Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Season 1 Episode 3
After three weeks and three explosive missions it seems as if the various strands that define Agents of Shield (a mixture of soap opera, blockbuster action and Marvel mythology) are starting to come together quite nicely. It’s still not a perfect mix. This week’s story finds us in well-trodden superhero/espionage territory, but there is a sufficient amount of quality material on show to reassure viewers that the pieces are coming together and that the series is starting to find its feet.
When Dr Franklin Hall, a prominent Shield asset, is kidnapped in an unexplained attack, Agent Coulson and his team rush to Hall’s aid. But they’re quickly swept up in a power struggle over a groundbreaking development in technology.
While Dr Hall may be the asset in question for the Shield team, it’s Skye who proves to be the advantage for the agents and for this episode. Here she’s at her temper-fraying best, proving herself to be a match for Agent Ward and his nonsensical clichés (‘How can you run if you’re curled up in a ball?’) and effortlessly manoeuvring herself into an exclusive, ‘E-vite only’ event that enables her to save the day. It’s her somewhat rebellious spirit that lifts the episode when it threatens to fall apart. It’s a nice touch to witness her suggested betrayal of Shield, a red herring that keeps the story engaging before neatly putting to rest any doubts about her true loyalties.
As the central villain of the piece, Quinn is an efficient opponent; he’s effectively the Don Draper of the Marvel universe, a handsome, charismatic opportunist who has just enough chemistry with Skye to make her manipulation of him somewhat believable. If there’s any fault to be found with his actions, it’s that he is perhaps a little too laid back in ensuring Skye is captured following the discovery of her true plan.
After her star turn last week, it’s disappointing to see Agent May effectively on the bench in this episode, even if she did put herself there by choice. As proof that the things you’re good at are not always the things that bring you the most joy, May sits this mission out, as she doesn’t want to engage in combat. The result is that she spends most of the time pouting and glaring, and fails to make a significant impact as the events unfold. Let’s hope she’s back on wrist-popping form next week.
The story truly comes into its own with the Coulson/Hall showdown, the big-budget conclusion of the story and a suitably mind-bending, Inception-inspired action sequence that sees them grappling with the morality of technology whilst rearranging the furniture somewhat. It’s the first time the series has thrown Coulson up against an adversary who feels like a suitable match for him – their scenes together offer a degree of effects-laden spectacle underpinned by a sense of emotional truth, presenting two characters struggling to do the right thing, although Hall’s plan involves him trying to sink the island of Malta like a modern-day Atlantis, for which he is suitably punished.
If episodes two and three are anything to go by, the final Shield scene looks set to become a weekly highlight, introducing aspects of the Marvel universe that will become important later in the series. It’s an effective tease for Dr Hall’s transformation into Graviton, a compelling promise of things to come for dedicated Marvel fans while offering enough intrigue for more casual viewers. Despite the fact that there are flaws, Agents of Shield concludes with a compelling clue that offers enough excitement to draw viewers in again next week.Tagged in: Avengers (Assemble), Joss Whedon, Marvel, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Nick Fury, Samuel L Jackson, The Avengers, Thor
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