Don’t you just hate it when people meddle? I mean there are a million names for it: meddler, busybody, pest, do-gooder. My nana has always been fond of nibshit, which I’m 95% sure isn’t a real word. Seriously, no one likes meddling. Especially not meddling kids, but before I go all Scooby-Doo villain on you, darling readers, I should get to my point. This episode is all about meddling. We can all sympathize. How many times has your friend, family member, or evil foil interfered in your love life? Stuck their nose in to your complicated family relationships? Or just walked in, and pointed out everything wrong with your brilliant plan to trigger an alien apocalypse? Too many times to count, I’m sure.
Skye, for instance, isn’t really sticking her nose into anyone’s business this evening. Except perhaps her own. We start tonight’s episode with a device pretty common to Marvel comic books themselves, but so far missing from the MCU. The dream sequence. And someone was channeling all of his or her Danny Boyle for this one. Young symbol of innocence running? Check! “Ghost” representations of friends and family members laying responsibility on the protagonist? Double Check! A baby in peril? Got that one too. Of course the imagery here isn’t too deep. Mostly it’s working to show how Skye fears losing the support of May and Coulson whom she sees as her parents (hence the June Cleaver costume adjustments), and how their abandonment of her will ultimately lead to her own destruction. And I thought my anxiety dreams before the SATs were bad.
Then there’s Mac, who I know none of you will be surprised to find, still holds the title of my favorite new character this season. He’s a fixer, which I can appreciate, and it’s in the nature of all engineers to want to solve problems. It seems in Mac’s case this can extend a bit beyond the scope of engine parts and Fitz’s hypoxia. In fact, this episode he’s showing more interest in the rest of the team’s love lives than Tumblr shows in Benedict Cumberbatch. That may sound a bit harsh, but Mac, buddy, I’m really not sure I like this side of you. First you want to poke around inside Lola, which we all know is going to be a hard sell. Then you’re making NO-TP faces at Bobbie and Hunter. Mac, think about this very carefully buddy. Involving yourselves in your friends’ love lives will only cause you to deliver unrealistic jerk-like dialogue later.
After a check in with Trip, who did not die and has very particular feeling towards Skye’s dad, our team gathers for a mission briefing. They’ve got Hydra all figured out, and we’re not to worry as the team has found that our long, sought after alien city is located underneath Puerto Rico. So we’ll just be blowing that up now, I guess. Simple. Mission accomplished. Over and done. Except of course, Coulson being Coulson, he wants the team to take their time, so as not to harm anyone living on the island. Well, at least we have plenty of time, because Hydra has no way of finding out where the island is.
So while we’ve got time to linger, let’s check in with Reina, who has seemingly hitched her wagon to an older gentlemen that I think we can safely assume is a millionish-aire. They’re making vacation plans when meddler Number 2 shows up. Melinda May. But no! It’s Maygent! Ah, I’ve missed Maygent. She looks good, you know, except for the whole disguise mask permanently fused to her horribly disfigured face, but she carries it well.
Reina takes off with Maygent and her Hydra minions in pursuit, when meddlers 3 and 4 appear in the forms of Sam and Billy Koenig. Introduce yourself as Agent Koenig all you want sirs; you’ll always be Patton 1 and Patton 2 to me. The magic cloaking umbrella is a nice bit of S.H.I.E.L.D. tech to show off. Pause for lanyard joke, and cut to commercial.
It’s funny how difficult exposition can be in television shows, especially ones where your audience is smart enough to not just let you gloss over it. That being said, watching Patton catch Coulson up on the things we saw happen no more than six minutes ago, seems redundant, as does watching Skye and May brood over news footage of the Ward family barbecue (too soon?) when we were already reminded about it in tonight’s recap. We’ll get a really good example of how to handle exposition in the next scene, but not before Coulson and I come to a bit of a disagreement again. Coulson sends Skye and May out to extract Reina and the Pattons. May hits the nail pretty squarely on the head when she accuses Coulson of not wanting Skye anywhere near that city. Coulson disagrees, saying he just wants to keep her away from her father. Okay, Director Coulson—with all due respect— since Skye’s father doesn’t know where the super secret, under Puerto Rico city is, her chances of running into him are pretty slim if she goes with you. I’m not saying you’re wrong, but letting the part-alien girl into the highly reactive alien city is not going to be a good plan, no matter how you look at it. So maybe that’s a bit more pressing of a reason to keep Skye out. Just saying.
But onward to our good exposition, with Bobbi and Simmons. It’s amazing how quickly we will accept that a character knows the exposition they claim to know simply by having them say one magic phrase, followed by a few specifics. “I know the story.” Four words, and done. Yay to no scene grinding to a halt, and more time to get to the heart of the matter, which in this case is that Simmons doesn’t know if she likes Fitz or like likes Fitz. She makes a good point that she kind of had all of his feelings thrown at her in the most adrenaline-filled moments of her life to date. She’s confused about her feelings. I mean she is English. Bobbi, bless her, doesn’t meddle here so much as start a conversation. Maybe that’s because she doesn’t feel she has the right to judge. She does seem to be becoming the poster child for bad Marvel relationship habits.
