Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Eye Spy

"You’re gonna have to bromance him."

Okay, was anyone else having serious Fringe flashbacks while watching this episode?

From the way it was shot to the style of the music, everything about this episode’s cold open, which was really shot on location in Stockholm (way to splash the cash, ABC), was pure Fringe. By the ending of it I half expected that show's title sequence to kick in followed by a scene of Walter in his lab trying to create chocolate flavoured trees. Man, I miss Walter.

Déjà vu aside, this was an improvement over last week’s effort. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may not be improving by major leaps and bounds, but I am starting to feel like the writers are moving in the right direction. When I wasn’t getting distracted by Fringe comparisons and gross moments involving human eyeballs (seriously, guys, if you want me to keep watching every week no more of that please), I noticed that many of the problems viewers have been having with the show’s characters were being fixed. Fitz and Simmons no longer talk over each other at warp speed. Skye’s general Skye-ness is being toned down making her less annoying. Ward is being allowed to be funny. May is getting to do more than being a stoic badass and could possibly be the first member of the team to realise all is not well with Coulson.

From the moment it was first announced that Coulson was to be the star of this series, fans have been pondering how exactly that could be possible. It is a question that has plagued us for months, but it is not a question that anyone in the show has been asking. They all accept the official line that his death was faked. And why would they question it? These guys work for a covert spy organisation. Someone faking their death for the sake of a mission is probably a weekly occurrence.

Besides, it's not like anyone on the team knows Coulson that well. Skye is a newbie, Ward has worked alone most of his career and FitzSimmons have been stuck in the lab. May is the only one who appears to have any kind of history with him, but from their interactions I doubt they were ever BFFs. Akela is the first character we've met who knows Coulson well enough to notice something is different about him. She is first character to finally ask the question we've been asking. Will May shrug off Akela’s question or will she too start to question the circumstances of Coulson’s survival? The show needs to make some traction with this plot thread. We’ve been given nothing but breadcrumbs so far. It’s time we were at least given a slice.

So who was it that got Akela and unlucky former MI-6 guy to break into that room and catch a look at whatever it was that was written on that wall? Was it the same group who turned Gunn into Super-Gunn? It could be this Rising Tide group that Skye works for? Or maybe it's S.H.I.E.L.D.'s nominal foe from the comics - HYDRA (which is not an acronym, but in fact evidence that bad guys can’t use a shift key).

I wouldn't love it if that group was finally brought into the series. Every good fictional secret agency needs an evil organisation to do battle with. James Bond had S.P.E.C.T.R.E. (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion), the men from U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement) had T.H.R.U.S.H. (Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity), Maxwell Smart had KAOS (what do you mean that isn't an acronym?), and Sydney Bristow had…on second thought, let’s not talk about Sydney Bristow’s enemies. There are too many and I don’t have all day.

Intel and Assets

--Even with the lights out and a gun pointed at her head, I still think May would've won that fight.

-- I liked Akela and hope we get to see her again. Maybe we can have a scene where she and Nick Fury compare eye-patches.

--Seriously, I cannot stress just how quickly I will drop this show if there are any more gross eyeball scenes. No more, please. Ever!

--When I first saw those guys in red masks I thought they were creepy. Then I found out what they were really for and thought they were a bit silly.

Coulson: "Does she still say bang, when she pulls the trigger?"

Coulson: "Between Facebook, Instagram and Flickr, people are surveilling themselves."
Skye: "With many filters to choose from."

May: "Bus to Short Bus."
Ward: "Go for Short Bus."
Coulson: "Next time I'll decide what we call ourselves."

Coulson: "I prefer you not call me Phil."
Skye: "Okay, you’re the boss, A.C."
--No, don't do that.

Three out of four still attached prosthetic eyes that could explode at any second.


Mikey said...

I'm not big on onscreen surgery either, but lighten up. That was fairly tame, considering basically any other procedural on television.

So far as the episode, I thought it was just OK. I have a lot of faith in the Whedon name and Marvel, and I'm relieved it has a full season renewal. If I had known after watching the first few episodes of Dollhouse that it would become the operatic beauty it became in season two, I would be dumbfounded.

