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Trust the system? Trust the Hub? Trust Skye? Trust Coulson? When is OK to go off book? These are questions posed during tonight’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. I’m not even sure we got a lot of answers to them, but it’s certainly interesting to see the rules established — or acknowledged, anyway — and the bounds of trust explored among this group, which found itself split up as they headed into “The Hub.”

The episode began with a snowy extraction, and then led to Coulson and his team headed to the fancy Hub, where there are set clearance level boundaries, of which Skye has access to none. She didn’t even get a badge. She just has her bracelet, which tethered her to a magnetic wall panel the moment she tried to enter the corridor. Sorry Skye, the Hub doesn’t trust you. We saw her leash strained tonight, as Coulson went inside to work at the side of Agent Victoria Hand (Saffron Burrows), a woman with red streaks in her hair and a comic tie to the Marvel-verse.

In an effort to obtain the “Overkill” device in some Eurasian part of the world, Ward and Fitz were teamed up to be snuck across the border — after providing a bit of tech-support at an unfriendly bar — and then to extract the device after which they expected to be extracted themselves. Only there was no extraction team in place, a fact Hand knew but Coulson didn’t. Coulson spent half the episode encouraging people to trust the system only to have the system betray him and his team. He kept his cool with Skye when she approached him about the lack of extraction team — a fact she discovered after Simmons helped her hack the Level 8 Hub mainframe — but he was quick to take that little nugget of information to Hand to ask her why she didn’t think it was necessary to tell him that.

Maybe Coulson can’t trust the system. Or maybe what it comes down to is that he needs to trust his people first and remember that the system is made up of people who might not be so trustworthy on an individual basis. The problem is, he can’t totally trust his people right now either. At least, not in the case of Skye. Not yet anyway, and she seems to be feeling her way around this whole situation, trying to understand when she’s supposed to think (and act) outside the box, and when she should go off book. Coulson wasn’t happy that she hacked the mainframe, but looking at the situation from our perspective, he did run with the info she picked up, and he handed over a few new details about her parental situation, which was generous, all things considered. Sometimes it’s the stick with Coulson, other times it’s the carrot. Whatever works.

As for what Coulson found out about Skye’s background: An unidentified female SHIELD agent dropped Skye off at the orphanage. Coulson held some information back. The “Why” is apparently something he knows but can’t tell Skye. But Melinda Mae is going to try to help him find out what happened. What was it in the file in front of Melinda Mae when she said “Poor girl”? It looked like a photo of a woman face-down with blood around her.

Other moments

Did it seem like Coulson caught himself when Hand referenced Tahiti and he responded that it’s a magical place? It was almost like he didn’t even know why he said it. Or maybe I’m misinterpreting the delivery of that line.

Coulson’s talk with Melinda was great. And by “with Melinda” I mean, he talked, she did tai chi, and he thanked her for helping him

Fitz getting stuck in the doors.

Simmons would make an absolutely terrible secret agent. But an adorable one.

RIP Fitz’s sandwich. But I love that he lied to Simmons about it. She doesn’t need to know that Ward chucked it in the water. I’m really starting to love Fitz and Simmons as much as I wanted to before this show started.

Finally, I’m sure S.H.I.E.L.D. gets at least some of its lab equipment from Sears.

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