Things I learned tonight on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
Ignoring you’re compulsive need to carve alien symbols won’t make it go away.
When your back alley doctor shows signs of uncontrollable rage while operating on you, don’t be too quick to criticize him.
Never take relationship advice from Hunter.
Blondes definitely do not have more fun.
Sometimes your real dad isn’t your real dad.
Sometimes alien writing isn’t alien writing.
While a bit flat overall, “A Hen in the Wolf House” proved to be very educational, particularly for Skye and Simmons who split focus with mixed results. While Simmons lived her own version of Mission Impossible, Skye spent last night worrying about her fathers. Yep, both of them.
In a grossly mistimed display of parental affection, Skye’s actual father sends Reina after her. Though this happens only after we discover that he has some pretty significant anger management issues. Apparently, Skye’s dad is to anger as Tony Stark is to a toaster, surprisingly creative in his application of the concept. Reina’s rather ruthless approach to getting Skye and her dad to meet up involves threatening to expose Simmons to Hydra as a double agent. She brings this offer to Coulson.
Coulson and Skye start the episode at odds, as she notices alien symbols carved into his desk. Coulson dodges her attempt to find out more, and after Hunter offers her some advice that’s great for plot advancement—but horrible for building trust between loved ones—Skye talks to the one person who likes to lay out potential plot points like it’s their job. Ward. He gives her the heads up that Reina is his source regarding her dad, and that once Garrett started compulsively carving it only got worse. When Skye confronts Coulson about the similarity between his carvings and Garrett’s, Coulson reveals that there is some concern that Skye may have the same compulsion. They’ve been waiting to see if Coulson’s drawings will trigger this behavior in her. So far they haven’t and there is mention of the possibility that Skye may be an alien. While it’s treated very seriously in the moment, it’s never brought up again.
Which brings us here, to a very nice restaurant with everyone on site, as Coulson and Reina participate in a very sophisticated game of chicken. Reina flirts with Coulson, but alas he remains immune to her. She offers him a trade; Skye, for keeping the lid on Simmons’ identity in Hydra. Coulson declines, and we watch as the two-minute timer ticks down and Simmons is exposed as a double agent. It’s a pretty awesome subversion of the trope, and Reina is as surprised by it as the audience. Don’t worry too much, Simmons will be okay, because, like I said, “Blondes definitely do not have more fun.”
In the end, Reina tells Coulson where they’ll be able to find Skye’s father, so the team is able to assemble a well thought-out, thoroughly planned tactical response… Okay no, not really. Instead Skye runs off alone almost immediately to find her dad. She breaks into a warehouse, and in a less-than-strategic move on her part, she starts calling out to the unseen occupants. I’d just like to point out that she at no point calls out for “dad.” If you think a biological parent might be a vicious murderer, it might be a good idea to self-identify just a little bit when breaking into their home. She’s fine though, as he’s not there.
All Skye finds is a framed picture of herself as a baby and her father. She’s upset, but Coulson has caught up with her, and we all know who Skye’s real dad is anyway. They hug with genuine affection and concern, but Skye’s biological father is watching through a hidden camera, and he’s not happy to see Coulson hugging his baby girl. The team finds the bodies of two bikers Skye’s father was working for earlier in the episode. Skye calls him a monster, just as Coulson looks into a security camera. I love this move, where someone looks into a security camera as if they know they are looking at the person watching them in real time. Practice it sometime in the grocery store if you like, I can pretty much guarantee you that no one is watching in that exact moment. Still, this being Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Skye’s dad being a creepy control freak, he is actually watching in real time. The combination of hugging, Skye calling him a monster, and Coulson staring is apparently just enough to really set off his temper, and everyone is going to regret what he does next.
Simmons’ escape from Hydra takes up the other half of this episode. It seems Reina has already started to lay the groundwork for her plan to expose Simmons by anonymously sending proof of a spy (Simmons’ coded message to S.H.I.E.L.D.) to Hydra security. Simmons spends most of this episode being hounded by a tall brunette Hydra security agent, who has a propensity for cornering people in bathrooms.
Once Reina releases Simmons’ identity, her plot line takes a sharp turn from thriller to all-out chase. Simmons is doing a good job evading Hydra until creepy brunette and two other security agents corner her. All seems lost, until brunette breaks out two batons and takes out her fellow Hydras (Hydrairians? Hydrangeas?). Between the batons and her Natasha Romanov quality hair flip, my first thought is honestly, wouldn’t it be awesome if she were the MCU equivalent of Mockingjay. Alas Mockingjay is a blonde, but this lady seems cool enough, I’m sure—wait a minute. Did she just say her name is Bobbi Morse? Bobbi Morse? Mockingjay! Yes! But what happened to you hair? Ah, never mind, there’s my second favorite bird-themed Avenger. This makes room for a cameo from my favorites, Barton and Bishop. (They aren’t tied for first so much as they are inseparable.)
With Simmons safely back at S.H.I.E.L.D., another bomb is dropped. Bobbi is Hunter’s mysterious ex-wife. So, yeah, no Hawkeye cameo. Though, if Hunter’s whining is any indication, this Bobbi once was blonde, so maybe there’s a little of her original story line still in there.
Meanwhile Skye rejects her biological father completely, vowing to help Coulson track him down. In return, Coulson decides it’s time to let Skye in on all his carvings. He reveals the hidden panel covered in the oft agonized over alien symbols and it only takes Skye a moment to point out that it isn’t writing. It’s a map.
All this bonding for the team may have had unforeseen side effects as our last scene shows Skye’s father striking a bargain with Doctor Whitehall. It seems they have a common enemy, an enemy they both want to see dead—Phil Coulson. So maybe tonight on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. we learned just one more thing; the Hulk hath no fury like a father scorned.
Katherine Siegel is a Chicago-based freelance writer and director and a regular contributor to Paste. You can find out more by checking out her website, or follow her on Twitter.