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Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review 1.07 - 'The Hub'
Posted by Wyatt Beougher on 11.13.2013





Previously on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: While investigating two apparent murders, the team discovered a Chitauri war helmet left behind after the events of The Avengers and determined that a virus contained in the helmet was behind the deaths. In the process, Simmons was infected, and the team had to deal with the thought of losing her as Simmons herself struggled to find a cure.

Season 01, Episode 07: The Hub

A man with a bag over his head is being led down a hallway by a gaggle of soldiers. They deposit him in a chair and remove the bag, and it’s Coulson. After summarily roughing him up, the troops mention “The Interrogator”, who arrives shortly and prepares to torture Coulson. Coulson warns him that they know about him, and says that they have three minutes, revealing that The Interrogator is actually Agent Shaw (Charles Halford). Ward and May arrive, and they aid Coulson and Shaw in their escape.

On the Bus, Simmons pulls an object out of Shaw’s nasal cavity, which turns out to be intel that he was keeping safe. The team is apparently headed back to the titular Hub, but when both Fitz and Skye offer to help decrypt Shaw’s intel, Coulson rebuffs them, telling them the mission requires Level Eight clearance. The rest of the team accepts this, but, of course, Skye is not a fan of secrets. FitzSimmons and Ward attempt to explain the rationale to Skye, but she’s not buying it, so May informs her that the Hub is different than how things are on the Bus.

At the Hub, Coulson tells Skye that she’s not even Level One clearance, so she can’t search for the redacted file about her parents. Coulson liases with Agent Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernandez, the lead from the Marvel One-Shot: Item 47 short that I mentioned last week) who tells him that Agent Hand is waiting for him and that his Level Sevens can join them in the briefing. Skye tries to enter, but her bracelet gets stuck to the wall and she, Fitz, and Simmons are left outside. Coulson, May, and Ward meet Agent Victoria Hand (Saffron Burrows), who reveals that Shaw’s intel shows that a separatist group from South Ossetia has created “The Overkill Device” and they plan to use it to trigger weapons remotely and declare their independence from Russia and Georgia. Hand needs a two-man team to sneak across the border, disable the device, and allow for an air strike. May and Ward assume they’re going, but because they have such limited intel on the device itself, it has to be Ward (for his South Ossetian contacts) and Fitz.

Fitz gets his cart stuck in a door in a predictable (but humorous) gag. Simmons worries over Fitz, who assures her that he is capable. They share a moment, and Simmons gives Fitz his favorite sandwich (prosciutto with buffalo mozzarella and a hint of pesto aioli) that she made. Skye brings Fitz a mag pouch, and May and Coulson brief Ward on the time frame, with Coulson urging Ward to “take care of him”. After Ward and Fitz leave, Skye asks Coulson if he feels like the rest of the team should be going with them, but Coulson assures her that S.H.I.E.L.D. ops are put together by the best of the best.

Fitz is telling Ward a story as they arrive at a bar near the Georgian/South Ossetian border, and Ward places a beacon (that looks like a rock) on the ground outside the bar. Ward asks for his contact, but he and Fitz are instead captured. At the Hub, a worried Skye and Simmons try to get information out of May, who won’t divulge anything. Skye then tries to get answers from Coulson, who is engaged in conversation with Hand. She mentions something to Coulson about Tahiti, and, for the first time, Coulson realizes that something might be amiss when he automatically replies “it’s a magical...place”.

Ward asks Fitz a series of questions in order to make a plan, but Fitz is completely unwilling to go through with anything that Ward is suggesting. A woman after Ma Fratelli’s own heart comes to question them, quickly brushing them off in favor of watching a soccer game. But before her henchmen can shoot the duo, all the lights go out. Skye tries to get information out of Coulson, but he tells her to “trust the system”, so she enlists an unwilling Simmons as her partner-in-crime. Fitz is hanging upside down in what appears to be torture, but it turns out that he’s simply fixing the electric in the bar, thereby ingratiating himself to the locals and getting he and Ward a ride across the border in a beer delivery truck. Fitz shorted the fuse box using a localized EMP, but before Ward can get over his incredulity, the truck is attacked.

