TV Recap: “Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.” S01 E07 “The Hub”

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CLARK GREGG, MING-NA WEN, BRETT DALTON

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  • Air Date: 11/12/2013
  • Written By: Rafe Judkins, Lauren LeFranc
  • Directed By: Bobby Roth
  • Starring: Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Brett Dalton, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge
  • Guest Stars: Saffron Burrows, Maximiliano Hernandez, Charles Halford

TV Recap: “Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.” S01 E07 “The Hub”

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This episode thrusts us into the action, with Agent Coulson captured by Siberian/Russian spies. But, as Coulson intimates, they have a mole problem. Their interrogator is actually Agent Shaw (Charles Halford), an undercover SHIELD spy. Soon, Melinda May, Grant Ward, and Shaw have Coulson out of there, as they ride motorized sleds back to the Bus (which is their jet, keep up).

You might as well slap an Easy button to Coulson’s chest after that. It’s supposed to be an exciting intro… but like the anonymous and thankless Agent Mack who got stung when guarding Dr. Franklin Hall in “The Asset,” I’m more interested in Shaw’s story. These agents on the periphery scattered across the globe (such as Agent Kwan in “The Girl With The Flower Dress”) that don’t get the credit likely have a more interesting story than the “underdog”/”ragtag”/”misfits” that we’re watching every week. There’s potential there, at least in the form of a fun web series.

But sorry, there’s no pause button in this one: Simmons has extracted a massive booger from Agent Ward’s nose, which doubles as Intel on the Siberian’s plan to separate from Russia, using a weapon fittingly called the Overkill Device. It’s all overkill, but apparently, the device sends sonic vibrations outward, activating all weapons reasonably near it, including nuclear warheads.

Skye and company wonder what the plan is, but Coulson brings down the hammer (sadly not Mjolnir): this mission is classified, it’s level 8. Everyone else is used to the yellow tape, the secrecy surrounding a SPY organization, except Skye, who brandishes her “I do not belong” sticker like a medal.

If you want to get drunk during this episode, drink every time someone says “Trust the System.” Double it when they go against that exact mantra seconds later.

S.H.I.E.L.D. is all about its hierarchy of security levels (and so is this show in the early going, utilizing it for humor most of the time), positioned purposefully to keep most of its Agents in the dark, to keep missions a secret, and their assets safe. While it’s all bureaucratic codswallop, and Skye is right to question it, the manner in which she does so is as annoying as her character has become.

Coulson’s team gets to go to “The Hub,” one of the bigger S.H.I.E.L.D. bases. Though, according to Gemma Simmons, it’s nothing compared to the Triskelion, the kind of Marvel nugget fans have been longing for. The Triskelion is S.H.I.E.L.D.’s massive headquarters, depicted as such:

triskelion

Within moments of their arrival at the Hub, we get two more pleasant “surprises” (not if you read the internet), as Coulson’s crew bump into Agent Jasper Sitwell (THE AMERICANS’ Maximiliano Hernandez), who burst onto the Marvel universe in ITEM 147, one of its one-shots associated with the aftermath of the AVENGERS flick. He’s trumped by our introduction to fan favorite from the comics, Victoria Hand (BOSTON LEGAL and LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT’s Saffron Burrows), retaining the red flare in her hair. In the comics, she went from S.H.I.E.L.D. accountant to Norman Osborn’s (Green Goblin) deputy director of H.A.M.M.E.R., a bastardized and evil organization that replaced S.H.I.E.L.D. Victoria was privy to all the corruption, as she attempted to rid the government of any agents loyal to Fury. When Osborn was finally removed from office, Hand underwent a redemptive arc trying to assist the New Avengers, before meeting her maker (I don’t mean Stan Lee). It’s a classic Whedon story arc, and hopefully… this is just the beginning.

VictoriaHand

Of course, she’s merely the figurehead for SHIELD in this one, as she brings Coulson “back in the big leagues,” as she requires Agent Ward and Agent Fitz to go in the field and deactivate the Overkill Device. You’d think a massive (successful?) spy organization would have an agent who’s both tech savvy AND field ready, or at least one more so than the bumbling Fitz… but you’d be wrong to overestimate them. That said, putting Ward and Fitz together is a masterstroke, and brings with it all of the best moments in the episode as Fitz grows up and proves to be a more than competent agent in the field.

Sidenote: Fitz has to marry Simmons. Why? Because the prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella sandwich she makes him for the field, along with just the right amount of pesto aioli, sounds divine. The two of them are the best characters on the show, as they’ve grown from adorable stereotype to two of the few multi-faceted characters on the show over the past two episodes. I don’t think I’ve ever hated Agent Ward more than when he threw half of the sandwich away. Ward: enemy of the sandwich.

Interestingly enough, when Hand brings up Tahiti (again), Coulson (again) remarks at how it’s a magical place… catching himself the second time. It’s almost as if he’s programmed to say that…

Later, Coulson attempts to access his own recovery file, but finds he doesn’t have access to it. But he’s LEVEL 8?! Like that means something (really, what does that mean? Maria Hill admits to having Level 9 in NEW AVENGERS, even though there was a Level 10 on the scale and she was the executive director of S.H.I.E.L.D. at the time).

Coulson and his team’s place in the SHIELD team continues to make little sense. Hand intimates that he’s operating below her and the higher ups, yet… she has to use two of his agents for a mission, because they apparently have no one else qualified to handle it. Not only that, but she sends them to die, without an extraction team. There’s this assumption that Coulson’s team is separate from SHIELD, yet inferior, BUT… they apparently don’t answer to the law. Agent Simmons SHOOTS a superior agent in the chest (sorry Jasper), Skye hacks into SHIELD (again) and routinely does things that would send normal people to a room with no lights for… ever. I know it’s purposeful to hide the true position of Coulson’s team in regard to the rest of the Marvel Universe… but so far it’s lack of consistency or logic is putting the entire show in question. It’s getting to the point where I feel like the writers are using the fact that the agency itself is filled with gray areas and blurred lines as an excuse not to have a clear idea of what it is their team is/does.

While the whole thing kind of makes my eyes roll, the identity of Skye’s parents just got a lot more interesting. Apparently Skye was dropped off at an orphanage by a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Who’s her Mom? Her Dad? Coulson and May know more than what they’re saying… but they still haven’t gotten to the bottom of it (I’m assuming they haven’t forgotten they had a kid together and dumped Skye off Hagrid style). Is Agent Hand her Mom? Or Agent Maria Hill (Smulders is only ten years older than Chloe Bennet)? Agent Carter? Questions abound in this episode… but not many are good ones.

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