Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D S02E03: Making Friends And Influencing People (open spoilers)

“Making Friends and Influencing People”
Writer: Monica Owusu-Breen
Director: Bobby Roth

There is a lot going on in this episode. Simmons wasn’t in the first 2 episode of Agents of SHIELD. Not for real anyway. Simmons is very much in this episode of Agents of SHIELD. For, that we can rejoice. The job she is given this season is fraught with danger, and it is pretty secret agent awesome. We see the return and apparent demise of Donny Gill. Fitz comes face to face with Ward for the first time. All of this with the backdrop of learning about Hyrda’s high pressure recruitment techniques.

Donald Whitehall is bragging about how easy it is to make money if you are immortal, or at least long living. He’s brain washing a former SHIELD agent using tricks he learned from his time in the 60s watching Kubrick movies, and examining psychedelia. His techniques wrench compliance out of people.

SImmons has such wonderful taste in music and it’s episode appropriate; she happily wakes to God Save The Girl and promptly gets ready for her new, apparent, job at Hyrda. Her supervisor is an ogre! He doesn’t even listen to her questions about samples. It couldn’t possibly get worse than that? Could it?

As Simmons is stuck doing the grunt lab work we are brought to SHIELD headquarters to see Skye shooting the heck out of Hydra symbols as she envisions she is shooting at Ward all the while keeping a resting heart rate. Once she is finished with the pistols, May introduces the Checkov Sniper Rifle to her. Lance Hunter enters talking about his bet…

Wait… I just noticed Lance Hunter is played by a guy named Nick Blood. Nick Blood will never ever play a character with a name as good as his. Back to the episode.

Lance Hunter (codename: NICK BLOOD) had bet Mack that Skye had gone to SHIELD school. He lost, so he has to do inventory. Also. May wants to shoot him.

In a huge surprise it turns out that Simmons isn’t really working for Hydra. Coulson shows up at her house to investigate what she is eating, and also to find out what she is learning from Hydra. Coulson wants her to make friends (She tries. But doesn’t do a great job of it) and move up the ladder at Hydra. She tells him that Donnie Gill (codename: The Blizzard) has power is back and Hydra is after him. With that information Coulson sets SHIELD after Gill.

Gill is vacationing in the Middle East and is found by Hydra. He seems to have even greater, eviler control of his powers. He takes out pretty much everyone he comes in contact with. Including a huge ship.

I’m not sure we know his name. But, the guy who is second in command with Hydra is a slick operator who came across a SHIELD newsletter that brags about FitzSimmons saving Gill at SHIELD School, that’s how he figures out Simmons is more than she appears. He takes her on a mission to the frozen ship to turn Donny back into Hydra hands to test her loyalty. Mr. Slick gives her a communicator and sends her in to turn Donny. She finds him in the ship, and starts talking to him.

May, Skye, and BLOOD Hunter are headed to that ship as well. Skye got some details about the mission from Ward, including the reason Hydra is going to win (They will always take the shot, and not sit around discussing whether it is right or wrong.) Once at the ship Skye stays outside, while May and Hunter go into the ship.

Oh yeah! While this is happening Fitz breaks in to Ward’s vault to see who the asset is. And, by break I mean he opens the door and walks down there. They might be keeping things from him, but they aren’t doing a great job at making it so he can’t find those things. Anyway. The sight of Ward drives him over the edge. He breaks down for a bit. And, then gets violent. Taking oxygen out of the room, like Ward took oxygen from him. Meanwhile, he accidentally lets the mission slip, and Ward tells him about the Donnie trap.

On the ship Simmons is using Brain Wash words on Donnie, while Hunter has a bead on her with his gun. May notices that it is Simmons and shoots Hunter to stop the shot. May probably could have just as easily tell Hunter not to shoot, but she didn’t want to. Anyway. They allow Simmons to keep her cover and she runs out with Donnie. The slick second in command (ssic?) continues the brain wash words, and Donnie is compliant to Hydra again. They run outside, and Donnie is ordered to destroy everyone left on the ship. Donnie is holding on to the ship to destroy it and Skye takes the shot without thinking about it. Donnie goes down in a blaze of ice, and Simmons saves the slick operator when Skye shoots again.

While dealing with her first kill Skye tells May that authorities never find Donny’s body. A character named Blizzard still being alive after last being seen as part of a block ofice would be the biggest shock since we learned that Simmons wasn’t really a part of

Oh wait… I just caught a glimpse of the commercial for the new Steve Carrell Move - Alexander and the Very Very (it goes on with more verys I think. ( I remember thinking the book was funny. Not sure how you get a movie out of it, though)) bad day - Blizzard plays the son in that. Cross promotion for the studio! You came through again, Agents of SHIELD!

Where was I? Oh yeah. Hydra. Since we learned that shocking thing.

Not only is she a part of Hydra, but that slick guy went to his boss and said that he was going to give Simmons a promotion into the upper echelon. (Right when after that former SHIELD Agent from the start of the episode came in and showed her compliance.) Whitehall asked if she could be trusted, and the second in command said “I do now. But. If I’m wrong. We’ll make her comply.” Sounds like “Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying” might be in Simmons’ future soundtrack.

The episode ends with Ward telling Skye that he knew where her father was and one day he will take her to him. Jumping out of an airplane, shooting at hydra logos, and using a sniper rifle did not phase her. But, hearing about her Dad? Her heart rate jumped all the way up.

