This week’s mission for the Agents of SHIELD is about Fitz’s first time as a field agent, joining Ward in a plan to stop separatists from using a dangerous weapon. He’s very excited about it… as long as he doesn’t know no one will be there to save them. It’s all about secrets, and a little rebellion here and there. As usual, SPOILERS BELOW…
After Marvel unveils a new logo, the story starts with Coulson about to be interrogated. He’s not worried, because his crew saves him and a fellow agent, and they get some intel (stuffed deep in the agent’s sinuses) about a very dangerous weapon owned by some separatists in South Ossetia. However, not everyone is allowed to know everything. It’s the old “need-to-know” excuse. Besides, it’s a Level 8 mission.
The crew heads to “the Hub” run by Victoria Hand (Saffron Burrows), who’s almost as hard-nosed as Nick Fury. She also has a higher clearance than Coulson does. (For a short history of Hand in the Marvelverse, look at this article from Comic Vine). Skye, of course, is suspicious of the whole thing. She doesn’t like the hierarchy system SHIELD uses about mission details. She also gets a reminder that she isn’t really part of SHIELD, after her Bracelet of Limited Trust keeps her in the lobby.
Ward treats the situation as another mission, but Fitz wants to prove he’s more than just a lab rat. Actually, he does a nice job maneuvering through border guards, flying bullets and suspicious people. His mechanical skills come in handy more than once, especially when he fakes a power outage, and then fixes it to get some trust from the locals. However, he has to sacrifice the prosciutto sandwich Simmons made for him (which is why this episode was nearly called “The Sandwich Incident”). Apparently it was attracting guard dogs.
While Skye tries to get around the SHIELD hierarchy, Coulson acts like the company man, telling others- and himself- to trust the system. He’s also got that habit of saying how Tahiti is a “magical place.” Even he’s getting worried about that. Skye asks Simmons to help her, especially by mentioning Fitz may get tortured. After Simmons actually knocks out a fellow agent with the “night-night gun,” Skye figures out SHIELD doesn’t have a plan to extract Ward and Fitz. In fact, they may get killed in the attack planned for that area.
This leads to a big argument between Coulson and Skye over the need to not share everything. “If SHIELD keeps a secret from you, it’s for a good reason,” he says. Skye insists she did it to make sure someone was watching over Fitz and Ward. Still, Coulson insists there are rules, and if he ever tells her a secret, he wants to know she can keep it. Then she asks him, “Did you know there was no extraction plan for Ward and Fitz?” He says, “That’s classified”… which means he didn’t.
When he talks to Victoria Hand, the roles are reversed. She tows the company line while he’s asking questions. The reason is the same: concern about Fitz and Ward. Hand has her corporate arguments, pointing out that Hawkeye and Black Widow never needed extraction teams, and if Fitz knew there was no extraction planned, he’d lose focus. Coulson says he understands the importance of the mission, but he also knows when it comes to “my men, and what they’re worth, the decision to go in should have been theirs to make.” She still says he should trust the system. It’s a nice touch to the story.
Meanwhile, Fitz and Ward are able to dismantle the weapon, but Ward confesses there is no extraction team. That actually doesn’t surprise Fitz, and he insists he’s as much a SHIELD agent as Ward is. He even claims Coulson told him there is no extraction, but he’s really keeping a brave face.
Again, Fitz’s tech knowledge creates a weapon that disables some guards’ weapons. Just as it looks like, he and Ward are trapped, the Cavalry (aka May, Skye, Simmons and Coulson) rescue them just like the Serenity rescued Simon and River in “Safe.” Big Damn Heroes, ain’t they just. Not only that, it’s revealed SHIELD had no extraction team because they needed resources elsewhere. SHIELD could have used the Bus, if it had thought of that.
Afterwards, we get two big reveals. First, it turns out a SHIELD agent took an infant Skye to an orphanage. Why that happened is unclear, but Skye is happy about learning that much. Coulson revealing that info to Skye shows he thinks a little rebellion is a good thing. It’s also implied that Agent May was the one who found Skye.
The post-credits scene is more revealing. Coulson calls SHIELD to get information about a death and recovery mission in Tahiti (how he survived the stabbing). His request is denied because he doesn’t have clearance. He now wonders what secrets SHIELD is keeping from him. This is how rebellions start: with the word “why.”
Although some may wonder what reprimands Simmons and Skye may face for hacking into a SHIELD computer to discover things they’re not supposed to know, this was still a good episode that gave Fitz a chance to shine. Simmons should have missions like that, too. It may take a little longer for her to be brave, but Fitz can help her out.
Next week, the crew will deal with part of the aftermath from Thor: The Dark World. Promos for this episode are likely to emphasize this connection because…
Ratings Report: Once again, the show lost viewers. The overnight rating was a 2.2, or 6.6 million viewers, down by 12 percent compared to last week. It’s still ahead of NBC’s Biggest Loser.
One more thing: Executive Producer Jeph Loeb is in the latest Word Balloon podcast. He has some interesting comments on Agents of SHIELD‘s ratings, and how it’s doing well with people who see it online or on their DVRs. It’s at http://wordballoon.blogspot.com.br/2013/11/word-balloon-podcast-jeph-loeb-on.html