Review: Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D – “The Hub”

Spoilers

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D continues with “The Hub”, and much to my chagrin appears to be sliding backward rather than leaping forward. Thoughts:

-I can’t find it on TV Tropes but I know it exists: two people discuss a third in the room in a foreign language, but lo and behold, that third person can secretly speak it too, which he then demonstrates to make himself look superior. Lazy.

-The opening scene actually seemed like a nod – (or a rip-off, take your pick) to the Black Widow introduction in Avengers, which had the same “inverted interrogation” setting.

-Coulson is wearing a suit in ridiculous environments for wearing one. The shows worst recurring joke, by a country mile.

-I had to laugh when the music swelled for a load of ropes dragging the sleighs back to the plane, like it was another classic S.H.I.E.L.D moment. Flying cars it ain’t.

-OK, so this is half a “S.H.I.E.L.D at home” sort of thing, showing off the HQ of everyone’s favourite secret agency. The titular “Hub” isn’t all that impressive though, just a mildly pretty looking office building.

-A small reference to the “Triskelion” in this episode, apparently a nod in the direction of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, in which the larger S.H.I.E.L.D HQ will appear.

-And here’s Victoria Hand in what I can only presume is a recurring role. In Saffron Burrows they have an accomplished actress to play her, and she could be an interesting foil for the team in future. In this episode, she’s window dressing and a reference to the comics, nothing more.

-I would agree with Coulson when he says the “Overkill” device is overblown in its name. Calling attention to it isn’t a let-off writers.

-It’s a good thing they had that ridiculous, childish scene where Fitz has trouble with the automatic doors directly after it was announced he was going on a special ops mission, otherwise I would have had no idea that he was a fish out of water in such a circumstance. Dreadful stuff altogether and we’re right back in the worst elements of the Pilot in terms of comedy.

-Anyway, yeah. This half of the story is a fish out of water tale for Fitz, but also has elements of a buddy cop show with the interactions between himself and Ward, which is absolutely fine as an episode idea. Good to mix those two things.

-The goodbye scene between Fitz and Simmons on the plane was very badly acted, such little emotion on display. So much worse than last week.

-Fitz has a TARDIS model in his room. In case you didn’t realise he was a nerd. Ah, it was a nice touch.

-So S.H.I.E.L.D in this episode organise a black ops mission into South Ossetia, followed by a more large scale military strike. This would surely involve the complicity of either the Georgian or Russian governments, or one of the most spectacular breaches of national sovereignty that I can imagine. Just throws up further questions as to what kind of organisation S.H.I.E.L.D is.

-It was pointed out to me that Skye’s conversation with Simmons where she outlines the grim possibility of either Fitz or Ward being hurt or tortured was a real “pulling an Archer” from the episode “Skorpio”. “Cyril, come on! Worst case scenario, her cover got blown and Skorpio’s raping her senseless before he chops her battered corpse into fish food.”

-Ward tells Fitz, as they enter a bar to meet his contact to “Keep your mouth shut and your head down”. What happens? He pops up awkwardly to ask a question straight out of a Frasier episode. What is wrong with the writers (and director) that they OK stuff like this? The comedy ruins any build-up of tension.

-Interesting thing with the “It’s a magical place” line here, as Coulson says it almost without thinking, then seems to consider the statement. Some kind of trigger phrase? Evidence of mental conditioning of some kind?

-Wow, Skye reaches new levels of irritation in “The Hub”. Bear in mind, her actions thus far should have landed her in a prison cell several times over. Yet, she continues to whine about her “tagging”, break rules and endanger any level of trust she has with other characters. Worse, she drags better people than her down the same path. She’s beginning to look truly reprehensible at this point, and utterly unsympathetic as a character.

-Fitz wins the confidence of the gangsters by getting a football match back on the TV for them. Alright then…

-One of the only positives coming out of “The Hub” is how competent it sets out to make Fitz look. That was an unexpected choice given how the show was presented up to the bar, and I liked that the scientist guy isn’t as helpless as he might appear to be. I wish they had focused more on that.

-Coulson has a “question answerer” scene with Melinda as she does Yoga or Tai-Chi or something, you know, where one character remains silent and the other just talks out their issue with themselves. Melinda rolls her eyes at the conclusion, right around the time I was doing the same. Terrible scene.

