Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 1, Episode 3: “The Asset”
Directed by Milan Cheylov
Written by Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen
Airs on Tuesdays at 8 PM ET on ABC
When you go back and watch Marvel’s “Phase One” films (Iron Man to The Avengers), these are all films that excel in being particularly goofy and silly. That’s just Marvel’s schtick. They’re good at it. Their golden boy, Joss Whedon, has always had a talent for the same thing. A Whedon film or TV show can be picked out of a line up for that very reason. There’s simply a certain feel to his (and Marvel’s) work. It’s only logical that the jump from movies to TV on Marvel’s part would mirror that same aspect. What doesn’t work for Marvel, however, is the melodrama created by Skye’s (Chloe Bennet) character.
“The Asset” shows the beginning of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. going away from Marvel’s trademark silliness and stepping more in the direction of said melodrama when S.H.I.E.L.D.’s protected scientist Dr. Hall (Ian Hart) is kidnapped by wealthy industrialist Ian Quinn (David Conrad) in his search to control gravity with a fun little generator powered by a rare mineral known as “gravitonum” (add that to the list of silly names in the Marvel Universe) that would (wait for it) allow Quinn to control gravity. Through some rather ridiculous plot logic, it’s decided that the only one on Coulson’s rag-tag group of agents that can get to where Dr. Hall is located is Skye, because why not?
“The Asset” becomes eye-roll inducing in two specific areas: the first is when Coulson and Co. are trying to determine who snatched Hall and float the idea that somebody inside S.H.I.E.L.D. is a leaking double-agent. You half expect Skye to start innocently at that very moment for all the sense the plot is making up to this point. Let’s think for a minute: who’s really new and has a penchant for leaking documents? We’re not even going to consider Skye? Skye being a double-agent in the first place is a frustrating plot point all on its own, given that it seems like a obvious attempt to drum up drama for the show. The second annoying moment is any interaction involving Skye and Agent
Generic Ward having a conversation with each other because these two have zero chemistry with one another.
Beyond terrible Skye moments, the show is starting to transition into its more comic book aspects, which is at least interesting, especially for Marvel comic fans. It was an inevitable move and one that will likely work out positively for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Sure, it’s a bit ham-fisted, but, as I mentioned, that’s what Marvel does. The precedence has already been well established for this sort of thing from Marvel. I’m interested to see where the comic book elements will take the show over time. Like it or hate it, we can probably all agree that the comic book inspiration will either sink or float Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
This show needs writers with sensibilities similar to Joss Whedon and it’s not yet clear that said writers are Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen. They’ve only worked with Joss Whedon on Dollhouse and that wasn’t exactly trademark Whedon. Hopefully some of Joss Whedon’s wit and humor has been picked up by his co-executive producers and family members, but none of that seems to be present with Jed Whedon’s writing nor Tancharoen’s.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is very far from a perfect show. In fact, it has definite moments of being terrible. Frustrating as that may be, it also has moments of being rather fun and goofy. If not for that, why else are we watching something with a Marvel show?