Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Love in the Time of Hydra
March 25, 2015 5:12 AM - Season 2, Episode 14 - Subscribe

Coulson and his team are still reeling from a shocking revelation that leaves the team fractured as they must decide what to do with one of their own. Meanwhile, Bobbi and Mack reveal their true allegiance to Hunter, while elsewhere, Ward and Agent 33 embark on a personal mission
posted by 2ht (27 comments total)
I'm not sure they've sold this real SHIELD story. It doesn't add up. SHIELD was hunted as a terrorist organization, yet this group managed to escape with an aircraft carrier? Fury handed the keys over to Coulson with all his toys and intel, but forgot to mention the existence of said carrier? Somehow Coulson has been blind to it. I had hoped Bobbi was really working for Coulson, but that theory is busted.

Plus their motives seem to be shaky. Yes, Coulson was infected with essentially an alien virus. It wasn't his own doing, and it caused problems, but it's over. Trip died in the field because they didn't take necessary precautions, but what would real SHIELD have done differently? Have they never lost any agents? What is worst about that is Bobbi doesn't trust him despite their long history and her intimate knowledge of what went down.

What I did like about real SHIELD is we finally got a glimpse that there is more going on around them. With Coulson as director, I had hoped we would see the bigger picture - a command center, multiple teams going into the field, while Coulson takes a General Hammond sort of role and our team becomes SG1. Real SHIELD feels like an actual organization, while Coulson could never scrape up more than a dozen or so employees.
posted by 2ht at 5:26 AM on March 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Here for the "I'm gonna be up to my ears in Edible Arrangements trying making this one up to my wife" line. Glenn Talbot has the best dialogue of anyone on the show.

This was probably my least favorite episode of the entire series so far. It's one of those standard "introducing new plot elements" episodes that some shows do better than others. I likened it to a rebuilding year for a sports team; hopefully it pays off down the line but it's hard to get excited about right away.
posted by the webmistress at 6:20 AM on March 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Are there any words more exciting in fandom than "guest starring Edward James Olmos"?

I didn't love this episode either, the Real SHIELD thing played very poorly. At least we finally know for sure that Fitz is gay. He hears "on the DL" and he assumes "on the down low", not the baseball term. Although now that Mack is working on the Other Team I worry for his romance.
posted by Nelson at 7:34 AM on March 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

"Glenn Talbot has the best dialogue of anyone on the show."
And it was a damn shame his monolog extolling the virtues of a riding lawnmower was cut short. One saddle indeed!

As a viewer who watched Mission Impossible episodes first run, I hate hate hate the stupid perfect mask trope. At least there's only flash memory for 3 faces, so maybe someone will be able to trick Agent 33 into overwriting Mae's face... or something, anything to render the stupid thing a bit less effective.
posted by klarck at 7:59 AM on March 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Agent 33 is pretty clearly going to end up as Madam Masque, right? They hit the phrase "the mask" several times while Talbot was running around, and also "masquerading."
posted by PussKillian at 8:08 AM on March 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

I was mostly annoyed by how the nano-mask apparently threw in the ability to morph Agent 33's body type all over the map from tall/short/endomorph/ectomorph. When she was just pretending to be May it was one thing, but at a certain point (I'm thinking when she morphed into a noticeably bustier female officer, and then moments later somehow disguised herself as a buzz-cut male soldier) it seemed like they were trying to sell her as a straight-up shapeshifter.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:03 AM on March 25, 2015

At least we finally know for sure that Fitz is gay. He hears "on the DL" and he assumes "on the down low", not the baseball term.

pretty sure he said "download" not "down low". Either way, is "on the down low" some sort of dogwhistle that I've not heard before? Because I always assumed it was common parlance for "keep it hush hush"
posted by rebent at 10:29 AM on March 25, 2015

Down-low (sexual slang). "The Down Low is a lifestyle predominately practiced by young, urban African American men who have sex with other men and women, yet do not identify as gay or bisexual."

I'm not actually serious about Fitz being gay but it's fun to imagine, I guess I'm a 'shipper afterall. And his being familiar with the DL makes perfect sense what with his secret romance with Mack.
posted by Nelson at 10:46 AM on March 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

This was an odd episode, which was clearly functioning as setup for later things. The look at the character relationships was interesting, particularly Ward, who's scarily brilliant in his manipulation of Agent 33. The whole making peace with my family speech, while leaving out their deaths? Crazy good acting there. But the lack of outright clarity was mildly disorienting there, as the implication that Ward killed them is obvious, but there's never been an explicit information that he actually did. It's a minor detail, but makes me wonder if something else is going on.

