Unwanted Boob-Squashing Hugs: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. brings on the vomit again

Oooh, yay!  Is this an episode of Fringe?  Look at all those creepy guys in suits with briefcases and red masks!  Are they Observers?  Aliens?  Bankrobbers who can melt walls?  I can’t wait!

[Laura: I love the Fringe shout-out. HAVE YOU SEEN THIS?]

What?  We're not weird-looking at all.

What? We’re not weird-looking at all.

And just like in Fringe, nobody seems to be paying them much attention.   Very incurious passersby wherever this is.  Except this one woman who follows them onto the subway train…and then when the lights go out, she kills them all.  And cuts off one of their hands so she can steal the briefcase.  Sigh.  They had so much potential, and we’re two and a half minutes into the episode and they’re already gone.   The woman opens the case, and it’s full of diamonds.

But!  For no reason at all, Melinda May smiles!  See?

See it?  See that smile there?

See it? See that smile there?

It counts.

Coulson tells us all that the diamonds are being moved by the guys in red masks–only one of them  had the suitcase o’ diamonds, and the masks were to befuddle would-be thieves.  But the woman knew which guy had them–Skye thinks it’s telepathy.  She gets shot down, so she pouts and goes to search her phone, figuring that if she’d seen some dudes in weird masks, she’d be tweeting about it.

 And indeed someone did–lots of someones.  And so they find the diamond-stealing woman–she’s a former agent, trained by Coulson.  Coulson doesn’t want to inform HQ, because apparently when he was training her, she didn’t play well with others (sounds like kind of a sociopath) and so he pushed her, and maybe he pushed her too hard.  Which makes no sense–what did he do to make her be more friendly, beat her with sticks?

Skye stays around to reassure Coulson that he couldn’t possibly be responsible, that he wouldn’t do that.  Because, you know, she knows him so well.

Amador trades her diamonds for a card that will “open all the levels.”  She’s in Russia, somewhere, and so the team drives out there in a van.  Coulson and Ward go to find her in her hotel while Skye and FitzSimmons wait in the van, with instructions to maintain radio silence unless there’s an emergency.  Of course, they break radio silence almost instantly–they have to pee:  “Hey it was a long drive and everybody’s nervous!”  Ward sighs heavily and tells them to use the special container set aside for just such an eventuality.  It is a water bottle.

Our parts don't work with this.

Our parts don’t work with this.

Skye says, “Did anybody ever tell you that girl parts and boy parts are different, and that girl parts aren’t penises?”  Apparently not, because Ward just hangs up.  Skye and FitzSimmons find a video surveillance feed of themselves…just in time to watch themselves get rammed.

Russian television is pretty boring....that looks a lot like our van.

Russian television is pretty boring….that looks a lot like our van.

Amador rams them so hard the van falls down.  But somehow they get away, and they hack into the vid feed that was watching them, and it turns out the feed is coming from her eye…Amador has a creepy robot eye!



Melinda May thinks this is very, very bad and that they should take her out.  But they watch her write, “Can I sleep?” and the feed says okay.  Amador is being controlled.

They are really pushing this father/daughter bonding thing between Skye and Coulson.  She even refers to him and Melinda May as “Mom and Dad”–I wish I were kidding.  And then she goes on to say that since Coulson trusts Skye, and he trusts Amador, then she trusts Amador too.  Because, again, they have had a such a long and forthcoming relationship.  This feels more forced by the second, and I kinda want to hurl.

Melinda May goes to see Amador, who keeps her eye on the carpet–there’s no audio surveillance.  But then she explains that she’s been programmed with a failsafe, so once the feed sees she’s talking to a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, she’ll have to kill Melinda May, or her eye will explode and she’ll die her own self.  So she looks up, which seems rather silly, given the circumstances.  They fight, Melinda May is totally winning, but then Amador kills the lights and uses her special robot eye and is about to shoot Melinda May, but Coulson bursts in just in time and shoots her with a sleepy gun.

