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

Sorry this is a bit late, loyal readers, but being off this week for Thanksgiving is messing with my routine.  Last week’s SHIELD episode gave us the much anticipated tie in to Thor: The Dark World that ended up only being tangentially related to the film.  It was still a fun and interesting episode, even if the connection between show and movie was fairly inconsequential.  Last night’s episode gave us a new unexplained phenomenon for our crew to investigate, while also finally exploring Melinda May’s background and character to an extent beyond what we’d seen thus far on the show.  And we even got a little bit of theological discussion thrown into the mix.  So let’s jump right in to “Repairs”, written by showrunners Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen and directed by Billy Gierhart.

We open on a shot of a newspaper headline that reads “Laboratory Accident Kills 4”, with a picture of a woman underneath.  We’re in a convenience store in Batesville, Utah, and who should walk in but the woman whose picture is on the front page of the paper.  She picks up a few items and goes to check out, but the cashier looks at her and says “Jack Benson was a friend of mine.”  She says that she’s so sorry, but he keeps pressuring her about the accident, which he blames her for as she was some kind of manager.  She tries to leave the store, but he blocks her path, when suddenly some cans fly off the nearby shelf directly at the man.  He asks if she caused it, and then the entire shelf topples onto the man.  He escapes and runs outside, where he sees gas pumps spraying fuel all over the place, and a trail of gas heading towards a burning rack of newspapers.  He runs for it as the woman inside sinks to the floor, saying “Lord, please not again.”  The gas reaches the flaming papers and causes a huge explosion.

We jump to a hotel room for the answer to one of the questions from last week’s episode.  It seems that May and Ward did, in fact, sleep together, as we see her getting dressed as he comes out of the shower wrapped in a towel.  She gets a message from SHIELD on her phone, saying they have to report back to the Bus.  Ward suggests that they follow the same plan as before, taking separate routes back and staggering their arrival times so people don’t get suspicious, but when he turns his back May is already gone.

On the Bus, Skye is looking at the profile of the woman, named Hannah Hutchins (guest star Laura Seay), and discussing with Coulson whether or not the woman might be telekinetic.  Skye’s pretty skeptical, but Coulson says that they’re going to perform an “Index Asset Evaluation and Intake” on Hannah.  Skye asks, “Does that mean we talk to her and see if she has powers?”  “Basically,” Coulson answers.  Skye thinks the name for that procedure is stupid, and suggests they call it the “Welcome Wagon.”  Coulson says that he wants Skye to pay close attention to the operation, as he wants her to see how it’s done.  Skye says, “I found Mike Peterson before you did,” referencing the events of the pilot episode, but Coulson says, “Remember how that went?”  He wants her to see what it’s like when things go right (fat chance of that).  He says he’s done a handful of these kinds of missions, though the Index does not have very many people on it.

Skye lays out the information she’s been able to uncover.  Hannah was a quality control engineer at the local particle accelerator, which exploded and killed four workers.  Coulson says that the “small church community” blames her for the accident.  FitzSimmons says that the site of the accident is still off limits, but that they’ll scan it for any possible link between the incident and someone developing telekinesis.  Coulson says, “Well it does use giant magnets to fire billions of subatomic particles into their antiparticles at the speed of light to create miniature big bangs, so it seems like a good place to start.”  Everyone stares at him but he answers, “I read.”  Coulson tells Skye that he wants her to stay in the car and that he’s bringing Ward and May with him to make the first contact.  Skye objects, “It’s a delicate situation and you’re bringing along ‘warm and fuzzy’?”  As May tells them to get ready for takeoff, Ward comes walking up the ramp.  She gives him a look before telling him he’s late and turning her back on him.

An angry mob has gathered at Hannah’s house by the time SHIELD shows up, and the cops seem reluctant to force it to disperse.  Coulson introduces himself, but Hannah thinks that he’s here to lock her up.  Suddenly one of the crowd throws an egg at Hannah, which hits the wall.  Out of nowhere one of the empty police cars fires up and charges into the crowd.  Coulson tackles a man out of the way, but one of the cops pulls a gun on Hannah, as things start to escalate.  May calms things down by shooting Hannah with the night-night pistol, which gets a reply from Coulson of, “So much for the Welcome Wagon.”

At the wreck of a building which used to be a particle accelerator, FitzSimmons is sending the dwarves in to scan the site.  As they wait they argue whether telekinesis is even possible, which reminds them of a prank pulled on them as freshmen at the Academy.  Fitz says he regrets that they graduated three years early, because it means that they never got to pull any pranks on younger students.  Simmons’ eyes light up as she realizes that Skye never went to the Academy, and that she’s basically the freshman of their crew.  In fact, Fitz says, it would almost be wrong for them to deny her the opportunity to be pranked.

Back aboard the Bus, Hannah is in the cage (which is now the crew’s name for the interrogation cell, I guess?) with only a bare mattress.  Coulson tells Ward that magnetic shielding was installed after recent events, and that it’s protecting them from her powers.  He says he wants May to go in with him to explain the situation, both because for some reason he thinks Hannah will believe her but also because she can handle it if things go badly.  Ward and the others will observe from outside, and Coulson removes his tie just in case Hannah decides to turn it into a noose.

