Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Making Friends and Influencing People Review
I have a particular affinity for cold themed villains. Mr. Freeze, Captain Cold, and Killer Frost are some of my favorites, so imagine my surprise when I realized that I couldn’t think of a single Marvel villain that had the power to control ice. The point is that I’m not familiar with the supervillain Blizzard. The character Donnie Gill had previously appeared in the season 1 episode Seeds. His newly developed powers were hinted at at the end of that episode, but in Making Friends and Influencing People we’re given a more extensive look at what he is capable of as is pursued by both S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra.
This week’s episode blends the best elements of the first two episodes of the season, and succeeds in being better than either of them. Despite the fact that Simmons appeared in the first two episodes as Fitz’s hallucination, there was still a sense of the character being notably absent. This week we finally get to see what she’s been up to, namely infiltrating Hydra. It hardly comes as a surprise that she is serving as SHIELD’s mole within the organization. To regular viewers, Simmons isn’t particularly believable as a turncoat due to her empathy, and fortunately the show doesn’t really concern itself with faking out the viewer. Much of her story is focused around her attempts to get a foothold in the organization, and giving the viewers a sense of the threats that she faces in the organization. Much of this is handled quite well, but I have to admit there are a couple brainwashing scenes involving a former SHIELD agent where I kept finding myself making Manchurian Candidate jokes.
Skye also gets a bit more focus, though much of that is devoted simply to how she has taken to her training. She and May have a much more comfortable relationship than in season 1, and while May doesn’t get a ton of focus in this episode, it’s nice to see how she’s embraced her role as Skye’s teacher. Skye also gets two more scenes with Ward in this episode, and mysterious though his motives may be, I was legitimately glad to see more of him… I’m not just saying that because he gets suffocated in one of his scenes. Seriously though, the scene where Fitz discovers that Coulson is keeping Ward in the basement vault is one of the best scenes of the season so far. It makes wonderful use of Fitz’s pain and frustration while continuing to make Ward all the more intriguing. He finally tells Skye that her father is looking for her at the end of the episode, which is definitely a good thing. It was getting a bit comical how he kept failing to say it before she would cut him off, but, in the grand scheme of things, he still hasn’t told us anything we don’t already know.
The plot of the episode centers around the pursuit of Donnie Gill by both Hydra and SHIELD. Sadly, Dylan Minnette doesn’t get to do that much as Donnie in this episode. His scenes largely involve him taking his anger out on Hydra which, while entertaining to watch, don’t give us much opportunity to reconnect with his character. It’s left purposefully up in the air as to whether or not the show will be using him again. If the does use him again, then I suppose they will have the opportunity to characterize him a bit further, but, if they don’t, then it seems like a wasted opportunity. As it stands,he mainly serves as a plot device to force a confrontation with Hydra, and complicate Simmons’s cover.
Still, it’s the character dynamics among the main cast that really shine in this episode, and, on that front, I have no problems. Even characters, like Hunter and Triplett, who don’t get much focus still get some nice lines here and there. This strong characterization results in Making Friends and Influencing People being even stronger than the two episodes that preceded it.
Before I wrap up a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- Aside from references to Donnie Gill’s comic book alias Blizzard, we also get a passing reference to Dr. Faustus from Whitehall when his is talking about Hydra’s brainwashing methods.
- No sign of MacLaughlin in this week’s episode, but judging from that ending Skye will probably be encountering him soon… after 25 years. It’s really hard to stop making the Twin Peaks references… and I know Chloe Bennet is only 22.
- That gum you like… is going to come back in style… Okay, I’m seriously stopping.
- I was a little surprised at how smoothly Hunter fit into the team dynamic. I particularly enjoyed some of the jokes about how both May and Triplett aspired to shoot him in the back.
- Seriously, what other cold-themed villains does Marvel have? The only character I can think of is Iceman and he isn’t a villain. It might be due to the fact that I’m better versed when it comes to the DC rogues gallery.
- Now I want to go back and rewatch Heart of Ice.
Making Friends and Influencing People is a strong and all around fun episode that avoids the pacing issues of the two episodes that preceded it while giving its characters plenty of time to shine.
Making Friends and Influencing People is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful episode I've ever known in my life.