No one is who they seem to be on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Subterfuge is the nature of the espionage business, of course. But, time and again, even the show’s non-spies prove to be more than meets the eye. In the case of Skye’s dad, Cal, he was introduced to us as a murderous psychopath (the Mr. Hyde of the comic books), but “The Frenemy of My Enemy” pulls off the unenviable job of making him as sympathetic a character as any on the show. He really does care about his daughter, even if he has the worst ways of showing it. He may be delusional, clinging to the false hope that she’ll still be his little girl, even as a fully grown woman. Does that really make him so different from most parents?
Skye’s mother, Jiaying, starts to reveal a different side in this week’s episode as well. Thus far she’s been portrayed as a victim of fate (and Daniel Whitehall), a strong, capable leader of the Inhumans, and a heartbroken mom overjoyed at reuniting with her long-lost daughter. Yet, I can’t help but feel a pang of resentment towards her when she leads Cal on with the promise of more family dinners before turning her back on him and dropping her false smile like a sack of cement. She permits the two to go on a “father-daughter date,” which gives us as much insight into Cal’s background as it does Skye, who finally learns her birth name is Daisy Johnson. Cal, it turns out, was not only a genius, but an altruist, a member of Doctors Without Borders. The revelation further connects the two, since Skye, despite her checkered past, has always been a humanitarian at heart, seeking to make a difference in the world by fighting for the helpless.
At S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ, alliances are shifting so fast that even those most deeply involved are questioning which side they’re really on. May learns Simmons gave Fury’s Toolbox to Fitz, and tells Bobbi about the ruse, immediately provoking her scientist teammate’s anger. But even Simmons begins doubting Coulson’s motives when she learns he’s working with Ward on a secret mission. Hunted by Gonzales’ people, however, Coulson has little choice in who he allies with. So he partners with his traitorous former colleague, as well as his new girlfriend Agent 33, in an effort to infiltrate Hydra; which he’s learned has been experimenting with powered people. We first saw evidence of this in the mid-end-credits scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where we were introduced to the organization’s Baron Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann), who’d captured Avengers: Age of Ultron‘s Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Here, Ward and Coulson arrange a meeting between Bakshi and Deathlok with Hydra other new commander, Dr. List (Henry Goodman). List, it turns out, is after Gordon, who’s responsible for transporting Skye and Cal to their getaway.
Things go south of course: Deathlok is taken down by Bakshi, Hunter is wounded, and Gordon pulls Skye and Cal out of harm’s way shortly before Hydra leaves Coulson with no alternative other than to turn himself in to Gonzales. It’s a desperate move, but no more so than any other he’s made since this breakneck-paced season commenced. With Bobbi and Mack already expressing doubts about their alliance with Gonzales (who’s curiously absent in this episode), and the upcoming S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff show already reported to feature Bobbi and Hunter, it’s pretty clear we’ll see Agent Morse redeem herself soon enough. But what of May? Since S.H.I.E.L.D. was taken over by Gonzales’ team, she’s found that Coulson fed her more lies than even she can swallow. Even if Coulson wins his people back, will his relationship with his most loyal friend and teammate ever be the same?
- If “The Frenemy of My Enemy” is lacking just one thing, it’s more Fitz. After his call to Coulson and Hunter last week, and his rescue in this episode’s opening moments, I was hoping for a little bit more from his reunion with his teammates.
- In the plus column, this week’s episode gives Coulson an opportunity to get his hands dirty. Clark Gregg can’t possibly kick too much ass for my tastes.
- “Her name is DAISY!!!”
Next week: A reunited Fitz and Simmons join Coulson and Ward on a mission to hit HYDRA hard. Prepare yourselves for “The Dirty Half Dozen”.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).