As to nuShield, they were pretty unimpressive, despite having an aircraft (helio?) carrier. Hopefully they'll grow into something more. But where did they fit? Talbot seems to be working C-SHIELD, but is that just a ruse to make Coulson & the gang comfortable and sloppy? Because nuShield seems to have a lot of military hardware.

There's finally a pretty decent rational for Simmons being hardcore about containing Skye. Everything in her world is changing or has changed and trying to control or fix it is a natural human impulse.

Skye and her powers? Meh. A necessary plot, but oddly unmoving to me.

Here's Agent Carter thoughts.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:19 AM on March 25, 2015

Oh! I can't easily rewatch or I would double check, but when Talbot ended his video call with Coulson there was a brief moment where it looked like he may have been on an aircraft carrier. Probably my imagination, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was working with real SHIELD.
posted by 2ht at 12:57 PM on March 25, 2015

No, the best line of the show went to Agent 33:

"But you seem so well-adjusted!"
posted by leotrotsky at 5:15 PM on March 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Hey, it's Shane. Man, he's like Waldo now.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 5:44 PM on March 25, 2015

Talbot was great all over this. Riding mowers, taco tuesday, his attempts to find the imposter. Great stuff.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 7:05 AM on March 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Actually I thought they did a reasonable job trying to indicate 33 could only deal with the face. Her last appearance as a man includes a comment about the challenge of finding someone that short and she's in somewhat baggy fatigues. As Skye she still has May's voice. The female soldier she imitates is stockier but she never faces close inspection as her, so I put that off more to the limitations of casting and budget.
posted by phearlez at 7:36 AM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I hope that other-Shield really is in bed with the US Government, just because that would make much more sense than what we've seen so far.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:22 PM on March 26, 2015

"Lieutenant, when was the last time I got your name right?"

"Never, sir."

Yeah, I <3 Talbot.

I would really like to believe that Bobbi has some other play up her sleeve than just quietly going along with this Real SHIELD nonsense. I don't feel like the writers have given her sufficient reason to feel that Coulson is compromised. I also feel like SHIELD, having purged itself of HYDRA, really ought to be trying to harder to purge itself of HYDRA-like tendencies, such as having the various heads constantly attacking each other, but that doesn't seem to be a concern the Real SHIELD people have. In fact there are a kind of absurdly large number of concerns they don't seem to have, what with their tunnel-vision focus on Coulson's flaws alone.

Of course that's kind of what's killing the show's momentum right now, IMO: Coulson does seem like the biggest "threat" Real SHIELD faces, while Coulson's team is just mopping loose ends and killing time (until Age of Ultron drops, I guess?). They wiped out HYDRA and don't seem to be facing any other really serious, organized external threats right now. It's tough to find an alternate SHIELD compelling when neither SHIELD seems to have a really strongly compelling reason to exist right now. If it's just dealing with the occasional nutjobbery by Ward, or Skye's dad & co., or the odd Kree here and there....well look folks, TBH I'm pretty sure Talbot could handle all that, so maybe y'all should just call it a job well done and go look for jobs with StarkTech?

Ward was fantastic this episode; he knows on an intellectual level how messed up what Garrett did to him was, and yet confronted with this situation where suddenly he's supposed to be the Guy In Charge, the Guy With The Plan, the only thing he knows how to do is be Garrett, to take this lost soul and build her into an adoring, slavishly devoted monster just the way Garrett did to him.

I do wonder if the show's going to have this pattern of having these lulls with kind of draggy episodes leading up to a major MCU movie. They're definitely holding back on the pace of their storytelling right now, though, and it shows. I get that Skye shouldn't gain control over her powers unbelievably fast, but that plotline's been nothing but repetitious.

When Coulson took Skye to the cabin, and said, "Oh but you won't be alone!" ....I was really hoping he was gonna introduce another Patton Oswalt.
posted by mstokes650 at 8:56 PM on March 26, 2015 [8 favorites]

And his being familiar with the DL makes perfect sense what with his secret romance with Mack.

Yeah, I get that you're not entirely serious with this, but I'm about as straight and white as it gets and I'm familiar with "on the DL" as a phrase that means something other than an injured player on a sports team. So I wouldn't take it as signifying much of anything (says the guy who still ships Bobbi and Simmons; and after the episode with Lady Sif, was thinking about how much fun the show could have with Sif falling for Fitz, much like Thor has fallen for a scientist. But then thinking about Lady Sif going for a short nerdy guy is perhaps me doing some Marty Stu stuff).

Speaking of Bobbi, I don't buy her being as fully on board with "Real SHIELD" as she's claiming; I think she's seen enough of Coulson to know he's ok, and now Hunter has forced her hand: she'll go back and lay out the truth for Coulson and the team.

