Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: A Fractured House
October 29, 2014 7:51 AM - Season 2, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Hydra impersonates SHIELD while launching an attack against the United Nations. The public and politicians react in anger, as the real SHIELD searches for the attackers and deals with the relationships among themselves and the traitorous Agent Ward.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (33 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
honestly the most improbable thing was how much US politicians (R) and military care about the UN.
posted by cendawanita at 8:35 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

I really like where things are going with Ward. Mostly because I'm just not sure where they are going. Hats off to season two which is really great so far. Yay!!!

(Also, the look on Thor's face when Cap is able to wiggle the hammer. So awesome.)
posted by double bubble at 8:40 AM on October 29, 2014 [3 favorites]

Well, they were willing to care about the UN in order to score political points, which seemed a little more accurate.

I'm just happy for every minute that Ward isn't on a redemption arc. Simmons 'I'll kill you' was well deserved.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:36 AM on October 29, 2014 [5 favorites]

The scenes with Fitz and Simmons reunited were just plain heartbreaking. It totally justified the inclusion of Fitz's imaginary head-Simmons (which I'd argue is an overused trope in genre TV these days) earlier in the season, which paid off here in spades as real-Simmons kept finishing Fitz's thoughts, but wrong. It's a good example of how to write relationship troubles that don't just revolve around one character being a jerk or there being a sitcom-level ironic misunderstanding; sometimes two people who care about each other just aren't on the same wavelength any more, and it is super duper sad.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:38 AM on October 29, 2014 [15 favorites]

I agree about the FitzSimmons relationship. When she walked in on Fitz and Mac working together really well I was all ugh Simmons go away with your tea and good intentions. Then I felt bad.
posted by ephemerista at 9:56 AM on October 29, 2014 [4 favorites]

That was a very cool scene with Fitz and Simmons, considering he starts out with his hand on his own shoulder as if he was just being comforted by imaginary Simmons before arguing with real Simmons. Lots of complex issues on all sides (Mac included, and I hope they build more of his character, too). This show rewards invested viewing, but also has enough for casual viewing as well.

There's a lot of shows that tackle equality issues by role reversal (making the father the caring homemaker, making the teenage girl the badass fighter, etc.), but this is one of the few that seems intent on tackling it by simply ignoring it altogether. It doesn't feel like anyone's there just as a token, at least in basic terms of gender and race.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 1:03 PM on October 29, 2014 [5 favorites]

I didn't even cry, I straight-out wept at the visible pain of FitzSimmons trying to out-Gift of the Magi each other emotionally and only driving the daggers in that much deeper.

Such is the nature of unrequited love; it is the Galactus of friendships.


What, is nobody thinking mmm... WHO could be May's (ex?) husband?

Maybe this is a canon thing I'm ignorant of, but I honestly am curious.

*sigh* Mac just... Fitz in well with the group now, like solid. Simmons moved her feet and lost her seat, so to speak. Mac's really patient, which an obviously valuable spy skill we rarely see. He's the exact opposite of threatening (until he needs to be, and then gotDAMN). Almost liking him more than Tripp now, which feels like some sort of hot tactical turtleneck treason.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:35 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

This episode was good. My favorite moment was the dual questioning of Senator Ward and Evil Ward, with dueling stories of the truth and who was running things. And then poof, it turns out the timeline is not what is portrayed on screen and both stories are consistent, if contradictory. That was a nice bit of dramatic irony.

I'm really liking Quiet Noble Black Guy, the only one who understands Fitz. So much so I'm worried he's gonna be the Black Dude who Dies. He does have a name, he's Mack, and he's acted by Henry Simmons who's giving a bit of nuance and care to an otherwise small speaking part. I guess he's the house mechanic? Given the way he never gets to go out on a mission I fear he's not got long to live.

Annoying Aussie Merc is growing on me too. Having his ex-wife come back as a foil for him is brilliant, it's fun watching them together on screen.
posted by Nelson at 9:41 PM on October 29, 2014

Aussie? I've got him pegged as a UKian.
posted by coriolisdave at 10:00 PM on October 29, 2014

Yeah, I was initially on the fence about Mockingbird's ex-husband being Lance (instead of, y'know, Hawkeye - just seemed like kind of a big step down for her, there) but watching the back-and-forth between them in this episode sold me on it. "Deception's her forte - I mean that sincerely, not passive-aggressively, I mean it's a good attribute for a spy!"

I feel like with all the increase in cast members, it's been Trip who's gotten short shrift lately. I still like the guy but they need to find something for him to do besides just fly the plane when May's not around and be an additional body in group-discussion scenes. Maybe some more Trip/Simmons? They had some fun chemistry towards the end of Season 1.

Also it was momentarily jarring for me to discover that FBI Agent Peter Burke is Ward's older brother.
posted by mstokes650 at 10:12 PM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Can I high-five everyone who's noticing how Trip's just been shortchanged this season? I am noticing that he's becoming Skye's emotional check-in proxy, or at least textually the one who gets paired with her the most in missions (though that began much earlier since last season). I do appreciate that he gets his own reaction shot during the Ward-walking-down-the-corridor scene. I mean you need to recall that he was essentially betrayed when his mentor Garret was revealed to be Hydra and in with Ward, and that wasn't telegraphed at all in the script, so I really liked that he got his chance, sans dialogue.