Inside the cage, Coulson gently offers Hannah a bottle of water as she asks how she got there.  May coldly says, “I sedated you,” which doesn’t exactly make Hannah feel comfortable.  She’s told that it was for everyone’s safety, but she looks fearful and says, “Oh Lord, what have I done.  Wherever I go things turn bad.”  May asks if she was angry at the mob, hinting that perhaps that’s why the police car decided to charge everyone down, but Hannah says that she wasn’t angry.  In fact, she completely understands the crowd’s anger, as she blames herself for everything that has happened.

FitzSimmons and Skye watch on a monitor in the lab, and Skye feels terrible for Hannah.  Simmons is watching Hannah’s brainwaves, but doesn’t see anything out of the ordinary.  Skye is pissed that May is in the cage with her, especially considering that May shot her, but Fitz defends May, saying she did what has to be done and that’s why she’s called the “Cavalry”.  Skye asks where that nickname came from, and Fitz and Simmons share a look when they realize that this is the perfect moment for a prank.  They tell Skye an elaborate story about SHIELD agents who were taken hostage by more than 100 mercenaries and tortured, and May was sent in to rescue them.  On the way, May’s truck broke down, so she rode in on a horse with a gun in each hand and killed all of the mercenaries.  Skye seems doubtful, but she buys it when they insist that it’s true.  FitzSimmons pulls up the schematics of the particle accelerator on their holographic table, but when Skye tries to play with it Fitz slaps her hand and tells her no, because she hasn’t had the training that he’s had.  Skye leaves to do her own research on her “boring old flat computer” instead.  As she leaves, FitzSimmons high five over their prank.

Inside the cage Hannah tells her version of the story, that they’d received weeks of complaints about a particular part, but they replaced the part and triple checked it.  She says it seemed like she went down every few days to answer a complaint but that everything always checked out, until the explosion.  Coulson suggests to her that she now has telekinetic abilities due to the explosion, but Hannah disagrees, saying she wishes it were true because then she might be able to stop it.  She says she knows what is causing these odd occurrences, but that they won’t believe her.  When pressed she says that “God is punishing me.  He abandoned me.  He doesn’t protect me anymore.  That’s why this is happening.”  Coulson asks what she thinks God is protecting her from, and she says, “Demons, sir.  I’m being haunted by demons.”

This is clearly not the answer that anyone on the Bus is looking for, and it’s suggested that she is delusional or that this response is a manifestation of her feelings of self blame and guilt.  Coulson says it’s possibly all of the above, and that “she’s broken”.  As he heads off to do some more investigating the camera lingers on a figure in the shadows behind him, who suddenly vanishes into thin air.


3 thoughts on “Recap: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – “Repairs”

  1. This show is shaping up very interestingly… you never know just what they are going to throw at you. Telekinetic girl with (scary to her, to the conservative Christian community around her) powers, conservative religion vs science (my old school, Dover PA, is the one featured on a Nova special for trying to introduce “intelligent design” into a science class)… no, wait… demons?!?!? have I tuned into an episode of Supernatural??? Wait, remember Thor? Nine worlds, dimensional gateways??? Leftovers??????

    Send in the gods of cleaning up after themselves!

    The thing I love about the Marvel Avengers/SHIELD series of films and TV is that the important stuff hinges on character, on people, on their stories, emotions, interactions, relationships. We peel back some layers here on some regular characters, and find ways to deal with crises beyond “blow them up and let God sort it out” or “get a bigger hammer”. And points for not merely dancing around the edges of science and religion, but addressing both in some depth, while showing a diversity of opinion without siding with any single viewpoint. This gives this episode some great depth… one of the core qualities of fantasy/SF/comic books is diving below the surface, exploring faith, spirit, what might come of science, and the places on the circle where the mystical and the scientific meet.

    Now, I wonder what happened to our “ghost”, and if he’ll return in another episode.

    And is he phasing between the worlds of Helheim, Niflheim and others of the Nine Realms? It occurs to me our guest “ghost”s bamfing abilities echo another Marvel superhero, Nightcrawler.

    I doubt that SHIELD has just solved all of history’s ghost encounters. They have a sample of one species of encounter. There are probably many other kinds and explanations, as diverse as species of tree or bug or bat (1 out of every 4 mammal species is a bat). As a comic universe heavy on the science fiction, SHIELD tends to put forth scientific explanations. Ironically, I usually watch Supernatural right after it (where everything really is demons and ghosts and angels and stuff). It would be fun to see SHIELD cough up some moments where there isn’t a real science solution, where the phenomenon is not understood.

    A great deal of the stuff we see in the Thor films falls into that category. Yeah yeah, “sufficiently advanced technology indistinguishable from magic”… the fun thing is they don’t feel the need to explain how everything works, they just show it to us and let us gape in wonder. Of course, that’s what Gene Roddenberry did… the cowboy doesn’t stop to explain how his six-gun works, he just uses it, and we see how it works. Capt. Kirk doesn’t stop to explain how a phaser works, he just uses it, we see how it works.

    I’m amused by the tech names; Golden Retriever. If they had one called Siberian Husky, it would simply take a message and get back to you…. maybe… while devouring some rabbits along the way. If there was one called Schipperke, it would ignore all commands, gallop across the Highway From Hell, and pee on the neighbor’s porch (true story) before being corralled with a flying tackle.

    The online episodes don’t show “scenes from next week’s episode”, so it’s great to have a heads-up in this blog.


  2. Pingback: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns tonight! | Love Pirate's Ship's Log

  3. Pingback: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Looking back at season 1 and forward at season 2 | Love Pirate's Ship's Log

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