Dr. Whitehall aka that German guy from the ’40s, who still looks so young (co-worker of Eichhorst?) is drinking fancy wine and monologuing in a dark room. He talks about the price of wine and patience to an Evil Lackey and someone watching images weirder than that Don Hertzfeldt Simpson’s opening. That someone is referred to as Agent 33, a woman who’s trussed up and being brainwashed. Not as clean as it sounds! She’s being conditioned to comply with Hydra indoctrination.
Cut to Simmons waking up in a brand new apartment while we’re tortured by perky and slightly off 50s like music and going through her morning routine. But she only eats half a donut, what the hell? After reaching her new workplace she makes nice with a guard and then heads to the science lab. It has a giant Hydra symbol on the wall! Because being an evil secret organization is so 20th century!
Her boss talks to her about what’s she working on, experiments involving cells producing liquid nitrogen. Simmons notices a certain photo in a file the boss is holding. It’s Donnie Gill! Who? That student from the ‘Seeds’ episode in season 1, who wound up with the ability to freeze things. Prepare for a blizzard of evilness!
Skye is busy practicing on the firing range, and doing a damn fine job of it. May talks to her about control and working in the field, while Skye glances at her FitBit like device. Her pulse is around 60! She’s so cool, calm and collected! Lance and Mac walk by and Lance tries to apologize to May about shooting her last episode. Doesn’t work but maybe if he waits, it will! Lance and Skye talk shop, with Skye admitting she’s never knowingly killed anyone. May notes that killing someone doesn’t get any easier. (Unless you’re Dexter, Hannibal or Loki)
Simmons is in the lab, with her boss demanding all her recent work ’cause he’s been called upstairs for an update, due to time tables being accelerated. He looks quite panicky- does this Hydra still have Incentives?
Overseas, Donnie is listening to music at a cafe. The cafe owner realizes that he’s on the run, which angers Donnie, who kills him by literally freezing him to death. Hello Darth Donny! Two agents appear, saying they want to just talk to the guy with superpowers who killed the nice cafe owner. Come on guys, think this through! Gill freezes one and scares the other one away with his Iceman impersonation.
Simmons heads home from the evil secret lab, hears someone creeping around and pulls out a gun to confront the intruder. Hello, it’s Coulson! He notes the contents of her refrigerator, beer and Sriracha sauce (which sounds reasonable) and then mentions he’s brought groceries. Simmons is a double agent! Coulson cooks while she debriefs him him on Donnie Gill being sought by Hydra. (Yea, Coulson is that cool) Then he inquires if she’s making contacts, in order to climb up the professional and social Hydraladder. Nah, she’s shy!
Coulson heads back to base and gives a brief about Gill to the whole team. Since Hydra wants him, SHIELD wants him even more. Fitz tries to help, but damn those memory lapses.
Skye heads to the basement to ask Ward about Hydra. He gives her info on how Gifted people (not Mutants- dammit Fox) are acquired and a heads up on just how deadly Hydra agents can be. If they can’t get convince a Gifted person to turn, then they’ll kill the person. Hydra doesn’t like sharing, must be an only child!
Meanwhile, Donny heads out to the local docks and decides to freeze a ship and some of the water around it. Back to Simmons, as she tries to make friends with her boss. Instead, he tells her to go upstairs, due to a security matter. And look, here’s two beefy agents to escort her. Once there, the Well Dressed Evil Lackey asks her to sit and says she’s been lying. This performance review isn’t going to go well!
Evidently, Hydra knows she was a Level 5 Shield agent, so that’s not a problem. But not telling her evil bosses that she knew Donnie Gill is a big no-no. Questions are asked and Simmons reveals she joined SHIELD at 17 with two PhDs and a million questions. Lackey asks if she’s loyal to Hydra? No, she’s loyal to science, so as long as Hydra lets her do her work, she’s with them. Nice.
The SHIELD team discovers Gill’s iced boat and heads out to get him. Mac and Fitz stay behind and shoot the breeze and after a bit of labored thought, Fitz realizes stuff is being kept from him. Not a happy moment!
Simmons is escorted down down a hallway (in a death like march, Hydra is soooo dramatic) to the Hydra team that’s going to retrieve Gill. It seems she’ll be working in the field today. Might run into old friends too!
