Either this show just made a huge turn around or it’s possible that headed into the third week of this column I am now suffering from Stockholm Syndrome and have started to unravel.
Hang on – I’m going to to see if there is any evidence of that in my notes. Be right back.
Okay – I’m back. Nope. The notes confirm it. Episode Three of MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. was actually . . . good. Perfect? Nope – not by anyone’s definition; but definitely a solid “Good”.
As the episode starts a tractor trailer is headed down a deserted road. The driver is a great big cliche of a trucker singing along with the radio right up to the moment he’s revealed to be a SHIELD agent. I really liked the idea of him being an agent and not just some generic truck driving yokel. There are two undercover SHIELD escort SUVs with him and as one advises it’s going off duty it’s suddenly flipped into the air as if it were a matchbox car!
Our cool, calm and collected trucker pulls up an advanced SHIELD HUD display on his windshield and starts to call in the calvary. The second SUV gets tossed and then finally the Tractor Trailer itself is upended by some invisible force!
With the truck incapacitated, Soldiers descend on the trailer and bust it open to reveal . . . some nerdy dude strapped into a chair within a vault. Very odd as we go to commercial.
We get back from commercial and find Skye and Agent Ward yammering on about her field agent training. She is resistant. He is persistent. She mentions that she never wants to do another pull up again and then something happens.
Agent Ward says: “If you find yourself hanging off the side of a 25 story building you may find yourself wanting to do at least one.”
This is the FIRST time Agent Ward has elicited ANY reaction from me. Next they practice how to disarm an adversary and even though it’s obvious she will probably be doing this in the episode at some point it didn’t make me wince or gag. It felt like . . . an actual scene in a TV show I would enjoy.
Skye makes a remark about the “truth serum” incident from the Pilot episode. If you missed it, Coulson injected Ward with a truth serum and essentially let her interrogate Ward to prove that SHIELD had nothing to hide and was sincere about wanting to recruit Skye for honorable purposes. The scene in the pilot made Ward look like an idiot, but after Skye mentions it in this episode, Ward advises that it was a ruse and that no such serum exists. He was playing along to get her to cooperate. She realizes she was duped and suddenly has more respect for Ward. Interestingly . . . so do I.
Just what the Hell is going on here? This is a MUCH better show already and we’re not even ten minutes in.
Coulson calls a team meeting and briefs everyone on the fact that the nerdy guy in the truck was kidnapped. His name is Dr. Franklin Hall and he’s a good guy. Apparently he’s such a valuable asset to SHIELD that they keep him hidden and drive him around in a bank vault. I don’t fully understand why but it doesn’t matter – the team heads out to the scene and the truck driver agent advises that SHIELD seems to have a mole.
This kind of play by play – recap is boring to me so it’s GOTTA be to you. Go watch the episode yourself and come back so I can tell you what seems to have changed here. Go ahead. You probably DVR’d it or can get it On Demand or on iTunes or something. I’ll wait.
Okay. You back? You saw it? It was pretty good right? See – I told ya.
I realized that the biggest change here is that they have a BAD GUY now. An honest to goodness ADVERSARY who seems rather three dimensional. If Ian Quinn is going to be the LEX LUTHOR to our heroes I am perfectly okay with that. It immediately changed the dynamic. You know what else changed for me? Fitz and Simmons weren’t as “cute” as they have been. They were still a little “cute” but giving them an emotional connection to Dr. Hall seemed to mature them a bit and allow me to take them more seriously. I actually found myself laughing at the “if we could just get a cute little monkey” bit. It was actually FUNNY.
I’ve liked Skye from the beginning even if I felt they weren’t really fleshing her out well – but that changed here too. The scene were she seems to sell SHIELD out to Quinn was AWESOME and I was shocked A) that she did that; and B) that she really didn’t. Okay “shocked” is too strong a word. I was pleasantly surprised by the clever turn of events. There. That’s better.
So after all that – not only did we get a solid GOOD episode that introduced an actual adversary – we got our very first honest to goodness super villain. We got GRAVITON ! Sure he’s locked in a vault but don’t you worry – he’ll be back. No question.
What was I NOT happy about? Ironically – Agent Coulson. I don’t mean Clark Gregg, I mean whoever is writing Coulson. We need a three episode moratorium on mentioning his Captain America card collection, or his near death experience or the fact that he was the “special friend” of the Avengers.
If Agent Coulson cannot be interesting enough without the constant reminders of his origin in the movies this show is doomed. Another issue with Agent Coulson this week – he’s on a field op sneaking into Ian Quinn’s compound wearing one of his “MEN IN BLACK” suits. Ward is in tactical gear. Agent May is behind on the bus wearing tactical gear. Coulson is running up the beach with his necktie flapping in the breeze. I get it. That’s HIS uniform. It just would have been much cooler to see him actually SUIT UP.
That being said – I really did like the bit about his “muscle memory” or lack thereof. Are they ACTUALLY setting Coulson up to be a clone or a robot or any one of a dozen or so Marvel possibilities here? I’d bet cash that the mystery of just what the Hell happened to Coulson is the cliff hanger this season eventually ends on.
Looking forward to next week!