I don't want to hold my hopes up too high, but it's ridiculously looking like Fitz/Mack is an actual possibility. But even if not, Mack moving in to take over Simmon's place is too shippy to ignore.
posted by cendawanita at 10:36 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

And Simmons smoothly placing herself in front of Skye, interrupting Ward's line-of-sight! The show has gotten so good at these little things.
posted by cendawanita at 10:39 PM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seeing as it seems to be a decent show right now, is there an accepted viewing order for those who want to skip the dreary first part of season one? Or, knowing where it goes post Cap 2 is there enough payoff to watch the lot?
posted by Sebmojo at 11:09 PM on October 29, 2014

I think a rewatch, knowing the mid-season twist, might be interesting. Did they really have no idea what they were doing in the first half, did they know the twist was coming but were treading water until they could bring it out, or did they have it planned all along and planted details along the way? I don't know. Exactly when did they decide Ward would be the traitor, and did they build any of that into the script? I understand they didn't tell the actor beforehand.

Then again, I never felt the first part of last season was dreary, so my opinion's not very reliable here.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 3:48 AM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

I thought the first part of last season was dreary to the point that I stopped watching after season 2 and only got back to it a couple weeks before the start of season 2. I'm glad I did, I think the improvement in the show is very marked. It seems clear to me that they were in a holding pattern until Winter Soldier came out and it showed. Once the plot got moving, though, it's been a very fun show.

Poor FitzSimmons, they make me sad every time they are on screen together.
posted by Justinian at 5:30 AM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh hey, a snarky recap!

The thing about FitzSimmons is that it's been all about Fitz so far. Which is understandable, as he was obviously damaged. But Simmons is also hurting. She lost someone she cares about very deeply and her attempts to help him are totally backfiring. She has to be carrying a lot of guilt, shame and anger, which is why I think she threatened Ward. He cost her and her friends a lot. I've been hoping that his actions would bring out the harsher side of her.

Simmons is interesting because she's the least ass kicking female on the show. She's just a geeky scientist who wants to see the world and try and answer so many questions. Being a field agent wasn't really something she's wanted, just something she fell into. How will that shape her personality and outlook.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:21 AM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Aussie? I've got him pegged as a UKian.

Twist! Actually he's a scumbag Rhodesian mercenary. Nah, you're right, UK, originally Royal Navy. At least in the funny books according to Wikipedia. I keep forgetting these shows have elaborate back story that they have to remain consistent with. I'm like Mockingbird who? Must be a whole 'nother level of fun, or infuriation, seeing how the show manipulates the canon.

It has been awhile since we've seen Trip kick ass. I had a dislike for him from when they introduced him, he seemed like a straight slide-in replacement for Grant when that actor had been dropped from his contract or something. But they've taken Grant to a whole thing now, Trip should get his due too.
posted by Nelson at 8:28 AM on October 30, 2014

I know we discussed slashy fanfic last episode, but this one just reinforced that again in my book. I've never really thought that Fitz and Simmons were ever going to end up as a couple. (And compressing their names together is the sort of treacly shorthand that bogged down the first season.) But I never really considered that each of them might be gay until this season, and every episode seems to hint at that. I think -- hope -- one of them is going to come out to the other and all the fans will will go "of course, it was there all along!" upon rewatching the series. There's been no romance between them, just two awkwardly hollow stereotypes who in the second season are figuring out who they are just as the audience does.

Oh, and the show can't fail giving us more Mockingbird.
posted by Catblack at 9:39 AM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Can someone recap the Ward/Ward timeline? My read on it was that it was basically a "he said/he said" type deal - you either believe one ward that the other is the real monster, or you believe the other ward that the first is the true monster. If there's something.... deeper than that, I totally missed it!
posted by rebent at 10:27 AM on October 30, 2014

It's he said/he said. Really need to talk to Thomas!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:56 AM on October 30, 2014

I don't know that there was anything deeper than that with Ward / Ward. However... why not both? Maybe they're both awful. Then again there's a third Ward brother, maybe he's the really awful one. It's worth thinking back on The Well; in that episode we're first made to believe Grant is the victim, but then later he's the perpetrator at his brother's orders. Or so we think.

The thing I was referring to above was the device of Skye (aka: "not River") questioning Grant, presumably without authorization and the cameras switched off. Like she was going behind Coulson's back. Then the Big Reveal that Coulson had that planned all along, which put the nature of Skye's questioning in a new light. It gave a second edge to the scenes and I thought it was a fairly clever trick the TV people pulled.
posted by Nelson at 11:06 AM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

A lot has improved about this show, but I wasn't really aware how much it had changed from a show with too few characters I cared about to a show with almost too many characters I care about to squeeze in until this episode.