I'm frankly tired of them mining Tripp's death, though - none of them seemed all that attached to him in life, and the episode after he is killed, Simmons loses a handful of other people down in the alien city that apparently no one gives a flying shit about; it's all "Tripp! Tripp died! Woe is us!" Enough. Move on from this.
posted by nubs at 9:32 PM on March 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I agree about mining Tripp's death. SHIELD loses people. It's not new. I was especially put off when "Real SHIELD" brought up his death as a point against Coulson. I guess it can be part of their narrow focus on how Coulson was wrong to seek out that city, its part of his alien untrustworthyness, and they just want to score as many possible points as possible against that adventure in particular. Other than that, it seemed weird.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 9:10 AM on March 28, 2015

I could buy it if they were bringing up Tripp as Gabe Jones's grandson - Tripp might not have liked the nepotism, but killing a howling commando's* family member a pretty big strike against someone.

*and possibly one of the founding member's of SHIELD

The thing is that Coulson is super sketchy from an outside perspective. He was dead, then not-dead by mysterious alien goo means that has been known to drive people crazy and somehow ends up in power, based on the mandate of a dead man? He's also made not a few questionable leadership decisions.

Skye is also super sketchy - she worked against Hydra, became a full SHIELD agent right before Hydra was shown to be SHIELD, at least one Hydra agent seems bent on 'rescuing' her, hiding crazy alien powers with crazy aliens wanting to recruit her.

I feel like the show has the material to make a damning case for the real shield to use, but the show hasn't been selling it as well. I'd love for them to take a supernatural-esque take on the situation and use an outsider's perspective to show how freaking nuts this all is.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:33 PM on March 28, 2015

The existence of Real Shield bugs me mightily. Where were these guys when shit was going down with Hydra and the hidden alien city? Wouldn't Bobbi and Mack have told them that the entire world was at stake? Pretty sure an aircraft carrier's worth of firepower wouldn't have gone amiss at that time.

I would have much Real Shield being introduced by coming out of the blue to save Coulson's bacon, everyone rejoicing, and then Real Shield arresting him. Would have made for an entertaining diversion while we're waiting for Avengers 2 to kick off the Inhumans stuff.
posted by adrianhon at 4:23 PM on March 28, 2015 [3 favorites]

I agree that the whole Real SHIELD thing is just not working - it feels like throwing the kitchen sink into the mix just to have MOAR COMPLICATIONS.

I do wonder if the show's going to have this pattern of having these lulls with kind of draggy episodes leading up to a major MCU movie. They're definitely holding back on the pace of their storytelling right now, though, and it shows.

Yeah, and the thing is, after the Skye & Raina transformation and the death of Tripp and the confrontation with Cal, I think it would've been totally fine to let the pace ease up, do a couple of Monster/Alien Tech-of-the-week episodes while the longer arc concerns everyone figuring out how to deal with Skye's new powers (both practically and relationship-wise) and Agent 33 & Grant doing their thing, which is clearly leading up to something. As it stands, it feels like both of those stories got short-changed because the show keeps having to make time for Bobbi & Mack & Real SHIELD. At this point I'm assuming that RS is going to make an appearance in Ultron, which is why it's here now.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:32 PM on March 28, 2015

Best nickname I've heard for Real SHIELD™ is "OlmostSHIELD".
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:35 PM on March 28, 2015 [5 favorites]

The problem with nuSHIELD is that they haven't done anything. Seriously, all we've seen of them four administrators who clearly like to have meetings. Yet they have an aircraft carrier and a fleet of quinjets. They really need to up their game, rather than just talking about being the "real" Shield, whatever that means.

From a writing perspective, it's the usual crap of people not talking to each other. What, can nuShield not pick up the damn phone and be like "Uh Phil, what the fuck, we thought you were dead, now you're running around chasing Alien tech?! Dude, we roomed together at the academy, Fury loved you man, everyone knew that. Now he's dead, Hydra's back, you're alive and you have his toolbox. How about an explanation, say 7 o'clock next Tuesday at that Sushi place we use to hang at on LA's west side?"

I get that they're spies and suspicious by default, but come on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:49 AM on March 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Brandon's complaint was exactly mine; I can't believe that an organization as well resourced as nuSHIELD has just been sitting on its hands while everything has been going down. It would've been awesome to have them show up and save the day at some point, and then try to take everything over - that would be better than this. Because right now, SHIELD's organizational structure is beginning to look Hyrda-ish with all the multiple heads.
posted by nubs at 9:04 AM on March 29, 2015

Saying "on the DL" does not indicate that one is gay.
posted by amtho at 3:43 PM on April 1, 2015

Oh man am I in trouble.
posted by Nelson at 4:01 PM on April 1, 2015

I was hoping for a little more emphasis on the Inhuman plot and this Shield, Jr stuff seems like a distraction.
posted by octothorpe at 6:17 AM on May 15, 2016

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