“We have to live with the choices we make, but sometimes we have to die with them too.”
The crew’s plane got wrecked last week, but was Agent Coulson and the team able to get back on course after last week’s holding pattern? Well, after 2 Pilots (last flying pun, promise), it looks like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may finally be underway. This week, we finally get to see what this show is capable of. We ditch the team building activities, and move on to an actual plot that, if we’re lucky, may just carry out over the course of the next few episodes.
This week’s episode, appropriately titled “The Asset,” focuses on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s “Priority Red Protected Asset.” This asset is a man named Dr. Franklin Hall (Ian Hart), who is sought after for his work with the element “Gravitonium” (do you see where we’re going here?), and also happens to be the former advisor Agents Fitz and Simmons (Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge respectfully). Unlike last week’s story and guest character, they seem to be building toward something with tonight’s episode. Toward what, I’m not entirely sure, but there are going to be repercussions, and I like it.
Agent Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) is shaping up to be the show’s lead, and I have to admit that I like him more and more with each episode, but he plays a relatively small, supporting role in this episode, which I’m completely fine with. Ward’s major story throughout this episode, as we saw last week, is training Skye (Chloe Bennet) to be a field operative. In his effort to teach Skye what it means to be an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., they talk about every agent having their defining moment (which leads to some story about birthday cake or something), and Skye definitely had hers in this week’s mission.
I’ve been very critical of Skye’s character so far, but tonight, I ate my words. Even though she can’t throw punches worth a damn, her decisions somehow still managed to throw a curveball at me. We aren’t quite sure where her allegiances lie, and I think that’s because she doesn’t quite know yet either. Before tonight, I saw it as a straightforward arc, with the rebel eventually realizing the good that S.H.I.E.L.D. does, but now I’m not so sure. They seem to be curbing the nonconformist act a bit, evening her character out by showing that, at times, it’s meant to be an act. She isn’t really sure what she game she’s playing, and we’re right there with her.
One of my favorite things about this episode is the fact that we finally get the spotlight on some of the characters that haven’t been given much screen time just yet, and it left me wanting so much more. We’ve seen glimpses of “Fitzsimmons” in the previous episodes, but they really got a chance to shine tonight, and damn if it didn’t serve up some of the most entertaining scenes in the entire show so far. I mean, really, that monkey line was fantastic. While they acted primarily as comic relief, I’d like to see more of their serious sides developed; I know there is so much more to Simmons, and does anyone else feel something between Fitz and Skye?
Unlike Fitz and Simmons, I wasn’t happy to see more of Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen). I just can’t stand that whole “reluctant badass” gimmick she’s got going. She doesn’t want to be used for combat, but then throws a fit when someone else who “isn’t ready” is getting put into a possible combat situation instead of her? She’s just a real pain in the ass at this point, but this episode promises that to be changing soon. However, if they keep her going in this direction, I’ll be fine with continuing to see as little as we see of her. It’s a shame, because her and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) really seem to have a fun back and forth when she isn’t sending a constant stream of shit his way for putting her in situations that she so painfully obviously wanted to be in.
In comparison to the previous two episodes, Coulson played much less of a role, but his character advanced so much more because of it. The way that they work in that things aren’t what they seem with Coulson was brilliant; in fact, it was so subtle the first time that they mentioned it, I almost wrote it off as the silly side of his character. Something much more troubling is brewing from those few months in “Tahiti.” Until we find out what really happened to Agent Coulson, it should at least be fun to see him piece together that even he isn’t quite sure what the hell happened after the Battle of New York.
“The Asset” makes me wonder if I was too quick with my judgment last week, but, with equally quick judgment, I think it’s safe to say that the show is starting to take the shape of everything I wished it would be. A solid story seems to be unfolding in the background, and it looks like they’re trying to buck the “flavor of the week” format that Arrow struggled with through its first season. If you’ve already tuned out and given up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., this episode would be the one to make you reconsider.