Agents of SHIELD takes a heavy influence from the Harry Potter series, especially Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, in “Ye Who Enter Here”. Skye, a character orphaned long ago, has a special destiny. Billy Koenig returns to save Raina with SHIELD’s very own Invisibility Cloak. There is a hidden place that can only be found and entered by someone who is worthy. Fitz-Simmons are the team’s Ron and Hermione, getting the team into a hidden city while playing out their will-they-won’t-they interpersonal drama. I suppose, in this example, Mac is the team’s Dumbledore, with his secret ulterior motives and sudden death in the episode’s climax, taking a long fall down. If that isn’t obvious enough, Raina mentions alien technology being mistaken for magic on numerous occasions. “Sounds a bit Harry Potter to me.” “It’s alien technology.” Like The Half-Blood Prince, the story also feels incomplete, leaving the audience on a cliffhanger until the mid-season finale.
Ocsar Wilde championed the notion that life imitates art. He believed the old saying “results not merely from life’s imitative instinct, but from the fact that the self-conscious aim of Life is to find expression, and that Art offers it certain beautiful forms through which it may realize that energy.” Wilde was a miraculous writer …
There is nothing quite like a good art heist adventure, and Agents of SHIELD tries its hand at it in “I Will Face My Enemy.” Coulson and May attend a gala in order to steal a painting with valuable information written on the back. Before they can recover the painting, however, their cover is compromised by General Glenn Talbot, and someone else snatches up the painting first. The resulting episode is a loving tribute to the art heist sub-genre in the vein of James Bond and The Thomas Crown Affair with a big party, sexy ballroom dancing, and tricky laser alarms.
“Heavy Is the Head” picks up right where “Shadows” left off, with Carl Creel on the run from SHIELD and Hartley presumed dead in the car accident. Hunter, Hartley’s right-hand man (pun unintentional), is picked up by Talbott, who tries to convince Hunter to sell out Coulson in exchange for two million dollars and a proper funeral for Hartley. Hunter decides that Coulson’s team has a better chance of finding Creel, however, and after getting away from Talbott, he rejoins Coulson and the team’s hunt for Creel. Creel has more to worry about than SHIELD agents, though, as he is facing some nasty side effects from touching the dangerous artifact from “Shadows.”
Season one of Agents of SHIELD ends with Fitz recovering from nearly drowning, Coulson taking on the task of rebuilding SHIELD, and the remaining agents loyal to SHIELD on the run from the over-zealous Brigadier General Glenn Talbot. It only stands to reason that season two would open in Austria, 1945, with Agent Peggy Carter and the Howling Commandos taking out the final Hydra base. The scene is an obvious tie-in with the upcoming Agent Carter, but it also acts as a solid connecting story thread between the two shows. All of these artifacts that Peggy helped bring in will be in play, adding a potential Warehouse 13 element to the show that fans of that show would really love. Plus a World War II-era Hydra leader, who is still alive and inexplicably young in present day, is set up as a season-long villain for Agents of SHIELD. The Agent Carter opening seems a bit gimmicky at first, but by the end of the premiere, it is actually a smart tie-in.
“Beginning of the End” picks up minutes after “Ragtag” left off: Fitz and Simmons are stuck in a metal box on the bottom of the ocean; Coulson, Triplett, and Skye are being held at gunpoint in the secret Hydra base under the barber shop; Garrett has been revived by the formula that saved Coulson and Skye. All seems lost for Coulson’s team, and the season one finale of Agents of SHIELD has just begun.
Season one’s penultimate episode “Ragtag” looks back again into the past when Ward and Garrett first met, and it sets up a mean cliffhanger leading into the finale. In the opening scene, Garrett visits a young Ward in a juvenile detention facility. Ward is facing a hefty sentence for lighting his family’s house on fire with his brother inside, and Garrett is offering a way out with a secret organization that is always looking for young men like Ward. After breaking him out, Garrett abandons Ward in the woods with only a bag of clothes and a hunting dog named Buddy for companionship. If Ward can survive for a few months, Garrett will be back. Ward survives, and Garrett molds him in his own image with the mantra that any emotional attachment is a weakness.
