If “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD’s” premiere episode was all about Agent Coulson convincing Skye that SHIELD is an organization to be trusted, its seventh episode “The Hub” was about her convincing him that it isn’t. Though Coulson’s fellow SHIELD agents — recurring character Agent Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernandez) and Marvel favorite Victoria Hand (Saffron Burrows) — continue to enforce to him that he needs to “trust the system,” it becomes clear over the course of this episode that he really shouldn’t.
The most pressing aspect of SHIELD keeping Coulson out of the know came when Hand sent Fitz and Ward into an operation where they didn’t have an extraction. Of course, she declined to tell Coulson or his two men that tiny detail when recruiting them for the mission. Thank goodness Skye blatantly flouted Coulson’s orders, question his authority and shouted unprofessionally at him as they walked through SHIELD’s Hub or he might not have found out Fitz and Ward were left to die by SHIELD until it was too late.
The way Hand sold the play later to Sitwell, Coulson’s team is so good that they didn’t need an extraction or for their commanding officer to know that they were even in danger. That’s quite a gamble on her part, and one that’s not likely to sit well with Coulson. Also not sitting well with him is the fact that he isn’t authorized to see his own “Tahiti” file even though he has Level 8 access.
Would Coulson have been as upset about the fact that he couldn’t find out about his death and resurrection if Skye hadn’t constantly been nagging him about SHIELD’s level system in “The Hub”? Likely not, but the fact he has been blocked out seems to be setting him on a dark path of second guessing SHIELD. Having a roadblock put in his way will likely make him more determined to finding out his secret, which doesn’t bode well for SHIELD. Coulson is a new man now, as proven in “FZZT,” and it will be interesting to see if his dedication to the “system” of SHIELD finally snaps.
Of course, he really should listen to his own advice. Coulson found Skye’s redacted document about her parents, but lied to her because he determined that this secret should be kept a secret. This reveal of the true reason Skye was left at an orphanage by a SHIELD agent was yet another case of characters on the show finding out a secret while the audience is left in the dark. Maria Hill knows why Coulson can’t know about his death, Coulson and May know about May’s death and Skye’s parentage; at this point, it’s about time to let the audience in on some of these big mysteries as well.
It’s worth noting that “The Hub” was arguably “Agents of SHIELD’s” strongest episode so far. Maybe it’s because the show is starting to pull out all the stops for November sweeps or maybe it’s just hitting its stride, but the Marvel series has finally managed to get its characters to the place they need to be.
Ward and Fitz had fantastic chemistry on their solo mission (we’re still upset about the prosciutto sandwich), Simmons and Skye were hilarious in their cringe worthy attempt to hack into SHIELD’s computer system (it resulted in Simmons shooting Sitwell with the Night-Night Gun — oops), and the scene where Coulson has a one-sided conversation with May while she’s doing tai chi was the perfect way to define their relationship. It’s finally easy to buy Coulson’s team as friends (likely because they were totally loving one another in real life by this point in time), and it’s a really wonderful and necessary element of the show.
Next week the agents of SHIELD will deal with the aftermath of “Thor: The Dark World,” which is an almost guaranteed massive episode. Hopefully the show keeps up this great momentum with developing its characters’ chemistry — and starts answering some questions as well.