Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Season 1 Episode 2

Alex Straker

shield 2 300x199 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.   Season 1 Episode 2

SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen episode 2, season 1 of ‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’

This week’s mission/‘team building’ exercise on Shield involves a trip into the Peruvian jungle, a potentially life-threatening (but pretty) weapon everyone wants to get their hands on, and a mutiny at 30,000 feet. Coulson’s only just got back from ‘Tahiti’, but by the end of the episode I’m guessing he could use another getaway.

This high-octane instalment might even be more hectic than the series opener. Coulson and company are called to investigate an ‘0-8-4’ (they don’t know what ‘0-8-4’ stands for, which means it’s probably a euphemism for something disastrously bad).

But with the possibility that it might be something of use (Coulson mentions the last ‘0-8-4’ led them to ‘a hammer’), they head off on a salvage mission to Peru. When they get there they don’t find Thor frolicking in the foliage, but rather discover the Holy Grail of Tesseract tech. With the device in hand and accompanied by a surprise ally of Coulson’s, the team are relieved to be out of harm’s way – or so they think.

As a whole the ensemble feels much stronger this week. Early on in the episode, Skye moves onto the Shield plane, which they have fondly named ‘the bus’ (which to the average geek makes perfect sense; I call my three-wheeled tricycle a Ferrari all the time). ‘The bus’ almost feels like a character in itself – it’s an expansive set that remains somewhat homey even after the team have torn a hole in its side.

She may have made an underwhelming first impression as the Shield pilot in the pilot episode, but Melinda May turns out to be one of the best things about this week’s mini-movie (second only to a surprise guest who steals her thunder, but more on that later). May’s somewhat abrupt style is played to great comedic effect (she dislodges her wrists and escapes from her restraints, takes out one of their attackers and frees the rest of the team, all without getting a single hair out of place), and she causes some serious damage in several well-choreographed martial arts sequences.

But whereas last week’s episode had a strong ticking time bomb element in play to keep viewers on the edge of their seats, the sense of urgency isn’t as strong here (we never really doubt that Coulson will pull through). As the pre-credits teaser gives us a sample of what is to come, the discovery of Camilla’s betrayal isn’t as big of a surprise as it could have been had we been totally in the dark about the episode’s final confrontation.

What works well is the Snakes on a Plane-esque ending – at that altitude, punching a hole in the side of your aircraft and letting mother nature vacuum away your enemies is a good way to solve your problems. It’s an exhilarating action sequence that enables Skye to demonstrate her skills outside of computer hacking. The moral of the story, as proved by Skye, is that you should always read the plane’s safety brochure. Don’t say that TV never taught you anything useful.

Of course the real delight of this episode is saved to the very last moment, with the surprise cameo of Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, whose brief presence and comedic scene with Coulson is the icing on the cake for this episode. ‘Talkin’ to me about authority!’ is up there with ‘Royale with cheese!’ in the quote catalogue of Samuel L. Jackson lines, and his interaction with Coulson is a reminder of what this series might become once it hits its stride: the central link for Marvel’s highly successful franchises.

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  • Tribeless

    More American drivel. A plummeting decompressurised plane and all the occupants are neither breathless or cold. This dross is typical of American production companies.

  • Grando

    The Independent website. Come for the articles, stay for the pedantic comments.

  • Grando

    In other words, It’s a TV show about a secret team that investigates unexplained events, set in a world with a radioactive green giant, a Norse God, a man in a suit of armour and a 70 year old super soldier…. and your worried about the lack of realism……..

  • Janel Jones

    Good review. Yes, S.H.I.E.L.D. is developing well into a family-friendly fantasy adventure for all those teens and pre-teens who are hooked on the Marvel movies. As for “reality” … remember The Avengers? Teenagers in every era need escape.

  • Tribeless

    How dare you! Steed and Peel’s adventures with eccentric megalomaniacs never stepped outside the laws of physics.

  • Tribeless

    Well, I’m in my late 50’s and I’ve never so much as looked at a Marvel comic. This was the first Marvel production of anything I had ever seen in my life and it just confirmed my childhood opinion that my school friends who bought Marvel comics were simply wasting their money.

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