In Episode 7, we start to see the truly massive, bureaucratic, and morally grey side of S.H.I.E.L.D. as Agents Ward and Fitz are sent on a suicide mission.
After saving Coulson from a Bond-esque torture scene, the team is called into the Hub, S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, where Agent Victoria Hand (a Marvel Comics character) requests Ward and Fitz for a field mission requiring their unique skill sets. The boys are tasked with disarming a MacGuffin called the Overkill Device in rebel territory in the Caucuses.
Fish-out-of-water comedy ensues as Fitz and Ward bumble through the assignment. If you're wondering why these two received the assignment, you're not the only one. Skye rankles at the lack of transparency behind headquarters' missions, and when Coulson rebuffs her plea for more information, Skye lures Simmons into some "bad girl antics" as the two hack S.H.I.E.L.D.'s mainframe to discover more about the boy's assignment.
What they find is unpleasant: there is no extraction plan for Fitz and Ward. As May and the girls devise a rescue plan, Coulson confronts Agent Hand and we begin to see that maybe even true-blue Coulson has started to distrust the system. Agent May and the girls arrive on the scene in the knick of time and extract the boys from imminent annihilation.
While Skye and Simmons were seeking the truth about the boys' mission, Coulson unearthed the unredacted file about Skye's parentage. The audience doesn't get fully tapped in during this episode, but we learn that Skye was dropped off at an orphanage by a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and the information is the file is described as tragic.
In the post-credit scene Coulson tries to gain access to the S.H.I.E.L.D. file on his stay in Tahiti. Earlier we saw him mention for a fourth time that Tahiti is a "magical place," but this time he stumbled with the words, almost as though he was suddenly becoming aware of the conditioned response. Coulson learns that even he does not have a high enough clearance level to access the Tahiti files. It seems like certain members of the team would have a lot to gain from a little less secrecy.
Easter Eggs: S.H.I.E.L.D. fans are aflutter about who Skye's parents might be. Sorry to break it to you, people of the Internet, but there is no way in hell she is Hawk Eye and Black Widow's baby; she is way too old and they are way too young in The Avengers for that to work.
I'm betting the big secret isn't her parents' identities, but whatever it is that caused their deaths. This show is in desperate need of a villain, and, as we know from some of the greatest comic books, nothing creates a compelling hero like a mission to avenge one's parents.
What Works: Hopefully S.H.I.E.L.D.'s show runners are willing to abandon the Skye/Ward lackluster flirtation and invest in the Fitz/Simmons relationship. "Having a best friend you're suddenly attracted to" is a far more universal scenario than the "we're both super hot, this is inevitable" plot line.
S.H.I.E.L.D., picking up where it left off in "FZZT," continues to invest in the ensemble. This week Fitz had his time to shine and he showed he could hold his own in the field while still bringing the comic relief.
What Doesn't Work: Everyone seems to be begging the question: What is S.H.I.E.L.D. building towards? The secret behind Coulson's magical revival can't keep the show going forever; as soon as it's revealed, the nerds will depart if there's nothing else to keep them. With November sweeps fast approaching, the S.H.I.E.L.D. show runners have got to play their cards right. Reveal too many secrets and folks will stop following the show, but fail to impress with a ratings surge and lose the title as this season's best new show.