And speaking of bad relationship habits, Mac has decided to offer Bobbi his two cents about she and Hunter getting back together. He’s against it. I mean I can’t disagree with him there. They certainly seem destined to fail, and he’s probably going to deal with the brunt of the fallout. It’s interesting to watch a character really invest in two other characters getting together; having their very own in universe OTP. It’s less common to see someone want to keep two characters apart (NO—TP) especially when there isn’t’ a love triangle involved. Still Mac, be careful. Don’t get pushy or obnoxiously over-involved. And do not offer cryptic advice just to—seriously? What is “the other thing”? Dang it you two, I’ve already got too many breadcrumb trails to follow today.
At least the extraction team makes it in time for Hunter to save Patton 1 (Patton 2 is shorter) from a Hydra goon. And this also gives Patton 2 and Reina a chance to escape while Skye and Maygent engage in some pretty impressive fighting. No surprise, Skye wins. Maygent’s evil twin status is only lacking a flat black goatee to be cemented, so I’m not sure it’s such a good plan to just leave her behind, but okay Skye. I guess we’re moving on.
Coulson, Bobbi, and the science team have landed in Puerto Rico, where Bobbi and Coulson are trying to blend in while meeting up with Bobbi’s contact. Just a side note here; I grew up in Miami, FL, so I take a bit of exception to anyone saying they’ve figured out the Bermuda Triangle, but I take a lot more exception to Bobbi and Coulson’s tourist looks. Where are your shorts and resort themed t-shirts, team? The locals could spot you as spies at 30 paces! Ugh, bad secret agents. No more new tech or mission success for you, until you’ve brushed up your spy craft.
I will say that the scene does give us the opportunity to see how Coulson’s ideology really differs from Fury. Whether or not it’s a realistic ideology given the nature of their work, I’m not sure, but it’s nice to hear that Coulson has thought it through, even if his monologue comes off a bit clunky.
It’s the return of Mac, Fitz, and Simmons next, and the room is tense. Mac, I know this sucks, but whatever you do, don’t force their hands and make them talk about their feelings. Don’t be… that guy. Right there. The one that you’re being when you call out sexual tension everyone has been trying their best to ignore. No one will thank you. Least of all me. The problem with using a third party to force this conversation onto Fitz and Simmons is that nothing can possibly get resolved. If neither of our two scientists are ready to talk about it, we just get a scene where they stumble over their own words and end up further separated. So now Fitz has decided they need to work apart. Well, thanks Mac. That resolves nothing.
Back with the extraction team, Reina is almost out, so Hunter runs off to find May. After a brief conversation with Skye, Reina decides she might be better off with Hydra for now. She starts calling out to two obvious Hydra goons. Seriously guys, spy craft! Oh, and no more putting your logos on everything. As the goons race in to intercept her, May hits them with the van. So I guess Hunter found her after all.
Remember how we didn’t stop to properly capture Maygent? Well, quicker than you can say, “Seriously guys, entry level spy craft!” we see her letting Whitehall know that he can track Reina using S.H.I.E.L.D.’s own device.
Mac still won’t let his FitzSimmons OTP go, as the team works to access the underground city. Mac, as a friend, the more you try to force these two to have some kind of relationship resolution, the further they get from it. At least we’ll get a break from the matchmaking, as the dwarfs lose power while being lowered into the city. The team decides to send Mac down to take a look. I’ve got a bad feeling about this.
This is especially because Reina and Skye are having a heart-to-heart about Skye’s dad. Damn it evil foil, Skye’s problems with her dad are exactly none of your business. Oh, but the Kree you say? Does this mean I could get a Starlord cameo? Oh, or Andy Dwyer? That could be fun too! Wait, what do you mean “only the worthy can go inside”? Wait… Oh god… Mac!
Mac! Get out of that hole. Get out of that hole right now! I’m sorry for harping on you about the meddling thing. Great you’ve found the dwarves, and there’s nothing down here, so lets jut get back on the rope and—NO! Don’t touch the weird alien (I guess Kree now?) symbols on the floor. Come on, Mac. Just leave them alone!
Of course, no one listens when you shout at your T.V., so Mac does touch the symbol, which promptly infect him with something—maybe its symbolism?—and he writhes in agony on the floor. I am so serious right now, production team: Do not kill him.
Meanwhile, Hydra has the Bus surrounded, and demands that they “uncloak and prepare to be boarded,” which my inner Trekkie finds delightful. Hydra here is being lead by Ward who not only takes Reina, but also Skye and Skye’s tablet with her map to the hidden city on it. So much for our head start.
They’ve hauled him Mac up, but he’s seizing and mumbling incoherently. What Mac? What are you saying? His eyes are glowing red—wait, wasn’t that a plot device on The Flash tonight? Run! He said, “run”. And so the battle royal begins. Coulson, Bobbi, Fitz, and Simmons vs. Mac. And Mac’s going to lose of course, but I didn’t expect him to be electrocuted, and fall back down into the alien city. Dear Marvel, usually I am against what is becoming your rather capricious use of “Oh, he’s not really dead” to meddle in your character’s lives, but I am asking you to use it just this one time for Mac. Meddle a little, just don’t kill off my new favorite. Hunter, however, is negotiable.
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.