Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S1 Ep02 – 0-8-4

agents of shield, s1 ep02--Skye, Simmons, Fitz, and Ward tied up

After the excitement of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s premiere, it’s interesting to see where the second episode goes following something so highly hyped and well received. The second episode of a new show tells you a bit more than a pilot can about where the writers are hoping to take the characters and the story, but a lot of the time the second episode can also suffer by going from the epic adventure of something new to the mechanics of getting into the swing of things and setting up whatever the show’s standard formula will be. That’s not to say this was a bad episode, far from it, but it’s got a lot to live up to after following the pilot.

agents of shield, s1 ep02--Ward and FitzSimmons in the lab

Sometimes I doubt Ward’s commitment to sparkle motion.

In the first episode, the team gathered together. This episode, they have to figure out how to be a team and how to work together. This is a meaty episode for character development and learning how these disparate people can come together to become a working whole. I’ve gotta say that so far this show is reminding me of the various Stargate spin-offs, in a good way (funnily enough, Ming-Na Wen was in Stargate: Universe). Sure, it’s bigger budget and much more mainstream than Stargate ever was, but it has a lot of the same elements: a group of scientists and military members come together under a secret government organization that is aware of alien technology to explore the strange things that come with living in such a world and to ultimately save the day. At the heart of Stargate was the team, and that seems to be true here too. So the team has to learn to work together, to figure out where each of them fits in while also having to sort through their clashing personalities. This reminded me a lot of The Avengers in how the team keeps bickering but then they unite to fight a common enemy. This was pretty much Agents Assemble. Everyone argued but they got their stuff together and came to the rescue.

It was nice to see more of the characters this time. They’re very gradually being fleshed out. Coulson is still a bit mysterious—we see his obsession with collectibles referenced again, but there’s so much of his past that we don’t know about. And that was also highlighted by his relationship with Camilla, who sadly was a bit too cliché. But the mystery is also part of his charm. Especially the mystery about how he came back to life. He called Tahiti a “magical place” again, which sounds like a hint at how magic may have had a hand in his recovery. Or maybe it’s just a programmed response.

agents of shield, s1 ep02--Melinda May being a badass

Melinda May being a badass

Melinda May really had a chance to shine. Even though she probably had fewer lines than most everyone else, her personality really comes across through her precise, obviously honed movements and her stoic calm. She’s possibly the most competent of the entire team in combat (she earned the nickname The Cavalry during her time in the field) and she also has a cool mysterious past, like Coulson, that we see hints of. Ward on the other hand is still as bland as he was in the pilot. He’s too much of that generic, good-looking hero type. He’s supposed to be the team captain, but he’s coming off as kind of “meh.” I hope he grows a personality sometime soon.

Skye is another character who’s not quite working for me yet. I see where they’re going with the character, and what they’re trying to do with her personality, but Chloe Bennet’s performance is a bit shaky. The reveal at the end of her potentially being a double agent should give her some good stuff to work with, and opens up plenty of great possible–if predictable–storylines, but her characterization is still lukewarm.

agents of shield, s1 ep02--Simmons and Fitz in the lab looking at hologramsThen there’s FitzSimmons. I have to admit I’m always partial to the scientists in these types of shows, so my love for them may be biased. They have a fun dynamic, and when they technobabble all at once it sounds like they’re speaking their own language. Simmons is always cheerful and happy about everything, even if she has to force it, so in some ways her real self hasn’t gotten to come through yet. We’ve seen her get upset when dealing with pressure and danger, but she has the mask of boisterous happiness to hide behind most of the time. If there’s nothing else to her personality then she might end up becoming nothing more than a science prop, so I’m hoping there’ll be an episode or two where we get to see that force-field come down. As for Fitz, I think I love him purely for his Scottish accent, but he also reminds me of a couple characters that I adore: Scotty from Star Trek and Rodney McKay from Stargate: Atlantis. He has that awkward, works-better-in-the-lab-than-with-people vibe with a hint of I’m-brilliant-and-I-know-it. I am a little perturbed that he’s being allowed the harsher, more irascible personality while Simmons has the bubbly one—though if things were reversed people would probably just call Simmons a bitch, so maybe the world’s not ready for that yet. Still, these two are some of my favorites. If only they were the ones being overtly set up as the center of the team instead of Ward and Skye.

agents of shield, s1 ep02--Nick Fury sad about the bar

He loved that bar.

In addition to character development, this episode was also full of yet more references to the Marvel-verse: Stark gets another mention. The last 0-8-4 they’d found was Thor’s hammer. And the mystery device this time around was based in tesseract technology, aka that glowing cube in Captain America. But the biggest reference of all was the cameo of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. That ending was the best part of the episode, hands down. That doesn’t mean the writers should overdo it with the cameos and references, but it is always fun to see.

So what do you think of this week’s episode? Are you still hooked? Sound off in the comments!