This week, SHIELD's all about high-tech implants, possible ESPers and big game hints. So let's jump right in.
First a quick spoiler-light recap: An old protégé of Coulson's is causing a commotion, so the team heads in without back-up or even telling anyone what's going on because Coulson knows best. He usually does. Also, this episode sneaks in some big hints that may require some internet snooping to figure out.
And away-ay-ay-ay we go!
The red-faced weirdos spotted in the trailer last week were a fake-out as they aren't Red Skull-inspired terrorists or anything remotely scary, just 55 off-duty military men dressed for kabuki theater while transporting expensive diamonds. You (or Skye) might ask, why the kabuki theater? This is not adequately explained.
Fitz-Simmons invents the Night-Night Pistol (although Ward refuses to call it that), a non-lethal semi-auto handgun. There's a lot of precedent for this, as fictional heroes and spies like using non-lethal weapons all the time, but the most famous example is probably from Marvel's Distinguished Competition. DC's original Sandman had a handy gun that could knock criminals out temporarily. Marvel also had Golden Age heroes with special guns, most notably the pulp fiction version of the Angel and the Phantom Bullet, but both Angel's Belshazzar gun and Phantom Bullet's ice gun were decidedly lethal.
Skye speculates that rogue ex-SHIELD agent Akela Amador might be an ESPer, but May is quick to point out that there is no evidence extra-sensory perception actually exists. This is in stark contrast to the SHIELD comic books, where SHIELD actually employs full-time ESP agents. Going back to the Golden Age of comics again for a second, one of Marvel's first super-agents was Master Mind Excello, who used ESP to track down international criminals back in the 1940s, but was put in a sleep chamber for decades and is active again in the modern day. This is neither here nor there, but the scene where Captain America woke up in the present at the end of The First Avenger was lifted almost shot for shot from the comic in which Excello woke up in the present: The Twelve #1 (2007).
Amador herself, born June 14, 1983, according to her SHIELD card, has been rogue since 2009, apparently captured during a raid on Vanchat's Gulags. No idea who Vanchat is, but the "gulag" comment brings to mind Soviet-era villains, of which Marvel has no shortage. One of the most fun (and often forgotten) Ivan Krushki, a political Exile aligned with the Red Skull.
Visiting Zloda, Belarus, Fitz-Simmons discus Zhores Alferov, inventor of the heterotransistor. I'll be damned if I know what that is, but I can offer this odd little tidbit: Back when Iron Man first appeared, his suit wasn't powered by Arc technology (this wasn't established until the first movie), but instead by "transistors." How transistors could power all of his amazing technology was never fully mapped out. It was a simpler time.
Returning to Amador for a moment, we need to address her interesting eyes. She can use backscatter technology to get an X-Ray-like effect, allowing her to have seeming extra-sensory perception. Although she might not be psychic, she does have a lot in common with Psylocke of the X-Men. A lot of people may not realize this, but before she became a Japanese woman in a swimsuit using bladed weapons, Psylocke was a somewhat more demure British woman. Her original body was modified by interdimensional entertainment mogul Mojo. He gave Psylocke artificial eyes through which the denizens of the Mojoverse could watch the X-Men's exploits. When she swapped bodies, Psylocke's eyes went to Japanese ninja Revanche (now in the body of a British woman), who eventually plucked them, preferring blindness to that level of exposure.
As with previous episodes, we get a hint not only that something major happened to Coulson since the Avengers, but that he values "really old stuff." Honestly, I wish I could get a better look at that stuff because I bet there are some interesting Easter eggs in there.
Speaking of Easter eggs, check out that chalkboard:
That's Skrullese (or is it Skrullian? Skrullish?). Skrulls, by the way, are the classic shape-shifting alien invaders of Marvel comics, but the Chitauri, seen most prominently in the Avengers movie, are very much their Ultimate comic universe counterparts. Recently, the Chitauri have been spotted in the regular Reality-616 universe as well (see a previous Secrets of SHIELD for the numerology there), but either way the language is the same.
I couldn't make hide nor hair of it, but if there are any armchair cryptographers out there, give it a shot. Here's a fan-speculated font for the Skrull alphabet, so have at that cryptic image from the chalkboard!
Chris Eliopoulos was added to the usual set of "special thanks" this episode, and with good reason, the creator of the excellent Desperate Times and the goofball adventures of Franklin Richards, Son of a Genius, has also been a long-time comic book letterer. Aside from being the stalwart letterer of the first hundred-or-so issues of Savage Dragon, I'll bet he created the Skrull written language!
Now a question for the audience (if such a thing does exist): Should these "Secrets of SHIELD" recaps continue, or am I just spitting into the wind here?