Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2 Episode 3 – Making Friends and Influencing People (Review)

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The battle between S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra rages on and this time the weapons being used are ideologies rather than guns and bullets. S.H.I.E.L.D. is haemorrhaging more and more agents to their evil counterparts and as we see a frustrated Phil Coulson returning to base without yet another agent, it seems all too clear that it’s a battle they are losing. So does the Director have a plan to turn the tide?

Enter Agent Jemma Simmons – real and not imaginary, now in her new life after S.H.I.E.L.D. and is looking happy to be getting up for her regular morning routine. We see her walking merrily with coffee mug in hand and a beaming smile only to arrive at a science lab… with a Hydra logo on it?

However after a heart-to-heart with Coulson back at her apartment, we should have known that some spy skulduggery was at work. She is working as a double agent to provide intel back to S.H.I.E.L.D.. Although she doesn’t look so happy now as asks how the team are getting on, as well as being encouraged by Coulson to use her charms and be more friendly to gain access ‘upstairs’.

Simmons would find herself used by Hydra to bring in the volatile Donnie Gill and put herself straight into the crossfire – in front of her fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agents unaware of her undercover role. She played the double agent role brilliantly and achieved the objective of getting closer to the heart of Hydra’s activities, but has she put herself in real danger by doing so?

It isn’t just Jemma Simmons who is dealing with problem of making and dealing with ‘friends’. We also focus on Donnie Gill AKA Blizzard; the talented gifted with the power of turning objects into ice and is Hydra’s next target to join the ranks. When Hydra send a friend request in the form of two agents to bring him back to their ship, he clicks a firm ‘ignore’ by putting them on ice.

Gill proceeds to go all ‘Jason Bourne’ by confronting Hydra at their cargo ship in Casablanca, where we find out the truth about how he was recruited by Hydra… through being brainwashed.

As we witnessed through the awkward – and ‘eye’-wincing – indoctrination of Agent 33 at the hands of Daniel Whitehall, Hydra aren’t just offering a generous pension plan as part of the recruitment process. It is former agent Ward, who is being held captive by S.H.I.E.L.D. who indicated that Hydra are willing to go that extra step to bag their agents. And if they can’t be bagged, then no-one else can have them either.

“And that’s why Hydra will win,” Ward tells Agent Skye with complete confidence, “Because while a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent is considering right and wrong, Hydra’s already taken the shot.”

Of course in this case, it was Skye who ultimately had to wrestle with that responsibility during the mission in Casablanca. I liked the way that the writers dealt with Skye’s inexperience in ‘taking the shot’. Her first kill in taking out Gill was subtly pointed at throughout the episode, but still had me guessing who it was at the end. Then again Skye may have to wait until she notches one up on the kill count as Gill’s death wasn’t confirmed – will he reappear and if so, who will he be working for?

This episode was a little light on the laughs, but where Coulson seemed to be putting a more serious game face, thank heavens for Lance Hunter for providing comic relief in his place. In particular the exchange between him and Skye was brilliant:

“You don’t give the orders, Trainspotting.” Hunter retorted “I’m not Scottish!”

Whilst Agent May managed to get her own back on Hunter for previously shooting her, it was great to see a very begrudging, humbling Hunter asking the agent if they are even. The former mercenary already looks to be a useful acquisition for the team and he seems to have taken a liking to Agent Skye. Something tells me Hunter’s here to stay….

Agent Fitz’s storyline is an intriguing one particularly now that he has come face to face with Ward. Iain De Caestecker is doing an excellent job in playing an increasingly paranoid and frustrated character and we anticipate a future reunion between him and his old partner Simmons, now he knows she is working undercover.

I thought this episode had some nice twists and did a great job in raising the tension in parts. but I couldn’t help but feel that there was a still certain sluggishness to it. The story itself was enough to keep me entertained, but perhaps the wider narrative is still trying to bed in and it will take a few more episodes for things to really get going.

However with Skye now knowing that her father may be alive, there’s no doubt that things are going to get pretty interesting fairly soon. But what do you think?

Joe Newbury

About the Author

Joseph Newbury is a sci-fi and literary geek who is eagerly awaiting the re-opening of the space-time rift in his hometown of Cardiff. He loves Doctor Who, Torchwood and all things Batman related. He also visits Ianto's shrine on most days.