After two episodes of wondering where Simmons is, we finally got to see her. The preview for this episode made it seem like Simmons had gone over to the dark side, but I was hoping she was just undercover. All we knew was that she left. I didn’t know if that meant she left Shield or she just left Coulson’s team, so I wasn’t sure if Simmons would be working for Hydra on her own or not. I was THRILLED to see that she’s working undercover for Shield and that Coulson and May were in on it. Hydra tests her by bringing her along on a mission, and she passes. That’s good news for Shield since Hydra now trusts Simmons, but one of her “coworkers” also mentions to her earlier in the episode that “the higher you go, the scarier it is.”
We also know that Hydra is really into brainwashing people. And it’s pretty strong brainwashing at that. At the beginning of the episode, Dr. Whitehall is holding a woman (Coulson refers to her as Agent 33) and is attempting to brainwash her. It’s actually kind of disturbing–she is locked in a machine that holders her eyes open while she is forced to watch a screen with trippy, spinning designs on it and Whitehall rambles on about compliance. There is a specific phrase that he keeps repeating that sort of acts like a trigger. When he says it, the person is supposed to comply. The woman refuses to join Hydra, but at the end of the episode, it seems like the brainwashing finally worked on her. I’m hoping she’s pulling a Simmons and is just pretending to go along with it.
After all the events of the second half of last season and so far this season, I was really not expecting to see Donnie Gill ever again. I was pleasantly surprised! Just as a refresher–Donnie Gill was a student at the Shield Academy, and FitzSimmons met him while they were there to give a lecture. Donnie and another boy made a machine that could create storms, but the machine was struck by lightning, which gave Donnie some properties of the weather: the ability to freeze anything he touches. Donnie was recruited by Hydra, but the brainwashing wasn’t as strong as they thought. He sort of goes rogue and claims that he’s tired of people trying to use him. In a mission to reclaim Donnie, Hydra gives Simmons the task of luring him back to them. Whitehall’s right-hand man says the trigger phrase and Donnie complies.
Fitz has another stroke of genius after talking to Ward. I didn’t realize that Fitz didn’t know Coulson had Ward in custody at the Playground, and it was really heartbreaking to see Fitz’s reaction. It seemed almost too much to handle. But Fitz realized Ward was there; he was the “contact” that Coulson kept talking about. I was so excited for him when he figured it out! After Fitz nearly suffocates Ward by removing the oxygen from his lofty cell, Ward realizes what’s about to happen to Donnie. Coulson’s team tries to get to Donnie before Hydra does, but things go awry when they see that Simmons is also there. Fitz realizes that Hydra isn’t just trying to get to Donnie–they had him already. Donnie took the Sandbox for Hydra and then the brainwashing started to wear off.
When Hydra leaves with Donnie, Coulson says, “If we can’t take him in, we take him out.” Earlier in the episode, Agent Hunter asked Skye if she’d ever killed anyone on a mission and she says no. So, coincidentally or not, Skye takes the shot. She seems calm at the time, but worries after Donnie’s body isn’t found. Honestly, I’m not sure he’s really dead and I think there’s a possibility we could see him again. In addition to preventing Hydra from succeeding, Shield also finds a ton of Hydra cargo that they’re able to take back with them.
One thing I found interesting is the heart-rate monitor Agent May’s got Skye wearing around her wrist. It could just be there to help with her training. They check it after Skye’s shooting practice and May points out that she kept her heart rate even the whole time, around 61, which is good. After Skye shoots Donnie, she looks at it again and it’s the same. Then Skye talks to Ward after they return to the Playground, and he tells her that her father is alive. Skye dismisses this information, but the number on the monitor rises to 105. We’re all wondering what makes Skye an 0-8-4. Is she part-extraterrestrial? Is her father really a monster–an actual monster? I’ve wondered how her supposed “powers” might reveal themselves, and if heart-rate is involved, she could have a Hulk-like thing going on. Maybe it’s triggered by threats or fears. We can’t be sure of anything yet though!
Next week on Agents of Shield, May and Coulson go dancing. Check it out next Tuesday at 9/8 C on ABC.