Agents of SHIELD, Season 2, Episode 13: “One Of Us”
Written by Monica Owuso-Breen
Directed by Kevin Tancharoen
Airs Tuesdays at 9pm (ET) on ABC
“One Of Us” is an episode that improves on repeat viewings. Like “Who You Really Are”, this is not a perfect episode, and has one really bothersome plot hole, but some enjoyable characters get a chance to shine. May gets substantial back-story with her ex-husband Dr. Andrew Garner, played by Blair Underwood. Cal is back with a vengeance, and some powerful psychos at his side. Bobbi kicks butt all over the place. Plot hole or not, “One Of Us” is still a really fun episode, with a lot to recommend.
First off, the bothersome plot hole is Hunter disappearing from the team and nobody being that concerned, especially Coulson. Hunter is handcuffed to a sink, and Mack and Bobbi are the only ones who know where he is. Sure, Coulson is distracted by everything going on with Skye, but it does not make sense that no one is asking questions about Hunter, especially considering the fact that he isn’t a SHIELD agent, and could be defecting to their enemies.
Fortunately, there are plenty of nice, shiny distractions to keep the audience’s attention off the Hunter-Mack-Bobbi subplot, like Kyle MacLachlan and his new baddies. His first two minions are fairly two-dimensional archetypes, the tech genius and the big dumb brute, but he adds two new members to his crew in “One Of Us”‘; Karla Faye Gideon, a homicidal shut-in with metallic nails permanently grafted to her fingers, and David Angar, also known as Angar the Screamer. Angar’s voice is so powerful that a scream takes out a high school football field full of players and cheerleaders, plus a whole sky full of birds. The make-up and CGI effects used to elongate his mouth make actor Jeff Daniel Phillips look truly monstrous, and the wide shot of the football field and birds falling from the sky is one of the most disturbing images of season 2. The only problem with introducing a character like Angar the Screamer is that he is almost too powerful. If he can kill that many people with just his voice, how can SHIELD possibly stop him and protect civilians without a large reserve of ear plugs?
As for MacLachlan, his role on the show is a gift that keeps on giving. MacLachlan is transforming Cal into the Joker of the Marvel Universe, collecting minions around him and going so far as to break a Bane-looking psychopath out of a heavily fortified mental institution. Cal talks a good game of us-versus-them with his growing team of supervillains, painting SHIELD as Goliath and his crew as David, but he also revels in the deaths of innocent football players and cheerleaders in the same way that he savors good sausage biscuits. MacLachlan’s Cal is unmistakably Agents of SHIELD’s answer to the Joker, with his large grins, grandstanding, and dark jokes. The scene at the football field feels just like something Joker would do, and MacLachlan pulls it off beautifully.
Speaking of familiar characters, Skye’s storyline with her powers looks a whole lot like another character in the larger Disney family, Queen Elsa from Frozen. Both characters have powers they cannot control, and they are encouraged to contain the powers for the benefit of everyone else. While Frozen focuses more on the emotional damage that Elsa suffers, Agents of SHIELD focuses on the physical damage to Skye. The shot of Skye’s hands bruising and turning purple and blue is so distressing, and the timing on it, at the end of this victory for Coulson’s team, is very painful.
The other plot development that is really worth noting in “One Of Us” is the continuing Fitz-Simmons drama. What the writers have done with Simmons in season 2 is way more interesting than her Wonder Twins dynamic with Fitz in season 1, but her blatant hypocrisy with Fitz can drive one a little crazy. She starts out in season 2 as an undercover agent, running away from her problems with Fitz, and now she is giving Fitz a hard time for not telling her about Skye. She tells Bobbi that she doesn’t think her friendship with Fitz will ever be the same again, and instead of empathizing with her, audiences are left rolling their eyes. The problem isn’t with Elizabeth Henstridge’s performance, but the writing. Unlike the big fight in “Who You Really Are”, Fitz and Simmons are not both sympathetic. Simmons comes off as petty, especially when she later agrees to keep Coulson’s secret from everyone, including Fitz. Hopefully the writing will improve as these relationships become more strained, so that Fitz and Simmons will both feel like characters, not plot devices.
On a last side note, I love Coulson, but everyone knows that Jane Villanueva makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches on TV. Perhaps an Agents of SHIELD and Jane the Virgin crossover is in order, with Bobby Flay as a guest celebrity judge.