“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Recap: Defying Gravity

Skye becomes a super spy, Coulson is devious and the origin story for a major Marvel villain.

Well, my fellow geeks and fanboys/girls, it seems that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is pretty much just what it seemed in the pilot—an actiony, spy/thriller sci fi show. For my money, if this show had come a decade ago it would rock. But in the wake of so many similar shows that demonstrated far more clever and original writing, MAOS is so far kind of just average. It’s pretty clear that the great Joss Whedon has limited creative influence, which is a damn shame.

The latest episode was probably the best yet. The thing that made it a cut above the others was a greater emphasis on character development.

Things kick off with a truck hijacking. Or, to put it more correctly, it was a truck HIGH-jacking. Because the super-secret convoy which consists of a semi and two SUV’s gets tossed through the air with the greatest of ease.

The thieves aren’t after money or  S.H.I.E.L.D tech. They’re after a guy, Dr. Franklin Hall and it’s not because he bakes the moistest chocolate chip cookies for the county fair. He’s one of S.H.I.E.L.D’s top scientists. I gotta say, if becoming a top tier scientist for a massive government agency means you are moved around the country like freight then it is so not worth it.

Phil Coulson and his rag tag bunch of underdogs are on the case, so there’s nothing to worry about. They arrive on the scene and murmur in confusion amongst themselves about how is it possible for a bunch of vehicles to be tossed around like Hot Wheels.

Really, show? In a world of The Hulk and Thor, a world Nick Fury said was “filling up with people who can’t be matched” you want me to believe no one immediately assumed telekinesis? Sure, they would be wrong, but to be completely unable to even offer a theory?

Moving on. Simmons, who took baby steps towards becoming a distinguishable character in this episode, discovers that the weirdness was caused by a wee gyroscope thingy. Fitz then babbles excitedly (he’s seriously adorable, but I can’t understand half the things he says) and eventually we have a suspect.

Ian Quinn is an entrepreneur, venture capitalist and visionary who has set up shop in Malta as a way to avoid taxes, regulations and Obamacare. He’s apparently an old pal of Dr. Hall’s, so he wanted to save him from The Man. He then tells Hall that he has a much bigger anti-gravity doohickey and he needs Hall to complete it.

Those of us who are Marvel Comic geeks know the name Dr. Franklin Hall well. And we are quietly spazzing out and dreading just where this episode is going. But the rest of you will just have to wait and see.

S.H.I.E.L.D can’t go into Malta because that would make the U.N. grumpy. They need to get someone inside Quinn’s Fortress of Richitude and no one has built the Vision yet. So Skye volunteers to use her hacker skills to get her inside. Why she had to get herself in and not Agent Ward isn’t really clear, other than the fact that it’s needed for the plot.

There is one smile-worthy moment when Agent May informs Coulson that she was absolutely not going into the field. He blithely tells he that he wouldn’t ask her to and that he was going instead. That puts her in the position of having to come off the bench to protect him. I like it when Coulson is manipulative.

After five minutes of self-defense training, Skye is sent into the field. Her devil-may-care attitude is at this point wearing a little thin. Chloe Bennet just doesn’t have Eliza Dushku’s blend of moxy and vulnerability to make this interesting and it’s pretty clear she’s a Faith wannabe.

Also, if she could stop drooling all over Ward, I would take it as a personal favor.

Skye proves quite adept at infiltration as she blends easily into the party. The rest of the team chills out on The Bus and frets quietly.

Surprising no one, the plan goes off the rails, foiled by a chance run-in with Quinn. Skye, thinking fast on her feet (which she deserves credit for) manages to make our villain think she is working with S.H.I.E.L.D against her will. He totally buys into that because S.H.I.E.L.D is a major pain in his behind and because she’s hot.

Skye brings down the villa’s defenses and Coulson and Ward move in. Then, for no reason I can fathom, Skye abandons all pretense and admits she’s working with S.H.I.E.L.D, for real this time.

Thus begins the really bad wrap-up to this mostly-okay episode. First of all, Quinn starts to monologue at Skye about how he can’t help feeling they could have had it all. He grabs her and shoves her against a wall and just keeps threatening and threatening instead of, you know, putting a bullet in her brain pan.

In an equally overwrought scene, Coulson faces off with Dr. Hall. Though, at least, Coulson did make a funny when he said, “To be honest, you not agreeing to come along wasn’t in the plan.”

Hall starts ranting about how dangerous his project is and how he is going to destroy the whole island of Malta to get rid of it. Coulson and he argue back and forth in an exchange longer than any Presidential debate. It just goes on and on while the device slowly picks up steam.

Skye is able to free herself from the dangerous armed men by using the disarming maneuver she learned in five minutes. But it’s cool that she doesn’t need to be rescued…..

Oh, wait, she does. Ward comes and saves her even as the island shakes like a Polaroid picture. And she clings to him and tears up and whatever. This pairing was obvious from the beginning and I am willing to go along with it as long as Joss puts his usual flare into it.

Coulson isn’t able to convince Hall to exit the crazy train, so instead he sends the guy into the swirling mass of gravitonium which he somehow deduces will stop the chain reaction. Or maybe he just realized it was the only way to get the guy to shut up.

Skye was so moved by nearly getting killed that she has decided to take her S.H.I.E.L.D training seriously. Or maybe it just has to do with wanting to get Ward alone and sweaty. Who can say?

Coulson has the blob of gravitonium put into storage—next to the Arc of the Covenant, I assume. And out last glimpse of it confirms what we geeks already knew—this episode was the birth of the super villain Graviton.

What did you guys think? What are you hoping to see from this show? Who are your favorites/least favorites? Discuss!