They get Amador on the bus, and get Ward fitted with special glasses that are linked to the feed; he can pretend to be Amador and follow the instructions so whoever is watching won’t notice while they disable the failsafe in Amador’s eye.  (Ward, by the way, is very ticklish).  FitzSimmons are going to operate, which they are very uncomfortable about, so much so that Amador has to stab herself in the eye with the anesthetic injection.  We already knew she was hardcore, come on, totally unnecessary.  Coulson is tracking the source of the feed to catch the bad guy.

Ward is walking around, avoiding mirrors (of which there are, you know, so very many in a factory-like research facility) and doing quite well at pretending to be Amador, until he gets the order to seduce a guard.

Scraggly haircut means that's probably not going to go so well, according to Skye.

Scraggly haircut means that’s probably not going to go so well, according to Skye.

Skye thinks this is hilarious, and tells him to go on and bromance him.  Ward tries for like, five seconds, and then just punches him.  He goes through the door to a room with a couple of scientists and a lot of notes on the blackboard.  He sees the notes, and the feed says “Mission Accomplished.”  Didn’t really think that one through, did you guys?  Like, maybe an evil mastermind who can plant a video camera eyeball into an agent shouldn’t be getting some super-secret science-y stuff that he can use to further his evil plans.

Super-Secret Science-y Stuff

Super-Secret Science-y Stuff

FitzSimmons are freaked out by the eye and dithering about it, but when Ward runs into one of those many, many mirrors and the jig is up, they cut the wire really fast before the eye explodes.  Coulson finds the guy sending the messages…but he turns out to have a robot eye too, which pops and he dies right after he looks at Coulson.  Dude, I coulda told Coulson that wasn’t the evil mastermind.  He’s got, like, elbow patches and is sweaty.  Was sweaty, I guess.  Or is still sweaty, since he’s newly dead and nobody’s washed him down yet.  This is one of those existential questions.

[Laura: This is what came up when I googled “existential questions gifs”]

Amador tells Melinda May that she thinks Coulson is really, really different, and Melinda May looks miffed that she didn’t notice.  (I think.  I honestly can’t read her lack of expressions at all, so I try to figure out how I would feel in a similar circumstance, but as I am not a super spy, Melinda May and I don’t have that much in common, so it’s hard to say.  Also I make expressions, so people can tell what I’m feeling most of the time).

Skye and Coulson do some more mutual admiring and it just gets grosser and grosser every second.

Awww...I just love you so...

Awww…I just love you so…

Ward and Fitz and playing poker.  Fitz, big cheater, has Skye behind the wall all set to put on the glasses so she can tell him Ward’s cards.  Skye points out that she will also see Fitz naked.  Fitz folds and runs away, while Ward looks confused.  Skye put on the glasses.

Superhero Count: 0

Pithy Line: “Between facebook, instagram, and flickr, people are surveilling themselves.”

Episode Grade: C-

There were things I enjoyed about this episode.  I genuinely liked the bit in the van, and the details about Skye needing to adjust her seat and Ward needing to be careful not to look at his hands–those were good.  They showed that thought went into the episode, thought about how people would actually react in these situations.

But mostly?  There was no thought.  I was deeply pissed off about the red masks.  Seriously, a bank could have similar-looking guys in matching suits and briefcases, and that would be enough to foil thievery.  The masks are pointless showmanship–and how nice that they marketed the episode with a hook that was gone in the first three minutes.  If you’re going to give us a neat image, there better be something behind it, otherwise it’s just the botox of television.

Even worse was all that business with Skye and Coulson.  Now I love me some television about found families, powerful relationships carved out of stressful circumstances (see all of the Whedonverse, and all of the Sorkinverse).  I’m sure that’s what this is trying to do–but it has to be based on something.  Having these emotions force-fed to the viewer when there has been nothing at all to make them seem real is worse than sloppy, it’s fraudulent.  It’s like that relative you barely know but kinda dislike coming in for a tight, boob-squashing hug–there’s no getting away from it, and you deeply resent it.