Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Making Friends and Influencing People
October 8, 2014 8:15 AM - Season 2, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Coulson and his team race against Hydra to find a man with the ability to freeze objects. Meanwhile, we catch up with Simmons as she climbs the corporate ladder of evil.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (21 comments total)
I mostly liked this one, but the through-line of showing us Skye's heart rate seemed a bit too lazy in terms of characterization. May and Fitz were particularly good this week though.
posted by transient at 9:06 AM on October 8, 2014

I figured it was a FitBit product placement. :)
posted by Mogur at 9:54 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'd like to see a shot by shot comparison of the "Simmons gets ready for work" opening versus "Harmony gets ready for work" opening in Angel's last season. Off the top of my head it looked like Simmons had a few less unicorns in her apartment.
posted by double bubble at 10:24 AM on October 8, 2014

Just now reading a recap which called out this quote:

Fitz: Is there anything more I don't know?

Coulson: Yeah. I'm the director. There's a hell of a lot more.

That's good dialogue and good character development. Give that writer a bonus!
posted by double bubble at 11:26 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

I thought the Simmons montage was more reminiscent of the first scene of the LOST S02 opener (the introduction of Desmond and the hatch interior), especially with regards to the background music choice.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:00 PM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

The Skye heartrate bit was cheesy. But then, I am not a big fan of her character, so maybe I am too judgy of her in general.

I love Simmons, though, and I am so glad the actress is back in more than a giving-Fitz-pep-talks capacity! That said, Simmons IS a horrible liar, and putting her in the midst of the cut-throat Hydra villains sure feels like throwing her into the deep end, with added weights around her ankles even. Plus, just on a selfish note, I don't want her cheerful warmth and bubbly curiosity turning to dark cynicism just yet!

At least Ward is actually more interesting now that he's a creepy emo stalker than when he was just Ward, Marionette Assassin (by which I mean a killer with a wooden countenance, not someone who goes around murdering puppets like the Being John Malkovich guy).

And Tripp is a delightful addition--I really like the actor's style, very natural and real (even when they only give him stereotypical, "Hey, girl" lines to say).

May and Coulson are the backbone of the show, glad to see them working together again. Mutual respect there.

And finally Fitz has his day. Gets a little revenge, saves the team. As Simmons would say, "Well done, Fitz! I knew you'd figure it out. You're getting better every day!"
posted by misha at 2:05 PM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

That said, Simmons IS a horrible liar, and putting her in the midst of the cut-throat Hydra villains sure feels like throwing her into the deep end, with added weights around her ankles even.

Character development is wonderful thing!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:33 PM on October 8, 2014

I think the flawed Fitz is so much more interesting than the FitzSimmons machine that reliably churned out a tech solution in the 3rd act. He's helped save the day the last two weeks, but you know he's going to be a complication sooner or later.
posted by klarck at 6:39 PM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Thoughts, in no particular order:

1. WTF, where is Simmons that she can run on a treadmill inside her apartment and not get insta-murdered?

2. My heart feels like it's crying ten thousand tears watching my bae Leo struggle with aphasia.

3. YASSS KILL WARD. Oh, wait, he's going to share some potentially game-changing, live-saving piece of intel? great, KILL HIM IMMEDIATELY AFTERWARDS.

I know what Coulson said at the end, but still: why won't anyone kill Ward? I love beards like whoa; even with one, I still hate Ward's character for his outright bland wtfuckery, abusive childhood or no. sorry, actor-Brett IRL, you are the worst at "emoting" on this show... and that's not even me damning you with faint praise.

4. Cayce Pollard and I equally and separately approve of this all black-grey-white-and-possibly navy, 100% brandless clothing line all the agents are sporting on the Bus. (Spywear by Hanes?)

5. Oh shit, they're going to kill that kid who lost control last year at the Academy.

6. I can't stop thinking "nu Skye = JVCMay" in every scene where they're together.

7. Coulson's got perfect suit tailoring and his ties are always flawlessly knotted.

8. Tripp is the Matthew McConaughey of SHIELD. Wait, maybe he's just the Wooderson of SHIELD? Regardless, he could get it.

9. Ew, HYDRA. You guys are everywhere and about as subtle as a hurricane - why bother with this Clockwork Orange/LOST-style brainwashing crap?

10. Strange Interlude is spot-on with that montage and music opener, and I also want to see an Archer crossover and/or easter egg vis-a-vis tactical turtlenecks.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 7:02 PM on October 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

I was pretty happy with this episode except that I thought the ice kid was wasted. They could have introduced a new character that they thought would be a test for Simmons just as easily. Still, the freezing attack was fun to see.
posted by michaelh at 9:17 PM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

The recap brought up an interesting point about the use of Donnie:
There’s a quieter theme running here in that, as opposed to the Marvel movies, getting superpowers doesn’t always instill a larger purpose within you. An Avenger is more than a hammer, a shield, or a suit of armor.
I think that's one of the things that the show can do - explore the ways that a potential superhero/villain can fail. Not get gloriously defeated, but just... fizzle out, despite their powers. Scorch from last season was an example of that, too. (There have been a couple that have been obvious Comic Book Deaths too, and I'm not convinced this wasn't one, but if he never shows up again it won't feel like an unresolved thread.)
posted by restless_nomad at 8:34 AM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

I enjoyed it, if only for our time with Simmons. I also had a flashback....(sorry) to the Season 2 opener with Desmond from Lost. I really loved the smile she cracked when she turned off the alarm and jumped out of bed. I wish I had that type of enthusiasm!