I thought this episode was a lot of fun. Both in what the episode itself offered, but for the crumbs of hints we are given about what is going to happen in the rest of the season. Simmons acting in secret to infiltrate Hydra? Seems like an awesome plot to follow throughout the season. Skye going after her Dad? I’m not as sold, but having Kyle MacLachlan playing the Dad is going a long way to selling me. I also like the fact that Hydra has no idea who is running SHIELD. It seems like an interesting reverse mystery for the season. Will they ever figure it out, and what will they do with that information if they do. Am I the only one who thinks Fitz’s acting in these episodes has been uniformly excellent? It’s a much different role than last year, and I think Iain De Caestecker has nailed it.
Another thought I had after watching this episode. Skye and Simmons are on very similar paths. Their partners are broken, and they are dealing with the grief and guilt. Their skills have jumped a million miles in a short time. And, they now find themselves in new positions fraught with danger.

[li]“You’re too sweet when you mix your metaphors.”[/li][li]“Sir! You don’t need to worry. It’s been a tad lonely, but….”[/li][li]“You’re not in charge, Trainspotting.” “I’m not Scottish!”[/li][li]Mack and Fitz’s relationship continues to be sweet.[/li][li]Mack playing a video game. “I just took out the boomers!”[/li][li]The direction in this episode was interesting. That scene of Simmons walking down the hall way was well shot.[/li][/ul]

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D S02E01: Shadows
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D S02E02: Heavy is the Head

Slick second in command is named Mr Bakshi.

Isn’t he the guy who made the animated Lord of the Rings movie?

“You’re not real!” or something similar. I like that Fitz knows he’s imagining Simmons but is using her like a sounding board.

The compliance thing is cliche and rather boring - but I understand the need to have some magic mechanism to turn people. Still, I hope they (the writers, not HYDRA) use it only very rarely.

Ward is far more interesting this season than he ever was last season. If you accept the premise that he’s actually never going to lie to Skye he becomes strangely sympathetic. I think mainly because he’s not playing the pity card or deferring blame. How you eventually redeem the character to the SHIELD team is still a mystery to me but I’m intrigued by the possibility. And the actor is doing a pretty good job, better than anything he did last season.

May seems to have lightened up a bit since last season.

Call me crazy, but why put the Hydra logo on your BDUs?

I was kind of underwhelmed by this episode though. Incredibly heavy-handed foreshadowing of Skye’s first kill. Pretty lame freezing effects. The only good points were Dr. Whitehall with Agent 33 and Fitz with Ward.

When you’ve been a super-secret bad-ass evil group for so long and you finally get to strut your stuff semi-openly, you go for brand recognition. Slap that logo on everything from uniforms and stationery to the microwave popcorn in the break room.

Nailing Ward (in all three applicable terms) probably helped her there. (@Telemark)
On another note, I am somewhat face-blind and have to have things spelled out sometimes. Where do we know Whitehall from? He is the nazi from the Agent Carterish prequel scene, yes?

(I know comics speaking that whitehall is hydra - he was the one who made Hive and Venom, so him futzing with brains here fits well (also makes me sincerely concerned that FitzSimmons are going to try and hijack that compliance-juju to ‘fix’ Fitz) - But he wasn’t weirdly long-lived in the comics, was he?)

I still suspect that the writers made Simmons the HYDRA mole just to have those previews to troll all those fans convinced she was a HYDRA agent at the end of last season.

She might be a triple agent. You never know. It would be a great mid-season cliff-hanger to reveal that she really has been brain-washed into being a good Hydra agent.

Uneven episode…and I really dislike the Hunter character. I really want Hyrdra to start assembling “gifted-s” rather than losing them at the end of each story.
I liked Fitz messing with Ward. I actually really want to see that continue…but eventually it will lead to Fitz accidentally releasing Ward.
Alternately, I think the slow face turn with Wad will be a reveal that he knew how to escape his cell and just has chosen not to.

I have to admit that I am enjoying spotting filming locations around Los Angeles. This week it was the Hotel Figueroa pool area subbing in for Marrakesh. Last week the Halfway House Cafe…playing itself, just not in the correct state or region.

Ralph Bakshi was also the executive producer of the 1960s Spider-Man animated TV series (the one with the iconic theme song) when it changed production companies (and, IMO, became “darker” - not storyline wise, but in terms of the animation itself) after the first season.

Three of the big name actors brought in this season came with terrific comic book names: Lucy Lawless, Nick Blood, and Reed Diamond.

Another solid episode, but I could have done without them beating us over the head with the “Blizzard is not dead” thing. Just let Skye shoot him (as she did), let us see his body sinking, and skip the “police haven’t found the body” bit. Then when they inevitably bring him back, it would have more shock value.

This is Marvel. The only person who is dead-dead isn’t part of the Marvel Film Universe. Yet. :wink:

Billy Koenig got a shout-out, so we know he’ll be back often. The acquisition of a boat-load of Hydra technology will have some interesting implications later on as well. That could be where they find the means to restore Fitz to something resembling normal.

So, did Skye end up pulling the trigger right away, like Ward said HYDRA would? Is he, in his own subtle way, making her more like him?

But May told her the same thing - take the shot. I don’t think Ward is capable of “subtle.”

I don’t think we really saw her pull the trigger. IIRC, we saw Blizzard doing his thing, heard a shot, then saw Sky holding a smoking gun. I doubt she hesitated to take the shot, though.

When Freeze-Guy was looking at the phone of the agent-guy he just froze to death at the beginning, I’m pretty sure one of the entries on his “To Do” list was “Report to M”.

God Help the Girl :wink:

Did anyone else think that Fitz became more coherent as his interaction with Ward went on? It seemed to me like towards the end he wasn’t having much trouble with his speech.