Agents of SHIELD: 107 “The Hub” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
I have a prediction for the future of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. which I’d like to share with you before I get into the meat of this week’s review. It goes like this: at some point in the not too distant future of the season, the team is going to go rogue thanks to something nasty perpetrated by the larger organisation of S.H.I.E.L.D.
There are a number of reasons for this, firstly that shows in which Joss Whedon is involved tend to concern themselves with the underdog, and they tend to go against giant faceless organisations rather than work as part of them: just look at Angel, a series which went sharply downhill once the ragtag Angel Investigations team became part of the evil corporation Wolfram and Hart.
Secondly, and this is the part which ties in to this particular episode, S.H.I.E.L.D. has a history of doing some less than savoury things in the name of preserving world peace: look no further than The Avengers, when the head honchos decided to blow up Manhattan with a nuclear missile to save the world from the Chitauri invasion; and by the looks of the Captain America: The Winter Soldier trailer, there’s some more shady business to be done in the future. Last week’s episode, in which Coulson was ordered to dump Simmons out of the plane showed the beginnings of the team potentially souring on the organisation, and ‘The Hub’ moves those feelings on significantly.
The bulk of the episode takes place in the titular Hub, a large-scale S.H.I.E.L.D. super-base where the team are delivered a new mission by Agent Victoria Hand, played with a steely demeanour by Saffron Burrows, which puts Ward and Fitz directly into the line of fire. The actual mission is not of that much importance, as it inevitably goes wrong and the team have to work together to help them out, but Skye’s increasing influence on the team in aid of helping the mismatched field agents was an interesting development in the episode.
The mission concerns a crazy ‘evil-science’ device which, through vibrations, can turn a target’s weapons against themselves and it needs to be killed close-up, so Ward is sent in to get the agents into the country of Undisclosedistan (as it may as well have been called), and Fitz tags along to dismantle the device and get it back to the Hub. Except, as it turns out partway into the mission, S.H.I.E.L.D. has no intention of extracting the pair before they bomb the ever-loving crap out of the facility, and so it falls to Team Coulson to get them out of dodge before they get blown sky-high.
Naturally, it is Skye who discovers this information by breaking the rules of her no-hacking parole and taking a peek at some classified S.H.I.E.L.D. files obtained with the rather incompetent assistance of Simmons in one of the funniest sequences in the show so far: let’s just say it involves a senior S.H.I.E.L.D. agent (Agent Sitwell, for those of you wondering, who appeared along with Agent Ward in the One Shot Item 47 and seemed for a while to be the natural successor to Coulson’s role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), some very awkward small-talk and the Night-Night Gun. However, Skye’s intentions are not entirely altruistic, as she is digging for the redacted files about her parents, but at the last minute prioritises the safety of her teammates over discovering more about her mysterious past, and passes the information on to Coulson.
Speaking of whom, Coulson is all about the secrets this week: he repeatedly lectures Skye about ‘trusting the system’, even when it seems like his team are in danger, and is beginning to question the lies he has been told about his time in Tahiti. However, after deciding that he prefers the way his team works to the way the organisation as a whole works, with full disclosure on all points, he goes on to tell a whopping great lie to Skye about her parents: he tells her that she was dropped off at an orphanage by a female S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who could have been her mother or could have just been an agent, but conceals from her the fact that said S.H.I.E.L.D. agent was subsequently murdered for some kind of sinister reason.
Elsewhere, on the mission, there are some nice bonding moments between Ward and Fitz, particularly revolving around Ward’s unfair treatment of Fitz’s delicious sandwich, but at the end of the mission it is clear that Ward now considers Fitz to be more than a liability, instead finally seeing him as an equal. But overall, the mission is fairly uninteresting, and the important part of the episode is the character development which, while slight, is nonetheless satisfying.
‘The Hub’, while an interesting look at the way S.H.I.E.L.D. as a larger organisation outside our little team, felt a little like a filler episode before next week’s Thor: The Dark World tie-in episode. But it’s nice to see the team beginning to get fleshed out more than before, and it would do the show good to step away from the superhero mumbo-jumbo for a moment and put some more focus on the team once in a while.
Care to weigh in on my opinion about the future of the show? Leave a comment down below and we can throw some theories around!