And overall it just continues to be so enjoyable. As somebody said above, it's not just that the show feels more confident of its direction than it did last season, but it is doing many of the little things right too -- staging and directorially and pacing-wise. It's still a television show but it feels much more a part of something that could be called a "Cinematic Universe."

(And I watched the past two weeks back to back last night, so I'm not sure which episode the commercial was in, but AGENT CARTER AAAAAAAAH)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:17 AM on October 30, 2014

Seeing as it seems to be a decent show right now, is there an accepted viewing order for those who want to skip the dreary first part of season one?

I actually just rewatched it before the season started, since I'd seen all the boring bits but dropped off just as everyone said it got good, and honestly it was much better the second time around, knowing the twist. Ward is interesting in that he's very often the naysayer, questioning Coulson and pushing back against a lot of the missions, although he does nothing overt. And I hated Skye the first time around but didn't mind her at all the second time through. And once you get to The End of the Beginning, it gets genuinely good.
posted by restless_nomad at 4:26 PM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

I second that. I just re-watched the first two eps of the first season. Much much better than I remembered. Plus, I think my head was in a better place. I remember being completely focused on how often they referenced the movies and debating whether those references felt authentic. Did it seem like these people really worked for the same SHEILD? Was I going to be disappointed if Captain America never shows up? Etc etc. I'm not picking it apart so much now and I do feel comfortable it's the same universe (with only a few eye rolls here and there), so much easier to enjoy second time around.
posted by double bubble at 6:13 PM on October 30, 2014

A note on my eye rolls - the only thing currently annoying me is, I could buy into Cap and Tony and Pepper and everyone else not being a part of the story since Coulson was dead as far as they knew (and they didn't have clearance to be brought in), but now that SHEILD is in shambles, wouldn't Coulson be knocking down every door he could and begging for help?
posted by double bubble at 6:20 PM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh good lord. I before E except after C.
posted by double bubble at 6:21 PM on October 30, 2014

...wouldn't Coulson be knocking down every door he could and begging for help?

Not if he wants to keep him being alive as an ace in the hole. They seem to be doing ok without Stark's cash.

But you'd think all that time he's spent flying around the world in coach and trying to recruit agents, that his existence would leak out.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:06 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm enjoying watching how this show develops. The whole notion of Agents of Shield seemed a little stretched when they were a super-special team flying around in their private super-jet, somewhat apart from whatever the rest of Shield was doing. Widening the scope to include more agents while at the same time operating in a cut down version of Shield has possibilities. It just feels more organic to me. Plus they can bring in guest/recurring agents from time to time to add the freshness.
posted by Sparx at 9:18 PM on October 30, 2014

I figured they did get some laundered Stark cash. Mariah Hill is at Stark, right? And she knows that Coulson is alive.
posted by michaelh at 9:41 AM on October 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

My assumption is that Shield simply had billions upon billions of cash hoarded all over the place in different locations, as that sounds like something Fury would have done, given his penchant for hiding bases everywhere.

Ward is now on the run, but where will he run to? I wonder if he will try and redeem himself by infiltrating Hydra and taking down their top guy. I don't think his Hydra cred has ever been in doubt on the Hydra side of things.

It was super uncomfortable watching Fitz and Simmons interact, a duo who worked seamlessly a season ago interact like a needle on a scratched record. Every minute or so of contact results in some thing loud and painful.

Not a bad episode.
posted by Atreides at 6:23 AM on November 2, 2014

It's interesting to think about how SHIELD is seen by the average person in MCU and how some of the facts revealed about SHIELD hint at just how different that world is outside of all the superhero stuff. It's mentioned in the show that the entire existence of SHIELD is only revealed to the world after the Battle of New York, which - that's completely insane, keeping an organization with a freaking Helicarrier and thousands of personnel completely secret. So that coming into existence out of nowhere is probably pretty weird, and then suddenly the next thing the public knows is that SHIELD is apparently this international threat mixed up with actual goddamn Nazis. And, it's an extra-governmental agency with international oversight in the MCU (I can never keep that straight because they always waffle on whether it's a US agency or international in the comics), and that international group is apparently able to order a nuclear strike on New York during the Avengers and operate its own bases within the US, so I'm assuming the MCU has a very, very different political landscape than our world.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:19 PM on November 2, 2014

Loving Mockingbird and the ex's various grumblings and yet saving her life anyway. And Bobbie and May's glances are comedy gold.

In other news, Peter Burke really looks like he could be Coulson's brother, NOT Grant Ward's whatsoever. The age difference and total looks difference is really throwing me off. Am I terrible for being all "hahahahahah, throwing you to the wolves, you asshole" about things? I care not.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:49 PM on November 8, 2014

UK reader from the paaaasst again. Hunter is indeed very English, and a lot of fun, I thought the stuff with him and Bobbi worked very well in this episode. It's not just Trip who has been sidelined, Mack has been introduced and hardly had much to do, other than interpret Fitz. It's fair to say that in the first season the show failed spectacularly at developing all its characters, so this season where its actually given most of them something to do it's a bit embarrassing we now know more about Bobbi (who turned up last episode) than we do Trip (who turned up last season).
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:08 AM on December 1, 2014

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