TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: "The Asset"

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Todd Karella writes...

The third episode opens with a truck hijacking. It’s not your typical everyday crime as the two escort vehicles are suddenly thrown up into the air by some invisible force. The driver calls for help as his semi is propelled thirty feet into the air and we find that this small convoy is a S.H.I.E.L.D. operation. But before help can arrive, armed men raid the truck and kidnap the man secured in the back.

Agent Coulson and his team are quickly brought onto the scene to determine what happened and quickly find a small device that is responsible for tossing around the vehicles like toys. The small device releases a small electrical charge that mixes with its center piece, Gravitonium, which is a previously theoretical element that is supposed to exist but nobody had found any of it to prove its existence. When Gravitonium is hit by an electrical pulse, it causes random gravitational anomalies in a given area.

Following some leads, they eventually track down the kidnapped victim, Dr. Frank Hall, who has written some papers on Gravitonium and is now being held by an opportunist and thief named Ian Quinn. He has spent a small fortune, which he made by stealing other people’s ideas, searching for the elusive element and finally discovered it. While he can control small amounts of the substance, his plans are much bigger requiring him to enlist the aid of the doctor.

Finding that Quinn has built his base in Malta, Coulson has a major dilemma. S.H.I.E.L.D. agents have no authority in the country, and if any of them are caught, it could cause an international incident. In order to solve this problem, Skye volunteers to infiltrate the compound because she is not officially a S.H.I.E.L.D agent and is just a normal citizen.

I wish I could say the show was growing on me, but it’s really not. There still hasn’t been much character development so it’s really hard to like anyone. Skye and Ward were once again the only two characters where something new was learned about them and that’s only because it looks like the writers are going to try and make them a romantic couple. But the coupling seems so obvious and forced that it doesn’t even feel right. The only other team member highlighted this week was Agent Coulson. The rest of the team was nothing more than background scenery.

The storyline was rather dull as Quinn and Dr. Hall got a lot of air time, but Quinn didn’t seem like that bad of a villain, just a little greedy but not evil. You really need a strong villain to drive the story and ramp up the intensity. And the doctor seemed rather incompetent as he couldn’t figure out a way to both destroy the Gravitonium and escape the building at the same time.

There were also a lot of things that happened more out of convenience in storytelling than what made actual sense. Why did the kidnappers leave behind so powerful a device instead of taking it with them? Knowing that she was undercover, why did Skye keep talking to herself in the middle of a crowded room so loudly while holding her ear like she was wired? How did Agent Coulson know that throwing Dr. Hall into the Gravitonium would stop the generator?

Once again the strong point of the show is the special effects. I really enjoyed the force field around the complex and how the bullets hit it and were absorbed. I also liked the look of the giant glob of Gravitonium as it pulsated and changed shape. Another good effect was the shifts in gravity as Coulson and the doctor had a standoff and at times gravity was affecting both men differently.

I’m still hoping that the show will morph into something better and that eventually the characters will be more fleshed out. But until then I’ll just enjoy the special effects and hope that they keep putting Skye in that hot pink dress. Now that was something worth watching.

Gordon Miller responds...

Can't find much to disagree with, Todd. Three episodes in, and the main characters still don't offer much to make me want to return every week. The show is pushing Skye and Ward on us, but they, or maybe it's the actors, are too bland together. I don't buy them as a couple nor that they can carry a series, regardless of how good-looking Chloe Bennet is in low-cut tops or while soaking wet.

However, I thought this episode was the best story so far. I enjoyed the twist revealed when Coulson finds Hall, and the aforementioned loss of gravity during this sequence I liked the reveal that the truth serum bit in the pilot was a ruse to bring Skye into the fold. But they need to hurry up in telling us the truth behind Coulson. I don't need to keep being reminded that he died in the Avengers movie.

Most promising for the series' future is the writers making use of Marvel's vast array of characters. This episode introduced, with a different origin, the villian known as Graviton. Although locked in a S.H.I.E.L.D. vault, he's got to return at some point, yet it's not clear how this group of agents could handle his newfound power.

Mildly curious to see what comes next.

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