Review: “The Hub”

This week, on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Dangerous secrets are being kept from Coulson’s team and he works the system to save Ward and Fitz when they are sent on a Level 8 classified mission that may end in tragedy.

The Hub - Fitz and Ward

The Story/Plot

Diego: Having a (relatively) slight plot really helped this episode, as the characters had a chance to bounce of each other more. The weapon storyline had the actions scene, the Coulson/SHIELD HQ ones had the mystery and intrigue, and the short Skye/Simmons subplot was both funny (“I can’t be a part of your bad girl shenanigans!”) and allowed them to deepen their character traits. Also, because I don’t know where to fit this elsewhere, I feel that this is the first episode that was self-referential, and I liked it.

Simmons commenting about finishing someone else’s sentences (which was annoying with Fitz at first), Fitz discomfort with Ward, “What non-expression is that?”, or simply acknowledging it’s TV-ness (“I need answers. And I know just the person who has them” *beat* “Who?” “Coulson. I’m obviously talking about Coulson.”). This episode was written by Rafe Judkins & Lauren LeFranc, who previously wrote on Chuck, and I think this episode aligned with that show’s sensibility, in a favorable way. Do you guys think see this too, or am I drawing conclusions out of nowhere?

Matt: The story was fresh, because it made the audience leave our comfort zone. We had to go visit SHIELD HQ, for a Level 8 mission. Everyone paired up with someone that wasn’t in their comfort zone as well, and it worked. The episode was very enjoyable, yet some opportunities were wasted.

Laura: The pacing on this show continues to improve, and pairing the characters in somewhat unlikely groupings worked quite well. Seeing more of SHIELD, and questioning it’s practices and morals, opens up possibilities for where the show and Coulson’s team specifically can go.

Matt (reply): It seems we are all on pretty much the same page again. Let’s hope the momentum continues.

Diego (reply): Glad we were all okay with the story, but it’s a shame we really have nothing much to talk about here.

Laura (reply): I definitely see what you’re talking about, Diego. The tone of Chuck is definitely something SHIELD could benefit from, and the self-referential nature of the episode helps the show have continuity beyond just being a part of the Marvel Universe. It makes it seem like the characters are real, rather than just malleable beings that change for what’s needed for the plot. Showing that they’re more aware of each other helps us get to know them better.

The Hub - Coulson, May, Ward

The Characters

Diego: As mentioned above, the different pairings worked really well. We saw more of Fitz’s insecurities, especially related to what happened last week, just as we saw him cement himself as a SHIELD agent. He might not want to see “paranasal extraction nonsense”, but he stood for himself when dismantling the weapon. And while I cannot remember any specific Ward situations, I liked him in this episode.

On the other side, Coulson and May didn’t get much to do, but this is the first time I felt Coulson was the one we had seen in the movies. Maybe being in the SHIELD HQ helped. And lastly, Skye (which is still my favorite; she’s the only one who reacts to anything in this very stoic cast) both bonded with Simmons, and had her mind set at ease about her parents, even if what she got wasn’t the whole truth. In a nutshell: I would gladly watch this version of the characters interact with each other, for the first time this season.

Matt: Lets start off with Agent Sitwell. There was only one character that was wasted more than he was. It was pathetic. He had nothing to do. I think the only reason he was there was so that we saw a semi-familiar face at HQ, and not have to pay Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson or Jeremy Renner. It’s fine if its a cameo – cameos don’t really need substance. But he was a guest star, and it was a complete letdown.

I love the pairings in this episode. Fitz and Ward were one of the greatest odd couples yet. Also, to see Skye and Simmons team up was great too, especially when Skye pulled Simmons out of her comfort zone and she shoots Agent Useless!

Also, Skye won points with me when she put aside her personal agenda to help Fitz and Ward.

Coulson cares about his team, and, it turns out, does not “trust the system”. As Diego said last week, I think this is a sign to show that Coulson can and will go rogue if the occasion calls for it.

