The Skrull Infiltration comes to light as allegiances are tested and our heroes face what could be the end of the Avengers as they know it. Hold on to your hats, kids. This one’s a doozy.
It’s a rainy, moody night in New York City. At SHIELD headquarters, Maria Hill is trying to sleep when she senses that she’s not alone. She awakens to find Mockingbird throwing her staff around her neck, pinning her to the bed. Out of the shadows walks none other than Nick Fury, who has been “missing” since early last season. He only has a limited amount of time before SHIELD security senses an intruder and cuts right to the chase-the Skrull infiltration is under way. He gives her a CD with everything she needs to know, and tells her to trust no one, not even sure if she isn’t already a Skrull. “You can’t trust SHIELD, you can’t trust the government.” he warns her. “Try and stay alive.” Fury and Mockingbird retreat back into the shadows right as some security guards enter Maria’s room.
Meanwhile, some of the Avengers, namely Tony, Clint, Jan and Steve are out celebrating Carol’s induction into the Avengers over some pizza. They’re pretty glad to have her, especially after she saved the world from terrors from outer space-twice. Carol notes that she hopes that someone is keeping an eye out on the Avengers mansion. “The Hulk is on guard duty. And Black Panther is on Hulk duty.” (Quick cut to the Hulk staring at T’Challa while he meditates. “You talk too much.” he grumbles.) Out on the streets, a woman is being chased down in the park by Griffin, a man who was basically, yes, turned into a Griffin. She stops under a bridge and lets the beast come to her. “I’ve been looking for you Mr. Horton.” she says calmly, before using a sonic boom to incapacitate him temporarily. She pulls back her hood and talks to someone over a comm device. “This is Quake. Phase One is go.” Ladies and gentlemen, Daisy Johnson! My favorite member of Nick Fury’s Secret Warriors.
Back at the pizzeria, Carol is talking about her time in the airforce, and how she went by the codename Warbird. There’s some joking about how she’s the newbie now, mostly from Clint, the former newbie, and how Carol technically outranks Cap, militarily speaking. However, their good times are interrupted by a certain raging Griffin. The others head off while Tony pays for the meal. “Make sure the newbie does all the hard work!” he calls after them. He tries to grab the check, and ten pizzas so the Hulk doesn’t punch him, but he looks up to see a certain red-haired double agent standing over him. Natasha zaps Tony in the neck with her widow bites.
Tony wakes up to find himself in a shady warehouse, and tied to a chair in front of Fury, Black Widow, Mockingbird and Quake. He basically lays out the whole deal with the Skrull infiltration- it all started when Hawkeye defied orders and went after Black Widow, who was pretending to be a double agent for Hydra, when she was really working for Fury. He and Mockingbird tracked her back to Hydra base and got in a scrap with Madame Viper. When Mockingbird took out Madame Viper, she noticed that she had reverted back to a Skrull. She kept it quiet and brought it to Fury. Fury shows Tony the Skrull and tells him about the comm device they found on on, saying they tracked it’s messages to two other locations- SHIELD and the Avengers mansion. Tony is shocked at the idea that one of them is really a shapeshifting alien, and they begin to theorize on who it might be. Mockingbird says that when she and Hawkeye were in Hydra custody, Madame Viper wanted to keep Clint alive because he might be “useful.” When Tony says that he knows everyone on his team well enough to recognize a spy, Natasha says that she never would have known the difference between the real Madame Viper and her Skrull doppelganger. Not only did they look exactly alike, the Skrull had her memories. “She was a perfect copy in every way.” Tony leaves, knowing he can no longer trust anyone on his team.
In Central Park, Jan and Clint are standing by while Carol does all the work taking down Griffin, ribbing her mercilessly. Jan wonders if someone should go in there and give her a hand. “Are you kidding? She’s basically as tough as Thor and almost as strong as the Hulk.” Clint says. Cap joins them. “In my day, we never treated the new recruits like this.” he says sternly, before smiling. “In my day, it was worse.” They continue to stand there as Carol pounds Griffin into the dirt.
Back at the mansion, everyone arrives back after Carol finishes up with Griffin, everyone seems to be in pretty high spirits. From the shadows, Tony tries to use his armor to discern Skrull from human, but he can’t. Black Panther is able to detect Tony hiding in the darkness and he’s forced to step forward. “Is anyone here a shape-shifting alien?” he asks pointedly. And it’s all downhill from there. “Tony, no one here is an alien imposter!” Jan insists. Carol asks if Fury had any suspects and Tony admits that both he and Fury suspect Clint. Clint doesn’t take this very well, drawing his bow when Carol tells him that he has to go to SWORD for questioning. “I’ve saved this team more times than I can count!” he protests. Carol is forced to use her powers to get Clint to stand down and suddenly EVERYONE is fighting.
