Consistency is hard to muster in terms of a TV show, especially in the states. and that is what Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is trying to do right now, be consistently good if not great. You can always tell when a show finds it’s stride, things just click, characters work if by magic, and the pacing hits it’s mark. This show however is still struggling to find that stride, it can hit a lot of high notes but then some aspect or plot point will just not work for a viewer. In the case of “The Hub” that idea of consistency is a lack of innovation or challenge, unlike last week where the writers challenged the characters emotionally, there seemed to be not real threat to our team. That is not to say “The Hub” was a bad episode, it just seemed to not want to venture outside the box of the story and where the plot allowed itself to go. So lets dive in shall we.
First I want to give credit where credit is due, the combination of Fitz and Ward on a mission, just as enjoyable as I had hoped it would be. The two were faced in a fun situation that required the use of both of their skills to succeed and even the scene with the Russian mobsters in the bar managed to shake the mold even if only a little. Fitz giving directions well hanging upside down could have been ham handed but it was smart of Ward to give Fitz just enough rope to be safe. It built up an adequate sense of danger and morale building that we really have not seen from the two. Similarly, it was great that the writers really tried to confront Fitz’s feeling of failing last week as he was not the one who saved Simmons. They could have easily chosen to gloss over the idea or save it for later, but I truly liked the fact that they tackled it head on even having Fitz say that he does not feel inadequate to any member of the team. That work really made me happy and I hope the other characters receive as much progression as Fitz has these past weeks.
On the other side of the coin we had the pair of Skye and Simmons which really felt like a by the books buddy cop drama as opposed to the real conflict we got in Fitz’s story. These two have the ability to be strong characters, we saw just how unique and dynamic Simmons could be only last week, but they chose not to be adventurous. The writers played Simmons as if she was going to her first big party or having her first drink, there was a tangible amount of excitement but it came off as to childish for a character we know has some real issues. Like wise with Skye’s decision between riding out Fitz and Ward’s location or getting information about herself. There was never really a tangible choice as she was obviously going to choose her friends safety, in fact I would have preferred that she made the selfish decision. At least then there could have been some real conflict. Instead she received just enough information to hook Coulson in and that felt like a cheat to the audience.
On Coulson front we got some nice progression on him feeling conflicted about how he has changed since coming back from the dead. His one sided chats with May are always enjoyable but I do sometimes wish she would be an actual conversation partner rather than a cardboard cutout. Right now she just feels like space filler which is really dragging down the show and making me wish for some alternate character which Coulson can bounce his ideas off of. Although I really enjoyed Coulson’s confrontation with the agent in charge as it helped to really drive home how different his team is from The Avengers. Ward and Fitz are in no way close to Barton and Romanov in terms of skill and experience and yet S.H.I.E.L.D used them as pawns without them knowing the true risks of the mission. At least when Hawkeye of Black Widow go into a situation they know it is them against the world. Fitz could have easily felt more betrayed by this revelation, but luckily his level headedness prevailed.
Overall this was a good episode but not a great one.
Final Grade C+
+Fitz and Ward stuff was well done
+Coulson’s speeches were great this week.
+The Overkill was a fun plot device.
-Skye and Simmons material was weak.
-Why is May even here.
-The way Skye gets Coulson on board her investigation felt like a cheat
-Camo sleeping bag: now on everyones wish list.
-“I shot our superior in the chest with a gun” probably the best delivery of the night.
-FItz’s sandwich sounded really tasty. I want some prosciutto with aioli.