Agents of SHIELD: 205 “A Hen In The Wolf House” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
After a few weeks of oblique clues as to the wider stories at play in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2, “A Hen In The Wolf House” offers us…well, more oblique clues as to the wider stories at play, but some interesting information comes to light which gets us closer to the heart of the mystery. Combine all that with some fun action and new character developments, and Agents continues its hot streak.
The episode itself has a few different plot strands, although they do all hang together surprisingly well. “A Hen In The Wolf House” mostly concerns Raina, who is currently caught in a weird tug of war between Hydra and ‘the Doctor’, neither of whom seem to be quite as transfixed by her persuasive talents than the Project Centipede goons from last season. Following on from last week when Daniel Whitehall cornered her and gave her a time limit on fetching the Obelisk, she is struggling to do what is right: the Doctor seems more than happy to hand the Obelisk over, but in return he wants his daughter Skye, although apparently that’s not really her name. He also demonstrates certain anger issues as he slaughters a couple of bad dudes who came to him for backstreet surgery on a gunshot wound, and is consistently shown bathed in green light: this is probably more of a red herring than a hint towards potential ‘Hulkiness’, but combined with mentions of Skye’s parents being ‘monsters’ it’s definitely an interesting tease. Anyway, Raina has to turn to Coulson to help, and in doing so she threatens to reveal Simmons’ true allegiance to her ‘colleagues’ at Hydra.
Speaking of whom, Daniel Whitehall seems keen to find and weaponise the Obelisk, after a largely failed attempt at reverse-engineering the effects of the artefact and using them against a party of Naval officers, all of whom were part of an anti-Hydra task force. Meanwhile, sinister creepy-man Bakshi is searching for a S.H.I.E.L.D. mole in the labs, and brings in Hydra’s security chief Bobbi ‘Mockingbird’ Morse (never referred to by her alias in the show, that’s all from the comics) to help expose the traitor: obviously sweet innocent Simmons is said traitor, but suspicion is transferred away from her briefly as she slips some evidence into her supervisor’s desk drawer, causing him to be taken away and probably murdered. It’s a surprisingly stone-cold move from Simmons, although her supervisor did call mass murder ‘pretty cool’ earlier, so to hell with him.
Anyway, Coulson calls Raina’s bluff and allows her to blow Simmons’ cover; as she is escaping from Bakshi and his goons she is rescued by Morse, who reveals that she is a S.H.I.E.L.D. double agent within Hydra. They escape to the roof and leap onto the top of the cloaked Quinjet and head back to base.
As a quick side note, with the correct knowledge it’s difficult not to see this sequence as a somewhat surprising DC easter egg inside Agents: Adrianne Palicki, who plays Morse in this episode, was famously cast as Wonder Woman in the failed 2011 Warner Brothers television pilot. So we have a one-time Wonder Woman coming into contact with an invisible jet: coincidence or easter egg?
Elsewhere, Hunter manages to tag Raina and trace her back to her hideout, which also happens to be the last known location of Skye’s father: naturally, Skye disobeys her orders and heads over there to take a look, but finds an abandoned building and the corpses of the men the Doctor murdered earlier. She says she now understands that her father really is a ‘monster’. The Doctor watches this on a security feed, and is visibly enraged by this comment to the point of smashing his tablet and driving away to parts unknown.
Unknown, that is, until the close of the episode, where it is revealed he headed straight to Hydra to offer Daniel Whitehall not only possession of the Obelisk, but also instructions on how to use it without it killing you. All he wants in return is the opportunity to kill Coulson and get his daughter back, something which will likely benefit Hydra in the long run as well. It seems that Whitehall is likely to accept his offer, even though the Doctor did brutally murder a couple of Hydra agents on his way in, and the disparate groups of characters are beginning to coalesce into a far more tangible threat than before.
Back at S.H.I.E.L.D. base, Skye shows repeated concerns about Coulson and the mysterious alien writing that she has been tasked with deciphering: after the close call with her father, Coulson finally opens up about it. He tells Skye that he has been carving the symbols into various surfaces since he saw Garrett’s version of it, and that he believes it is caused by the GH 325 formula they were injected with. He also believes that he and Garrett had a negative reaction to it, but the reason Skye hasn’t been showing any strange behaviour is because she already had alien DNA within her. He shows her the writing on his wall, and she recognizes it as something different to what we have been assuming it is: a map, but to where and leading to what, we just don’t know.
Finally, Simmons is welcomed back into the fold and has an awkward reunion with Fitz, while Bobbi is brought on as the newest member of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, having close relations with both Triplett and Mack. The only problem is that she is also the ‘she-devil’ ex-wife of Lance Hunter, and he definitely does not seem happy to see her.
While the action is some of the most fun, and there are significant developments to both the plot and the characters within it, “A Hen In The Wolf House” cannot escape the feeling of being a smaller cog in a larger machine, and the plot advancements frustratingly leave us with more questions than answers. While it is still early days, and arc-heavy episodes are usually the better instalments of Agents, there’s still a vague feeling of ‘incompleteness’ which makes this episode a little less satisfying than some of the previous ones.