, but it’s certainly alarming to watch.
- While the episode offered some nice insight into May’s backstory, it was almost just as illuminating for Coulson. His past doesn’t sound particularly cheerful, but it’s nice to find out that characters so central to the show actually have lives worth exploring before their time at S.H.I.E.L.D.
NEXT WEEK: Coulson finally has to deal with the deceit and unrest spreading through his team, while Edward James Olmos joins the cast, and Ward makes a return.