‘A Hen In The Wolf House’
Finally, after a somewhat stuttered start, Agents of SHIELD delivers a top-notch episode that showcases what this show is capable of. From Skye’s father, to Raina and Coulson, to the blistering introduction of Adrianne Palicki’s Bobbi Morse aka Mockingbird, A Hen In The Wolf House is everything that this show should be – action packed, tense, and one hell of a good ride.
Taking its cue from Game of Thrones, ‘A Hen In The Wolf House’ opens on a wedding that proves to be a most truly dangerous place to be, with pretty much everyone going the way of Joffrey Baratheon times ten. It’s an incredibly strong opening that conveys how this episode means to go on. However, within five minutes, this devastating poisoning is mostly forgotten about to make way for all kinds of crazy stuff. Despite this obvious plotting flaw, the rest of the episode is so strong that it doesn’t really matter.
For the first time this season, Coulson finally exercises the commanding and imposing authority that is worthy of a director of SHIELD. For too much of this season, Coulson has appeared weak in front of his subordinates and lacking in that authoritarian seat and imposing nature that we know he’s capable of. Thankfully though, Coulson is given a chance to shine. First, in putting Skye in her place when she questions him in regards to the nature of the alien writing, and then in a most wonderfully tense and nervy scene, he reduces Raina to nothing more than a wilting flower. Indeed, the restaurant scene is one of the strongest in terms of writing this season.
This is the Coulson we know and love. This is the man we’ve come to admire and adore in the MCU since his first appearance, and it’s refreshing to see him retake control once again. Thank God he’s back.
In terms of mystery, this episode does a great job of reminding us of the overarching mysteries that are still hanging over the show’s head. After Skye realizes that Coulson is the one writing the alien symbols, we’re reminded that Skye wasn’t affected by the GH4 alien serum the same way that Coulson and Garrett were. The question even arises as to Skye being an alien. Could she be an alien? Maybe she’s something more…Inhuman, perhaps?
Meanwhile over at Hydra HQ, Simmons’ cover is blown thanks to Raina and Coulson being all awesome and ballsy for a change. It’s a shame that Simmons’ tenure in Hydra HQ was so short lived. One can’t help but think that the writers may have missed a very valuable opportunity by removing Simmons so early. So much was made of her trying to make friends, that it opened up a realm of possibilities and new areas of conflict. What if she did make friends? What if she did find Hydra employees who were, in effect, just good people trying to make their way in the world?
I commented on Hydra’s cartoonish evilness last week, but apart from murdering half the world, what does Hydra actually want? Right now, it seems they have no plans other than mass slaughter with no bigger picture in play. Maybe the bigger play will be revealed later on. But right now, Hydra seems like an organization that merely exists to be a threat that needs stopping with zero agenda or larger motifs. Still, this is a minor flaw, in an otherwise strong episode.
The highlight of the week is the introduction of Adrianne Palicki’s Bobbi Morse. Yes, Marvel fans, Mockingbird makes her first appearance in the MCU and boy, it’s a doozy. With her tall and imposing presence, Palicki nails the role perfectly, easily dispatching of Hydra guards in a manner that would give Black Widow a run for her money. Morse is yet another addition to an already powerful roster of strong female presences on this show.
As all you keen Marvel fans will be aware, in the comics Morse was once married to Hawkeye and eventually became a member of the Avengers. Could Marvel be setting up Palicki’s Mockingbird to join the team come Infinity War in 2018? Who knows? But the real kicker comes at the end when it’s revealed that Morse, as well as being an undercover SHIELD agent, is also the “she-devil” ex-wife that Hunter has been badgering on about for the last few weeks.
Skye’s father shows up once again and for the first time we witness what kind of man he is. Indeed, as it turns out, it seems that Skye’s father has something of an anger problem. But unlike our favorite other angry scientist in the MCU, his anger reveals itself through shocking murder and violence, rather than as an enormous green rage monster.
But what’s really intriguing is Skye’s theory regarding the alien writing. Skye hypothesizes that the writing is actually a map, but a map to where?
Overall, this is the strongest and most entertaining episode of this season yet.