In the ninth episode of the season titled “Repairs,” the team has some fixing up to do when a demon wreaks havoc on their flying headquarters and religion becomes a player in a so-far sci-fi show.
This week’s target is Hannah Hutchins, a telekinetic dealing with her newfound abilities. The team tracks her down to talk to her about her powers after she was part of a suspicious power plant explosion. Her neighbors are a little les friendly, yelling at her house. Coulson promises her that he won’t let anyone hurt her — until May shoots a tranquilizer in her back.
Back in their flying headquarters, May and Coulson talk to Hutchins. She is convinced that she caused the deadly accident. Coulson expresses concern that the accident was what gave her telekinetic abilities, but she refuses to believe that she has such a power. Instead, Hutchins says God has abandoned her and isn’t protecting her from haunting demons anymore. As Coulson fills in the rest of the team on her situation, the story feels a little less archaeic when a shadowing figure in the doorway vanishes. Yes, SHIELD is now taking on Satanic possessions.
Hannah’s habits — running a local youth group, volunteering at a pet shelter, etc. — make her a prime candidate for a demon possession story. Skye thinks the woman isn’t that much of a threat, but May warns her otherwise. During a rant about the stoic pilot-turned-field-agent (“You can catch a lot more flies with honey than with napalm”), Skye confides to Ward that she needs to get a little action. Oh, the irony.
Not able to let anything go, Skye does some research and finds Tobias Ford, a treacherous engineer who befriended Hannah before the accident. Before they can dig deeper, however, the demon possessing the young woman makes his first real appearance when he cuts the power on the plane, sending it into a literal tailspin.
It’s May’s piloting skills to the rescue as she brings the aircraft safely into the middle of an alpine forest — and they’re (again, literally) not out of the woods yet. Coulson sends out an emergency signal but the demon knocks out the transmitter. Skye talks to Hannah through the door and confesses her skepticism at the concept of “God’s wrath.” Skye says that of all the things the nuns taught her as she was bouncing around foster homes as a kid, “God is love” was the only thing that stuck.
The demon is still flitting around the downed plane, picking fights with Ward and terrorizing Fitz and Simmons. The scientists figure out that he’s incrementally disappearing every time he reappears, leaving parts of himself in another world. He demands that Hannah be handed over to him, and May decides that’s the best way to handle the problem. As the demon — clearly identified as Tobias Ford — bounces back and forth between this world and the next, she escapes with Hutchins to the surrounding woods. “I don’t mean to scare you. I just need to use you as bait,” she says.
Tobias follows May’s bait to a nearby barn, where the SHIELD agent kicks his other-worldly ass. As the team heads out to find their renegade member, they realize that Tobias isn’t trying to hurt Hannah but save her because he has a crush on her. What the young do for love.
Tobias confesses that he was the cause of the plant accident and says that he’s now bouncing between Earth and Hell because of what he did. When people started blaming Hannah, he tried to stop them. When he asks her forgiveness so he won’t go to Hell, his old friend says only God can forgive him. May piles on that by haunting Hannah, he’s dragging her with him. “Let the girl go,” she says, and he does, ending the torment and presumably finding a spot in the cast of this season’s “American Horror Story.”
May’s history is a focal point of this episode. Fitz and Simmons, on a mission to pull pranks on “freshman” Skye, explain that May earned the nickname “The Cavalry” by riding a horse into a mission and singlehandedly defeating more than 100 men. Skye believes them until Ward corrects her — it was 20 men and no horse. Then Coulson tells her that she didn’t have a gun, it wasn’t an assault. The real story is that they were on a Welcome Wagon mission for another superpower newbie that went south. May lost her warmth and fun spirit during that mission — Coulson invited her on the plane to coax the old May out. Skye assures him that if anyone can bring May back to what she was before the fateful mission, it’s him. And as it would have it, the stinger at the end of the episode shows her as the prankster who pulls the whipped-cream-in-a-sleeper’s-hand prank on Fitz.
Skye earns some overdue accolades. Coulson says he thinks she’ll be one of the best agents one day from the way she conducts research and understands people. The same goes for this series — as the episodes continue, it’s clear that the show has a potential to be one of the better programs on network TV from the way it has started understanding its characters and making the audience care a bit more about them.
SHIELD returns in two weeks. Stay tune for a new SHIELD agent and the return of an old face from the pilot.
Kate Everson is Chicago journalist and University of Missouri alumna. By day she is an associate editor for four HR industry magazines. By night, she reviews films, outlines fiction novels with tough female leads and dreams of being the first person to win two Oscars in the same night for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay. When her fingers aren’t getting exercise bouncing across her keyboard, she’s reading Palahniuk and Vonnegut, practicing her Batgirl skills in the dojo or waiting by the mailbox for her Hogwarts letter. As Katharine Hepburn said: “Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting.”