Ward uses a pair of kegs and some well-placed bullets to incapacitate the attackers, and he and Fitz escape on foot as reinforcements arrive. Back on the Bus (in the Hub), Coulson talks to May, who is doing tai chi meditations. Coulson plays out his entire monologue as May gives him a series of looks. Skye instructs Simmons to use a USB flash drive to spoof her internet activity, giving her three minutes to find information on Ward and Fitz. Simmons has made her own gizmo, though, as she employs an aerosol spray to hack the handprint scanner on the panel that houses the entry point for Skye’s flash drive. Before she can install the flash drive, she is confronted by Agent Sitwell. Fitz and Ward hide out in a drain pipe, with Fitz urging Ward not to get too comfortable. Simmons, at Skye’s urging, tries to distract and flirt with Sitwell; this goes as badly as you’d expect, and Simmons is forced to shoot Skye with the Night-Night Gun. Simmons installs the flash drive and hides Sitwell’s body, and Skye sends her to get May while she does her computer thing.

In the drainpipe, Fitz attempts to eat his sandwich, but Ward tosses it into the nearby stream, as they’re being tracked by dogs. Fitz confronts Ward about always having to “throw the last punch and swoop in and save the girl”, and Ward tells him that he’s only taking care of Fitz as Coulson told him to do. Skye begins searching for information on Fitz and Ward, but she is sidetracked by the possibility of finding the original document that talks about her parents. As her time runs out, she finds information about Ward and Fitz, specifically that there is no extraction planned for them. Coulson catches her in the act, and Skye dramatically tells Coulson that “the system sent Ward and Fitz in there to die”.

Fitz and Ward use a sleeping bag-type camouflage to hide on the road and grab a ride from one of the separatists’ trucks. Coulson confronts Skye about hacking into S.H.I.E.L.D. (again), and they argue about the merits of hiding secrets and sharing information and compromising missions. Coulson again asks Skye if she wants to be a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, and he says that one day, he might need to trust her with a secret and he needs to know that he can do that. She asks if he knew there was no extraction, and he says “that’s classified”.

Ward and Fitz sneak into the seperatists’ headquarters, with Fitz using a “magic window” to see through a brick wall. Ward tries to signal for the extraction, but something seems amiss, only for Fitz to see two guards get taken out by a third guard, who proves to be Ward. They find the Overkill device and begin tearing it apart. As Fitz sets about disabling the cord (which looks like Marvel villain Klaw’s hand), Simmons and Hand get into a heated exchange about one of Coulson’s agents rendering Sitwell unconscious and Hand not telling Coulson there was no extraction planned for his team. Hand name drops Hawkeye and Black Widow, but Coulson counters that they know going in that there will be no extraction, and aren’t misled by their handlers. Hand hits Coulson with his own “trust the system” line.

Back in Ossetia, Ward, realizing that there’s no extraction plan, tries to get Fitz to get a head start before the air strikes are called in on their beacon. Fitz refuses, saying that he’s every bit the agent that Ward is. Ward says Fitz has nothing to prove, but Fitz says Coulson also told him to take care of Ward, so that’s what he’s going to do. Skye, Ward, and Simmons make their plan to extract Fitz and Ward, only for Coulson to join them. Fitz disables the device, Ward triggers the beacon, and Hand scrambles her teams.

When Fitz removed the core from the Overkill device, it triggered an alarm, so he repurposes the core as a weapon for he and Ward to use in their escape. Before they can use it, the first S.H.I.E.L.D. airstrike hits. Fitz uses the device to take out the Ossetians’ weapons, leaving them easy prey for Ward. They make it outside, only to find themselves surrounded by soldiers with more air strikes incoming and no apparent way out. However, the rest of the team arrives in a VTOL plane and they make their escape. In the Hub, Sitwell asks Hand about the extraction, and she says that Coulson’s team never needed one. Ward thanks Coulson for saving him, and Fitz and Simmons have their reunion, complete with Fitz telling Simmons the sandwich was delicious to spare her feelings. Skye and Ward have their own reunion and Ward confesses that he was in good hands. Fitz regales Simmons with tales of his bravery, only for Simmons to counter with “I shot a superior officer in the chest”.

