Recap: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – “The Hub”

Hello Level 7 Agents, SHIELD is back but you may need your clearance upped for tonight’s episode.  Last week’s episode was the best one since the pilot, with the show taking a huge leap forward in terms of character development and emotion.  Tonight’s episode continued that trend, and I think it’s safe to say that after these last two episodes SHIELD has definitely found its feet.  “The Hub”, written by Rafe Judkins and Lauren LeFranc and directed by Bobby Roth, gave us a look into SHIELD’s daily operation and the scope of the organization, a peek into the mystery of Skye’s parents, some development on Coulson’s resurrection, not to mention some solid action and some of the funniest lines of the season.  Without further ado, let’s take it from the top.

We open with a man with a bag covering his head, being lead through a basement somewhere by two guards on his way to be interrogated.  The man is dumped in a seat and the bag is removed to reveal Coulson, looking delightfully calm.  He looks around his dreary surroundings and tells his captors, “I don’t mean to alarm you, but I think you may have a mold problem.  That sink with the standing water seems especially concerning.”  His captors aren’t impressed with his quips and they call in his interrogator, who has some nasty looking instruments at his disposal.  Coulson looks at the man and simply tells him, “They know.”

The man attacks the guards and frees Coulson, and the two are quickly joined by May and Ward.  Coulson wonders what kept them, but the bodies strewn on the floor outside answer that question.  The four of them climb a ladder and emerge in the middle of a snow covered plain, seemingly in the middle of nowhere.  There are two sleds waiting for them, but when asked where the dogs to pull the sleds are, Coulson just says, “Don’t be ridiculous.”  The sleds are instead pulled towards the Bus, which is waiting nearby.

Aboard the Bus, it’s revealed that the man they rescued is a SHIELD agent, and he has some information that SHIELD needs.  Unfortunately for him, that information is in a capsule inside his head, which can only be extracted by a snake like device that Simmons is all too eager to shove up his nose.  Everything goes as planned (with the help of a hilariously disturbing x-ray video on the screen behind them), and Coulson tells the agent to relax while they get the information back to the Hub, the prospect of which has Simmons super excited.

Up in the lounge area, Fitz offers to build a device to read the information in the capsule while Skye says that she can decrypt the data once it’s downloaded.  Coulson says none of that is necessary, because the information is only for those on Level 8.  This gets an understanding “ahh” from FitzSimmons but indignation from Skye, who doesn’t think that information that they worked so hard for should be hidden from them.  FitzSimmons tries to explain that that’s just how things work at the Hub, and that the Hub is just different than the Bus.  And no one wants Skye to get started on one of her “socialist riffs”.

Despite her reservations, Skye is awed by the size and scope of the Hub.  “I didn’t realize Big Brother would be this big,” she says.  The crew is busy attaching their authorization badges to their chests, but when Skye asks for one Coulson points at the bracelet on her wrist and says, “That’s your badge.”  He also tells her that she has a long way to go to get to Level 1.  “I don’t think it likes me here,” Skye says to herself.  The group is welcomed by an Agent Sitwell, who says that level 7 personnel are welcome in the briefing.  Skye tries to follow, but the security panel by the door activates and her monitoring bracelet is trapped, locking her out of the meeting.  Fitz and Simmons, who are only Level 5, head off to check out the new developments in engineering, leaving Skye stuck and on her own.

Inside the meeting, Coulson, Ward and May are introduced to Agent Hand (guest star Saffron Burrows), who has quite the reputation.  She tells the them that a group of separatists have created a device, which roughly translates to “Overkill”, that uses sonic vibrations to trigger any weapons at which it is aimed.  It could detonate the warheads on missiles and create havoc, and the separatists want to use it to withdraw from Russia and Georgia.  Hand wants to send in a two person crew to disable it, and Ward and May are up to the job.  However, since they know nothing about the device, they’ll need someone with some scientific expertise, and Ward’s resigned sign says that he knows exactly who they have in mind.

