*Update: My full recap of “A Hen in the Wolf House” is now live. Read it here!
Last week’s episode may have had a lot of comedy and action, and was thoroughly fun, but tonight’s episode was all about suspense. Simmons’ undercover storyline came to a head, the team (and the audience) learned a lot more about Skye’s father, and the Obelisk came back into play. We were also introduced to an exciting new character in Bobbi Morse. And all of this was wrapped up together in an hour that had some surprising, dramatic moments and a healthy dose of emotion. Agents of SHIELD is really shining this season, and every episode thus far has been excellent. Read on for my instant reactions to “A Hen in the Wolf House,” and come back tomorrow for my full recap.
- Simmons survived and is back with the team! I’m so relieved. While I didn’t think the show would kill her off so quickly, I’ve learned to never assume (particularly with a Whedon show). Still, despite some intense moments where I thought she was a goner, she’s back with the team, seemingly for good. As happy as I was to see the character get to stretch her wings and get out of her comfort zone, it’ll be nice to have the team back together again. I think the group dynamic has suffered a bit by having her away (which I think was intentional).
- When Coulson let that time run out, I was shocked. I thought he had finally gone off the deep end, and was potentially sacrificing Simmons to save Skye. Yes, Simmons knew the risk, but he was the one who sent her on that mission in the first place. When you add in the fact that Skye wanted to meet her father and was willing to go with Raina, I was going to be seriously mad at Coulson for letting something bad happen to Simmons.
- Of course, Coulson knew something we didn’t, and that was how kickass Bobbi Morse is. Anyone familiar with the comics would know that Bobbi Morse (aka Mockingbird) is a hero in the Marvel comics, so many of us were wondering what she was doing with HYDRA when we saw the preview for tonight’s episode. SHIELD has messed with the comic mythology enough already where I wouldn’t be surprised to see them turn a Marvel hero into a villain, so I didn’t know what to expect. Still, I’m loving having another kickass female on the show. But even more than that, I’m glad that Bobbi isn’t simply another Melinda May. She has a completely different attitude and style, and it sounds like she can go toe to toe with Hunter on wisecracks and snark (as long as she’s not simply defined as Hunter’s ex). A “strong female character” doesn’t have to be one dimensional, and they don’t all have to be robots or treated like stereotypical men in order to be strong. We now have four strong female characters in Skye, May, Simmons and Bobbi, and they all feel and act differently. Hopefully Bobbi sticks around for a while. (Adrianne Palicki is no stranger to strong female characters or characters based on comic books, after filming the failed pilot for a Wonder Woman series back in 2011.)
- I’m still fascinated by Raina. It was interesting to see her so frightened, given how in control she’s been up until this point. But even more interesting was the snippet of backstory we got from Skye’s father, who took a moment to remind her of how he found her. She was apparently hungry and on the streets with a head full of fairytales. Skye’s father promised her he’d make those fairytales come true, though we don’t yet know what he meant or what she wanted. I’m very curious to find out when this happened, whether it was a long time ago or just a little while ago, whether before we first met her last season or after.
- Favorite Quote: Skye (to Hunter): “What’s your cover? Ron Burgundy?”
- There were a couple of really emotional moments tonight, both near the end of the episode. One of them was the reunion of Fitz and Simmons, which was painfully awkward and so sad. Fitz was just getting to the point where he was aware that the Simmons he had been seeing was in his head and he didn’t need her anymore, right in time for the real Simmons to show up. He’s clearly not over the fact that she left right after he confessed his feelings and was injured, and Simmons obviously knows it. These two have a lot to work out, and I would expect this to be a recurring arc over the next few episodes if not longer. Still, even with just a brief reunion and very few words, it was such a painful scene.
- The other was Skye’s min-breakdown. I’m skipping around a little bit (I’ll get to her father and Coulson in a minute), but I totally got choked up when Coulson caught up to Skye. Of course, the logical assumption was that he would fuss at her for running off on her own, especially after the fighting they’ve been doing recently. But when she was trying to hold back her emotions and he was nothing but comforting and gave her a hug, it definitely got to me. When he said, “You’re having one hell of a day, huh?” and she nodded and got teary… well I’m not made of stone. (Considering how much I cry in movies, books and TV, I’m probably made of the softest material ever.) Things between Coulson and the team have been pretty strained this season, so it was great to see him take on the (good) father role and for that sense of family to return for a moment.
- Speaking of Coulson, it looks like his secret is out, at least as far as Skye is concerned. I’m glad he was finally honest with her, showing her his carvings and telling her about the uncontrollable urge to create them. He even posed one of the more popular theories, that Skye is part alien and therefore unaffected by the GH-325 serum. (That has to be a red herring, right? Since they mentioned it, it’s now definitely not true and the answer is something else?) I was glad to learn a few episodes ago that Coulson was being honest with May, but I’m maybe even happier that he’s now being honest with Skye. (Hopefully the rest of the team will follow soon.) Of all the team members, Skye was the one not trained to accept compartmentalization, and she’s also the one most closely connected to what Coulson is going through, so it makes sense for them to be honest with each other.
- Favorite Quote: Mack: “What you been up to?” Bobbi Morse: “Oh, you know, working undercover at HYDRA. Acting all uptight and evil.”
- One small moment I liked was during the HYDRA meeting, when Skye commented that a weaponized version of the Obelisk tech could kill millions or billions. Her lab partner replied, “Pretty cool, huh?” It seemed a little over the top and ridiculous, not to mention obviously planted so we wouldn’t feel bad about the fact that Simmons played him in order to save herself, but I still liked it. As big as HYDRA is, it would be easy to assume that a lot of its “employees” are there involuntarily, especially after the “incentive program” from last year’s season finale. But there are some truly bad people at all levels in the organization, attracted to power or happy to cause pain for their own personal gain. It was chilling to hear from someone who was so clearly scared of the higher-ups in the office, and a reminder of who we’re actually dealing with.
- And then there’s Skye’s father. While we didn’t learn a lot of concrete facts about him, we did get to see more of him tonight and form a clearer picture of the man. He apparently works as an actual doctor, but one for criminals or people on the run. We saw him patching up a bullet hole in someone tonight. But he also has control issues, and after Raina confessed to him about HYDRA he almost killed her before thinking better of it. He did, however, kill the two armed men in his operating room with a scalpel, showing off some superior strength in the process. We didn’t get to see him reunite with Skye, but we did see him watch her as she hugged Coulson. He lost control again when she called him a monster, a sentiment that he seemed to partially agree with but which caused him anger (is he angry at himself for being a monster or at the world for seeing him as one?), before he smashed his tablet and drove off. And then at the end we got to watch him storm into HYDRA like he owned the place, killing and beating up guards with ease before making a deal with Whitehall (whom he seems to know). He promised to teach Whitehall the secrets of the Obelisk (now known as the Diviner) in exchange for help killing Coulson and everyone else.
What do you think? Did you enjoy “The Hen in the Wolf House?” What did you think about Adrianne Palicki as Bobbi Morse? Do you want her to stick around? Are you happy that Simmons is back with the team? Do you think she and Fitz will be able to work out their issues. Will Fitz now see two versions of Simmons? Do we think Simmons or Bobbi might be brainwashed? Did you believe that Coulson was sacrificing Simmons? What did you think of Skye’s father? What about her theory that the alien writing is a map? Anything else tonight catch your eye? Let me know in the comments!