Coulson tells Skye that he found the unredacted file, and that an unidentified S.H.I.E.L.D. agent dropped Skye off at the orphanage where she grew up. Coulson says he doesn’t know if she was Skye’s mother or if she simply found Skye “on a doorstep”. He says he’s looking for more information, and Skye thanks him. Coulson and May discuss the file, revealing that Coulson knows more than he’s letting on, but he won’t tell Skye more until he knows everything. He enlists May, who hesitates at first before agreeing to help. They show a face-down body, and May says “poor girl”, assumedly referring to Skye. Meanwhile, Coulson tries to access S.H.I.E.L.D.’s restricted file about his death and recovery, but he is denied access.

Weekly Whedon-isms

“Oh, this is nothing - wait until you see the Triskelion!”

“The ‘Overkill Device’?” “A little dramatic for my tastes - I assume something was lost in translation.”

“Oh, that’s…” (door slides shut) “Seriously?”

“Don’t you do anything rash while I’m gone...like jump out of an airplane.”

“Simmons actually tells it a lot better than I do.”

“It must feel good to be back in the big leagues.” “Two of my agents are the key to this operation - I never left the bigs.”

“Nothing. He’s acting like a robot version by himself.”

“No! I can’t be a part of your bad-girl shenanigans! I like following the rules and doing what’s expected of me - it makes me feel nice.”

“Ahhhhh...that makes sense now.”

“This is gonna take a while.” “You’ve got ten minutes.” “I thought you said five.”

“You’re in? I thought we had to be Level Eight to discuss this?” “We’re not discussing anything.”

“Is it the extraction team?” “Better - it’s the Cavalry.”

Theory of the Week

Well, I think two pretty common theories I’ve seen were shot down this week - because they’re making so many obvious hints towards Coulson being a robot, I’m beginning to think that it’s actually going to be completely different. Also, there was a pretty sizable segment of people who talk about this show on the internet who thought that either Coulson and/or May were Skye’s parents. With a picture of a body that I can only assume was Skye’s mother, I think we can safely rule that one out. So where does that leave us? Honestly, the first thing that came to mind with the whole Skye thing is that she’s going to be the first Marvel Cinematic Universe Runaway, where one or both of her parents was a villain (super or otherwise), and the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who delivered her to the orphanage only did so because she was forced to kill Skye’s parent(s). What do you think?

---

Two very solid episodes in a row, and while I personally preferred last week’s episode for its greater emotional depth, this was definitely a fun little espionage romp that also highlighted the fact that it’s not all puppies and rainbows at S.H.I.E.L.D. “The Hub” lacked the overall weight of “FZZT”, but we still got to see some solid character development, between Ward trying to get the slower, less athletically-inclined guy out of harm’s way before the air strikes began, Coulson questioning Hand’s methods when it put his team members in danger (and later himself when wondering how much information to give Skye), the budding romance between Fitz and Simmons, and May breaking her stoicism (which I should point out that I love) to show pity for Skye.

Again this week, my complaints for the episode are minor ones - one, why is it so easy for Skye to hack into S.H.I.E.L.D. databases? Even if she found a backdoor initially, they should’ve sealed it by now, yet she was able to effortlessly hack into their computer systems and find information about Fitz and Ward’s mission, all while having enough time to ponder whether or not she should try to find the raw data for the redacted file about her parents. Plus, they’ve done precious little to advance the Skye character past “idealistic computer hacker who looks good in wet clothing and/or underwear”. Hopefully this upcoming subplot involving her backstory will finally make her less of a grating archetype and more of a real character.

Overall, I’d recommend giving this episode a watch if you haven’t done so already, as the show has taken a step forward in quality since that week-long mini-hiatus. I was afraid after the excellent episode last week that this week would mark another regression, but this episode was certainly another solid outing for the team, especially Ward and Fitz.


The 411: If you like buddy cop movies and/or lightweight espionage plots, this episode is for you. Rather than regressing after a particularly solid episode, as this show has done in the past, the quality is finally holding steady, and between that fact and the dangling plot threads regarding Coulson, May, and Skye, I’m rather looking forward to seeing where this all leads.
 
Final Score:  8.4   [ Very Good ]  legend





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