Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review: The Hub
The 7th episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “The Hub” draws more threads in the series’ tapestry together helping the overall picture to become a little more clear. The episode serves to expand on the theme, introduced in last week’s post-episode scene, that rift is developing between “Big S.H.I.E.L.D.” and Coulson’s team, and now we see that uneasiness appears present within other areas of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well.
After our comments last week about the opening sequences lacking Coulson’s team it was nice to see them front and center from the outset this week. Coulson is his usual calm “nothing phases him” self while being held hostage, clearly planted as part of a mission to rescue an under cover agent.
Agents Ward and May charge in and all escape smoothly and head off to a S.H.I.E.L.D. base known as “The Hub” picking up the rest of the team along the way. They then receive orders for a Level 8 mission that results in Ward and Agent Fitz being sent in to retrieve a dangerous weapon known as the Overkill Device.
The episode continues where it left off last week to give more depth to Agent Fitz, revealing his insecurities about not being the macho tough guy that Agent Ward is but at the same time standing up for himself and proving he’s more than just the science geek Ward initially took him for. It is becoming clear that Fitz, like the rest of the team, is more than meets the eye. He’s a “Little Bear”, as dubbed by Marta, deceptively fierce when he needs to be. Ward appears to gain a new level of respect for Fitz. One of the joys of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the ability for viewers to get to know each of the characters as they reveal more about themselves to each other, it gives viewers the opportunity to participate in the journey.
Coulson’s team visiting “The Hub” provides the opportunity to re-introduce us to long time comics character Agent Sitwell who appeared in Marvel movies Thor and The Avengers and to introduce Agent Victoria Hand, another comics veteran, who makes her debut in the Marvel cinematic/television universe in this episode.
A lot of this episode, including Hand’s role, gives the impression that there is a big conflict brewing within S.H.I.E.L.D. On the one hand (pun intended) you have Agent Hand covering up the fact that S.H.I.E.L.D. sent Coulson’s men into a highly dangerous situation with no extraction plan but on the other hand it becomes clear she always knew they were good enough that “They didn’t need it” and it feels like she had secretly expected Coulson’s team to go in and retrieve Ward and Fitz all along.
There was a significant moment for Coulson during this episode while talking to Agent Hand. She mentions Director Fury giving him special treatment from Director Fury by sending him to Tahiti for his recovery and Coulson replies with a Pavlovian reflex, “It’s a magical….. place.” Viewers first noted the conditioned response in the pilot and now the pause mid sentence makes it is clear that Coulson himself is aware he has developed an involuntary response to the mention of Tahiti. By the end of the episode there are hints of fear from Coulson in addition to his growing suspicions about S.H.I.E.L.D., about what they have done to him and about what other things they may be doing behind super secret closed doors.
Skye’s story continues to develop. Coulson manages to find the pre-redacted version of her file and while he shares “the truth” with Skye abut a female S.H.I.E.L.D. agent being the one to leave her at the orphanage he’s also holding something back. He confides in Agent May that perhaps “some secrets are meant to stay secret,” but immediately goes on to ask May if she would be willing to help him find out what really happened. There’s a hint that he may also be asking May to help him uncover what really happened to himself.
While the overall tone of this episode was quite serious the elements of humor are still strong. Some of the highlights being Simmon’s inability to improvise when caught hacking into S.H.I.E.L.D. by Agent Sitwell and Coulson’s conversation with Agent May in which he essentially talks to himself and she conveys her opinions via facial expression all the while not missing a beat in her Tai Chi.
The Hub leaves viewers with a sense of impending doom but at the same time it shows a team that is uniting and willing to work together for a common goal, even if that means going against what they have always believed in.
Other things of note:
- Agents Fitz & Simmons are Level 5 while Coulson is level 8, and May and Ward are level 7. Skye isn’t even level 1 yet.
- Mr Agent Sitwell Sir does have a gorgeous head.
- Triskelion, for those that might not have a good knowledge of all things Marvel, is an island based headquarters for S.H.I.E.L.D.
- The Bus! Nice to finally see the VTOL (Vertical Take off & Landing) Engines at work.