Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D continues, with another decent effort, but by now self-evident flaws have been in place for enough episodes to know that they won’t ever go away. Thoughts:
-So, this was a “Pupil gone dark” story, that, again we’ve seen a lot of before. “Eye Spy” does add a bit of uniqueness to the whole thing of course, with a really nice crux to the affair, but you can’t help but feel that, much like some of the other episodes, we’ve seen this all before. The mentor character had an apprentice once, and that apprentice is now a problem. Is Coulson compromised? Can apprentice be brought back to the light? Find out after the break.
-The opening was weird, and way too long – at nearly seven minutes – for a teaser. You’d think the stuff with the guys in red masks would be more important to the overall plot.
-Is it just me, or are they starting to hint at either a future or past Coulson/Melinda relationship?
-OK, so this episode has a big Coulson/Skye focus as part of the aforementioned “Dark Apprentice” thing, and I thought that Director Roxann Dawson did that well enough, with Coulson struggling to adapt once more to the role of mentor. But the last episode had Ward in that role as opposed to Coulson, so I wasn’t as invested as I probably should have been.
-Seeing Skye goof off in the car sort of fit her, but it seems a bit like a step back from the way her character progressed in “The Asset”.
-“I live outside the box” might be the most over-used line in the history of action clichés.
-Oh, and while we’re at it, so is the “Vanishing behind a moving train” thing.
-I liked the whole mystery aspect of the plot and how it was eventually sorted out. There was a decent amount of intrigue to the Akela character, why she was doing what she was doing and how the team worked it out.
-Still way too many jokey moments throughout. It’s improved a bit since the abysmal pilot, but you still get the feeling that these characters aren’t taking the life or death situations they find themselves in seriously enough.
-Case in point: the section in the van, where Fitz, Simmons and Skye whine about having nowhere to pee and the lack of snacks. I was almost happy to see them get bundled over by Akela, a sequence that lacked a certain tension in its sheer clumsiness and unsubtle nature after the more subtle opening, in terms of showing off Akela skills.
-Coulson is obsessively trying to track down Akela, refusing to follow the proper channels, and Melinda is worried. A chance for some decent team dispute there, but ultimately it fell a little flat for me.
-Clark Gregg is a little bit better here than he has been in the first three episodes, but still not that much better.
-Ming Na-Wen had a better episode, but even she really didn’t have that much to actually emote about. It’s becoming a serious problem with the older characters on “The Bus”.
-I liked the first fight scene. Quick, brutal and with a nice cliffhanger ending…if the “Night Night” gun hadn’t already been shown off in the first scene. Oops.
-Ultimately, I liked the Akela character and her backstory. It was the right elaboration at the right moment, and set-up the third act very nicely, learning about this desperate woman and what she’s had to go through over the last few years.
-Some decent tension building during the third act with Ward’s infiltration and the surgery back on the bus. Something that’s actually been sorely lacking in the first three episodes, at least for me.
-Ugh, that “seduction” scene. So, so cringe-worthy.
-With the comments on how social media have made tracking people down easier than ever, you begin to wonder if the people behind the show might just have a slight agenda (sarcasm).
-Good ending, excellent ending even, wrapping up the divergent Coulson/Akela and Coulson/Skye plots while tying them closer together. With an inevitable quandary for Skye over her split allegiance, the relationship between her and “AC” is going to be very important as we continue along.
-“…But what did they do to him?” There are no words to describe how much I loved that line. It was perfect for hammering home, in as indirect a manner as possible without going off the topic, that something has changed with Coulson.
-Excellent closing shot of a closed eyelid. In a series that has already dallied with themes of privacy, it was the right kind of image to close off on for this show.
-I absolutely despised the epilogue, as much or more as the nonsense ending scene of “0-8-4”. Too much moronic humour at the wrong time. The eyelid shot, with Coulson’s last line, was the perfect closer, and “Eye-Spy” went and ruined it.
-I’ll admit, the show has me hooked in enough regards the mysterious organisation S.H.I.E.L.D finds itself up against. They have some ingenious methods and I presume they are linked to the Rising Tide. A.I.M? A Neo-Hydra? Time will tell.
So, some problems, in an otherwise fine episode, but that’s the sort of thing I’ve been saying for three weeks now. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D just can’t seem to rise above that point. It really needs a stand-out episode. A “The Body” or a “Reprise/Epiphany” or an “Out of Gas” to just generate some interest and unequivocal praise. It’s still early days, but the show is garnering an aura of being average and mediocre that seems more akin to Dollhouse than Whedon’s other efforts, and we all know how that worked out.
To read my thoughts on other episodes of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D, click here to go to the index.