Sorry, Josie, but I’m afraid it looks like that single flare won’t going up any time soon.
I’m starting to worry about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The ratings have been in steady decline since the pilot. If this downward trend continues the world will have yet another cancelled Joss Whedon show. At this point I'm not exactly certain if that would be a tragedy in this case. If the show keeps churning out episodes like this it is safe to say that I won't be shedding any tears about the show demise. Okay, maybe a few. I do like having my weekly dose of Coulson. This was the series' weakest yet. It wasn’t terrible, but it did highlight some of the problems the series has yet to overcome.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is currently suffering from what I like to call First Seasonitis. This is a serious condition that often affects shows in their infancy and can lead to some serious issues later in life if left untreated. In some cases it can even prove to be fatal. One of the most common symptoms of First Seasonitis is formulaic plotting, something that has blighted every episode of S.H.I.E.L.D. so far. The first two episodes at least managed to be entertaining in spite of this. This episode? Not so much.
It started out well enough. The opening heist was a great little sequence (loved the trucker turning out to be a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent), but it was steadily downhill from there. ‘The Asset’ was a bog standard “newbie agent with little to no training and zero experience in the field has to go undercover in the bad guy’s swanky mansion” story mixed with a dash of “rescue the kidnapped scientist” (something spy shows have been doing since the 60s) and just pinch of “supervillain origin”. Everyone one of these story threads played out exactly how I expected they would. There were no shocks, no surprises. Take out the all the superheroes and alien tech and this could easily be Alias or Nikita. A few more episodes like this and the show will be in serious need of a creative kick up the backside.
When cars weren’t being thrown into the air or Coulson wasn't accidentally creating supervillains, this episode mainly focused on the blossoming relationship between Skye and Ward. It is actually starting to feel like these two, rather than Coulson, are meant to be the main characters of this show. This wouldn't be too much of a problem if Skye and Ward were at least characters I gave a damn about.
Ward, who I found surprisingly likeable in the pilot, mostly because of that possibly faked truth serum scene, has quickly become this show’s version of Paul from Dollhouse. Paul, though, was at least played by an actor I like from a show I love. Ward doesn’t have that luxury. As for Skye, well, she just isn’t working for me. I didn’t much like her in the pilot and the following episodes have done nothing to make me change my mind. The tragic backstory they gave her in this episode was so clichéd I’ll be seriously disappointed if doesn't turn out to be made up as part of her cover.
Intel and Assets
--Just after I finished writing this review it was announced that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been picked up for a full season. This is the first time a Joss Whedon show has had a full season order since Angel's final season.
--Love how Ward was all dressed up in his combat gear for the op while Coulson was just wearing his suit. I bet he even sleeps in this suits. Or Captain America PJs.
--May suddenly deciding she wanted to be a field agent again was rather clumsily handled.
--Coulson appears to have no muscle memory. Yet more evidence that he's probably a Replicant.
--Franklin Hall is a villain from the comics known as Graviton (guess what his powers are?). I wonder if he'll be rocking the Rasputin look when he shows up again:
--Names for made up substances just don’t sound right when spoken out loud.
--Phil, did no one ever tell you that unhinged scientist + mad science machine = supervillain?
Henchman: "Kid's got balls."
Skye: "Thanks, but yuck."
Dr. Hall: "S.H.I.E.L.D.? Your search for an unlimited power source brought an alien invasion."
Coulson: "Fair point."
Ward: "I know Director Fury felt he owes you after you scarified yourself."
Coulson: "And my card collection."
Two and a half out of four well trained monkeys with adorable little hands.
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