This week, on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Agent Coulson and the S.H.I.E.L.D. team try to track down a mysterious woman who has single-handedly committed numerous high-stakes heists. But when the woman’s identity is revealed, a troubling secret stands to ruin Coulson.
Matt: Ok, this was a cool one. A former pupil of Coulson’s (Coulsonite? We can decide on that later) was being controlled by an unknown force through the implant in her eye. They made it personal for Coulson, and showed him clash with Agent May, whom, in my opinion, he respects the most. The unknown force has to be one of two things. It is either Graviton, or S.W.O.R.D. This episode finally felt like the plot wasn’t secondary, and it helped the show out immensely, because it looks like it found its stride.
Laura: This episode had a much stronger plot starting from the intro all the way to the twist ending (the Englishman was a victim all along too! gasp!). It was immediately obvious. Making it personal for Coulson (and then May, by way of her decision changing the entire direction of the story essentially) made the stakes higher for the entire team and gave them a stronger motivation. I was definitely very satisfied.
Diego: I feel like each episode is better than the last, which is either good or mediocre, depending on how you felt about past installments. I feel like the show is getting better, but it still is in first gear. I think, from the admittedly very shallow pool of episodes, that the problem the show has right now is that its plots aren’t based on character or themes, and worse, they mostly don’t affect them either. Say, with Dr. Hall last episode or Akela Amador in this one. They had ties with team members, but besides mentioning the connection, little was made of it. It’s a better episode than the last few, but still has some infuriating bits.
Matt (reply): I think it is almost like they don’t know what to do to relate it to the characters. Well, there was an interview with Kevin Feige about what to do with Punisher and Daredevil. I think I know…….
Diego (reply): Glad we all agree on it being a better episode. I quite like the twist too, Laura. And Matt, I feel like it’s too early for Graviton (although we’re sure to get a escape-from-the-Vault episode later this season), but I’m still holding hope for S.W.O.R.D. appearing here. Although now I wonder, given that that organization first appeared in an X-Men comic, if they can use it.
Matt: The character development is like my Grandma at the grocery store. (Slow moving and all over the place). However, this episode, there was some interesting things. Agent May telling Coulson “More like 3” when Coulson says “I owe you one”. This could simply refer to the 3 episodes beforehand, but it could be made into something more. Agent Ward looks like Clark Kent with glasses on. Maybe he was trying to act like Superman – which is why he didn’t have a gun? That bothered me. Why would he have to take a gun off of someone? He usually always has one. The last part of course is the best. When Akela asked “What did they do to him?” to Agent May. Was Agent May playing dumb? Or does she honestly not know? While the character development could be better, It definitely has a lot of little things that are keeping me intrigued.
Laura: Ok, I literally took notes of some of my favorite things the characters said because I just couldn’t stop laughing. Skye made the episode for me. After she, Coulson, and May investigate the crime scene at the beginning and she finishes giving her input, Skye says, “I’m gonna go play with my phone now,” and walks less than two feet to sit down on the subway. She calls Ward mostly to ask how they’re supposed to pee (a valid concern), and when Ward is instructed to seduce the male guard she’s well aware that his inability to have nice, human interactions will likely result in his death. I just love the girl. And I loved the two scenes between Skye and “AC,” as she’s decided to nickname Phil. It slowed down the story just enough to reemphasize that these events are going to mean something to each of them.
Also, I appreciate Fitz’ inability to watch anything involving going near the eye. Dude, same here. I can’t even watch someone take out contacts without wincing.
All in all, the characters just felt a little bit more real this week. Another good step in the right direction.
Diego: Finally, the team is functioning as they should. Everyone’s playing to their strengths (or, like with Ward, coming up for solutions to their weaknesses). Skye still is the standout, being funny and showing some personality beyond her role in the team. Ward asked to seduce the guard was really funny, and showed that the actor can do a lot more than be the standard muscle. Shows that maybe it’s the writing that’s painting him into corners, and no the other way around.
Matt (reply): I think Skye is the strongest character because she is our “in” to this secret organization that is SHIELD. It feels like she is the character they spend the most time writing so we can relate.
Diego (reply): Haha! Great analogy, Matt. At least, we are all enjoying whatever tidbits they throw at us in this category, so I hope they keep doing that.
Laura (reply): I did really appreciate what they did with Ward in this episode. It wasn’t by any means a huge change, but having him confronted with a situation he wasn’t sure how to handle and just saying “I’ll try to be friendly!” and then failing spectacularly at it was good.
The Mythology and The Theories
Matt: Like I mentioned above, the biggest part was Akela asking “What did they do to him” referring to Coulson. The general consensus seems to be that he is a life model decoy. Well, Akela’s line made me rethink that. The way they worded it sounds like he is the same physical person. A life model decoy would be a completely separate physical being with the thoughts and persona of someone. I think Akela would have said “What did they do with him” (“They switched him out for a LMD”) or “What happened to Coulson? (“He died so we have this instead”), but the way it was phrased, makes it sound like she was referring to the physical being that just walked out of the room, and while she knew something wasn’t right, she acknowledged it was actually him. That is how I took it anyway. I could be overanalyzing it, but there was 653 different ways to say that question and they settled on that.
Laura: Obviously, there’s the big baddie that wasn’t revealed at the end. It’s good that their establishing that someone is out there who might be smarter, have better equipment, and be a few steps ahead of them. It’s likely the same entity behind the centipede in episode one.
Diego: Even though the plots (and understandably, the budget) don’t show it right now, few things are better prepared and have more resources than SHIELD. So, whoever is pulling the strings here is on another plane. Maybe even literally. That picture Ward took, what do you think? Alien is my bet. Chitauri/Skrull?
Matt (reply): Laura – I do like the thought of a big bad as well. Diego – I hope we see more alien life after Thor 2 because it looks like Thor/Heimdall found a way back to Earth, so others could too, and if there (potential Thor 2 spoilers ahead) is a battle in London, there will be Asgardian fallout they have to take care of. With that being said, I hope they resort to relying on the films as a crutch, rather, use them as an enhancement.
Laura (reply): Matt, I do think you’re over-analyzing just a tiny bit, but only because having her say “What did they do with him?” would be a little too obvious that the wording was extremely important. They want us to be intrigued and alert, but not 100% clued in. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what they want, problem is I also think they’re underestimating us. We’re smart viewers, and a lot of them are very aware of the extended Marvel universe. So who knows.
Diego (reply): I hope it is the same big bad as before, Laura. We really need someone to root against here, or some purpose other than “let’s go solve cases!” every week. I took Amador’s line as being more literal, Matt. She might have seen Coulson with her X-Ray eye, which means that whatever happened to him is physical and inside him. The presence of the X-Ray glasses in the tag tells me it’s not the last time we’ll see those.
So he still might be an LMD, but I sincerely hope he’s not, given that everyone and their grandma has made that prediction. Even if he is, what’s more important is the reason they brought him back.
Diego: I am hard on the show because I know it can do better. If I have higher expectations for the show right now, it’s because I know they can fulfill them. In other words, I’m not angry, just disappointed. This episode is another step in the right direction, and I hope it continues to be that way.
Matt: This was a very small look into what the show might settle in to be. Now that they got a full season order, they can find their stride faster. I enjoyed this like the others. It hasn’t blown me away yet, but it is still very enjoyable. Maybe its because my thirst for a cohesive universe is almost unquenchable, but I think the show, once it finds its footing, will really thrive.
Laura: As I tweeted super excitedly, this was a great improvement. It’s still not to where it should be, but it felt much more put-together, more intriguing, more natural. I’m actually looking forward to what they’ll do next.