AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. RECAP: Hey, I remember you... (S2:E3)
Jemma Simmons has really taken a great step forward in this second season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., both in reality and in her imaginary state. Simmons has a three-way existence this season, and it’s one of the interesting reasons to keep watching this show.
First, we were introduced to her character in the guise of a delusion within Leo Fitz’s head, pretty much the same as we left her last season, but with a more concerned attitude. This episode allows us to catch up with the real Simmons, living a dual life as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and a HYDRA mole (or a HYDRA agent and S.H.I.E.L.D. mole, all depending on where the show takes her). Usually it is the sort of role that is stressful for an agent and exhibits the need for strong will. For Simmons, it’s all tea and peppy music. Making friends and doing research in a lab that just happens to be owned by an evil Nazi offshoot organization bent on world domination. Casual Fridays are terrifying, but welcome.
HYDRA is our focus this episode, showing the inner workings and goals of the group that dismantled S.H.I.E.L.D. from within last season. They’re out there forcibly recruiting gifted individuals and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, killing those that don’t comply and slowly working to regroup after their original plans were foiled by Coulson’s team (and Captain America on the big screen). Their brainwashing of Agent 33 throughout the episode is some of the creepiest stuff I’ve seen on the show so far. Sorta like taking the therapy from A Clockwork Orange and running it through the distorted mind of Hannibal Lecter. Makes Room 23 from Lost look like a cakewalk.
The main plot here revolves around HYDRA’s attempts to locate Donnie Gill, the genius kid from season one who attained special freezing powers from a faulty weather machine (when doesn’t that happened in real life). Gill is on the run or seems to be on the run, making him a valued target for both HYDRA and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Simmons has been working on research related to Gill, something only revealed to her later in the process. Her personal connection to Gill from season one will come into play later in the episode and almost get her killed a few times, but that should be expected.
Coulson stops in to check on her during her undercover bid, chiding her on the contents of her fridge and making her special organic dinners. The kind of fancy eating I’m not used to. Boil me up some beans and franks, Coulson. I have to die from something and I’d rather die happy.
Elsewhere, like with other characters that inhabit this show, we get to spend some more time with Prisoner Ward. Skye is still the main attraction to pull information from him, proving that even deadly, backstabbing spies think with their dicks. Ward acts as a window into the HYDRA world, providing little hints of what their intentions are and how they’ve managed to stay fairly powerful despite S.H.I.E.L.D.’s best efforts.
Ward is also responsible for dropping the bombshell on Skye regarding her father’s existence. Something that gets her blood boiling and heart rate going, something that doesn’t seem to happen when she’s killing people. Sociopath Skye has daddy issues, but her trigger finger works just fine.
Gill is the goal for all parties, and he’s trying to hide in Marrakesh but is having a hard time achieving his goal. Luckily he’s got super freezing abilities now and a mean streak. The poor innkeeper finds that out first hand, so do two hapless HYDRA agents. He turns two out of three of them into a freeze pop, forcing the other run away like a ninny. He shoves the innkeeper down, shattering him, and then heads off to confront the rest of the HYDRA agents searching for him.
Around this same time, the HYDRA bigwigs discover Simmons personal connection to Gill and bring her in on the mission to bring him into the fold. Being that they’re evil, this involves a lot of threatening questions and forced actions. No one says please or thank you when they’re evil, it’s the worst stereotype. Hank Scorpio was evil and nice as can be. Look at what it got him. I’d love to control the entire East Coast and I’d do it with a smile.
Coulson, May and the rest track down Gill as well, leading to a race against time to recover him before HYDRA does. Skye, May and Hunter head off to Morocco, while the rest stay on board the Globemaster plane. That leaves Fitz and Ward back at the main base for one hell of an awkward encounter.
The Fitz-Ward discussion could’ve burned until at least the mid-season finale, but they just went ahead and let it explode in episode 3. I like that. Fitz gives Ward a taste of his own medicine by cutting the oxygen off in his cell. This is a very effective way to extract some info from a top notch super spy. Fitz also shows that he can shoo the Fake Simmons away if he wants to, proving that he knows she isn’t real and probably not as far off as we’ve led to believe. Until the writers decide to give him some sort of magic space drug and fix him back to normal.
This is where the big twist of the episode happens. Simmons and HYDRA show up to confront Gill. May and Hunter ninja themselves around the cargo ship where HYDRA is making base in Morocco, watching the details from up on high. And Coulson is off in the command bridge of the plane, giving orders and watching the events unfold. That’s when Fitz calls in with news from his Ward interrogation. It turns out that Gill is already a HYDRA agent, he just doesn’t remember it. He went through the same brainwashing that Agent 33 underwent throughout the entire episode and is the reason that HYDRA took control of The Fridge (S.H.I.E.L.D.’s catchall lockup for gifted people and magical items) so easily.
Simmons tries to talk Gill into coming in, all while trying to not blow her own cover as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, while Hunter takes aim from above. It seems as though he’s going to kill Simmons before the commercial (her back is to him and he’s never met her before, so naturally you just shoot), but May gets some payback for last week before he can. This is why you don’t shoot your partners; it’s going to come back to bite you in the ass.
This sets Gill off though, and he tries to run. All for nothing, of course, because our creepy, slick HYDRA leader is in the hallway armed with a code phrase that reignites Gill’s brainwashing and turns him into a killing machine. He begins to freeze the ship and everyone aboard it, but is stopped by Skye on the ship’s deck. This plunges him into the icy depths below. Icy because he was freezing the ship and the area, not because global warming has ruined Morocco.
Moroccan authorities can’t find Gill’s body, Simmons continues posing as a HYDRA scientist with some new friends in high places, and Coulson’s crew has captured all of the cargo on the ship. Everyone is happy. At least I think they are. Fitz still has brain damage, Skye is still in the dark on her past, Simmons is still under threat of being caught as a S.H.I.E.L.D. spy, Ward is still in jail, Coulson still died and came back under mysterious circumstances, and May is in a bad mood. Triplett seems like the only one in a good mood, even if he got shot by Hunter last week.
At the end, we discover that HYDRA leader Whitehall (The Kraken) has succeeded in brainwashing Agent 33 (that’s her character name, dammit) and she’s now a willing HYDRA agent. It makes me uncomfortable to know that the strong willed Agent 33 was broken by HYDRA’s super brainwash machine. What does this mean for the delicate, pretty face of Simmons if she’s caught? They’ve already threatened to change her once! I couldn’t stand it if they actually go through with it.
Next week it seems like May and Coulson are going on a mission together. A fancy mission. A mission with dancing and fun and sparkly dresses. I can’t wait.