Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the first show to bridge the gap between television and the Marvel movies, and used these connections a lot during the first half a dozen episodes, featuring characters from the films such as Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and Nick Fury (Samual L. Jackson), name dropping the Avengers, and referencing events from the films. One this that the series hadn’t done until now, however, was to start to expand using people from the comics in any significant way (I’m not counting the tiny appearance of Franklin Hall). ‘The Hub’ changes this, bringing a fan favourite S.H.I.E.L.D. member into the series.
When Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team pull an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. agent out of an enemy base, in an intro that’s got a lot of fun and action, the group returns to The Hub, a top secret S.H.I.E.L.D. facility to receive their next mission.
This is the first time since the pilot episode that the series has actually felt like part of S.H.I.E.L.D., we’ve got a huge base full of operatives, a mission with air strikes, secret meetings, and clearance levels. Up until now Coulson and his team haven’t been acting like members of a real organisation, more a group of rogue agents operating however they want. Whilst this may make for a more relaxed viewing experience it doesn’t fit with the S.H.I.E.L.D. that we know from the films.
This episode seems to have set out to address these issues, actively highlighting the fact that the team aren’t like the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D., how Coulson is a very special case, and just how little Skye (Chloe Bennet) actually knows about the group. Skye’s reaction to being kept out of the loop because she doesn’t have the right clearance, and the rest of the team just accepting they’re not allowed to know certain things, is a harsh reminder that S.H.I.E.L.D. is a global security group, not a bunch of friends flying about in a jet having adventures.
The Hub itself is a great place to visit, reminding the auidence of the sheer scale of the organisation. Plus, it gives us two characters from the comics to further populate the show. First up is Jasper Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernandez), who eagle eyed viewers will recognise from Thor, Avengers, and a number of the Marvel One Shots from the DVD’s. Having another film character come back into the show, especially one that we know has a history with Coulson and have seen working with him before, is a good move.
The second new addition to the show, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole, is Victoria Hand (Saffron Burrows). Comic readers will remember Victoria Hand as the second in command of S.H.I.E.L.D. under Norman Osborne (then renamed H.A.M.M.E.R.) and secret ally to the Avengers. Here, she’s a level 8 S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and commander of The Hub. Burrows is brilliantly cast as Hand, she makes the character likable, unlikable, hard, professional, and incredibly dedicated. She’s the kind of agent that you’d want to have on your side, but would never want to cross.
After sending Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Ward (Bret Dalton) on a mission deep into enemy territory in order to destroy a deadly weapon, without a plan of getting them back out, she becomes the perfect foil for Coulson. They’re both high level agents, both incredibly dedicated to the organisation, and both the best at what they do, but they come at things from very different places. The confrontation between the two of them is one of the best scenes in the episode, and both actors are on top form throughout.
The episode is also really good for Fitz and Ward, giving the two of them a chance to bond in ways that we’ve not seen before, cementing the friendship between the two of them. Despite bickering throughout their mission they prove invaluable to each other, with each of them saving the other more than once. Their mission moves with such a fast pace and with high stakes that the pressure always feels present, but the show somehow still manages to pack in a load of character development and even some humour.
‘The Hub’ reminds viewers that S.H.I.E.L.D. is more than Coulson and his team, it makes the world of the show feel a lot bigger than it has until now, and promises bigger things in the future. A great action packed episode with brilliant character development, new and exciting characters, and development in both the Coulson and Skye story lines; ‘The Hub’ is the best of the series so far by a large margin.
Are you a fan of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D? What did you make of this episode? Let us know!