There be spoilers here.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back on UK screens. Each week, we’re hoping to bring you the episode analysis that matters, the key insights and critiques that can be derived from those tense forty-three minutes of television…
Ha, just kidding. No, what I really want to do instead is talk about the five things I loved and hated this week. So what did I make of season two episode “A Hen in the Wolf House”?
What’s that? A wedding reception with lots of men in uniform? Cool, cool. And what would make this even better? Why a dramatic, sudden mass poisoning of most of the guests. A part of me was pleased with identifying that it was a poison based on the Obelisk’s strange, dangerous effects.
The scene where Skye tries to bring up the issue of finding out where the writing is coming from and then asking to know the source made me feel sorry for Skye. Since the season started, it’s been uncomfortable seeing how cold Coulson had become. Coulson had, pretty much, the biggest heart in S.H.I.E.L.D. and seeing him act all serious and angry isn’t fantastic. Generally, in this season so far the lack of happy-go-luckiness is becoming kinda depressing now that we’re five episodes in.
LOVED: Don’t make me angry
A Hen in the Wolf House is the first episode where we got a real look into the character of Skye’s father (played by Kyle MacLachlan). Raina trying her hardest not to make Skye’s father angry – there was this nice Bruce Banner vibe going on, but with Skye’s father being far more psychotic about it all.
I suppose after you’ve spent this much time staring down the maw of Hydra, it begins to get a little tiring. We’ve known for a while that Simmons was on the cusp of being discovered and annihilated. We’ve also known that Hydra are a bunch of nasty arseholes when it comes to dealing with people they think are traitors. So the handling of Simmons’ situation felt like some kind of metaphorical woman tied down on a train tracks, waiting for the noon train… only with more running and guns.
LOVED: Fitz making progress
Fitz has slowly been going from strength to strength. He did take a bit of a back seat this episode, but it was great seeing him maintain that the Simmons he was seeing was an hallucination generated by his mind… until Simmons actually showed up and now I’m looking forward to seeing how Ftiz deals with her actually being back.
HATED: Back seats
I kinda felt that the other characters that are on the team weren’t given enough presence in this episode. It was good seeing Ward talking with Skye about her father, but Ward isn’t exactly a member of the team. This episode was really the Coulson-Skye-Skye’s father-Simmons show. Things could have been balanced out a bit more… or it means the show now has too many regular characters.
The notion that Skye could be an alien or at least part alien was definitely and interesting theory to be mooted in this episode. I liked that the theory was spoken out loud between Coulson and Skye, and the idea that there might be more than one part alien-part human character running about the Marvel screen-side universe made me feel pretty happy. Also, Skye said “epic fail” during the conversation that this idea was mooted.
What’s that? Something bad could happen and we’ve got an actual countdown timer, counting down on screen with cuts between stern and worried looking characters? If I could ban one thing from anything comic book going on the small and big screens, it would be frelling countdowns. I’ve had enough of them and I’m pretty sure villains can find better way of counting the time. Think: complicated candle-rope-pulley-weight set up.
Okay, after the Banner impersonation, we later saw Skye’s dad walk right into the mouth of Hydra, beat the crap/kill a bunch of Hydra security detail and wipe a smear of blood from Whitehall’s desk whilst still trying to discuss an offer he had. There is the possibility at the moment that Kyle MacLachlan is at least the second coolest thing happening in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at the moment.
HATED: Too much darkness
Much of this episode is set at night or in dark, ill-lit rooms. And while I could have adjusted the brightness on my TV, this was the first time I’ve watched anything in a while that left me wondering what was happening on screen in some places. I get that in some scenes (like with Skye’s father in his operating room) that it was the aim to make things unclear and mysterious, but elsewhere it just got annoying as the darkness helped to reflect light in the living room.