“This is my fault. I should have learned kung-fu.”
SYNOPSIS: Coulson and his team travel to Peru to recover a mysterious artifact designated 0-8-4. However, they run up against an enemy agent, Camilla Reyes, who also wants the item.
My spoilery thoughts on this week’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s second outing after the jump.
One thing I think we’re all going to have to make our peace with, sooner rather than later, is that Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is ultimately a promotional vehicle for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I don’t say this to belittle the show, because I actually think that it’s a brilliant move on Disney/Marvel’s part. They’ve got a primetime spot to essentially promote all of their cinematic endeavors, even if, at this point, all they have to do is say the words “new Marvel movie” to get people flocking to the theater. But between the Thor: The Dark World commercials this week, the Iron Man 3 DVD commercials last week, the constant reference to MCU continuity and the first of what I suspect will be many cameos for the show (I’ll get to that later), the entire hour feels like one big advertisement for a product I’ve already decided to buy. For me, as someone who will eat up just about every comic book property the powers that be deign to give me, it’s fun and I’m getting a kick out of it, but I wonder how it seems to people who aren’t quite as invested.
But hour-long advertisement aside, I’ll say that I thought episode 2, “0-8-4-” was a marked improvement over the pilot. I’m someone who really enjoyed the pilot, mostly because I set my bar for pilots really low. There’s often a lot of exposition, trying to distinguish and develop characters, and as a whole, they’re pretty problematic. And I think this ultimately goes double for pilots that come from the Whedons (when I say Whedons, I mean Joss, Jed AND Maurissa at this point), as they tend to spend a lot of time on set up. In the cases of Buffy and Angel, a season or so of set up and “monster of the week” stories paid off in the long run, so I’m a bit more lenient than I’d be with most shows. I know the pay off is ultimately coming, and we all just need to hold tight, stick around and wait for it.
“0-8-4” found the newly formed team headed to Peru to investigate an object of unidentified origin (I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot of these). Unfortunately the mission goes awry when a band of rebels attacks, and the whole team is forced to retreat, hastily taking the artifact– of presumed Hydra origin– back on their plane, “the bus” without being able to properly contain it or stabilize it.
Ultimately, the plot of “0-8-4” is a little thin. There’s an artifact, some rebels and a predictable double-cross or two. But it’s an episode that’s necessary. Our team as we know it have only been on one mission together and need time to bond. We need more time to get to know these characters. Coulson has the advantage of being a character that we’ve gotten to know since 2008’s Iron Man, but we’ve known May, Ward, Skye, and FitzSimmons only about a week. They’ve got a lot of MCU catching up to do. I’ve read a lot of criticism from reviews and watchers that the characters on this show are unlikeable, and that’s a place where I strongly disagree. Maybe it’s just because I’m a fan of quirky scientists, but I adore FitzSimmons, and look forward to getting more information on them. Agent Ward was a little generic in the pilot, but already in his scene with Skye this week, he’s starting to develop as a character. And I haven’t completely warmed up to Skye yet. Just like Skye herself, I’m not entirely sure why she’s on the bus, why she was allowed on a mission or why she was recruited at all. But I’m willing to give the writers the benefit of the doubt and wait for everything to fall into place. These things take time. But I’d hardly make the jump to “unlikeable” for any of the characters just yet. Hopefully, we’ve got a long way to go.
This week in continuity:
- Thor’s hammer was one of the last 0-8-4’s that Coulson went to retrieve.
- The 0-8-4 was fueled by tessaract technology and was said to look a bit “German.” I’m hoping this means they’re going to introduce Hydra as an ongoing villain, and not that they’re just throwing familiar Marvel words at viewers.
- Nick Fury! While Cobie Smulders made an appearance in the pilot as Agent Maria Hill, I think we have to count this as our first big cameo. I highly doubt it’ll be the last if the show sticks around for a while, and I love the fact that even Marvel TV isn’t immune to after-credits scenes. Samuel L. Jackson shows up just long enough to reprimand Coulson for destroying the bus and veto his plans for a fish tank. I was completely unspoiled for the cameo, so I basically flipped out at my television and burst into applause, but that’s totally normal, right?