Bobbi Morse, aka Mockingbird, makes an impressive (if very Black Widow-esque) entrance in an episode packed with revelations, twists and Skye’s father going psycho. And very good Kyle MacLachlan is at playing psycho too – arguably the best scene in the whole episode is the very final one, when Skye’s dad proves to Whitehall that he‘s just the kind of ruthless, murdering bastard owner of an alien WMD that Hydra likes.
Before that we have a tightly-plotted, tense and action-packed plot with SHIELD having to extract Simmons from HYDRA when her cover is blown. The scene in the restaurant when Raina tries to blackmail Coulson is nailbiting stuff, because we don’t know what Phil knows – that Simmons isn’t the only agent he has undercover in HYDRA. Even without that knowledge, watching Coulson cooly calling Raina’s bluff, then Raina break out in a rare sweat, is superbly gripping.
Skye and Bobbi’s rooftop leap onto the invisible quinjet is another highlight, but it reminds you how few of these truly cinematic moments we get on the show. Gotham, for all its problems, looks gorgeous throughout; SHIELD too often simply looks like a thrifty TV show. Sure, story is more important than flashy visuals, but flashy visuals can enhance good storytelling. After all, if we didn’t want a bit of spectacle, we’d be watching soap operas and hospital dramas, not telefantasy. Having said that, the shots of the quintet flying through the nighttime clouds immediately afterwards are more stylish than many SHIELD quints shots, so may somebody at producer level has been sending out, “More pizzazz and beauty shots!” memos.
When Bakshi and his goons arrive to take in Simmons, all the scientist politely move aside to let her get away. HYDRA needs to offer some employment incentives to encourage its workers to help subdue traitors. You’d think the threat of death for not helping out might be enough.
It’s an interesting episode for Skye, too, and not just because she discovers that her dad is a monster (actually the word “monster” is used in reference to him on such heavy rotation – he even refers to himself as such at one point – you have to wonder if it’s more than just a euphemism). She also learns she may be an alien, and the audience learns that Skye isn’t even her real name. All good stuff, but maybe it would have more impact in a episode centring a bit more on Skye – she’s actually a bit passive in this episode, just moaning and moping a lot. Still, all this new info certainly keeps the arc plot elements building nicely.
Mack and Trip are totally wasted again, aside from Mack’s Athena poster moment (see Fitz’s fantasy below) and Hunter’s quips are even feebler than ever, though it was great to his face when his ex turns out to be SHIELD’s latest recruit.
So, another solid, eventful episode of SHIELD with some intriguing character moments, but once again it feels a little like it’s coasting along in second gear. Hopefully it’s building to some episodes in which the show really starts to kick out.
Simmons asks, “What sort of hell cow produces carmine milk?” to which Kenneth replies, “I don’t know. File just says ‘Bessie’.” Believe it or not, the Marvel Comics universe does indeed feature a vampire cow called Bessie, created by Steve Gerber for Giant-Size Man-Thing #5 and who’s appeared in some of the company’s more esoteric titles, such as Howard The Duck and Deadpool.
So, what are we to make of Fitz’s subconscious having a crush on Mack? Is Fitz ready for a man-crush? Is he on the verge of coming out of the closet? Meanwhile, Simmons seems to have a bit of a girl crush on Bobbi, too.
SHIELD’s newest agent, Bobbi Morse, is also the superhero known as Mockingbird in the comics, where she’s blonde. Hunter even says in the episode that he prefers Bobbi as a blonde. Adrianne Palicki has live-action comic book form, having previously appeared in Smallville (as a kind of fake Supergirl) and an unsuccessful pilot for Wonder Woman in 2011. Palicki's not the only SHIELD cast member with previous as Wonder Woman. Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill) voiced her for The Lego Movie (2014) and was also attached to a proposed live-action film written by Joss Whedon.
Skye’s father: “We share a common enemy – a guy named Phil Coulson. I thought maybe together you and I could kill him, along with, you know, everyone else.”
Apologies for harping on about Agents Of SHIELD’s humdrum production design again, but how much more impressive Mockingbird’s first fight scene would have been if it hadn’t taken place in the most boring corridors in the world. They’re so narrow and cramped it makes the show feel small as well.
Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD airs on Friday nights on Channel 4 in the UK and on ABC on Tuesday nights in the US.
|The one where||Simmonss cover at HYDRA is blown, and Skye learns that her real father is a monster.|