Hopefully ABC and Marvel allow this show to get weird and challenging and even dark.

sunbunny said...

I was meh on this one. I haven't seen an episode yet that I've really loved, but I have faith. (Faith? Whedon? get it?) I didn't really watch Fringe so I missed any similarities. I still can't get over how much the Bus is like Serenity but with money. I really wish we would take some time out from case of the week antics to work on the characters a bit more, particularly Ward. He keeps coming across like a piece of cardboard (but an attractive piece of cardboard).

migmit said...

Ward looks great in glasses. Can we have more Ward in glasses?

I completely agree, May would win if Coulson didn't interfere.

You know, I'm not MI-6, but if I end up unwillingly controlling somebody else... I would at list have some communication with this person aside from commands from my handler. Tell her I'm a friend. Give her some details in case she manages to get off the hook before me. Provide her with some e-mail address I only read with my good eye.

Anonymous said...

I thought Akela noticing something off about Coulson was not due to their previous association, but her getting a good look at him with her x-ray eye.

I'm enjoying that at least each episode seems quite different. I did look away from the screen during the eye surgery moments. It's easy enough to tell by sound when it's safe to look back. :)

Michal Dvorak said...

Now this was more like it! This was the first episode I actually liked. Not that there's no room for improvement, but it looks like the show is headed in the right direction.

Jess Lynde said...

I liked the balance of humor and drama in this one. Akela's situation was fairly intense and horrifying (I'm also not a fan of eyeball surgery stuff), but the team interactions resulted in a number of moments that made me laugh. I was particularly amused by the team calling Ward from the van for info on bathroom breaks and snacks. (He really should have stashed a wide mouth bottle. That little bottle wasn't really ideal for a woman or a man!) It nicely reflected the differences between the seasoned professionals and the field newbies.

I'm pretty excited that May has now been tipped off to something not being quite right with Coulson. Hopefully that leads us to interesting places soon.

JimGfromWI said...

I really liked this one as well. I noticed the director was Roxann Dawson - would that be the same Roxann Dawson from Voyager? I know no one seems to like Ward, but I thought the line where Skye says he's a robot shows they know everyone thinks he's a two-dimensional cardboard character, and maybe they'll do something about it. It's fun to watch a new series grow, as long as it's headed in the right direction. It's too early to tell yet, but I liked this one much more than last week's. And of course, I'm anxious to find out what's really going on with Coulson. Coulson still makes this show. I'm glad they made him the main guy.

Lamounier said...

This was the first episode I really liked. The entire cast was well used and likeable, and the arc stories are being set in motion. Good stuff all around, keep it up, show.

What a horrible situation Akela was living, glad she made it. I hope they bring her back, she was awesome.

Mark said...

We don't need HYDRA (although they are welcome to return). We need IM3 "A.I.M." to come back as their comic book version: yellow-hazmat-wearing Bond-villain army with Kirbyesque weapons. Along with M.O.D.O.K. as their leader.

Billie Doux said...

I just got to this one tonight (it's fall, my DVR is backing up) and I liked it a lot, too. I thought it was the best episode so far. And yes, JimGfromWI, that's Roxann Dawson from Voyager. She's become a kickass director. And maybe that's one reason why I liked it better. It had a better 'feel'. As Mark noted, the characters were a bit more likeable, too. I even liked Skye, who got nearly all the good lines. And I liked Akela. I hope they bring her back.

jencat said...

This was a definite improvement on the first couple of episodes (yay Roxann Dawson! I love that she and Robert McNeill both pop up directing things now). And the kill switch things were very similar to the ones used in Mission Impossible 3, I thought (the eye effects looked the same)...?

It was a massive improvement in that they stopped treating Ward like comic relief for once - they make so much of his skillsets that he has to be a lot smarter than they keep making him look - and, also, loved the Clark Kent look with the glasses! He and Skye actually worked well together and it was fun to watch (and did she actually call him 'SO'- as in 'significant other'- at one point? I couldn't think what else it stood for).

It would have been even more fun to have had Akela stick around on the team, as unlikely as that may have been...