TV Show Review

TV Review: AGENTS Of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 2, Episode 5: A Hen in the Wolfhouse [ABC]

Adrianne Palicki Elizabeth Henstridge Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. A Hen in the Wolfhouse

ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. A Hen in the Wolfhouse TV Show Review. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 2, episode 5, ‘A Hen in the Wolfhouse,’ brought a whole lot of instant gratification to a season that has already been moving at a relatively hectic pace. There were two wolves, to be sure; but the fun of the episode was in figuring out which of the remaining key players were hens, and which were wolves in hen’s feathers.

After a scheme to wipe out a Naval Officer’s wedding party fell short of expectations, Bakshi (Simon Kassianides) demanded more from his underlings. Much to Jemma Simmons’ (Elizabeth Henstridge) consternation, that put her department directly under the gun, earning her a place at the project heads table.

As the effects of the attack closely resembled those of persons exposed to the Obelisk, Director Coulson (Clark Gregg) felt the need to debrief Simmons, as well. What he didn’t feel the need for, however, was answering to Skye (Chloe Bennet), who was demanding to know more about the code, as well as Coulson’s source on the subject, and was getting kind of personal about it. Of course, Agents 2.0 has made a point of evolving the Coulson-Skye relationship; so no more surrogate dad, means no more putting up with bratty backchat moments.

Is it just me, or has Hunter (Nick Blood) been making the moves on Skye? Not that I’m feeling protective of Skye, or anything; but Hunter seems to be turning into a bad influence. It was Ward (Brett Dalton), however, as part of his devotion transference, that got Skye’s wheel turning, regarding Coulson’s current big secret. That confrontation, serving as an ultimate addressing of the new Coulson-Skye dynamic, left her with much bigger questions than the one she came at him with. A return to the question of Skye’s origins provided the full backdrop for the episode’s plot elements.

First up, however, was Simmon’s dilemma. Having already been forced to prove herself, Simmons suffered the benefits of her station: the attention of Daniel Whitehall (Reed Diamond), himself. Once she became privy to the “coolness factor” of a potential extinction level project, in the works, she was forced to report back to Coulson. This again brought her under suspicion; but, beyond the attention of HYDRA’s head of security (Adrianne Palicki), nothing specific. The attention of a third player, however, tipped the scales.

Skye’s father, the ‘Doctor’ (Kyle MacLachlan), was a monster; but that wasn’t the face he wanted to present to his daughter, upon their reunion. Part of the reason he may have selected Raina (Ruth Negga) was to serve as a musical instrument, to his savage beast; but her primary purpose was to bring Skye to him. Unfortunately for Raina, there were two wolves she had to contend with, and neither gave the other much regard. She had to produce Skye for one, the Obelisk, for the other, and having neither meant she was as good as meat on the table. A third party catching her attention, however, tipped the scales.

Raina needed to work her leverage mojo elsewhere; and Coulson had always been… reliable, in certain respects. Raina’s dilemma now compounded Simmons’ dilemma, and the plan was to force Coulson into paying Raina’s Doctor bill, in order to secure an Obelisk loan to Whitehall. A classic Raina balls-in-vice double deal. The problem was that it had been a while since she’s seen the pair on Coulson. Coulson had an app for the Simmons’ trap, but managed to screw over Raina, and the two wolves she rode in on, in the process.

As much as it pained me to see Raina thrown to the wolves, it was supremely satisfying to see Coulson unravel her carefully woven scheme with a pinky. I can only hope that this was the beginning of a beautiful relationship, as Coulson may now be the least of three evils she has to deal with.

The immediate fallout, from Raina’s gambit, was a scattering of wolves, and two of the episode’s three hens coming home to roost. While Whitehall observed uproot protocol, the Doctor had a less conventional solution to his frustrations; and frankly, I don’t know which of the two should be more concerned about the other. For the time being, however, there’s a whole lot of evil eye looking Team Coulson’s way. Coulson, in the meantime, decided to bring Skye in on his code scratching affliction. There was more to the gesture than a trust building exercise; Skye actually had an idea of what he has been dealing with.

A simple rule of thought: when addressing an issue of grave concern, regarding someone like Skye, it’s kind of important you don’t take your eye off the prize. You’d think they learned this back during Skye’s rabble rousing hacker days. So much could have gone wrong, with Skye getting to the Doctor’s place before it could be scoped out. Skye’s abduction, boobie trap taking out whole team… all in all, they got off easy – with Doc just getting eyes on full grown Skye – especially since Skye’s reaction to his ‘handiwork’ took him to his mean place.

I was pleasantly surprised by the brevity of the Mole arc; half-expecting the showrunners to milk the various threads (Fitz-faux Simmons, Simmons under the gun, and establishing HYDRA’s intimidating chief of security) to at least mid-season. The fact that they did wrap things up (satisfactorily, at that) suggests a timeline too busy to dwell on Simmons on a wire – and that’s a good thing.

As such, we were treated to a continuation of the season’s fast pace, an encouraging (some might say touching, but I plead manliness) corner turned, for the Fitz (Iain De Caestecker)-Simmons dynamic, an entirely new dynamic, involving Hunter (someone needed to put him back in check), and a ramping up of the Big Bad factor. Not bad, for an opening run. In fact, at this rate (and if the last two episodes were any indication), there may be little daylight between season two’s principal episodes, and its filler. That would be a great thing.

Bobbi Morse: holy moley. I was almost saddened by her role on the show, going forward; Adrianne Palicki put enough charisma & physicality on display to warrant some big screen time. What I saw to be a throwback to the Black Widow’s first action, for Iron Man 2, sort of reinforced that view. With the Black Widow having already racked up quality time with Captain America, and the source history of Bobbi’s character, having Palicki cross paths with Jeremy Renner‘s Hawkeye doesn’t seem all that unreasonable. It’s not like she’s a stranger to playing comic characters on the big screen, after all (even if G.I. Joe: Retaliation amounted to little more than an irony binge, and a poorly conceived Wonder Woman TV treatment left her as another more logical choice Zack Snyder did not take). Her addition presents one more opportunity to bridge the gap between Agents, and the larger MCU.

Regarding Agent‘s role in the MCU, I must say that the lingering effects of The Winter Soldier continues to do wonders for the series. Overall shifts, in character, character dynamics, and general tone, were improvements borne of the agency’s underground status. The ‘gone dark’ scenario has always brought out the best of the Cloak & Dagger action genre, and for Agents, it has been no different. In hind sight, I’d say comfort – afforded to an all-seeing, long-reaching, ridiculously well funded authoritarian organization – was a primary drag on the first season. The agents were glorified Feds, looking into X-Files cases, with a Lone Gunman in tow, and Centipede was no HYDRA.

Losing that overseer’s authority, and being declared international criminals, has meant perpetual tension, no time for the luxury of schmaltz, and a new energy to the action, as the stakes have greatly expanded.

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

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