Let’s talk about some tragedy. Fitz’ sandwich. Look at this beauty:

BY7LrgZCUAAyccr.jpg large

Shamelessly destroyed, wasted more than Agent Sitwell. RIP you beautiful, beautiful thing.

Laura: I agree that Ward was more likable in this episode, though I also cannot remember exactly why. I think it’s partly because missions like this is what Ward loves and is a natural at, but it was immediately more difficult for him because he needed to worry about Fitz. I loved that Coulson told both of them to look out for each other and they were both willing to make sacrifices to help each other.

Simmons and Skye was a great pairing, and for a split second I was really, really excited about May, Simmons, and Skye working together to save the two boys. I mean, I was seriously hoping for girls dropping in to save the day. Hopefully they’ll do that again sometime.

I loved Coulson’s struggle with SHIELD policy. More of that, please.

Also, I might’ve totally missed everything Victoria Hand and Coulson talked about after they mentioned Barton and Romanoff not needing an extraction plan, because THE SHOW REFERENCED HAWKEYE I WAS LOSING MY MIND WITH EXCITEMENT. Guest star arc now pretty please!!!

Matt (reply): I want the sandwich to return as much as Laura wants Agent Barton to. Neither of you mentioned Agent Sitwell, so I guess I was right. What a complete waste.

Diego (reply): Hum, I agree that Sitwell was wasted (especially after the actor, Maximiliano Hernández, had a great season in The Americans). But I didn’t mind, given that a, most people don’t recognize him, and b, there wasn’t much to do. It’s a fun cameo, and I rather have him than a random SHIELD agent.

Laura (reply): Oh, something else I loved: when Coulson went to May for help, and she said absolutely nothing and yet he walked away feeling relieved. I got the sense that this happens all the time, her silently listening as he essentially talks to himself to figure things out. I really liked that aspect of their friendship.

The Hub - Hand, Coulson

The Mythology and The Theories

Diego: A lot to handle here: a mention of the Triskelion! Victoria Hand! And of course, the aforementioned Agent Sitwell, a minor character in the movies, but one that hardcore Marvel Cinematic Universe fans will recognize. I felt that the references in this episode were quite natural, and not as hamfisted as before.

Matt: Coulson doesn’t believe things about himself, and now he has confirmed a suspicion that things are being kept from him. Excellent. Now we are getting somewhere. I feel we should get that answer sooner rather than later. Which is okay now, since we have other mysteries to tide us over.

It seems to me that Skye’s parents were murdered by SHIELD and the baby was rescued. Sound familiar? That is how Loki’s life began. Parent’s murdered, and he was rescued by the Asgardians. It could be something different. But that is definitely what it looks like now.

Laura: It could definitely go that way Matt, or my other suspicion is that her parents were SHIELD agents somehow and something went wrong and they had to essentially abandon her for her own sake. That’s the other kind of stereotypical place I could see them going with this but possibly milking it the right way.

Matt (reply): Yes that is another possibility Laura. Let’s hope for some twist or something that will keep it fresh instead of predictable.

Parting Thoughts

Diego: The first episode I unequivocally like. Finally a greater look at SHIELD, some cool action beats with Fitz and the Cavalry, and some funny jokes. Hope the show continues this way.

Matt: Another strong episode. We are finally out of the “5 episodes of repeating the pilot” model, and seem to be cruising towards where they want to go. Next week is supposed to be the “Thor” episode but judging by the preview it about some possessed staff that was never seen in the movie, and not about what it should be. I can understand it to some degree, because it won’t alienate people who haven’t seen it yet. But it is still slightly disappointing in the “cohesive universe” category.

Laura: This is the first episode I wasn’t sitting there thinking about what I disliked along the way. I just kind of sat back and enjoyed it, which is good. They’re making progress with the character development, which is the absolutely crucial piece to making the show better.


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