Welcome to the second iteration of the ALL NEW S.H.I.E.L.D. Dossiers, in which I ramble about last night's episode, and provide random factoids and comic book references that relate to the show. I hope you enjoy the new format.
Vanchat - The episode opens with the mysterious Vanchat finally making an appearance. Vanchat's been on the periphery of several episodes, including the pilot episode and "Eye Spy", and was linked to Centipede during the pilot episode. Vanchat describes himself as a trafficker of alien artifacts this episode, which is in line with his past appearances, but doesn't quite explain why he has a gulag. I'm sure there's more to his story, though, and the fact that he and Raina both end up in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s custody will probably come into play later.
[Editor's Note: We earlier misnamed Vanchat's actor as Aidan Turner instead of Aiden Turner. Aiden Turner, the actual actor who played Vanchat, is definitely not Aidan Turner and our factchecker is being flogged in the courtyard for the error.]
Victoria Hand - Saffron Burrows makes her second appearance as Agent Victoria Hand, and brings in her own team to help lead the search for Coulson. In the comics, Hand doesn't see eye to eye with Nick Fury, something that's hinted at when she mentions that she doesn't understand why Fury and Commander Maria Hill are so interested in the fate of one agent. Mind you, she was willing to sacrifice Ward and Fitz back in "The Hub", so she's a big believer in expendability.
Don't Touch Lola - The Skye/May tensions escalate after Skye kicks her off the plane and (seemingly) off the mission. Mind you, it was just a plot to get Skye off of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s radar for a bit, one that the rest of the team independently jumped on with gusto. To be honest, the May/Skye dynamic is probably my favorite one in the show, and helps bring some desperately needed characterization to the team. I also liked how Skye aped May for the rest of the episode, mimicking her style and no-nonsense attitude to sell that she was a real S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.
Embrace the Change - Fitz also shows a bit of a dark side this episode, telling some agents off and offhandedly remarking that he wouldn't mind killing Centipede agents. He tells Simmons to "Embrace the Change", which was a catchphrase used in the marketing for Secret Invasion, a Marvel event featuring Skrulls (shapeshifting aliens and Fantastic Four villains) invading Earth. This, coupled, with his slightly dark streak in "The Hub" might be a hint that there's a bit more to our lovable Scot than meets the eye.
Lloyd Rathman - While Ward and the team dangle Vanchat out of the plane to get answers, Skye hunts down Lloyd Rathman in order to get access to Vanchat's Swiss bank accounts. I'm not 100% sure how Skye picked up Rathman (did she really just read his name in a magazine?), but it felt a bit contrived. Skye did threaten to throw him in the Fridge
Rathman was played by Rob Heubel, one of the stars of Cartoon Network's Children Hospital. He's a pretty funny guy, and even gets a few "Har Har" lines in during his all too brief appearance.
Oh, and one of the security guards is played by Justin Gant, who's also Iain De Caestecker's stunt double on the show.
Nuclear Test Sites - While Skye and the others are doing their thing, Coulson's being tortured by Edison Po and some of his Centipede goons. Their plan, of course, is to get Coulson to remember how S.H.I.E.L.D. brought him back to life, and they want to use some sort of theta ray machine to help break through the obviously implanted Tahiti memories.
Over the course of Coulson's torture, the Clairvoyant murders Po and puts Raina in charge. (So much for learning a little more about Po). I'm really curious about what the Clairvoyant actually did to Po. Was the phone rigged? Or does he just have weird mental powers? It's almost as if the Clairvoyant is some sort of organism designed only for killing. Po certainly played the price, if he is.
The Cellist - Raina uses a more sympathetic route to get to Coulson, referencing the infamous Portland cellist once again. I'm willing to bet that she makes some sort of appearance this season, given that she's been brought up multiple times, and is Coulson's only link to a "normal" life.
Dr. Nugent - Simmons calls Skye "Dr. Nugent" during their odd little phone conversation. Dr. Alice Nugent was an assistant of Hank Pym (aka Ant-Man/Giant-Man/Yellowjacket/The Wasp) who later becomes a version of Doctor Spectrum, a Green Lantern pastiche and member of the Squadron Supreme. Long shot, I know, BUT I NEED A COMIC BOOK REFERENCE IN THESE ARTICLES, GODDAMNIT.
Dr. Streiten - Ron Glass's Dr. Streiten returns as Coulson finally (sort of) learns how he was brought back to life. S.H.I.E.L.D. performed multiple operations, and then zapped his brain with a robot thing to see if it worked. Okay, that doesn't explain how Coulson came back at all, but at least we know that Tahiti was a memory implant.
Mike Peterson - Despite S.H.I.E.L.D. thinking otherwise, Mike Peterson didn't get blown up in the explosion (he only lost a leg). Instead, he gets one of Centipede's eye implants and a message to await further instructions. It seems like all the black S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are destined to wear eye patches. Poor guy.
Jim Shooter and Sal Buscema - Both Jim Shooter and Sal Buscema get thanked in the credits, although I can't quite figure out why. Shooter was the editor in chief for Marvel for a while, and he and Buscema worked together on an Avengers run (and probably some other books too). This could be a hint to where Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is going, and is probably worth some additional research. I'll get back to that next week.
And that's it for me! See y'all next week.