Meanwhile, Donnie kills another person, a Hydra agent on the now frozen boat. Damn man, that’s cold! Evidently, he froze the boat to attract Hydra and make it clear he doesn’t want to join. He intends to kill anyone who doesn’t take no for an answer. Donny appears to be emotionally frigid!
Cut to Fitz and FakeSimmons, who’s trying to convince him not to go with the SHIELD team to retrieve Gill. He listens, but not exactly. He heads down to the basement to find out who Skye has been talking to. When he discovers that it’s Ward, he needs a moment. Ward needs a moment. We need a moment. It’s a bit like watching a puppy be kicked.
Ward explains he was actually saving Fitz and Simmons by dumping them in a locked cell in the ocean, instead of putting a bullet in their heads, as Garrett wanted. Fitz tries to explains what the lack of air did to his brain, but instead decides to demonstrate it by leaking the air out of cell. It still doesn’t shut Ward up. Meanwhile Fitz monologues (sort of) and accidentally reveals that the team is going after Donny Gill. Ward, between gasps, says that they don’t know what they’re up against. More gasping and…
Simmons is on the boat! She looks for and finds Donnie, tries to calm him down with the Evil Lackey talking her through it. Meanwhile May, Lance and Skye arrive on the boat and start shooting Hydra agents, ’cause that’s what they do.
Fitz interrupts Mac to get help on talking to Coulson. Mac translates Fitz’s scattered thoughts, allowing Coulson to learn that Hydra recruited Donnie and he had sorta, kinda beeng working with them. Good to know!
The SHIELD team finds Simmons talking with Donnie, but her back is to them, so they don’t know it’s her. Coulson gives the order to stop that particular discussion. Lance takes aim, a red dot appears on Simmons’ back and then commercials! Come on, you knew that was coming. Buy that thing and we’ll let you watch more.
May notices that it’s Simmons and shoots Lance (payback!), which breaks up the talking. Simmons runs and Donny follows. Well Dressed Lackey meets them and monologues to Donny about compliance in a manner similar to what was done to #33. Terrible pep talk! Anyway, this reactivates his brain washing and he becomes compliant.
Donnie is ordered to ice everyone on the ship as the rest of Hydra withdraws. Skye winds up shooting him, he falls off the ship, through the ice and into the water. Well Dressed Lackey is sad! Skye pretends to shoot at the two of them, while Simmons “saves” the Lackey and thereby gaining his trust.
Lance tries make good with May, who quips that sure, they’re even now, and then glances at Trip. May and Skye talk about her first kill and Simmons being undercover. Skye notes that Gill’s body is missing. Fitz and Coulson have a similar chat, with the latter noting the former almost killed Ward. But I didn’t, says Fitz. Gold star for you buddy. Coulson admits there’s more he’s keeping from him and tells a little white lie about why Simmons left the team. Smooth one Phil.
Dr. SO-n-SO and Well Dressed Lackey talk. Simmons gets promoted! But with an understanding that if she gets them trouble, she’ll be forced to comply. Just like #33, who happily walks in with a report for Dr. Whitehall to sign. Cue dramatic music as Simmons is in the elevator, moving on up to the inner circle.
In the last shot, Skye and Ward chat some more, where he lets her know that brainwashing is a standard Hydra technique. Skye inquires whether his brain was ever sent through rinse cycle and he says no, he signed up for the Garrett Loyalty program. He’s doing the whole “I’ll only tell you the truth” thing. Then he tells her that her dad is still alive and looking for her and that one day he’ll take her to him. She tells him to shutup and leaves. She glances at the FitBit monitor and it’s up over 100 and climbing. Uh oh!
Did we like this episode? Yes! It’s our third turn out and we see that SHIELD is slogging. They can’t win everything! But it’s building character! Coulson is turning into a great director, May is awesome as his Second and we have fun with some team change ups. The whole Skye-May combo and Mac-Fitz combo are working. Simmon’s is learning undercover work. Everyone is expanding a bit as a result and we love it. It’s like super powering the team for the eventual return. AND we haven’t gotten a Ward redemption arc. He’s still totally out for himself and his warped motives, which mostly involve Skye. Creepy!
New Rules for the Agent Handbook:
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Don’t shoot at Agent May!
Making friends can be fun!
Brainwashing hurts, don’t let anyone program you to follow orders when a ridiculously long phrase is uttered.
Hungry? Ask Coulson to cook for you!
Under no circumstances should you waste half a donut.
Working for Hydra is stressful!