REVIEW: Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D- Episode 3- Making Friends and Influencing People
Things really hot up in episode three of Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D with a suspense filled pursuit of a guy with unstable powers, secrets revealed and themes of morality and freewill to boot.
The episode opens with Doctor Whitehall, the guy calling the shots at enemy organisation HYDRA that hasn’t aged since 1945, whom we met in episode one, showing his ugly head. He’s seen torturing a resilient young woman until she is “happy to comply,” which seems to be the catch phrase of this episode- showing HYDRA is as cold as it is sinister and ruthless, robbing its targets of their autonomy, bending them to their will. I’m not usually good with torture scenes but Reed Diamond’s acting as Dr Whitehall is so eerily creepy you know this guy is serious without any gruesome scenes required.
Elsewhere, Agent Gemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) seems way too bubbly and happy to be working undercover for HYDRA, which we find out she has been doing on Coulson’s (Clark Gregg) orders for S.H.I.E.L.D and explains why she left her partner in crime (or in their case science) Fitz after Hydra double agent, Ward (Brett Dalton), tried to kill them both last season.
Simmons finds out HYDRA are targeting Donnie Gill (Dylan Minnette),the kid with the power to freeze things to a lethal scale that Fitz and Simmons saved in “Seeds”, (episode 12 seasons 1.) Wanting to thwart HYDRA, Coulson sends May (Min Na-When), Skye (Chloe Bennet) and Hunter (Nick Blood) to capture Gill peacefully or “take him out if necessary.” The stakes are especially high as Ward informs Skye HYDRA takes gifted people out even if they don’t pose a threat, if they can’t capture them or convince them to join them. This shows just how far HYDRA is willing to go and marks S.H.I.E.L.D apart as always having the moral high ground.
When Simmons is forced to prove her loyalty to Whitehall’s right hand man Sunil Bakshi (Simon Kassianides) and get Gill to trust her using their history to win him over, Skye is forced to shoot Gill to help maintain Simmons’ cover and learns the hard way that no matter how much she’s excelled under May’s training lately, taking a life for the first time is never easy.
Skye’s character seems to have developed a lot in this episode alone, with her able to keep calm and collected while being a formidable agent in the field. That is until Ward finally reveals to her at the end of the episode that he knows her mysterious father is still alive and one day he hopes to take her to him. A terrifying prospect for us viewers who know Skye’s old man is bad news.
That’s not the only secret that’s revealed, with a still recovering Fitz growing tired of being kept in the dark while he recuperates and eventually finds out Ward, the guy responsible for his brain damage, is being kept prisoner at the very S.H.I.E.L.D base he has been working and staying at. Iain De Caestecker’s performance of his character first confronting Ward is heart breaking to say the least. He does find out from Ward that HYDRA can literally brainwash people, a chilling fact we see in action, when Gill is conditioned by Bakshi just before he is shot. Fitz continues to rely on mechanic, Mack to help translate his theories when he is lost for words and it’s endearing to see that Coulson still values him as part of the team.
Though Coulson does tell Simmons Fitz is coping fine, it’s nice to have most secrets out in the open in another gripping episode, with Fitz even finding out Simmons left because she’s on an very important assignment, though Coulson doesn’t divulge the full extent of what she’s doing.
With a big question mark hanging over Skye’s father and what she is going to do now that she knows he’s alive being a great cliff hanger and a hint of humour with May shooting Hunter to prevent him shooting an undercover Simmons in the field when they were trying to catch Gill and Hunter taking it lightly as May “getting even “ for him shooting May and the team last episode with a stun gun, this episode had the right balance of everything. It would just be good to expand on Agent Triplett (B.J Pritt), Lance Hunter (Nick Blood) and Mack’s (Henry Simmons) characters and get the feel of a “team” of really good S.H.I.E.L.D characters to root for this series.
Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D airs Fridays at 8pm on Channel 4.