Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S1 Ep03 – The Asset

Dr. Hall

Last week’s episode was so-so—a forced team-building exercise with see-through villains and some questionable acting. This week was better, but still shaky. For one, I’m liking Skye more. But on the downside, Ward is still less interesting than having to pick which color of beige to paint the bathroom.

Agent Ward talking to Skye

He goes great with white bread.

The thing of about action-adventure shows based around a team is that viewers have to like the team in order to keep watching. It doesn’t matter how many explosions or crazy high jinks that ensue, if we don’t love and care about what happens to the characters, then we’re going to get bored. Marvel has some great characters in their films: Tony Stark is hilariously witty but with a believable darkness pulled off perfectly by Robert Downey, Jr. Thor is a statuesque perfection of a man, but at his core is his love of family and dedication to doing what is right. Captain America, despite being someone who is so morally good it almost makes you vomit, still has his own demons to fight in addition to Nazis. These characters are all complex, and above all, unique and interesting. In the case of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Ward feels like every other white male hero character out there. He’s a bland amalgam of every Everyman to the point that you just don’t care because you’ve seen him before. In EVERYTHING. And his personality does not pop; it polite informs you that he’s mildly attractive and has the same level of charisma as a jar of mayo. I would be in favor at this point of replacing him with that monkey Fitz wanted so badly.

And the worst part about this is that Ward is clearly being pushed on us as team captain and male lead. But his “character development” for the episode just felt forced, and his confession about his older brother was completely underwhelming. It’s a shame that he’s taking up so much screen time when there are far more interesting characters on the show. Melinda May seems cool, but we haven’t gotten to see her do very much except for occasional bouts of bad-assness. I was afraid before the show started that with her being a woman and Asian she would be relegated to the quiet, ninja role, and so far that is what they’ve done with her. FitzSimmons are cute and funny and some of my favorites, but they have the “scientist” role: be smart and save the day by pulling an impossible solution from their rear orifice, but leave the bulk of the hour to the “real” heroes.

Agents of SHIELD, s1 ep03--Coulson and Ward dragging boat out of water

The man loves his suits.

Luckily we still have Coulson in a major role. You can’t not love Coulson. Even when we’re being beaten over the head with ominous hints about how he’s not the same person anymore—he lost his muscle memory, oh what could that possibly mean—he’s still interesting. It’s odd that I find Ward so bland when Coulson seemed to have been created as intentionally bland in the movies, but he’s taken that and owned it so that it’s part of his charm.

As for Skye, we got to see her grow a bit in this episode. Unlike Ward’s back story confession, hers felt real and believable. I don’t know which side she’s on—and that makes her automatically more interesting than Bored, I mean, Ward—but she has a singular determination to prove her worth to the team as an asset. She’s very young, and she’s found herself in over her head. She could be freaking out and rocking back and forth in the corner, but she has an inner strength and ingenuity that we got to see in this episode. She’s becoming a more likeable character, but I really hope they don’t go down the stereotypical romance route with her and Ward. You can see it a mile off, and I think it’ll only hurt the show. Especially since Ward oozes chemistry as easily as cardboard.

Now, before I go, let’s talk about that supervillain they just created. In the comic books, Dr. Hall becomes the evil Graviton. (Why exactly they decided to make up an element called gravitonium, when in the comics they used the actual theoretical particle graviton, I will never understand.) That previously established canon paired with the scene at the end, you just know he’s coming back. And in this version he was created by Coulson, so hello revenge story. I’m looking forward to seeing this guy pop up again and bringing some superpowered oomph to this show. It could use it.

Next week, Skye calls Ward a robot and everyone sighs because robots are actually cooler than he is…