Recap: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Episode 2.03, Making Friends and Influencing People

Simmons is leading a seemingly blissful life outside of S.H.I.E.L.D. She wakes, treadmills, coffees, and heads to work – all with a smile on her face. Except her new job is with Hydra. The project she is working on currently has something to do with a compound that freezes in mysterious ways. It isn’t until she gets a peek at her supervisor’s file that she figures out that whatever she is doing has something to do with Donny Gill.

Arriving home at the end of the day, Simmons hears someone in her apartment. She draws her gun and investigates: it is Coulson. He is there for dinner and information. Simmons is a mole for S.H.I.E.L.D. She doesn’t have much info to give him, but he encourages her to keep it up. Coulson is worried that Hydra is trying to recruit Gill; if it is as a scientist, that would be the “best case scenario.”

The next day at Hydra, Simmons is taken up to Bakshi on the top floor. Simmons disclosed her previous employment with S.H.I.E.L.D. but Bakshi is more concerned with her involvement with Gill. He wants to put her in the field to test her loyalty and recruit Gill.

Gill, meanwhile, is hiding out in Marrakech. A pair of Hydra agents find him in a cafe; he freezes them and runs. He heads to the docks and freezes the water surrounding a massive Hydra freight ship, essentially docking it. But this time he isn’t going to run from Hydra; he is going to confront them and, once and for all, show them exactly how much he doesn’t want to join them.

Between Coulson’s intel from Simmons, and Skye’s intel from Ward, the team heads out to Marrakech, a few minutes behind Simmons and Hydra. Bakshi sends Simmons onto the ship alone, in the hopes that she can befriend him and convince him to join.

Meanwhile, Fitz has been left behind, which irks him to no end. He is frustrated about being kept in the dark about so many things, so he sneaks down to Ward D to discover what Skye’s secret is. He is shocked to discover that Ward is her source. When the hyperventilating subsides, Fitz decides to show Ward what his “gracious” effort to save his life did to him. He turns down the oxygen in Ward’s cell so he can experience hypoxia. Say what you will, but he gets important intel that Mack helps him get to Coulson and the team. It turns out that Gill, like many Sandbox prisoners, was brainwashed, and it looks like Hydra is trying to reactivate him.

Simmons is still sweet-talking Gill. She reminds him that she saved his life once, that she is not on Hydra’s side or S.H.I.E.L.D.’s side, but on his side. It doesn’t seem to be working, so Bakshi, over the comm, tells Simmons what to say to him: “Take a deep breath, clear your mind, surrender, and you will find the release.” It is eerily similar to what Dr. Whitehall was repeating to Agent 33, a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent he had in captivity at the beginning of the episode.

Hunter moves in on the cargo ship first, and sees Gill talking to Simmons. He hesitates, not sure who to fire on. May comes in and simply shoots Hunter. It is non-lethal, and gives Gill and Simmons time to scatter. Simmons heads back to Bakshi, who is pleased with her process. When Gill finds them, it is Bakshi who finishes the work that Simmons started, activating Gill’s training, and turning him into a loyal, obedient Hydra servant. Bakshi, Simmons, and Gill head off the ship with the rest of the Hydra team. Gill freezes the cargo doors shut, sealing May and Hunter inside. Of course, he doesn’t know that Skye is outside, covering escape routes. She sees Gill freezing the ship and shoots him overboard. Then she sees Simmons and Bakshi, and figures out very quickly what is going on. She shoots at the pair, careful to miss, but it is enough to convince Bakshi that Simmons is 100% Hydra.

Although they didn’t get Gill, S.H.I.E.L.D. did get a bunch of Hydra tech that was left on the ship, so all in all it was pretty successful. Fitz confronts Coulson about keeping secrets from him. He explains that he didn’t want Ward with them any more than Fitz did, but he has necessary information that has proved helpful. Coulson also admits he is keeping lots of stuff from Fitz – he is, after all, the director – but assures Fitz that Simmons is on a very important assignment, and that is why she hasn’t been in contact with him.

Skye visits Ward again to confront him about the brainwashing. She is hoping that Ward was brainwashed, but he wasn’t. “Everything I did, I did of my own free will.” He then reveals that Skye’s father is alive, and looking for her. When she is ready, Ward will take her to him.

And finally, Whitehall has successfully brainwashed Agent 33 into an obedient Hydra agent. Bakshi believes that Simmons is being wasted in the lab, and wants to bring her up to the top floor. He trusts her now, but “if I’m wrong, we will make her comply.”

I’m back in. I wasn’t crazy about season two so far (for all of two episodes), but now that we have an ongoing threat – brainwashing at the hands of Hydra – I am on board. I like that Simmons is a double-agent. I never believed she would switch sides (which all the promos would have had you believe). I don’t like that they are still dangling “Skye’s parentage” over our heads, but I have come to terms with that.

Also, I find it an odd coincidence that both this week’s episodes of “Once Upon a Time” and “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” both dealt with freezing storylines. Disney is really milking the Frozen cow, aren’t they?