“Nothing Personal” opens with Maria Hill taking an evening stroll and chatting on her phone with Pepper Potts, but May is waiting around the corner for her with questions about Nick Fury and the T.A.H.I.T.I. project. Meanwhile, Coulson is back at Fury’s secret base with Triplett, Fitz, and Simmons, and they are trying to figure out why Skye and Ward left the base, taking their plane with them. Thanks to a bit of cleverness from Skye, they uncover Ward’s secret, but Fitz is unable to accept that Ward is a Hydra agent. Unfortunately, they have very little time to process these revelations as Colonel Glenn Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) has found their base and brought Maria Hill and a team of Special Forces along with him. As Coulson tries to convince Hill to help them, Skye is traveling with Ward back to where it all began for her, in a small diner where she met Mike Peterson for the first time.
“The Only Light in the Darkness” opens with Ward getting patched up by Simmons as he feeds false information to Coulson and the gang. Ward claims that he was too late to stop Hydra from taking over the Fridge and releasing super-villains previously captured by SHIELD, including a villain Coulson captured personally, Marcus Daniels (Patrick Brennan). Hearing this news, Coulson decides to take part of the team to protect Audrey Nathan (Amy Acker), Marcus Daniels’ last target and the woman he called “the only light in the darkness.” She is also Coulson’s mysterious cellist, the last woman he was romantically involved with before the attacks in New York. Agent Koenig (Patton Oswalt) isn’t keen on anyone leaving the secret hide-out, so he forces everyone to submit to a lie-detector test before allowing anyone to leave.
In the aftermath of SHIELD’s destruction, Agents of SHIELD splits “Providence” between the remaining members of Coulson’s team trying to figure out what is next and Ward and Garrett heading off to the Fridge for evil plotting and mustache-twirling. At first, Coulson wants to go completely off the grid, but he rethinks this plan when he discovers glowing coordinates on his SHIELD badge. He believes the coordinates are a clue from Fury himself as to where to go and how to find him. May, however, thinks that Coulson isn’t thinking clearly in the aftermath of SHIELD’s demise, and she worries that his decisions are putting everyone else in danger.
(Warning: After the jump, this review will contain spoilers for the film Captain America: The Winter Soldier.)
“Turn, Turn, Turn” is the first episode of Agents of SHIELD to directly tie in its full story with the events of a Marvel film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Unlike its last supposed tie-in with Thor: The Dark World in “The Well”, which takes place after the events of the film, the events of “Turn, Turn, Turn” take place in the same timeline of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Without spoiling too much of the film or the episode, it is revealed that SHIELD is full of double-agents, and Coulson no longer trusts that May is on his side. Victoria Hand sends drones to take out Garrett, but Coulson takes out the drones with his sharp-shooting skills. After saving Garrett, Coulson makes his way back to the Hub with Garrett, Ward, Skye, Fitz, and May. Together, they formulate a plan to save Simmons and Triplett and then stop Victoria Hand, who they believe is the real Clairvoyant. As the saying goes, however, the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry, and in Coulson’s team, there is at least one friend working with the enemy.
“The End of the Beginning” wastes no time with pleasantries but jumps right into action with Deathlok (J. August Richards) breaking into a SHIELD safehouse. He is nearly taken down by Agent Garrett (Bill Paxton) and Antoine (B.J. Britt), prompting Coulson, Agent Garrett, and the gang to call up Victoria Hand (Saffron Burrows) and bring SHIELD into the fold on their newest mission. Together, Coulson hopes they can search through a list of potential suspects, people that SHIELD is aware of with ESP abilities, and find the Clairvoyant once and for all.
In “Yes Men”, Thor’s Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander) joins the gang on Agents of SHIELD to track down Lorelei (Elena Satine), an evil enchantress from Asgard. Lorelei has a nasty habit of hypnotizing men and using these love-sick slaves to build armies and conquer worlds. Lady Sif is more than happy to bring her to justice, considering that Lorelei enslaved someone Sif cared for during one of Lorelei’s failed attempts to conquer Asgard. When Ward is brought under Lorelei’s spell, May and Sif have to work together to stop Lorelei from taking over Earth and stop Ward from hurting May. Meanwhile, Skye is recovering remarkably quickly, thanks to the mysterious GH-325 recovered from the SHIELD base, but Coulson is losing his patience as Director Fury refuses to take his calls or answer questions about GH-325.
