Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Episode 2.04 Recap and a Preview of Next Week’s Episode

Tonight’s episode didn’t really push forward the arc of the season much (other than discovering that someone else is doing alien writing), but it was certainly the most fun episode. There was a lot of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”-style humor tonight, thanks (I’m sure) to a script by former “Buffy” writer Drew Greenberg. Plus, heist episodes of any show are almost always awesome.

Tonight, the heist comes in the form of a 500-year-old religious painting. When a fire destroys a Miami church, this painting is the only thing to survive unscathed. The priests think this is a miracle, and don’t seem to understand the significance of the alien etchings on the back – the same alien etchings that Coulson has been scribbling endlessly.

Coulson and May infiltrate the $25,000-a-person fundraiser to view the miracle painting – this is where the quirky humor comes into play. May offers Coulson $500 for a pair of flats; May’s face hurts from smiling for more than 47 consecutive seconds; the team on the bus are alarmed to hear May laughing over the comms and are worried that something is wrong. The pair dance as they check out the security points – then see Talbot and worry their cover is blown. Coulson tries to sweet talk Talbot into not blowing their cover and convincing him that the painting could benefit both of them. Even though Talbot seems to agree tentatively, Coulson and May move up the timeline of the heist – as in, they go now.

With some fancy tech and a few well-placed punches, the two make it into the vault where the painting is being kept. The only barrier left is a laser grid. While Coulson tries to map out a plan of attack, May just strolls in. “They already know we are here.” But when they get into the vault, the painting is nowhere to be found. Skye chimes in over the comm to tell them she just got notice that the government took possession of the painting – and Talbot has it. They escape the fundraiser without getting caught and find Talbot, who needs Coulson’s help in deciphering the alien etchings. He agrees, and will meet Talbot at his hotel in one hour. This delay is so that he and May can figure out what Talbot’s real motive is.

He sends May into the hotel to see what she can find out. She cracks open the door to Talbot’s suite and finds a woman inside, flipping through Hydra files on her and Coulson. May bursts in and beats up the agent, but is surprised by Talbot. The female agent tasers May and Talbot reveals himself to be Bakshi, wearing a super high-tech masking skin. (The Mission: Impossible peeps must be green with envy.) Bakshi decides that it is time to send in someone Coulson really trusts – May. They use a drop of her blood and voice recording to craft a bio-skin disguise for the female agent. She puts on May’s dress, and heads back to the bus. Bakshi gives her a device to keep the team “busy.”

Fake May has no trouble getting on the bus. Taking Coulson aside (and calling him Coulson, which should be the first clue that this isn’t May, since she always calls him Phil), fake May tells him that Talbot genuinely wants to work with him. He takes her at her word, and the two head out to meet Talbot at his hotel. On the way out, fake May plants the “device” on the wall of the bus. It starts creeping out into the wiring of the plane. While Coulson and fake May are gone, this device starts shutting down the systems of the bus, one by one, like a virus. When it gets to the wings, it will hit the gas tanks and explode. The team scrambles to stop this, but it is significant because Fitz, who has been keeping to himself despite his delusion of Simmons telling him to socialize, finally has to join the team. Fitz is self-conscious about being unable to finish sentences and that his brain doesn’t always send the right signals to his hands, but in this moment of crisis he has to walk Hunter through one of the reboot processes. While this doesn’t solve any of Fitz’s problems, it eventually gets him to have a beer with Mack and Hunter and awkwardly share his only tale of love folly (Simmons, natch).

Anyway, Coulson and fake May are headed to the hotel, and Coulson brings up “the plan” that he has been pushing May to put into place, in case his “symptoms” get worse and he goes the full Garrett. Fake May plays along and assures him she will do whatever is asked of her – and squeezes his hand. If the name slip-up didn’t tip him off, this show of affection sure did. As they get off the elevator on Talbot’s floor, Coulson asks fake May if, after this all over, he can take her for that cup of coffee they were supposed to get all those years back. She agrees, “I thought you’d never ask,” and Coulson punches her in the face. “May hates coffee.”

When Bakshi goes to investigate the commotion outside, May breaks free of her paltry bindings (she was tied to a wooden chair!) and rushes into the hall. May and fake May start fighting, and Coulson “can’t believe I’m the only one seeing this.” He rushes after Bakshi to get the painting, which he does with surprising ease. That’s because the real attraction here is the massive fight between the two Mays, an epic fight that involves crazy ninja moves, gymnastic flips, improvised weapons, and some impressive fight choreography. May ends up winning when fake May makes the classic villain mistake – taking too long to talk before finishing her off – and May zaps her with the same live wires that Bakshi was using to torture her. It zaps her bio-mask and fake May drops. Coulson and May are in the wind before the Hydra agents storm the place.

Back on the bus, May and Coulson video chat with Talbot, who can’t believe someone was able to easily impersonate him. Coulson tells Talbot that the painting was destroyed in the fight and hangs up before Talbot can trace them. He returns to the “plan” meeting that May keeps avoiding. She hands him a duffel bag, stuffed with travel tickets, passports, and money. Her plan is to get him out of the country and have him live in a cabin in the Australian outback. (“Because I like kangaroos?”) Coulson thinks that is the most wonderful, selfless thing he has ever heard, but he doesn’t want it. Instead, he orders her to kill him should the need arise. “Hiding out won’t change my brain,” he argues. “Hard choices are coming, and I need you to make this one.”

In the final scenes, we see Reina getting into her car. There is a man already there, and a couple more who follow her in. One of these men is Whitehall, and in a split second he puts some kind of sensor on her hand and triggers a remote. This causes her to freeze in pain, and veiny blue lines start to web out of the device. He wants the obelisk, and is giving her 48 hours to deliver. He releases her from his hold, but insinuates that no matter where she goes, he can find her.

In addition, you can check out the preview for next week’s episode below. Titled “A Hen in the Wolf House,” the episode is officially described as follows:

“Coulson’s team is up against the beautiful and deadly Bobbi Morse — Security Chief for Hydra. Meanwhile, Skye’s father forces Raina to reunite him with his daughter at any cost.”

Written by Brent Fletcher and directed by Holly Dale, the episode is set to air on Tuesday, October 21