Agents of SHIELD Season 2 Recap, Episode 15: ‘One Door Closes’
Welcome back to the ComicsAlliance post-show analysis for Agents of SHIELD, the spy show set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is where we break down each episode using our unique S.H.L.E.I.D. recap system — recapping the show, looking at highlights and lowlights, and exploring the show’s relationship to both the comics and the wider Marvel movie world.
This week, the secret origin of Other SHIELD, SHIELD is infiltrated by SHIELD, SHIELD takes down SHIELD, and SHIELD fights back against SHIELD. Also, Skye makes jam, probably. 'One Door Closes' was directed by David Solomon and written by Lauren LeFranc and Rafe Judkins.
There are three clear strands to this week's episode; the past, the present, and the cabin in the woods.
In the past, we see what happened to Bobbi (Adrienne Palicki) and Mack (Henry Simmons) the day portentously referred to as "The Day That SHIELD Fell" in the on-screen captions, but known to you and me as Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Teamed with special guest warrior princess Lucy Lawless, the pair rescue their commanding officer Robert Gonzalez (Edward James Olmos), and defend their ship from HYDRA agents, despite orders from Nick Fury to blow the ship up. Out of this adversity/stubbornness, a new SHIELD is forged, unaware that a blue-screen Nick Fury is going to go off and forge a different SHIELD with Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg).
In the present day, Bobbi and Mack are at the Coulson SHIELD headquarters to retrieve the 'toolbox' (mysterious black cube) that Fury bequeathed to Coulson, which Gonzalez hopes will allow him to uncover all of Fury's buried secrets. There is fighting. The heroes/villains win/lose. Gonzalez gasses everyone, blows up a wall, and takes Coulson and his people prisoner, sort of. Like, they're prisoners with job offers to become guards, I guess.
Gonzalez and Coulson argue about which of them has more forgivable fascistic tendencies. May (Ming-Na Wen) is in the walls, so she facilitates Coulson's escape and stays behind to face the music. Because if you're going to have one agent go free to save the rest, you want it to be Coulson and not May, right? Mmm hmm.
Coulson's main objective is Skye, who discovers that her cabin in the woods has a suspiciously Hulk-shaped fist dent in its hidden metal walls. Skye gets a visit from Gordon (Jamie Harris), the eyeless, teleporting, non-dog Inhuman, who offers to take her to people who can help. Skye, relatively unfazed by being visited at her secure remote hidden SHIELD facility by a teleporting man with no eyes in the middle of the night, politely declines the offer.
But then Bobbi and the Agents of Other SHIELD show up to take Skye in. Agent Calderon (Kirk Acevedo) shoots at Skye, and Skye unleashes a quake-blast that floors the agents and the trees. Such is her distress that she almost manages a facial expression, and calls on Gordon to 'port in and 'port her out.
In the kicker, Coulson goes to a bar on a beach and meets up with Lance Hunter (Nick Blood), who finally signs on as a SHIELD agent. Good time to join the company, Lance.
I normally start with highlights, but let's get into this: The "two SHIELDs" story does not work, and for a very simple and very obvious reason; the show did this once already. Only last time, the other SHIELD was actually evil. This time they're just a different shade of boring. If the Enterprise crew ever visits a boring mirror universe, those episodes don't get made, because boring is not a good defining characteristic for an opponent.
And what else is there to define them? There's some philosophical divide between Gonzalez and Coulson over levels of secrecy and respect for Fury's legacy, but it amounts to internal politics. They both formed chess clubs, and the school can only support one, so which club has more legitimacy? Oh boy, convening this administrative adjudication panel is going to be a thrill ride.
Clark Gregg's lack of gravitas is especially evident when he's up against Edward James Olmos. He's a guinea pig in conversation with a bull. It doesn't land.
This episode also offers us a life-or-death mission in a flashback. Who gets out alive? Well, everyone. It's a flashback. Come on, guys.
This week, Fitz and Simmons dislike each other, and then like each other again.
There are several awesome fights this episode, because there is a lot of Mockingbird in this episode. Now, honestly, the Morse/May fight could have been bigger and bolder, but they only had the SHIELD start-up offices to play with, and it's not a thrilling location for a set-piece. May vs Mockingbird should have happened leaping across the wings of a formation fighter squad. But a brick-walled room with desks, that's cool too.
Fitz and Simmons call each other 'Leo' and 'Gemma' when they're angry at each other, and that's sort of adorable. Simmons gets the best moment of the episode when she takes Bobbi down using science and nattering. Apparently Simmons has finally learned how to deceive.
Calderon almost tells a story about Agent Weaver (Christine Adams) single-handedly fending off an 'enhanced' HYDRA agent back on The Day SHIELD Fell, which makes me want to see so much more of Agent Weaver. But note that this is a thing we're told happened, not something that we're shown happening. Still, I'm adding Agent Weaver, Secretly Badass Science Teacher, to my dream team of people this show should have been about.
I'll file her right next to Lucy Lawless.
It's bad enough that this show killed both of its lesbian SHIELD agents, but now it's rubbing it in by bringing back Lucy Lawless as Isabel in a flashback, reminding us how amazing this show would have been with her in charge instead of Coulson, and dropping our first reference to a relationship between Isabel and Vic. That's Victoria Hand, the other dead lesbian, who was very probably already dead in the moment that Isabel mentioned her.
Twist the knife a little more, why don'tcha?
Mack had a friend named Timothy. Timothy is dead now. Maybe he was Mack's special friend. Maybe that's why he's dead now.
Why does the Hulk-proof cabin have a thin wooden door? I am not a risk assessment specialist, but I think I known how the Hulk would have got out.
Have all the Avengers stayed at this cabin? Last week we learned that Captain America stayed here. This week we learn that Bruce Banner built the cabin. Next week I hope they find Tony Stark's magazines stashed under the mattress, and a recycling bin full of Thor's smashed mugs. Come to think of it, is this actually the same cabin we've seen the Avengers using in clips from Age of Ultron?
How can Skye vibrate water into a flowing spiral? Whaaaaah?
Does Gordon know he has bad special effects on his face? Someone should get him a wet hankie. It's not just me, right? Either someone tried to finish the eyeless effect with a clumsy CGI blur filter, or the make-up itself is wrongly textured, but it distracts me every time he's on screen.