Although this episode sent the team to Casablanca and there was a climactic gun battle on an ice-locked container ship, Making Friends and Influencing People was a more low-key episode than the previous actionfests of this second season.
Central to the story - which also saw the return of Donnie Gill (Dylan Minnette), aka Blizzard, from Seeds - was the revelation of what has become of Agent Simmons.
Unbeknownst to all in her team save Coulson and May, she has infiltrated a Hydra base headed up by the seemingly immortal Nazi villain Daniel Whitehall (Reed Diamond), who spends most of the episode attempting to brainwash a kidnapped S.H.I.E.L.D. operative known only as Agent 33 (Maya Stojan).
While it was great to see the delightfully Keira Knightley-like Elizabeth Henstridge get more screen-time as Agent Simmons, the episode was stolen again by Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), left behind by his colleagues for his own safety, who takes it upon himself to confront the captured Ward.
When I learned that Ward (Brett Dalton) was staying on this season as a core cast member I was rather confused, given the ending of the first season, but now his role - and his interactions with Skye - is shaping up to be something quite interesting.
My biggest fear now for Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., given that it has become the spy-versus-spy, spy-fi versus supervillain show I was looking for, is that now it's settled into a solidly serialised format with an increasingly complex mythology - in the wake of the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier - it will become increasing hard for new viewers to just jump onboard and expect to pick up the narrative flow.
Basically, as the show gets better and better, it becomes increasingly inaccessible to a new audience (as is often the case with modern TV serials). And I fear it needs those new viewers to prevent its rating sliding into cancellation territory.
Hopefully, Marvel will be able to convince ABC to keep the show going, as a useful complement to their raft of upcoming movies, as this integration across two parallel media is a pretty unique experiment in my books and a canny way of encapsulating the comic book experience of ongoing (never-ending?) storylines.