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Recap / Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S2 E3 "Making Friends and Influencing People"

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Coulson and his team race against HYDRA to get to Donnie Gill—a dangerous gifted with the ability to freeze objects—while Simmons is caught in the crossfire.


Tropes:

  • Ambiguous Situation/Ambiguously Evil: Ward claims to Fitz that instead of simply killing Fitz and Simmons outright in "Ragtag", he gave them a chance to survive when he ejected them out of the Bus. Given that it's unclear if he really did Shoot the Dog in the flashback in that episode after letting it escape despite being ordered to kill it (or if Garrett himself did it as another lesson), he could be telling the truth.
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  • Awful Truth: The team is revealed to be hiding information from Fitz, due to his mental state after nearly drowning and suffering brain damage from hypoxia. Ward was never referred to by name when Fitz was in the room, only calling him an asset giving up HYDRA intel. They also were pretending that Simmons up and left for personal reasons, rather than because she was assigned to infiltrate a HYDRA facility as a mole. Thanks to Fitz's discovery of Ward and nearly killing him by decreasing the O2 levels in his cell, Coulson discloses what Simmons is really doing for SHIELD. However, he does avoid answering if she asked for the mission as a mole.
  • Bait-and-Switch: For the first act, the episode plays Simmons as a genuine HYDRA agent, and Coulson's first meeting with her seems threatening at first.
  • Benevolent Boss:
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    • Simmons's supervisor tries to keep her from moving up in the organization because it's more dangerous the higher you go.
    • Coulson also shows this side of himself when he visits her. He questions her about how well she's eating, brought groceries, and cooks them a meal to eat while debriefing, all the while acting like a father checking in on his daughter after she's left home, reinforcing his Team Dad status greatly.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy:
    • HYDRA brainwashes high-value targets. This includes Creel, Agent 33 by the end of this episode, and Donnie. It's a bit unstable with Donnie, though, which is how they lost him in the first place.
    • Averted with Ward: despite Skye asking if he was subject to the same brainwashing by HYDRA, Ward responds that he wasn't valuable enough to merit it, and everything he did was of his own free will.
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  • The Bus Came Back: Donnie Gill returns, as does the real Simmons.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Literally applied. Skye is shown training to shoot and discussing the potential of making her first kill (not once but twice in the same scene). No awards for guessing what happens before the end of the episode.
  • Cold Sniper: No pun intended. May is training Skye to always be in control when in the field. Given that Skye's first kill passes without even raising her pulse, she's apparently successful.
  • Comicbook Movies Dont Use Codenames: Donnie Gill is never referred to as "Blizzard", his codename in the comics. However, a throwaway line reveals the HYDRA project studying him is called Project: Blizzard as a Mythology Gag.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The Bus's indoor windows are still messed up from the gun battle last season. May quips that they should probably get those fixed.
    • Skye tells Lance and Mac that, no, she didn't go to the S.H.I.E.L.D academy and earned her badge through "work study" instead. She also tells them said badge was worthless a day later due to the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
  • The Dog Bites Back: After everything Fitz has been through, something breaks in him when he finds Ward, and he attempts to show Ward what it's like to be oxygen-deprived.
  • Exact Words: Coulson's advice to Simmons is to avoid lying since she admits she's terrible at it and just be selective with the truth. She does it very well.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Even when brainwashing a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Whitehall acts polite about it.
  • Foreshadowing: Near the beginning, Skye is questioned on her experience in killing people. She admits to never having taken anyone out. She has to take out Donnie by the end of the episode, though they Never Found the Body, so he may well be alive.
  • Hope Spot: At one point in Agent 33's brainwashing process, she manages to get free one of her hands from a loose restraint. Unfortunately, Whitehall is in the room making a long monologue that seems to be a part of the process of breaking her psyche. Before she can get free long enough to fight back, he walks back to her and re-shackles her hand. Considering how quickly he notices and effortlessly keeps up his breaking speech, this may imply that the brainwashing process may include opportunities for false hope, in order to force the subject to give up faster and accept "compliance".
  • An Ice Person: Donnie has learned to control his power since his last appearance. He can freeze people solid in just a few seconds, and imprison a freight carrier in under a minute.
