Review: Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D – “The Bridge”

Spoilers

So, we reach the mid-season finale, which ties back into “Pilot” with the return of J. August Richards and attempts to hook the audience in enough to keep the show ticking over into January. Can Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, a show noticeably lacking in tension throughout its nine episode run, craft a suitable cliff-hanger? Thoughts:

-So, our mystery man from “The Girl in the Flower Dress” is revealed to be “Edison Po”, that is, a nobody in terms of the Marvel universe. His characterisation in “The Bridge” makes him out to be little more than a Hannibal Lector type, with a calm/creepy aura no matter what is going on around him or what he is doing.

-We open on a prison break-out, a decent little scene, with no mystery set-up as to the identity of Po’s rescuers. Did its job.

-Back on the plane, and Skye is narrowing down the likely candidates to be the agent who dropped her off at an orphanage. Coulson, who moronically led Skye down this garden path, now tries to pass the buck to May. Hmm.

-May is having a sparring scene with Ward while all that’s going on, the non-existing sexual tension transferring to a fight on the loading ramp. The attempt to push these two as a viable couple is not one that flies well with me, although the inferred moment that Coulson might have caught on about it could lead to something interesting.

-And CENTIPEDE is back. Oh, how I loathe that name. Anyway, they are the villains we have, and I suppose they are as good a Season One offering as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D could come up with, something basic, akin to the Master from Buffy. Except the Master was awesome and had an awesome name.

-And so is J. August Richards’ Mike Peterson. The character was OK in “Pilot”, just critically underdeveloped with some poor acting behind him, but he gets a lot more to do here. It’s good to get returning guest stars, and this show really could do with a bit more racial balance in its cast. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if Richards joined Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D full time.

-Peterson pushing the bulldozer through the pristine field was decently entertaining, as a exposition-less reminder of his powers and a nice visual moment. Looked a little fake though.

-I liked that May is against Peterson being on the plane, which made sense for her, though maybe not her fairly open criticism of her superior.

-The “He’s behind me, isn’t he?” trope is one of the most overplayed possible.

-Some decent set-up on the business cards from Coulson, tying into his retro obsession while swerving from their technological aspect.

-Peterson’s metabolism problems sort of mirror those of DC’s Flash a bit, and as the required weakness, work fairly well.

-What didn’t, for me, was Simmons charmingly befuddled fawning over Peterson, and Fitz’ obvious annoyance at same. That sub-plot between the two has stalled a bit, and they had such little involvement in this episode. But hey, at least it’s J. August Richards playing to form, getting the white nerd girl with the accent to fall for him.

-Was sort of confused as to why Fitz and Simmons were not told that their gun solution is what neutralised the Extremis in Peterson. It seemed like a notable plot point, but never came up again.

-So, Coulson and Ward are cruising around town in their convertible, talking about girls in a fashion so reminiscence to “Women, eh?” that I was actually surprised at the audacity of it. Still entertaining though.

-There was something strangely endearing about Coulson talking about “the cellist”. It was such a throwaway line in The Avengers, but added something to the Coulson character in a very simple fashion.

-“You ever see a beautiful woman play the cello? It’s something else.” A nice line. If Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has the longevity, I’m, sure we’ll meet her some day.

-Coulson telling Ward that relationships within S.H.I.E.L.D is “asking for trouble” was too much on the nose for me.

-As an aside, how boring is the music for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D after ten episodes? The same notes and themes used over and over. Not McCreary’s best work.

-I liked that May was initially annoyed when Skye calls her down for a meeting, expecting the worst from the hacker brat. Felt exceedingly natural. But at least Skye appeared to be getting things together in “The Bridge”, even if her complaining about the lack of recording equipment in prison meeting areas was a bit out of character.

-So, who is “The Clairvoyant”? Someone from the future? Po pulling a fast one? Some decent hooks there.

-Ruth Negga’s Raina is back in “The Bridge”. A very strange character thus far, wistful and childlike despite the occasional glimpses of a deeper malevolence. Interesting though, far more than Po.

