REVIEW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D S1E2-5 “Pieces Solving a Puzzle”

SPOILERS AHEAD! The first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was filled with “monster of the week” episodes.  These were episodes that didn’t feel connected to anything.  Quite a few fans felt unhappy with this and dropped the show before it really became serialized.  Ask an MCU fan who doesn’t watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. anymore when they stopped watching—9 times out of 10 it’ll be within the first 10 episodes.  Unfortunately, the creative team had their hands tied, because the pacing of the season was contingent on Captain America: the Winter Soldier.  Still, they planted seeds for the next season and added some information for this season’s story (even if we wouldn’t realize it until later).  For die-hard fans who slogged through the bad episode, boring episodes, or episodes that seemed to just not matter, we would eventually be rewarded with major payoffs…well…with a few exemptions.  For example, Mo?  Jed?  If you Whedons are reading this, please give Fitz a monkey.  Hasn’t he earned it?

Fitz: If we had a monkey, we could get in.

Simmons: Ugh, Fitz.

Fitz:  If we had a small monkey, he could slip through the small sensors and disable the fence’s power source with his adorable little hands.

Season 1 episode 2 (“0-8-4”) was a by-the-book episode.  The team starts out arguing, bickering, not getting along.  They find that, in order to win the day, they have to work together, creating a bond and helping them form a team instead of just being individuals who work next to each other.

Skye: Usually, one person doesn’t have the solution.  But 100 people with 1% of the solution–that’ll get it done.  I think that’s beautiful, pieces solving a puzzle.

“0-8-4” only has a few good moments: Skye talking about “pieces solving a puzzle”, May referring to the Bus as “Shield-616”, and Fury yelling at Coulson for the hole in the plane.  Most people don’t like this episode.  They complain about it being a bottle episode or bad airplane physics. (People don’t really get sucked out of planes like that.)  However,  I found magic beyond the flaws.  Six people who are nothing alike come together to form a family, and it starts right here.

“The Asset” was better.  In this episode, the team plots a rescue of Fitz-Simmons’s mentor from mogul Ian Quinn who wants him to help with a new element called gravitonium.  Instead, Quinn escapes and Dr. Hall falls into the gravitonium to become Graviton… never to be heard from again. Mark Kolpack’s VFX with gravity being all askew and the fluid gravitonium was beautiful.  He once said that fire and water are the hardest things to build, but I imagine this was close. Skye started training as a field agent and we got another clue to the Coulson question.  Somehow, he had lost his muscle memory.  What does it mean?  Is he a clone?  Is he an LMD?  If he was human, why would he lose the muscle memory?  (Team #CoulsonIsAClone)  

Episode 4 “Eye Spy” is another episode where the plot is irrelevant except to plant a few plot threads.  We see a mysterious writing on the wall and find out that an unknown group is putting fake eyes in people that have cameras, can deliver messages, and explode if the person wearing the implant doesn’t do what they are told.  “Eye Spy” was boring.  It was the third “monster of the week” episode in a row.  It didn’t delve into any of the questions fans had, or allow us to really get to know the characters better.  It had two seeds for future plots: the exploding eye moment, and alien symbols on a wall.

It’s not until “Girl in the Flower Dress” that we return to the main story.  A new character Raina kidnaps Scorch, a pyrokenetic based on Rising Tide information that was provided by a man.  He turns out is Skye’s soon-to-be ex-boyfriend that she’s been in contact with.  Centipede drains all the fire-resistant platelets from Scorch in hope that they’ll stabilize the Extremis.

Ward: You can’t save someone from themselves, sir.

Coulson: You can if you get to them early enough

Betrayed, he turns evil and has to be put down, but not before he kills the Centipede doctor from the pilot.  Skye ends up with a bracelet that restricts her access to computers nearby.  In the stinger, Raina asks a man in prison to talk to “the Clairvoyant”  First, we’re introduced to Raina, with her iconic dress.  Ann Foley designed two beautiful patterned dresses for Raina, who would stick around for two whole seasons.

Played by Ruth Negga, Raina is manipulative as heck.  She always has an agenda and one can never figure out what her angle is.  Just when you think she’s helping you—BAM!—she’ll stab you in the back.  I can’t help but love and hate her in equal measure, a truly remarkable villain.  This episode was rather good, with a couple issues like branding.  For a shadowy organization, S.H.I.E.L.D. sure likes to slap its logo on cars and…well…everything.  The beginning shows the very first Momma May and Papa Coulson scene as they look at Skye and Ward playing Battleship.  Raina giving the pyrokenetic a name becomes a running joke.  And we find the second mystery of the show.  Skye wants to know who her parents are.

Coulson:  You might now like what you find.

Skye: It can’t be worse than what I imagined.

All in all, this episode is as enjoyable today as it was the first time it was viewed.

There is a lot of focus on Skye in the early episodes.  This led to some fans referring to her as a “Mary Sue”.  Firstly, her hair seemed to always be perfect.  In the pilot, she had beautifully styled hair and was very clean for a person living in their van.  She was an elite hacker despite having no formal training.  In “the Asset”, she was already acting like a seasoned undercover spy.  Her cutesy charm would win over everyone, allowing her to manipulate people.  Other criteria for a Mary Sue is exotic looks (Chloe Bennet is half Chinese) and a name that is a plant or weather (Skye is pretty darn close).  The show focused on her a lot, well still to this day.  Back in season one, it was annoying.  Can we please just get back to the characters we like?  It was hard to care about her.  I sit here in season 5 and if a Whedon (or DJ Doyle) killed the person Skye has become off, I would be devastated as I was when Coulson died in Avengers.  #CoulsonLives

Verdict:

“0-8-4”  4 out of 5

“The Asset” 3 out of 5

“Eye Spy” 2 out of 5

“Girl in the Flower Dress” 4 out of 5

First Appearance

Graviton—Avengers #158

In addition to being a die-hard Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fan, running #AgentsOfSpoilers a weekly re-watch of classic episodes, Carolyn loves the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Earth-199999).  When not engrossed in the MCU, Carolyn can be found binging old school wrestling and living on Twitter.  She subscribes to the philosophy “Music is life”.

In addition to being a die-hard Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fan, running #AgentsOfSpoilers a weekly re-watch of classic episodes, Carolyn loves the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Earth-199999).  When not engrossed in the MCU, Carolyn can be found binging old school wrestling and living on Twitter.  She subscribes to the philosophy “Music is life”.

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