This week’s episode of Agents of SHIELD is entitled ‘Making Friends and Influencing People’ but a better title might have been ‘What Simmons did’. Ever since the season premier two weeks ago fans have been near irate about the sudden disappearance of Elizabeth Henstridge‘s character Jemma Simmons. Some saw it is a prelude to write her character out of the show along with Fitz. Simmons has never been my favorite character, with both her and Fitz there was something too arrogant in their persona to make them likable. To borrow from an accusation made against ex-agent Ward, there more than just a whiff of Hitler-youth about them. There were exceptions, both the episode dealing with the train ride in Italy (T.RA.C.K.S) and the time Ward had to rescue her after she jumped from The Bus were memorable. The Simmons I saw in this weeks episode was both stronger and more confident than last seasons version, she is also more likable because of the change. The Simmons reboot has accentuated the best aspects of her character, I just hope the creative staff will be able to make it last. So what has Simmons been up to this season? Well, apparently she now works for HYDRA!
It is difficult to say that I was fooled by the apparent switch of allegiance. As Simmons new life is introduced by showing how she casually exercises in the morning and makes her coffee you are put on in a certain mind sight. Simmons has started working as a low tier lab researcher at a HYDRA facility. As Coulson deals with HYDRA killing or kidnapping former SHIELD agents and those with special gifts his own efforts at recruitment are marginalized. Quickly it is made clear that Coulson has placed Simmons at HYDRA to learn whom they intend to target. This time they are after Donnie Gill whom we saw in the season 1 episode Seed. His gift to freeze everybody and everything terrifies both SHIELD and HYDRA. HYDRA has already sent people before under orders from its leaders Kraken and Mockingbird to intercept him. The latter is suspicious of Simmons as she failed to report that she knew Donnie. He sends her to the HYDRA station on board a ship that Donnie has overrun with orders to turn him to HYDRA. Meanwhile the head of HYDRA, Kraken, tries to brainwash a SHIELD agent knows as Agent 33. Mockingbird seems pessimistic about his chances but Kraken persists.
Coulson is also interested in turning Donnie’s allegiance to SHIELD and sends May, Skye and Hunter to find him. Fitz is being left out despite improvements in his recovery. Against orders from Coulson he confronts Ward with the mental injuries he sustained. As he tortures Ward with oxygen deprivation he mentions the mission to retrieve Donnie. Ward warns him that Donnie may already be an agent of HYDRA. They are only attempting to activate his brain conditioning by use of certain keywords. Fitz manages to warn Coulson and May. May just in time manages to prevent Hunter shooting dead Simmons as HYDRA has sent her to activate Donnie. After Mockingbird activates Donnie himself he gives him the order to freeze the entire ship and kill every SHIELD agent on board. Skye manages to shoot Donnie but Simmons saves Mockingbird to preserve her cover. In the epilogue May warns Skye that killing people will never get easy. Coulson warns Fitz not to see Ward again, but thinks he was brave to confront him. At the HYDRA lair Kraken and Mockingbird discuss the days events when a brainwashed Agent 33 enters to deliver files. Mockingbird appears stunned but asks for Simmons to be assigned more challenging duties after her help with Donnie. He adds that if she is unwilling they will turn like they did Agent 33. Skye visits Ward, who says he will never lie to her and tells her her father is still a live.
It was good to see Simmons back other than in Fitz’s hallucinations. The two versions of Simmons are notably different proofing that Simmons’ character has matured since the resurrection of HYDRA. It is too easy to call the events a fake-out, had Simmons’ change been revealed in the first episode of the new season people would simply have labeled it as a discontinuity. At one time in the episode Fitz mentions that Simmons can’t possible be a spy as she is a bad liar. May corrects him by saying she has made a lot of progress. Fitz is making some progress, though the moments when he can’t remember words are still the terrible drama they were in the previous two episodes. However, actor Iain De Caestecker couldn’t maintain the act throughout his interrogation/torture of Ward. I am not certain if Fitz is character is supposed to ever get better, but I am hopeful this is just a hail-mary attempt to reboot Fitz. Despite this being a good episode of SHIELD, hell it is decidedly good episode there were still some moments when issues from season reared their head. The whole ‘get Donnie’ side of the story was a bit iffy, though it is memorable to note that despite Skye shooting him she acknowledges that no body was found afterwards. We will probably see ‘Donnie the Iceman’ back later in the season. Coulson meanwhile seems to have repaired his coolness since the previous episode, by announcing that Simmons was a spy within HYDRA he managed to gain respect from both Skye and Triplett.
Score; 8.4 / 10. A good episode of SHIELD. I just hope they can keep on improving Simmons’s character.
This was Agents of SHIELD S2Ep3 Making Friends and Influencing People Review, I hope you enjoyed it.