Synopsis of 2×04: Coulson and May go undercover in Miami to steal a painting with the alien carvings on the back of it, but encounter some familiar faces along the way. Fitz struggles to fit in with the team as they begin to bond.
Man, S.H.I.E.L.D. needs to aspire to be this fun all the time.
After a church in Miami is burned minus a wooden painting of Mary and Jesus with the mysterious carvings on the back, Coulson and May have to go undercover to a very expensive benefit gala to steal it. The way they manage to get it is through use of Hunter’s British “charms,” but of course the team doesn’t want to hear about it. Mostly Coulson. Just glad to know I’m not the only one around here that doesn’t like Hunter.
The undercover thing is throwing everyone off because not only does it feature May in a dress and heels dancing with Coulson, but it also features her laughing and chatting people up! No wonder Skye is disturbed by this revelation that May can say more than six words. Coulson is also super nostalgic for the old undercover days, but May tells him that the nostalgia gets him nowhere.
Coulson puts the team on radio silence, partially to keep them from figuring out that the mission is a personal one, but mostly so the team won’t overhear Coulson asking May for a plan if he goes the way of Garrett. May refuses to even think about it, but Coulson insists.
However, the undercover mission doesn’t last long because it appears that Talbot is on the scene. Coulson tries to appeal to him to not blow their cover, but Talbot doesn’t bite – meaning that May and Coulson have a much smaller window to work in. This includes Coulson pretending to be a complete idiot with technology in order to get a picture of a guys eyes for a retina scan and May walking through a laser grid because security already knows about them. Once they’re in, they begin to look for the painting, but it is no longer in the building because it’s been repossessed by the US Government. This concerns Coulson, since the government has no idea about the carvings. However, this is not as concerning as Talbot apparently working for HYDRA. HOW DEEP DOES IT GO?!
…Well, not as deep as you think.
After Talbot tries to make a no strings attached deal with Coulson and May that seems too good to be true, May decides to investigate and report back to Coulson about what she finds. May manages to successfully infiltrate the hotel, where she spots the now brainwashed Agent 33 looking at their files. She charges in, but is overpowered by 33 and “Talbot,” who turns out to be Bakshi in disguise – a very high tech disguise that would make the whole plot of Face/Off less painful.
Needing to undermine S.H.I.E.L.D, Bakshi sets up the bio device to disguise 33 as May. This leaves May with Bakshi and he threatens to torture her and make her comply. Heh… good luck with that, asshole.
33!May gets back to the Bus and tells Coulson that Talbot was legit. The two go off, but not before 33 sets off a device in the Bus. On the way over, Coulson brings up the plan that May has been hesitating on and 33, not knowing what he’s referring to, agrees that she’ll do what she needs to do and promises she won’t let Coulson down. When they arrive at the hotel, Coulson asks if she wants to go out for that cup of coffee he promised her ages ago. When 33 agrees, Coulson punches her in the face because May hates coffee. I suspect Coulson knew when May so easily agreed to take him out if needed, but the fact Coulson knows May well enough to tell she’s fake by the fact she agrees to go for coffee… I’m not saying I ship it.
I’m saying I FedEx Saturday Overnight it.
With Bakshi distracted by the rukus in the hallway, the real May manages to escape and meet up with Coulson in the hallway. This then turns into one of the greatest scenes ever filmed for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Melinda May fighting Melinda May. However, Coulson doesn’t get to enjoy this ridiculous and awesome fight for long since Bakshi is trying to make a run for it and get HYDRA extraction. Coulson manages to get him with an ICER and then runs off with the painting and May like a complete dork.
During all of this, the team spends time bonding on the bus over exes and how much of a dumbass Hunter is. However, Fitz feels on the outside and has the hardest time figuring out what to say. The Simmons Figment tries to convince him to bond because she’s just a figment of his imagination, but Fitz’s fear of change has only gotten worse with his recovery. However, the moment he decides to start bonding with the team is when the plane begins to shut down due to the machine 33 put in there. Fitz knows exactly what is going on and with the team’s help, he leads them in getting the plane put back online before it explodes. He even makes Hunter useful for once.
Back at the base, Hunter brings beers for Fitz and Mack as a congratulations for making it out alive. Fitz is still hesitant, but he takes the beer and laments about the woman who left him. Oh Fitz…
Still, Hunter toasts to moving on and says that its her loss. Well, he might not be totally useless after all. Mack is still the best though. You’re not getting me to back down from that.
With the painting intact, Skye becomes engrossed in the carvings again. Trip comes to check on her, but she insists that she’s fine and that she’s doing “nothing.” Trip tells her that he’s around if she wants help with that “nothing.” I only mention this moment because this show is making me ship them really hard too. Why does Trip not have more to do, but the show keeps trying to make Hunter a thing? Hunter is seriously the most useless character on this show.
Coulson gives Talbot a call, telling him about the HYDRA disguise tech. Talbot asks about the painting, but Coulson claims that the painting was destroyed. After hanging up on Talbot, May and Coulson talk about what happened and he asks about the plan again. May finally tells Coulson she will not kill him. She will get him out. Coulson is touched, but he tells her in no uncertain terms that she has to kill him if he goes the way of Garrett. May protests, but Coulson reminds her that nostalgia would do her no good. With that, May finally and reluctantly agrees.
In the stinger, we see Raina getting into her car, but HYDRA is quick to follow her. Whitehall enters her car and sticks something on her that puts her in an immense amount of pain. He gets super creepy as he talks about putting her in even more pain, but the message is this: she has 48 hours to return the Obelisk, or she’s going to suffer even more. Oh dammit, I’m getting more afraid of this guy with each week.
I feel like this episode is basically what everyone wanted from S.H.I.E.L.D. from the beginning. It was an amazing balance of high action and drama with comic book ridiculousness. Not to mention it spends a good amount of time cultivating the relationships between the characters. Friendship, ships, or whatever, I love what this show is beginning to do for its characters.