Since I rewatched “FZZT” rather close to seeing “The Hub”, I felt that there was quite a bit of clean up from “FZZT” in this episode. If “FZZT” was about Simmons and her relationship with Fitz, “The Hub” was about Fitz coming to terms with the fact that he would risk his life for Simmons, only to have the opportunity snatched from him by Ward and actually making friends with him. I loved the fact that while we’re initially led to believe that Ward needed to protect Fitz, Fitz was given instructions to watch Ward’s back as well. Having Ward confront Fitz over his jealousy that Ward was the one to save the day and confirm that Simmons knew that Fitz was ready to do the same was a great moment; I loved that they actually talked and screamed at each other and then were left with the realization that they were acting as a team. I feel as if both of them went into the mission with the idea that the other was grudgingly doing their job, then realized that they both care about the other coming out safely and strengthened their bond as teammates (with the ladies + Coulson doing the same to make sure their boys would return to them.)
On the relationship side, while the first few episodes appeared to be setting up a love triangle between Ward, Skye, and Fitz, these last two episodes feel as if they switched Skye with Simmons. What screams this to me is that scene at the end, with Fitz regaling Simmons with his side of the mission and Simmons responding with her hijinks, because the way Fitz’s face just falls over it says he either feels like he’s being left behind or he’s crushed that Simmons didn’t appear impressed. Skye reacts to everyone more as if she’s accepted the team as her family, which given it’s a Whedon show, is an important element. Truthfully, all possible relationships are up in the air (and my preferred answer to love triangles is polyamory ;).)
Also in this episode, we get a better look at the running of SHIELD through the Hub. We get to see some familiar faces (hi, Sitwell!) and I got the impression that a lot of agents see the Hub as a home. On the one hand, we see Fitz and Simmons thrilled to be going back; on the other, May refers to the Bus as the plane (I think the first time we’ve heard as such since the pilot.) We don’t get to see Ward’s response to going to the Hub, and Coulson is all business. SHIELD is … not painted favorably. Again. Which is good, because while we root for SHIELD, we shouldn’t like the organization. They are spies after all. I think part of the reason for this is to get viewers in the right mindset for the Captain America movie, because up til now, SHIELD has been portrayed as a top secret agency that, while secretive, is willing to help. We need to see more of the gray areas.
What I liked:
- Fitz staying cool and not complaining about the mission.
- Skye actually worked well as the viewers’ window into the unfamiliar. The explanations weren’t awkward and she wasn’t annoying.
- The acknowledgment of May’s different non-expressions.
- Fitz’s saving the day and making friends at the bar; even more with the realization that he arranged for everything to happen. Because Fitz is not just the engineering geek; he’s a SHIELD agent.
- Despite that in the story, Skye was right to break the rules, the fact that Coulson goes off on why things work the way they do was important. Coulson’s team works the way it does because sometimes, you need to break some rules. Unfortunately, it seems that some parts of SHIELD take this to mean they are expendable.
- Coulson confrontation with Hand about the extraction plan had the wonderful line about Barton and Romanoff. They don’t have an extraction plan because they don’t need one. 🙂
What I didn’t like:
- Fitz’s obvious need to prove himself after the last episode.
- Simmons worrying over Fitz
- Skye’s need to hack. I liked that it wasn’t a cover for her to search for the files, but I don’t think the whole situation was presented well.
- Agent Hand was an object.
- Yes, Skye’s observations and concerns turned out to be right, but there has to be more than one operation going on at the Hub, and this particular mission needed to fly under the radar, which to me means as small of a team as possible. So I feel that was a story failing.
- The tai chi scene has further convinced me that Coulson and May are a prototype Natahsa and Clint. Maybe change the wording a little and give Natasha another activity, and this scene would’ve been them.
- So I believe that the Avengers Initiative was Coulson’s baby. It was his dream to have a team of equals work together to fight bad guys. He might’ve joined SHIELD with this goal and was disappointed with the compartmentalization, but accepted it. Until his near death experience. Which is why he wanted his team and runs the Bus different from the Hub.
- Simmons argument about how she likes to follow the rules leading to her shooting a superior officer with the night-night gun has officially made her Hermione to me. Actually, with Fitz’s specificity about his favorite sandwich, he’s kinda Ron (because in my head canon, Ron is a total foodie.)
- On the matter of the team becoming a family, I really want over-protective big brother Ward watching out for reckless (not rebellious) Skye.
- Given what happens in this episode, I will not be surprised if at some point the team goes rouge.
- The mystery of Skye’s family is becoming a bigger plot point.
- As well as the mystery of Coulson’s survival.
- Tahiti mentions: 2; Magical place: 1
- Pop culture references: None, that I caught.