Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD has had a fairly good second season so far, quite unlike the start of its debut season. New characters have come on the playing field, with new objectives, new mysteries, new dynamics and while I kind of don’t like how some characters have been treated, such as Lucy Lawless’ undercover SHIELD agent in the very first episode, others have turned out be handled much better, such as Agent Simmons and Skye, along with Glenn Talbot and a bunch of others. We are also getting to see more of Skye’s hidden past and that’s a great thing after the season-long mystery last year.
In this week’s “A Hen In The Wolf House” we meet up with one of the other new characters that I’ve really been looking forward to seeing this season: Adrianne Palicki’s Bobbi Morse aka Mockingbird. While the episode doesn’t yet reveal her codename, she is presented as HYDRA’s chief of security in a rather draconian portrayal and having Adrianne as a regular on the show is a huge boost as far as I’m concerned. And her interplay with Agent Simmons is just fantastic as well. But the real kicker comes in the form of Kyle MacLachlan’s The Doctor, who is Skye’s mysterious father, whom we get to see a lot of this week, with a rather creepy portrayal .
We pretty much start off this episode with a look at how HYDRA is trying to weaponize the affects of the Obelisk, the original 0-8-4 recovered by the Strategic Science Reserve during the close of the second World War. Raina delivered up the Obelisk to The Doctor a couple episodes back after a HYDRA agent was kind enough to retrieve it, and now the Obelisk is becoming the big bad, the big macguffin and point of contention between three separate camps: Coulson’s new SHIELD, HYDRA and The Doctor. And caught in the tussle is last year’s most interesting villain Raina, who seemed to be quite unlike her usual self this time.
The new episode deals with a lot of things. One of the most important is what the hell is going on with Coulson and his scratchings on the wall, which he and May have kept hidden from the rest of the team, especially Skye who has been given the job of deciphering the alien gibberish. This entire subplot goes back to the beginnings of last season and the special place that Skye had on Team Coulson and the trust that she came to have in both Coulson and May as a result of her tenure with the original team and all the way through to the reveal of HYDRA. Writer Brent Fletcher has a good handle on the good guys in this episode and he really does a good job with all of them. I loved the interactions between these three, especially Skye who has emerged as one of the best things about this season, in stark contrast to the previous one where I saw her as little more than a nuisance at best.
Then there’s the whole thing going on with Simmons, working undercover for HYDRA on Coulson’s orders. It is a pretty damn tough job for her, given that she isn’t all that good a liar but she has held her own so far, and has even held out under the scrutiny of both Daniel Whitehall and Sunil Bakshi, the former one of the new leaders of the global terrorist organization and the latter his right-hand man. It is a very interesting dynamic and in this episode we get to see what happens when Raina discovers Simmons’ little secret, creating a very explosive situation that also ends up involving Bobbi Morse in one of the best action sequences of this season.
And Bobbi, well, Bobbi is awesome. I won’t say too much about her because I can’t really talk about her without going into big spoilers for the episode, and I want you as the reader of this review and a viewer to enjoy the big twist with her on your own. It was spoiled for me by one of the tweets I saw from either Marvel or the Agents of SHIELD twitter account yesterday morning, but since I knew little about the character before that, it worked out well enough in the end.
Suffice to say that in Adrianna Palicki and Bobbi Morse, Agents of SHIELD has found a great actor and a character for the show, going forwards. How Bobbi plays into the larger HYDRA-SHIELD dynamic is going to be one of the big things for the rest of the season and I can’t wait to see what is going to happen on that front. There are lots more new characters coming up of course, new heroes and new villains, and with all the setup out of the way in the last season, we can get right down to business in this season, something that gives me an immense amount of joy and satisfaction this year.
To be fully honest, there hasn’t really been a moment where I’ve thought that “oh my god, this is so damn boring, can we just get to the end of the episode please!”. Thankfully. I would have hated that, to see it all happen again in the show’s sophomore season.
As I said up top, one of the other big things that this episode deals with is the distant dynamic between Skye and her father, a man she has never known. Last season, as I said before when Kyle MacLachlan’s character was introduced at the end of episode 2 of the new season, we learned some things about Skye that were quite intriguing, such as the fact that death and destruction followed her wherever she went and that she was found in China’s Hunan province and then later taken in by a couple of SHIELD agents when she was a baby. Now we are beginning to learn more about all of this, just as Skye is, and her reactions prove to be just as intriguing as her new self in the new season.
Having never known her father, and given what he does in this episode, she has a distinctly negative view of him of course, and how the show is going to deal with that in the coming episodes is going to be a must-watch, especially given what happens in the cliffhanger portion of the episode. The writers are setting up an epic confrontation and I can’t wait to see any of it.
Agents of SHIELD Season 1 reviews can be found here. I’ve reviewed every episode so far.