Agents of SHIELD – Episode 3 Review

Agents of SHIELD – Episode 3 Review
“The Asset”


GOOD NERD REVIEW

This month on Good Nerd Bad Nerd is Villain’s Month and Agents of SHIELD was right there with us. In episode 3 we were treated to something wonderful: a villain’s origin story.  While the “bad guy” of this episode may have been Ian Quinn (played by David Conrad), the true focus of the episode was Dr. Franklin Hall (played by Ian Hart). Quinn believed he was rescuing his old colleague from the tyrannical agency SHIELD. Plus, Quinn was giving Hall the opportunity to continue his work on gravity manipulation. This seemed too good to be true and Hall seemed to buy into what Quinn was selling.
While Hall and Quinn were playing with gravity, what was the team up to?
Fitz/Simmons were frantic in this episode, but not in the way they have been in the past. Doctor Hall was their teacher and mentor; they talk about him like a father figure. When it is learned that he was the one taken, you see the dread of family in danger on their faces. Combine that with the limitations that the villain’s base deals the team and there is a real sense of panic from them.
The resident team bad ass, Melinda May, spent most of the episode on the sidelines. She did this of her own choosing and she hated it. She watched as lives were on the line and there was nothing she could do about it. Coulson had a chance at the start of the episode to order her in, but he respected her own perceived desire to no longer be a field agent.  Whatever her past is, one thing Melinda cannot stand is not having control of a situation and Ming Na translated that frustration perfectly.
That means our field team is made up of Skye, Ward, and team leader Coulson. I shall give them the code name The Three Stooges, because they were pretty ridiculous. Skye crashed the party in order to shut down the defenses and went straight for the big bad guy the very first thing. Coulson seemed so out of touch with field work that he showed up from a beach landing in suit and tie that he picked out specifically for the occasion. Ward at least played to his strengths, and was the hardcore secret agent guy who kicks butt and takes names. The reason everything here seems so out of place is because we are getting more clues to the deeper mystery.  The significance of it all relates back to Ward talking about muscle memory as he trains Skye for field work. Since I am saving the details for episode 3 of Theories and Conspiracies all I will say is this: Skye has it and Coulson doesn’t!  Mysterious!
Despite the Three Stooges routine at the beginning of the mission the team manages to handle things pretty well, until we get the twist. Coulson busts into the lab to free Doctor Hall, but Hall refuses to go. Not because he is so invested in finishing his work, but in order to stop it. Of course to fully and completely stop it Hall intends to bury the lab, the base, and the island of Malta at the bottom of the sea. The “fight” between Hall and Coulson was a pure joy to watch as the gravity device wreaks havoc with the room they are in. Nothing Coulson says has any effect; Hall is still willing to sacrifice thousands in order to save millions; in his mind he is willing to become destroyed in order to prevent a greater destroyer from arising. That is a price that Coulson cannot pay. In a single motion Coulson both neutralizes the gravity device and eliminates Hall.
The episode wraps up with Skye fully committing to her training (apparently), Coulson still having trouble with his weapon handling, and May requesting to return to the field. Despite not getting a cool Melinda May ass kicking moment, this was the best episode yet. The characters are really starting to gel and we are getting enough background on characters to understand their motivations.
Let’s not forget the post credits scene! Doctor Hall and the gravitanium have been shown to become one thing and the world will soon see the birth of Graviton! For more on Graviton, check out the character Bio we posted earlier in the week. Hopefully this tease is a sign of big things to come.

BAD NERD REVIEW
Did I just watch an episode of Fear Factor? Or am I gagging on my nerd rage? Either way, that’s not a good sign. Fine. I’ll be honest; I liked some elements of this episode. They are the same elements, however, I’ve liked all along. So, I’m far from being a fan of the show.
Let me offer a gentle critique on how they need to correct the direction of this ship to avoid the impending, perhaps inevitable, iceberg ahead. The biggest error I see to this point is a clear hero. The “team” story worked for the Avengers only after several franchise-spanning solo stories where we got to know our heroes on their own terms. I’m struggling to root for anyone, besides Coulson (BECAUSE HE WAS IN THE MOVIE). Skye is the worst. There I said it. And I feel like they are pulling for her to become the show’s main hero, but at best she’s an anti-hero. Did we learn nothing from the Star Wars prequels?! Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this modern day A-Team can make it work down the road, and I will find that I don’t even remember these painful early days attempting to digest an entire team’s worth of story.
I’m also finding this so close to the comics, but not really approach that all TV comics-based shows fall into to be annoying. I’m looking at you Arrow! In The Asset, SHIELD falls into this trap when it teased that it would be getting its first super villain. Excitement at that thought gave way to disappointment, however.  There was no super villain, but a super villain origin (sort of) story that was awfully reminiscent of Burton’s Batman knocking Jack Napier into a vat of ooze transforming him into the psycho super villain, the Joker. Now, imagine that movie ending right there. Terrible. And that’s what happened. It was even an origin story, because an origin story has a beginning (check), middle (did I blink and miss it?), and end (I saw a hand). Put your big boy panties on Agents of SHIELD and start delivering the epic stories we deserve. Unleash your universe on us like Superman unleashed his full might against Doomsday! We can take it.
And that leads me to my final critique of the show to this point, where is the story? The pilot made us believe that there was a larger conspiracy at play, some dark force pulling hidden strings that would spell catastrophe for everyone with that Super-soldier, Gamma-ray, Extremis cocktail. But nothing since. It’s been one random mission after the next. I suspect it’s done this way to service the characters. But focusing on the story arc and a larger mystery first, would allow us to explore the characters in a more natural and interesting fashion. I “guessed” the premise of the episode a few lines in, because they stated it in the dialogue!
There. I’m done. For this week. I hope against hope that this show will take the things they are doing well (i.e. the special effects, Coulson, and the kick-assery) and steer the rest of the ship toward a tropical beach somewhere. I’m sure it will be magical.

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