On the D/L – Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D
Season 2 Episode 5 – “A Hen in the Wolf House”
This episode marks the first introduction of a proper comic book Avengers tied character on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D in the form of Bobbi Morse aka Mockingbird (Adrianne Palicki) working as a double agent within H.Y.D.R.A while Coulson and his team get closer to the missing Obelisk and by extension Skye’s father.
Mockingbird’s double agent status is basically given away by the title, although it admittedly could also apply to Simmons who also functions as a double agent. Thankfully the episode doesn’t make Mockingbird’s status as a double agent too big a deal and wastes little time getting to the reveal that she is actually working for Coulson.
Fans of the show in the know about the character would be waiting for this to happen anyway and I can’t speak for non comic fans because I can’t really approach the introduction of a character like this from that mindset. As a character introduction the episode does this very well by having her be an imposing physical presence from her first appearance who towers over Simmons and clearly relishes the fact that poor Simmons is completely terrified. Once she abandons her cover Mockingbird is very warm and friendly as well as being a capable combatant. Palicki plays the two sides of the character excellently and this character seems a good fit for this talented actress. She is a welcome addition to the cast and will hopefully be around for a while longer.
The character having history with members of the team is something that works well but I’m not sure how I feel about her being Hunter’s ex wife. She had to be introduced sooner or later given how frequently she’s referenced but this could get annoying really quickly. Hunter’s shock and terror at being confronted with her was a funny scene but given the history this show has with beating a joke until it’s dust I’m really concerned about where this will go. Talking to the team makes it clear that the real Mockingbird is outgoing and pleasant and references to her being blonde gives an indication that she might transition to an image more resembling her printed page counterpart.
I am a little disappointed that Simmons has been returned to the fold so quickly as there are many dramatic opportunities that could be mined from her being embedded within H.Y.D.R.A. One that comes to mind is the bio weapon that was mentioned here. How great would it be to see her forced to work on this bio weapon and have to apply her considerable genius into making it work or risk detection? That would give Simmons some much needed internal moral conflict to chew on and ultimately benefit her character. I can’t help but feel that bringing her back so soon is a wasted opportunity.
If this episode belongs to anyone it would be Skye who is given a lot to do here. She is faced with the revelation that Coulson might be coming apart, her potential alien origin and nearly meeting her father all in one episode. It is certainly an emotional RollerCoaster for her and Chloe Bennet plays it well. Skye is clearly torn between her duties as an agent as well as her desire for answers. Ultimately her curiosity gets the better of her which causes her to find out that her father is someone that will have to be stopped. I’m looking forward to the inevitable meeting of these characters and what that will bring to the show.
The enduring mystery of Skye’s origins and her father are nicely teased here with just enough information given out to make the inclusion of this plot feel worthwhile. It’s clear that Skye’s father -no name yet which makes it frustrating to type- and by extension Skye are something other than human -dare I say Inhuman?- and that this will bring its own set of problems. The proof seems to be in that Garrett and Coulson who are both 100% human were injected with the drug and scrawl some kind of alien writing that Skye identifies as a map where Skye was injected with the same drug and isn’t drawing strange symbols anywhere. The plot builds the intrigue of this story and actually makes me interested to find out more.
It’s also a little disappointing to see Fitz take something of a step back here. I got the impression last week that he no longer needed the imaginary Simmons as an emotional crutch as he felt accepted by the other members of the team so to see this hallucination return felt slightly out of place especially since the real Simmons has returned. Although I am now interested to see Fitz talking to the real Simmons while the imaginary one talks to him, that might actually produce some interesting comedy here. His scenes with imaginary Simmons actually manage to be amusing as he seems to have a subconscious man crush on Mac causing his hallucination to admire his muscles.
In some ways the title can be applied to Raina who is in danger of being “eaten” by everyone she’s eager to betray. Her loyalties seem to lie with Skye’s father while she is forced to work for H.Y.D.R.A but she says that she’s willing to help Coulson. I feel that Raina is going to come to a really grizzly end fairly soon. I quite liked the scene where she met Coulson in a restaurant despite Lance Hunter’s being more overt than covert glancing over the menu. It is in character for him to be more gung ho but it is established that he’s very good at maintaining cover so I wonder why we didn’t see that here.
In terms of fight choreography the episode was a little underwhelming especially after the excellent showing from the previous episode. Mockingbird did use her trademark baton based weapons and easily handled the H.Y.D.R.A goons but it was over pretty quickly and wasn’t that exciting to look at. I felt like they were trying to emulate Black Widow’s fight against Justin Hammer’s security in Iron Man 2 but weren’t able to match the finesse in that particular sequence. In many ways this one was similar down to the similar looking setting and the showcasing of impressive S.H.I.E.L.D training but the episode didn’t quite pull it off.
As a show this is still suffering from some problems but they feel comparatively minor and are in no way undermining my enjoyment of the episode. I am disappointed that Simmons has returned to base so soon as I can see a wealth of dramatic possibilities with her remaining undercover. Mockingbird’s introduction was nicely handled and she is a welcome addition to the team though I’m not sure how her being Hunter’s ex wife will play out in the subsequent episodes. Some effective teases of the larger plot involving Skye’s father and the alien writing as well as H.Y.D.R.A’s overall plan push things on nicely and build a great deal of intrigue for this enduring mystery. Again, the show is on the right track and there’s a sense that there’s a plan for where things are supposed to go.