-The scene where Simmons accesses the S.H.I.E.L.D files was so bad, on many levels. The actual scene was painfully awkward to witness, flashbacks to Ward’s gay “come-on” in “Eye Spy”. On a plot level, its Skye potentially ruining Simmons career for her own selfish ends, manipulating someone more impressionable than her and playing on her fears regarding her best friend. Disgusting.

-I liked the sandwich as a sort of plot device, providing a unique connection between Fitz and Simmons when they couldn’t be onscreen together.

-I also liked that they retained Fitz’ feelings of inferiority over the finale of “F.Z.Z.T”, and how his actions in this episode might be a response to that, an attempt to prove his worth and masculinity in comparison to Ward.

-OK, so Skye reveals her true colours when accessing the S.H.I.E.L.D data that Simmons risked her career and freedom to obtain, going for that “redacted” file. It’s supposed to be OK, because she chooses instead to look for stuff on Fitz and Simmons’ mission, but it really isn’t, it’s just more unjustifiable behaviour from her.

-There’s a sub-plot about Skye challenging Coulson’s faith in the system or something, but Skye was so beyond infuriating throughout “The Hub” that I could not get engaged with that thread at all.

-Liked the “mag pouch”. Neat idea.

-“That’s classified.” Coulson’s use of that line was the perfect put down for Skye.

-Liked the whole joke around the infrared wall scanner thing, probably the only bit of humour in the show that I appreciated. That half of the plot had a lot of gadgets huh?

-The debate between Hand and Coulson was supposed to be the major moment of conflict in the episode, but fell flat with dour performances and poor dialogue.

-Clark Gregg was especially bad in that scene, just awful emoting and delivery.

-OK, so S.H.I.E.L.D sends agents on missions where it knows they might not make it back alive, with no extraction plan. Scratch that, they tell the people going on the mission that there is one, but they’re lying. There are practical reasons why that makes no sense – the possibility of the agents being captured alive on such a hopeless mission for one – but in plot terms its painting an extraordinarily negative picture of S.H.I.E.L.D. Compare to something like The Unit, a show where the titular organisation has a very clear “leave no man behind” attitude and is more relatable and sympathetic for it.

-At least the Fitz/Ward dynamic kept the episode ticking over, some great interactions between them towards the finale and after.

-So, the remaining four decide to buck orders and go rescue the other two, because reasons. It’s amazing that Coulson and Melinda, despite actively acknowledging that this sort of thing is S.H.I.E.L.D modus operandi, are willing to go along with such insubordination. I suppose it sort of fits with Coulson though, after last week.

-The super cheap MacGuffin for the episode does…something to guns? Didn’t quite follow that.

-And the “Bus” is not just a giant plane with an engine set-up that makes no sense, but it has VTOL capability too. Right.

-You know that they nicknamed her “the cavalry” for this once off script joke right? Ugh.

-The ending scene with Fitz and Simmons was a hell of a lot better than the goodbye scene earlier in the episode. I know they’re building something there, real slow-boil stuff, and that’s OK.

-Everyone keeps secrets on that plane it seems. Fitz and Simmons hide their feelings for the other. Skye has her issues. Ward has a thing for Skye. Melinda and Coulson have their whole back stories. Secrets upon secrets. It’s going to get tiresome.

-Also based very much on those couples. Coulson and Melinda are confederates in hiding things from Skye for example. Not sure that’s good for the show, in making sympathetic and likeable characters.

-At least the final ending, with Coulson’s phone call to S.H.I.E.L.D records, was a bit tantalising. That Coulson now understands that something is off about his existence is very important, and hopefully we can see that plot move forward now.

So many of the problems in this show were horribly evident, namely the way that the larger S.H.I.E.L.D organisation is rapidly becoming antagonistic, how Skye is becoming such a horrible character, the lies surrounding so many people and just the general poor writing and acting. I hoped Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D would go from strength to strength, but it really feels like its back at square one with this very lame offering. The show continues to haemorrhage viewers as well, hitting new lows every single week. I wonder if the show is in serious peril, and how close it might actually be to becoming the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first real failure.

To read my thoughts on other episodes of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D, click here to go to the index.

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3 Responses to Review: Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D – “The Hub”

  1. Pingback: Review: Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D – “The Magical Place” | Never Felt Better

  2. Pingback: Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D Episode Review Index | Never Felt Better

  3. Pingback: Review – Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D – “Seeds” | Never Felt Better

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