It's interesting that they're setting up two sets of bad guys. You have Skye's father and Flower Lady and then Hydra and they don't seem to be working together, and possibly, working at odds. It's a little refreshing that we won't be dealing with CobraHydra every episode. Conversely, I appreciate the clear mission that the Hydra aspect has provided for Shield. It was interesting when the head of Hydra...well, one head, asked the lieutenant, "Who's in charge of Shield now?" The fact that the answer was unknown significantly revealed how diminished Shield had become. It literally is about eight people working in an old brick building with two working jets. Compared to the organization that existed before with hundreds of agents, probably thousands of support staff, and major installations all around the world, it's incredibly humbling and makes Coulson's task even more enormous. "It's no longer a turf war...."

The role of Donnie didn't bother me so much as I had already written him off as a character who might show up again. I definitely could not see Season 1 first half Skye coolly popping him off with a sniper rifle - but note, no body was found he may appear again, perhaps in more of a Bobby Iceman mode.

So far so good this season!
posted by Atreides at 8:50 AM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I'm sure that Donnie could easily come back - it looked like he was icing up as he drifted off in the water, he's going to be defrosted at some point.

I thought this was a really solid episode. I don't think I was really worried that Simmons was a second traitor, but I liked seeing how her undercover mission was playing out. She be a terrible liar, but there's just enough truth in her undercover story to let her plausibly maintain it - the little note of pique about being kept down doing junior grade science when she's usually advanced more quickly was really good, as were her responses during the interrogation. I liked that it was pointed out that along with everyone else on the team, Simmons has been through the fire and come out the tougher for it. (Oh, and Couson making dinner for Simmons was adorable, and I wanted to hug them both.)

Hunter fit in a lot better (and I enjoy May's grudge-holding), Mac's gentle but no-nonsense handling of Fitz is great, I like Skye's journey into becoming more of a rounded agent, and I have no objection to how they're handling the Ward situation. They're not trying to make him claim brainwashing, and since his explanation of being loyal to Garrett primarily and thus Hydra secondarily jibes with my own conclusions, I think it's a pretty mature bit of storytelling. And Fitz's confrontation with Ward was really great. Ward was trying to justify things and Fitz went really dark in response.
posted by PussKillian at 9:03 AM on October 9, 2014

She be a terrible liar, but there's just enough truth in her undercover story to let her plausibly maintain it.

Exactly. She was a terrible liar, but like all of them, she's grown and is working her skillset.

I was a bit surprised that she's undercover, I expected she had joined Hydra to find a cure for Fitz. She is the biologist of the duo, after all. But actually putting her neck out like this is a good change for the character. Last season, I was disappointed that Fitz got to show off his field agent skills while she remained stuck in the lab.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:43 AM on October 9, 2014

4. Cayce Pollard and I equally and separately approve of this all black-grey-white-and-possibly navy, 100% brandless clothing line all the agents are sporting on the Bus. (Spywear by Hanes?)

FRINGE couture. I'm liking the developments so far. Seems like a lot of the slowness last season was the whole Winter Soldier delay.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:53 PM on October 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

How did that Casablanca = The Middle East line get through? I mean that's literally a couple of thousand kilometers out, and an entirely different part of the world.
posted by sobarel at 6:36 PM on October 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

I realize that one of the essential suspensions of disbelief required for television is accepting wildly attractive people in virtually every role. But does it make anyone else's head explode how often we're asked to accept Simmons as an easily-ignored nerd when Elizabeth Henstridge is so ridiculously, insanely, five-alarm hot?

Her performance as Simmons is terrific, so I don't mean this as a dig on her. And of course there's no reason a timid bookworm couldn't be lovely as you please. But they very rarely acknowledge on the show that she's jaw-droppingly beautiful.

You not only couldn't fail to notice her, but the idea that people wouldn't routinely do double takes at her is one of the more far out ideas on a show that is arguably science fiction.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:21 AM on October 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also: if you enjoy Iain de Castaecker, who plays Fitz, please check out the sadly short-lived The Fades, in which he and the equally terrific Daniel Kaluuya play British teens sucked into a secret war between ghosts and the living. Also stars Natalie Dormer! Sort of like Freaks and Geeks + Ghostbusters, in the UK. Trailer.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:23 AM on October 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

These episodes have finally made their way to the UK, so I just thought I'd pop in to say that I thought this episode was rather good! It was exciting! It made good use of its characters! There was even intrigue and plot development! That said, I don't think the whole "Skye kills someone for the first time" plot line worked super well

1)It was set up sort of half heartedly
2)Apparently they didn't have the night night guns this week? Their presence seems to vary basically on the needs of the plot (it wouldn't have been terribly exciting for Simmons to almost be shot with a night night gun).
posted by Cannon Fodder at 6:28 AM on November 12, 2014

Oh, gotta say I really loved that scene where Donnie threatens to throw ice at a solider. We as the audience know (or at least think) that he probably needs physical contact with the guard, but the guard doesn't and runs for it. What was nice is there was no exposition anywhere to explain this, which actually credits the audience with some intelligence, something the show often forgets to do.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 6:32 AM on November 12, 2014

Opening song for anyone who wants to know and is still reading this. We British are a little behind on these episodes
posted by devon at 10:16 AM on November 12, 2014

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