Episode 13, “T.R.A.C.K.S.”, ended on a cliffhanger with Skye, shot twice in the abdomen by Quinn, getting rushed to SHIELD for medical attention. “T.A.H.I.T.I.” picks up right where “T.R.A.C.K.S.” left off, and Coulson’s team is faced with a moral dilemma. They can try to save Skye with the same techniques Director Fury’s team used to bring Coulson back to life, but by saving her life, they could cause her immense pain and make her wish she had died instead.
In “T.R.A.C.K.S.”, Coulson and the gang continue their search for Ian Quinn and by extension, the mysterious Clairvoyant. With some of his new tech down en-route through Italy, the team plans a good old fashioned train heist, posing as tourists and following the package to its destination. Along the way, they get separated and the audience sees the mission go wrong from everyone’s point of view- Coulson and Ward get thrown from the train, May discovers who sold out the team to the enemy, and Skye sneaks into Quinn’s hide-out, finding Mike Peterson alive in a hyperbolic chamber.
Agents of SHIELD has struggled in its first season to find its voice as a stand-alone TV show and its identity within the larger Marvel universe. One possible reason is that the show hasn’t developed a formula. “Seeds” does not change this, but while it does not develop a formula unique to Agents of SHIELD, it does borrow an episodic formula familiar to fans of The X-Files or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Fitz and Simmons return to SHIELD Academy after an accident involving technology that they developed while studying at the academy. A student has built a device capable of freezing water in the air, which could be weaponized to freeze enemies to death or create massive weather storms. Donnie, a highly intelligent and socially awkward freshman, is under suspicion for being behind the accident, but when he is later attacked during a lecture, Fitz turns his efforts to befriending him. Meanwhile, Coulson and May head down to Mexico City to find answers about Skye’s past.
In an early scene of “The Magical Place”, Fitz yells out to Simmons, his better half/Wonder Twin, “It’s time, Simmons. Embrace the change.” It is a strange bit of dialogue that feels more like a message to the audience of Agents of SHIELD than a line meant to move the plot along. For a show that is still in its first season, Agents of SHIELD has been oddly stagnant. There are only two episodes left in the season, and the mystery of what happened to Agent Coulson has still not been solved. Fitz is signaling to the audience that change is coming and to brace themselves for revelations, but the question is whether those revelations are too little and too late.
Agents of SHIELD, Season 1, Episode 9, “Repairs” Written by Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon Directed by Bill Gierhart Tonight’s episode “Repairs” has Agent Coulson and his team tracking down a human with supernatural gifts, the first time they have done so since “Girl in the Flower Dress”. Hannah, a safety inspector, has been blamed …
“The Well” is the first episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to directly continue a story from one of the Marvel movies. “FZZT” referenced the consequences from The Avengers, but “The Well” literally picks up where Thor 2 left off with Coulson’s team sifting through the wreckage of Greenwich and the library. They collect most of the Asgardian remnants left behind, but not far away, a magical staff from Asgard is taken by a power-hungry gang of anarchists who aspire to be gods themselves.
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 series premiere of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. scored impressive ratings: 12.1 million people tuned in to watch the premiere last Tuesday (based on the adjusted afternoon nationals from Nielsen). Another 3.7 million watched it on DVR later in the week, and another 4.7 million watched the show’s repeat on Thursday evening. Add on another 1.6 million who streamed the pilot online (and who knows how many others pirated the episode), and we’re looking at a minimum of 22.1 million viewers (and climbing). Yet despite the ratings, the pilot was also met with a decidedly mixed reception from fans and critics alike.
Thursday was a big day for television, with a full day of programming in Ballroom 20 (including Sherlock and the X-Files 20th anniversary panel). Given the craziness of Ballroom 20, I opted for the smaller rooms, starting the day off at a panel called The Anatomy of Superhero Film Music. A group of composers for …
A few days ago, the synopsis for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was released, and just yesterday ABC unveiled the first image. Now the network has released a teaser trailer for the series. With Joss Whedon having directed the pilot, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is essential viewing for any fan of Marvel comics. Watch the clip below. …