-How do we see that CENTIPEDE has stepped up their game? Lots of the attachments on one person!

-Did not understand why the university student was seemingly all over Ward during their conversation.

-Peterson and Skye shared a nice scene at this point, two outcasts that S.H.I.E.L.D had taken in, talking connections and aims.

-I was confused about Peterson calling them the “Heroes of New York”, until I realised that, of course, no one in the real world would be calling them the “Avengers”.

-“Having powers is cheating…but the suit is pretty cool.” Nice line.

-But the suit was actually pretty basic though. Just some running gear really.

-I liked the fight in the warehouse generally, it was better choreographed than some of the other fight scenes in the series.

-Strange that the “Night Night” Gun didn’t work on the soldiers though. I can only assume that’s a plot thread that will be sorted out in the second part.

-“His vitals are low!” Why did that need to be said, when we could see Peterson had a pipe through him? It was like the production team was desperate for Fitz and Simmons to be involved somehow.

-The return of the eye bomb from “Eye Spy”, a very creepy instrument of assassination.

-Damn, that scene between Raina and Po in the car was just equal parts confusing and unnerving. Has Raina been brainwashed or something?

-Coulson notes how CENTIPEDE’s tech advances very fast, surely a plot point for the future.

-Loved the May/Ward scene next to the bar, and the crushing look of disappointment on May’s face when she realises that Ward might not actually be all that into her.

-And loved that she snapped at Skye. Finally, FINALLY, someone snaps at Skye and tells her off for her continuing selfish BS.

-Peterson and Coulson then share a decent scene in his office/living quarters, where Coulson dictates to him about having responsibilities it would do him no good to shirk. I like that part of this episode might have been a more subtle assessment of Peterson. It’s also further set-up for what is to follow.

-Man, Coulson’s room is really lowly lit right? Every scene in there has people half in shadow.

-The second Peterson got on the phone to his kid, I knew he was being abducted. As generic a set-up as possible.

-So, the grand finale, and a decent place to have it too, though not enough was really done with the place.

-Weird how that cement truck was brought into play. You’d think S.H.I.E.L.D would adjust their plans for something like that.

-“ I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure?” “Lucky for you”. Nice interaction.

-The swerve was not entirely unexpected, but still a partial surprise at least.

-It did fit that Coulson accepted what had happened I suppose. He’s a trusting guy, and they’d set up his understanding of how the parental relationship works, so in that regard, I liked the exchange scene. Coulson’s acceptance also spurs Peterson into running back into the fray, which was good.

-Explosion! Did Peterson survive? I would imagine yes, but I doubt he’ll last much longer.

-And Ward gets shot as well? I don’t think the cascading amount of teammates in deadly peril is really necessary.

-So, the ending further teases information about Coulson’s mysterious resurrection – “the day after you died” as Raina puts it – and I have to say that, if something substantial isn’t revealed in the conclusion of this two-parter, I’m probably going to start getting annoyed.

Overall, a solid way to end the first half of the season. Richards did well upon his return, there was some good action and I can say that I am sufficiently hooked to come back in January. On the other hand, still some really poor scripting choices, a main villain who is rather dull and an emphasis on sycophantic sub-plots on matters of the heart. “The Bridge” is better than average, making it one of the best episodes so far, but still lacks any other kind of punch.

Looking at the Whedon back catalogue, every other one of his shows had that stand out episode in its first ten. Buffy had “Angel”, Angel had “City Of…” “In The Dark” and “Hero”, Firefly had every damn episode and even Dollhouse had “Man On The Street”. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has nothing to match up to them. And as ratings hit a new low for this mid-season finale, you begin to wonder if it ever will.

To read my thoughts on other episodes of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D, click here to go to the index.

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2 Responses to Review: Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D – “The Bridge”

  1. Pingback: Review: Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D – “The Magical Place” | Never Felt Better

  2. Pingback: Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D Episode Review Index | Never Felt Better

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