Episode four of Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues the show’s tendency to target family audiences, so in the interest of avoiding another week of ranting, let’s take a look at the show from an alternative (more forgiving?) point of view.
Let’s bitch it out…
The case of the week is Akela Amador (Pascale Armand), a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent long presumed dead who turns up at the site of a deadly jewel heist in Sweden. The opening scene in the subway is a fun diversion: initially the band of Step Up! extras in red masks look like the threat…until Akela takes them out in the dark. In short order, Coulson (Clark Gregg) fills our intrepid crew in on her background and they discover that she’s essentially a compromised cyborg who’s being forced to do the bidding of an unseen puppet master with a failsafe jury-rigged in her false eyeball. Oh…um okay!
The revelation does little to reassure Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), who for the first time butts heads with Coulson and ultimately takes matters into her own hands (and feet) in a brief, well-executed fight scene. Since Coulson is the leader of this rag-tag band, though, he gets things back on track by setting up a proxy mission comprised of Ward (Brett Dalton) and Skye (Chloe Bennet) to gain intel on the mystery man behind the curtain. This produces more awkward/flirty banter between supervisor and trainee, but thankfully manages to avoid the semi-campy antics from earlier in the episode when Skye and the wonder idiots (Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge) became Akela’s target while trapped in the van. Allowing both Skye and Ward the opportunity to demonstrate the unique contributions they bring to the team is a smart move since it doesn’t strain credibility, like in last week‘s mission when Skye went undercover.
As expected, everything more or less works out. Fitz & Simmons manage to save Akela after performing some icky eye surgery and another supervillain is introduced (this time they go unseen) when it becomes clear that Akela’s Englishman handler (Dominic Burgess) is nothing more than a stand-in and he’s immediately executed.There’s even a bit of a mini-cliffhanger as we’re left to wonder who the true villain is and why they are so eager to secure an image of what appears to be an alien math formula (perhaps they’ve been watching recent episodes of CBS’ Elementary and know that there’s money in math?)
Overall this is a solid outing for viewers looking for an entertaining 42 minutes diversion that doesn’t require significant mental heavy-lifting. At this point it’s becoming more and more clear that this is the series that S.H.I.E.L.D. wants to be. More discerning viewers will need to decide if the four-quadrant, “all ages” format is fulfilling enough for them or if they need to jump ship. For now, we’re still hopeful that the series will build on the goodwill – and its developing roster of villains – to become something a little more meaningful than what we’ve seen.
- Having just watched Iain De Caestecker in the amazing BBC 3 drama The Fades it’s criminal to watch him do so little here. I can appreciate that Fitz and Simmons likely have fans, but for me these two remain little more than caricatures at this point and they remain the most frustrating element of the show. It would help if the two were separated so that we can get a sense of who they are on their own
- The Skye/Ward romance is still very much a go. Their chemistry in the latter part of the episode is far superior & interesting to the first half of the episode (when Skye annoyingly calls to inquire about the bathroom and snacks). Here’s hoping the writers strike an intelligent balance if they pursue this storyline
- I expected more from the show than the mild gay panic Ward’s experiences when he’s ordered by Akela’s handler to “seduce” the guard. I will, however, applaud Dalton’s comic delivery of “Help?”, which reminds me of an early David Boreanaz as he adjusted to playing Angel
- At this juncture, a good test of whether you’re expecting too much from the show than it’s prepared to deliver: did you laugh when Skye accidentally drops the gun’s cartridge instead of turning off the safety (as explicitly foreshadowed earlier in the episode)?
- Coulson’s comment about the ease of spying on people thanks to Facebook, Instagram and Flickr sounds like something my dad would say about the “dangers of technology.” 2009 called and wants its reference back
- Finally, everyone should know better than to name their ride “shortbus”
- Coulson (to Ward, regarding Skye’s training): “She stop saying bang when she pulls the trigger?”
Your turn: is the show meeting your expectations or is it better suited for family friendly audiences? Do you want to see Fitz and Simmons separated? Did you like Melinda May’s more assertive attitude? And finally, who is the villain interested in the $30 million math equation? Hit the comments below
Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 8pm EST on ABC