That would be Fitz, who is busy fighting with an automatic door, in an inspired bit of physical comedy.  Simmons is worried when she finds out he’s to go out in the field with Ward, especially given that he’s “lacking any real physical strength.”  Fitz is a bit put out by that, but warns Simmons not to do anything foolish while he’s gone, like jumping out of an airplane.  The two share a tender moment before he leaves, and Simmons gives him something she made for his trip, his favorite sandwich.  Elsewhere on the Bus, Coulson asks Ward to take care of Fitz while they’re gone.  It’s looks of of concern all around as Ward and Fitz set off on their mission.

Things get off on the wrong foot right away, as we see the pair in a jeep as Fitz wraps up a long winded science story involving Simmons sneezing on a sensitive piece of equipment.  Ward doesn’t laugh at the punchline, but they have bigger things to worry about.  They head into a bar to meet Ward’s contact who will help smuggle them across the border, and Ward orders two vodkas, one for him and one for his contact (while Fitz asks him to check what beers they have on tap).  Unfortunately for our heroes, the contact is dead, and Ward and Fitz are captured.

Back at the Hub, Skye and Simmons are worrying about the boys.  Skye tries to get some information out of May, who has a higher clearance level, but is unable to distinguish between May’s many different “non-expressions”.  Coulson and Agent Hand discuss Coulson’s team, and the preferential treatment he’s received by being Nick Fury’s favorite.  The two clash over Coulson’s status, with him saying that he never left the big leagues despite Hand’s assertion otherwise.  After failing with May, Skye tries to get some info out of Coulson, who unhelpfully only tells her to “trust the system.”

Fitz and Ward are tied up, and each of the plans Ward suggests for escape involves something terrifying to Fitz, worst of which is Ward asking if Fitz is willing to lose a pinky finger.  The two are confronted by the woman in charge, who is about to dispose of them when the power goes out.  The next thing we know, Fitz is hanging by his ankles and we can only imagine how they’re torturing him, but in reality he’s just helping to repair the fuses to get power back to the bar.  He negotiates passage for them across the border, and even if he struggles with the exchange rate Ward is impressed, especially when he learns that Fitz triggered the blackout with a device in his pocket.

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6 thoughts on “Recap: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – “The Hub”

  1. I loved seeing Ward/Fitz and Skye/Simmons instead of the usual pairings. And having FitzSimmons separated and talking about each other so fondly really made me ship them. 😉 I totally missed at the end when Coulson asked May to help him find out more. I thought he was talking about finding out what really happened to himself. Now the dead woman in the folder makes more sense though! I agree that the last two eps & the premiere have been the best. Too bad it’s been steadily sliding in the ratings. :/

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  2. Again, Marvel shows that character and a lighter touch rule (done with the Grim and Dark and Apocalyptic…done done done, dinny dinny done done).

    Love Fitz. Love pairing off characters; this sets up some simpler dynamics (in kids books or “YAs”, there are often limited numbers of characters for this reason), and allows a deeper look at each character. And different characters play off of each other, well, differently.

    Have learned some elementary tai chi, so watching may makes me either want to do more… or…crap… just give up (mmmble mmmmrp bleahshessogood). Love the Vulcaneque expressions.

    OK, just tell us what Tahiti is already……….

    These kinds of stories (myths, legends, comics, sci-fi) are written by people who are not “part of the system”. Despite Coulson’s perfect suits, and the “black helicopter” conveyances (SUVs, the Bus etc), I always (throughout all the Avengers films) have a vibe that they are outside of any normal “system”… or at least Coulson’s crew is. Watching Thor again (the first one) you can see, in Coulson’s reactions, that he is thoughtful, and definitely not playing by any book.

    Seriously hope this series does well enough to stay on air, or at least online. A wonderful , intelligent, fun antidote to the mindless stoooooopid that is so much of TV.

    Really really looking forward to the Thor tie-in. Watched this episode (Hub) after rewatching Thor the first. Fun seeing Coulson and SHIELD in that film, and comparing them to Agents of SHIELD here.

    My personal thought (after the second watching of Dark World) was …at the very end of the credits… “Now who’s going to round that up… oh…there’s a job for SHIELD.”

    Cowboy up.

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