Marvel’s ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ assembles its ninth season 2 installment in “Ye Who Enter Here,” as Coulson and the team attempt to reach the mysterious hidden city before Hydra, while Skye attempts to protect Raina from a vengeful Agent 33.

Last week’s ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ episode, “The Things We Bury,” dipped back into ‘Agent Carter’ (Hayley Atwell)’s past for clues to beating Hydra, while Ward kidnapped his senator brother Christian (Tim DeKay) for a violent trip down memory lane. So, how does ABC’s ‘Avengers’-adjacent series continue its marvelous new season?

Read on for your in-depth review of everything you need to know about ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,’ season 2, episode 9, “Ye Who Enter Here”!

Whether or not the ratings have reflected as such, it’s been a huge season for Marvel’s ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Not only have the characters and structure finally coalesced into something resembling the Whedon pedigree we’d expected from the series’ beginning, but so too has the “all connected” platitude seemingly bore fruit with an ‘Inhumans,’ or at the very least, Kree tie to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. Considering the rather drastic gap that will slot ‘Agent Carter’ in for ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ until at least March 3, it was important that the series stick the landing on the final two episodes of season 2’s front half, and while we expect the story threads to pay off more handsomely next week, “Ye Who Enter Here” ended up feeling a little lighter for it.

Right off the bat, Skye’s cryptic dream served to illustrate how far the series has worked to build up its visual palette, and certainly serves as an easy mechanism to put us in Skye’s head moving toward the discovery of her origins. The only real problem with that approach lies in ‘Agents’' weaker tendencies to lean on mystery as a means to build character, and while pairing Skye with Raina ultimately served to open up a dialogue on their respective origins, “Ye Who Enter Here” wasn’t willing to tell the audience much it hadn’t already. At last we have the word “Kree” said in dialogue, but beyond Skye’s trepidation over meeting dear old dad, or Raina’s vagaries about the Kree bringing “change” that activates their human (or Inhuman) potential, we aren’t much figuratively closer to discovering what the “Diviner” will actually accomplish.

At the very least, Skye’s mission to protect Raina certainly brought about some strong fight sequences and action beats, allowing the junior agent a stand-in means to fight Melinda May herself, as well as a few moments of Whedonesque levity from Patton Oswalt’s Agent(s) Koenig, or the real May’s vehicular takedown. I might lean toward the more dialogue-heavy A-story of Coulson’s team investigating the actual hidden city however, as despite occasionally dipping into an advertisement for Puerto Rico tourism (a fair trade to bring costs down on an exotic locale), the use of character beats prevail in an hour lacking momentum. For one, Fitz and Simmons finally got a few moments of catharsis in expressing their feelings to one another, while Coulson took time with Bobbi to differentiate his S.H.I.E.L.D. ideals  from Fury’s.

Keeping Fitz and Simmons separated this season has done wonders for individual characterizations, but sooner or later Mack or Bobbi would inevitably facilitate some confrontation. Again, it seems almost as though “Ye Who Enter Here” wasn’t quite ready to deal with any actual ramifications of the feelings gap between the pair, though at the very least we’ve moved to talking in the open, while Mack’s apparent fate will no doubt push the two closer together. I certainly hope we haven’t lost Mack for good, considering Henry Simmons has proven the strongest addition overall, a point neatly buttoned by the adorable interaction that saw the mechanic crafting a remote-control Lola and Coulson earlier on. Tripp meanwhile, continues failing to resonate by each superfluous add-on, even if ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ isn’t in the business of keeping alive characters we like.

Thankfully, we're well-stocked on Patton Oswalts.

Considering “Ye Who Enter Here"’s overall reticence to advance the story, it wasn’t altogether surprising to have a complication at the entrance to the city take a toll on the team before any actual exploration could begin. Mack Hulk-ing out proved an unexpected and genuinely intimidating surprise consequence of the Kree symbols, and it was especially effective to have almost each individual team member placed in some kind of peril or position before Bobbi could finally take him down. Still, it seems we’ll have to wait until next week for any actual revelations about the alien city, or what Skye’s father plans to do with it all.

The closing act also saw a somewhat surprising appearance from Ward, who mysteriously goes off-script from Whitehall’s plan to retrieve Raina and take down the ‘Agents’ once and for all, though we’ll need to wait for the second half of the winter closer to learn what, if any side, the character truly belongs to. If nothing else, the brisk pace and impressive action choreography throughout the hour kept things humming along nicely enough, even when Raina didn’t have altogether much to reveal about the hidden city, or Coulson waxed philosophical about his interest in protecting the common man.

Memorable moments like Koenig’s umbrella cloak or Skye’s extended fight with Agent 33 offer acceptable substitute for whatever cards the showrunners hold back until next week, and Ward’s latest betrayal offered some intriguing wrinkles in hour that boiled down to little more than “get to hidden city, or at least tease cryptically.” Not only that, but Fitz and Simmons clearly have more to work out, and it was a good use of the season’s strong supporting cast to nudge them along in getting there.

AND ANOTHER THING…

  • Someone help me, why was Agent 33 still in the guise of a burned May, now with robot voice? Are we to believe she's kept on the remnants of the mask, and her face lies burned beneath it? Was Maya Stojan simply not available another week?
  • It might be time to tell us the truth behind the Koenigs, funny as they are together.
  • Hmm, so what do we reckon Bobbi and Mack are keeping from everyone?

Well, what say you? Did ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’’s “Ye Who Enter Here” keep up the momentum as successfully as you’d hoped? How do you think the show handled the hidden city? Give us your thoughts in the comments, and check back next week for our review of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’'s midseason 2 finale, "What They Become” on ABC!