Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Season 1 Episode 5

Alex Straker

MAOS Y1 004 EPISODE 4.013 copy 300x199 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Season 1 Episode 5Spoiler alert: Do not read this if you have not seen episode 5, season 1 of ‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’

Two steps forward, 10 steps back. That’s not a description of the series’ progress, much like episode four, this week’s dose of Marvel espionage is entertaining stuff, but rather it is a reflection of how good a job Skye does in this episode of losing all her hard-earned brownie points.

Like Coulson last week, she’s stuck between a rock and a hard place when her loyalties to Shield and The Rising Tide are put to the test. But unlike A.C. (is that name going to catch on? Doesn’t it make him sound like some kind of power adaptor?) she makes a lot of bad decisions, and is only rewarded with disapproval and a shiny piece of wrist jewellery for her efforts.

When the ever-elusive Centipede kidnaps another one of Shield’s assets/toys, the team utilise Skye’s insider knowledge in an attempt to locate the culprit. While Skye is forced to choose between betraying her Rising Tide ally/boyfriend and helping her newfound family, a mysterious girl in a flower dress manipulates her captive in an attempt to master his power.

Just when you think you have her sussed out, an episode like this indicates just how little we truly know about Skye. In less than 60 minutes she loses friends, alienates Coulson and very nearly gets herself kicked off The Bus. As fun as it is to see her hacking skills and technical abilities being put to good use, she’s far more adorable as a screw up, demonstrating that she has bad taste in men (her handsome boyfriend violates the Rising Tide Code of Conduct and sells information to the girl in the dress) and is ultimately out of her depth when it comes to outsmarting her team mates – May in particular is not to be trifled with.

So kudos to Chloe Bennet, whose portrayal of Skye’s true motivations at the end of the episode in her first genuinely honest scene of the series wins back much of our sympathy, giving the character a tangible, believable motivation, she effectively screwed over her new family because she is desperate to find out what happened to her original one, and revealing the remorse she feels at having made such decisions. By the time Coulson deals out her punishment – understandably ‘You’re grounded’ isn’t really an option, seeing as they’re on a plane – and slaps that ASBO bracelet on her wrist we’re back on Skye’s side, which reveals how nuanced the approach has been to date, at least towards her character.

Unfortunately the story-of-the-week is still the least interesting aspect of the episode. While it’s compelling that the show is able to deliver a movie in miniature every week, one drawback is that it makes it difficult to form the necessary depth of connection with the various guest characters. Scorch is initially given a promising introduction but swiftly becomes less exciting as he heads into darker territory.

On the other hand, Ruth Negga’s dazzling femme fatale is effortlessly absorbing, and the hint that she will have a long-term presence on the show is yet another reason why viewers will likely keep watching. Negga’s Raina is sultry, dangerous and mysterious, managing to make floral print dresses sexy again; she somehow comes across as extremely powerful, partly because she never has to raise a finger to defend herself. Shield is clearly building up to an intense series of confrontations in the weeks to come – we can only hope it continues to hold its audience until it gets there.

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