  • It Never Gets Any Easier: May's position about killing when Hunter questions Skye on her experience in the matter.
    May: And for the record, experience doesn't make it any easier.
  • Indy Ploy: With merely a look at each other, both Simmons and Skye improvise one that not only allows Simmons to keep her cover intact, but increases Bakshi's trust in her.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One!: The exchange between Skye and Hunter as they prepare to extract Donnie from the HYDRA-controlled freighter, doubling as Shout-Out.
    Skye: You don't give the orders, Trainspotting.
    Hunter: I'm not Scottish.
  • Join or Die: HYDRA's policy regarding people with superhuman abilities. According to Ward, a gifted that doesn't work for HYDRA is considered a threat to HYDRA.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: Donnie's first victim goes this way. Though he freezes many others, they all get to stay intact.
  • The Mole: It's revealed that Donnie was the Mole inside the Sandbox, having been secretly brainwashed by other HYDRA moles working there, and that he'd been responsible for its takeover by HYDRA.
  • Morning Routine: Simmons's life post-S.H.I.E.L.D. is revealed through one of these, including a small but nice apartment in an unnamed city, and a new job working in a large and well-equipped lab... with a HYDRA logo on the wall.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The project to analyze Donnie Gill's Gifted power is called "Project: Blizzard" at HYDRA. Blizzard is his comic book alias.
    • When Donnie sinks into the water, the ice covering his body takes a form similar to that of the armor he wears in the comics as Blizzard.
    • Whitehall makes reference to a Faustus technique while Agent 33 is subjected to her reprogramming/exhaustion. Doctor Faustus is a Captain America villain, whose abilities include mind control and psychological warfare/games, thanks to a doctorate in psychiatry and a persuasive voice.
  • Never Found the Body: Donnie's body is never found after Skye shoots him and he falls through the ice.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailer seemed to suggest Simmons has gone over to HYDRA, when in fact she's a mole.
  • No MacGuffin, No Winner: Neither side gets Donnie Gill; Skye kills him because he was already brainwashed. However, S.H.I.E.L.D helped Simmons solidify her cover and managed to swipe an entire cargo carrier's worth of HYDRA tech once the mission was over. Donnie might be gone, but it wasn't a total loss.
  • Not Brainwashed: Ward tells Skye that HYDRA never used brainwashing on him but that he did everything of his own free will because of the way Garrett took a broken teenager and turned him into the man he wanted him to be.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The general tone of Fitz's reaction to seeing Ward.
    • May's response to recognizing that Hunter's gun was pointed at Simmons.
  • Product Placement: Fitbit, the perfect device to see how affected you are by killing someone (or that your Disappeared Dad is still alive and looking for you).
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: From a villain's perspective, anyway. Whitehall is quite happy to allow Bakshi the authority to do what he feels is appropriate.
  • Reverse Mole: What Simmons has been up to since apparently leaving S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Shoot the Dog: Skye is forced to kill Donnie, who's mostly non-malevolent, in order to save May and Hunter's life. However, given that they Never Found the Body, he may still be alive.
  • Sigil Spam: For a supposedly secretive, shadowy organization, HYDRA sure loves to stick their skull-octopus logo prominently on the walls of their labs, not to mention crates exposed in broad daylight on the deck of a cargo ship.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Upbeat music plays while Simmons heads off to work... For HYDRA.
  • Stepford Smiler: Simmons's undercover persona involves a permanently sunny smile, but even discounting the fact that she's obviously nervous about the dangers of infiltrating HYDRA. Coulson deduces that she's barely eating and is feeling isolated even as she attempts to convince him that she's fine.
  • Tired of Running: Donnie decides to face HYDRA head-on after repeated attempts to capture him.
  • Touch of Death: Donnie, functionally. If he can lay hands on a person, he can ice them almost instantly. Simmons barely escapes by shrugging off her coat when he tries it on her.
  • Trigger Phrase: The one used on Creel last episode returns, revealed to be a component of HYDRA's brainwashing technique.
  • Unreliable Narrator or Villain with Good Publicity: Skye mentions to Ward that she's looked up his family, and can't find any evidence of the horrifically abusive home life that he'd claimed anywhere. Ward claims they're just good at hiding that side of their nature from the public.
  • We Win Because You Did Not: In order to prevent Donnie's powers from being used by HYDRA, S.H.I.E.L.D's alternative mission was to kill him.
  • Wham Line: Ward finally tells Skye about her father, and even claims to know how to get in contact with him.

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