Credit: ABC

It was only a matter of time before the action moved to Russia. Or, more accurately, to a disputed region formerly belonging to the USSR, but we’re American and “Russia” is easier to comprehend than South Caucasus, so. Russia it is.

Of course there was a ton of action in “The Hub,” but the main takeaway from this far east excursion was as follows: F**k the man, man.

Basically, the S.H.I.E.L.D. team learned that the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t necessarily have their backs the way they as a team need to. We sort of learned this last week when Titus Welliver/The Smoke Monster told Coulson that Simmons’ life was expendable, but he disappeared this week so we had to learn this lesson elsewhere — with comic book staple Victoria Hand, to be exact. Hand was the go-to/evil mastermind on a mission that ended up propelling Ward and Fitz into a potentially epic bromance, so we’ll forgive her for forgetting crucial details like their freaking extraction team.

The Mission

Credit: ABC

The S.H.I.E.L.D. team extracted a human ape-man called The Interrogator from a group of Eastern European separatists; a group The Interrogator — real name S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Shaw — had infiltrated. The brought Agent Shaw back to “The Hub,” one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s many impressive HQs — where they learned that the separatists had gotten their hands on an extremely dangerous, octopus-esque weapon called The Overkill Device.

Wait, scratch that. The S.H.I.E.L.D. team didn’t learn, Agents Coulson, May, Ward, and eventually Fitz learned. Skye and Simmons were left out due to clearance levels, which seriously pissed off the anti-Big Brother Skye. “No need to get started on one of your socialist riffs,” said Fitz.

But Skye would have plenty of reasons to riff by the end of the night. Agent Hand needed two agents to go in for The Overkill Device, so Fitz was upped like, three solid clearance levels when his technologically advanced skills were needed. See, first Simmons had her week — now it’s Fitz’ time to shine! Still waiting for that Melinda episode, S.H.I.E.L.D.

And shine on Fitz did, that crazy diamond. After being gifted the most meaningful sandwich in human history by Simmons (their mutual flirtation was turned up about 40 notches this week), Fitz and Ward headed out to Russia for their super-duper super-secret extremely secret mission.

Naturally, things promptly went wrong. Ward’s contact didn’t pull through, so it was up to Fitz to play the hero. Getting the chance to save the day using only his natural abilities — the chance to save Agent Ward’s ass, basically — was huge for Fitz, who had basically been castrated until this episode. (Saving the life of an Alpha Male? Yeah, that's a way to boost a nerd's confidence.) Fitz managed to win over the hearts and minds of a bar full of Russian mobsters, then used their love to negotiate the duo’s way across the boarder, when Ward could not.

More importantly to the future, however, is the fact that Fitz won over Ward — and vice versa. Admittedly just a few weeks back, I was very pro-Ward and very anti-Fitz. Now, after two solid weeks of character-building for Fitz and several weeks of “handsome face, not much else” for Ward, the two lab nerds have risen to become my favorite characters. Because while Fitz and Ward hid out from border patrol agents and fought over Ward’s horrible misuse of Fitz’ sandwich (You’ve destroyed the world’s most dangerous sandwich! Congratulations!”), Simmons was being equally adorable back at The Hub.

See, both Skye and Simmons were pretty upset that they didn’t know anything about Ward and Fitz’ mission. I don’t really know why Skye cared so much — maybe she likes Ward more than she lets on? Maybe she’s a better person than I suspect she is? — but it led to a pretty hilarious covert mission to hack into S.H.I.E.L.D.’s system. Normally Skye would be able to do this very easily on her own, but that protective bracelet Coulson slapped on a few weeks back actually served its purpose over in HQ — she couldn’t get anywhere without getting zapped.

Naturally they got caught by a higher-up, and Simmons was all flustered and adorable and just generally terrible at being remotely discreet. “You certainly have a gorgeous head, don’t you?” she stammered to the bald agent who “made” her, before shooting him in the chest with a ray-gun of sorts. Well, that’s one way to do it.

Credit: ABC

The girls eventually found the info they needed, and were shocked to see that Fitz and Ward were stranded with no extraction team — basically, Hand had sent the boys on a suicide mission. Oops! Skye was absolutely livid, and went to her trusted mentor for some help. “Trust the system,” Coulson replied, sternly. Well okay then, guy who hired an untrained, shady computer hacker then promptly forgave her when she ruined a mission.

Realistically, we all knew that Coulson would come around. If there's one thing he loves, it's his new S.H.I.E.L.D. babies. After a one-way conversation with Agent May, both senior agents were on board for a risky rescue mission. Teamwork — see what it can do? The gang chartered its Bus, and rescued the boys right as they completed their mission, which was great because Fitz and Ward were about 15 seconds away from certain death.

In the end, everything was all warm and fuzzy, to the point where I think everyone has already forgotten the fact that Skye majorly betrayed them, like, yesterday. Ward and Fitz had bonded over having each others’ backs in a tough sitch, and Coulson had finally realized that he liked working with his new team better than with the big league suits back at The Hub. “I had Ward’s back the whole time,” a beaming Fitz said to his lady-love Simmons. “Pretty much saved him from a gang of Russian mobsters.” So cute, these two.

Also, Coulson did finally confront Agent Hand about not having an extraction team, and her response served as your weekly reminder that this show is part of The Avengers universe: She said that Barton (Hawkeye) and Romanoff (Black Widow) never needed extraction teams, so why should Fitz and Ward? They are S.H.I.E.L.D., after all. This all just made my brain flash back to Scarlett Johansson’s jaw-dropping opening scene from Avengers, and the last thing this show needs is to remind us that we’re watching the p**sy version of that other, currently superior Marvel product. Sigh. It was still a pretty decent episode.

Epilogue

Being the kindly mentor that he is, Coulson pulled through on his promise to bring Skye her hidden adoption records. He didn’t find much — just that the woman who had dropped her off at the orphanage was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent — but it was enough to make Skye cry, and hug him.

Maybe Skye wouldn’t be so thankful, however, if she realized that Coulson was still hiding something from her. “You didn’t tell her why,” Agent May said, when Coulson told her he’d given Skye the truth about the S.H.I.E.L.D. baby drop-off. So obviously there’s way more to this story (and Coulson’s regeneration story, which we skipped this week) than what meets the eye, but luckily, both Coulson and May agreed they’d work together to get to the bottom of it. (ASIDE: Are we supposed to believe that Hand is Skye's mother? I mean, she could be.)

What did you think of the episode, S.H.I.E.L.D. fans? Are you starting to become more attached to the team? Are you liking the villain-of-the-week procedural feel, or do you wish there was more tying this all together? Let us know in the comments!