Clint asks T’Challa for help, the two seem to know each other pretty well. But T’Challa smartly points out that none of them can trust each other for any reason. He even goes as far to point out Hank’s recent bizarre behavior, suggesting the Ultron incident might have been intentional. He leaves the group first. Carol tries to get Clint to come with her, because it’s her duty as a SWORD agent and Hulk does not take kindly to this. ‘If you don’t put your arms down, you’re gonna lose ‘em. Hawkeye’s with me.” (I hope everyone recalls the epic Hawkeye/Hulk bromance of season one, because I sure did.) There is MORE FIGHTING, and they come to the conclusion that there’s no one that can really be trusted- Jan and Hulk are already shapeshifters, Carol spends most of her time in space, Clint’s already a suspect, T’Challa infiltrated the Avengers mansion to begin with, Cap could have been a Skrull from the moment he was unfrozen. Jan tries to convince Tony that they need to fight this anyway, because the world is going to need them. “As far as I’m concerned, the Avengers are over.” Tony says before flying off. Carol goes to return to SWORD. “You better be sure of all of us.” Clint says, before she exits. Only Hawkeye, Hulk, Jan and Cap remain. “This is exactly what the enemy wants. To win the war without ever firing a shot.” Cap offers to lead the small team that’s left. They all put their hands in.
This is, of course, terrible. Because, in case you forgot, Captain America is the Skrull Infiltrator.
Back in his secret warehouse, Mockingbird and Fury review the situation, wondering if they can trust Tony’s decision to split the Avengers, not knowing if he’s a Skrull. “This is a man who kept his identity a secret for all of five minutes.” But apparently, Tony did exactly what Fury wanted- he created a situation in which the Skrull can make a mistake and show his face. (He seems to know its Cap, but I’m not exactly sure.) Back in Wakanda, T’Challa’s brooding with the best of them, and asks his Dora Milajae (his super-awesome lady warriors) to prepare for invasion. Up in SWORD base, Carol hesistates to file her report on the Skrull infiltration, still unsure of what to do. And finally, in another shady warehouse, Skrull!Cap enters, speaking to someone unseen about how the second phase is ready to begin. A figure steps out of the shadows, none other than Mockingbird herself. Skrull!Cap bows before her. “As it is written, my queen.” He kisses her hand. They both revert back to their Skrull form. “As it is written.” she says.
So the Skrull Infiltration story just moved along in a BIG WAY this week, if you couldn’t tell, and I couldn’t have loved it more. The fighting! The distrust! The change in alliances! This episode was moody and wonderful in the best way, and I hope the payoff is as good as this buildup has been.
The seriousness with which this situation is being treated is delicious, and if a grown person like myself found the tension to be this high, I can’t imagine what young minds must think. Lots of characters brought back- Black Widow, Mockingbird (who is, natch, the Skrull Queen, keeping up with comic canon. Still shocked the hell out of me.), as well as bringing in new characters like Quake. I appreciate the build-up of the lady roster as much as Jan does, especially since all of the ladies on EMH are so wonderfully drawn- Ms. Marvel is a really great addition to the show. I love how it’s very quickly pointed out how little they all know about each other and how much distrust there probably always has been between them. The Avengers are the best when they’re chaotic, and when there’s friction between them, because it makes their heroics all the better. When they can come together and put aside their differences and band together, its a beautiful thing. Of course, with Skrull!Cap at the helm, things are only going to fall a lot further. No one seems to suspect Cap at all, of course, because it’s Captain America, if he’s the bad guy, the world is doomed. That reveal is gonna hurt- in the best way.
Readers, if they cancel this show, I’m going to be so sad, because I hate to see such intricate hard work from the writers go to waste. They’re so unafraid to introduce comic characters that people might not immediately recognize and recall facts from episodes from the first season that not even dedicated viewers like myself might remember. I watch primetime dramas plotted with less care than this. They’re building something really cool, introducing so many cool new heroes, and if the rug is pulled out from them before then can pull it off, that will truly be a shame. (So keep watching! Write angry letters!) I noted last week that I missed team dynamics and I got it here- Jan being happy to have another girl on the team, Clint reminding everyone that he’s saved the team more times than they ever give him credit for, and a very subtle callback to the Hulk’s promise to join the Avengers but ONLY if Clint stayed as well. It was deft without being melodramatic. This show is so underappreciated, it hurts.
Little things I liked: Carol fighting Griffin all by herself while Clint and Jan just stood around watching, Nick Fury’s new (more Samuel L. Jackson-esque) character design, and the really, really good voice acting. Keep it up, Marvel. What did you all think?
If you missed the previous episode be sure to check out our ‘Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Hereos: Michael Korvac’ recap to catch up.