Todd Karella writes...
After tracking down Agent Shaw who was embedded in a Siberian prison and extricating a data nodule from his nose in a scene very reminiscent of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the film Total Recall, the team is called into the secret S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters known as The Hub.
Here the team learns that a rebel Russian group that wishes to secede from the country has developed a weapon called the Overkill Device. The secret to the device is that it uses sonic waves to detonate enemy weapons if they come within its range, essentially using their own weapons against themselves. So instead of being able to send in a tactical airstrike or a large military force, Agent Hand (Saffron Burrows), who is in charge of the mission decides that the best option is a two-man strike team. Ward who is a formidable fighter with a contact that can help them sneak across the border is the first choice. And clumsy scientist Fitz is the second because the actual schematics of the device are unknown and one of them needs to be able to identify the target, assess its vulnerabilities, and deactivate it.
While the two are completing the mission, Skye and Simmons are worried about their teammates as they have been kept out of the loop. May and Coulson know what’s going on because they both have Level Eight clearance and keep telling the others that they must trust in the system and they don’t need to know what’s going on. This doesn’t sit well with Skye who is used to being the renegade hacker whose objective in life had been all about finding secret information and disseminating it to the public.
Going against Coulson’s orders, Skye enlists the help of Simmons to break into the S.H.I.E.L.D. network and discovers some startling information. The mission that her two colleagues are on does not have an extraction plan. It’s a suicide mission.
For me, the show is getting better and better each week. It felt like this episode had the right amount of everything. There was enough action with the escaping of the prison at the beginning and the breaking into the warehouse in the end, even though it all was easier than it should have been. There were a number of comical moments like when Simmons got caught breaking into the access panel and did a terrible job of flirting and ended up having to shoot her fellow agent. Then there were several good moments with Fitz and Ward as they escaped a group of thugs in a bar and spent a lot of personal time hiding in a drainage pipe arguing over a sandwich. And then there was some serious intrigue going on with Skye trying to learn what happened to her parents. Coulson giving her partial information while finding out that he can’t even access his own personnel file.
Everything is beginning to come together, still slowly, but I can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. There is a chance I might do a complete turnaround from my opinions from the pilot episode, although I may still think Ward is a lost cause. I am looking forward to next week’s episode although I need to run out and watch the movie Thor before it airs since the previews show that there will be some connection between the two.
Gordon S. Miller responds...
I think the writers are getting better fleshing out the characters. This episode is the first time I found Fitz interesting. Even last week, while trying to help Simmons, he was a bit unbearable. The info about Skye's history being S.H.I.E.L.D.-related and Coulson's inability to access his complete personal files suggest intriguing possibilities with the agency. And Skye's line that Coulson was “acting like a robot version of himself” may have been some foreshadowing.
But there's still more to do with these characters. Ward is still a blank slate. I couldn't tell you anything about his character other than he's a good fighter, though I don't recall him taking on anyone of significance. I would also like to learn more about May, hopefully something non-Asian. Beyond flying the jet and previously knowing Coulson, all I know about her is her ninja-like skills and we see her do tai chi this episode.
But while they are growing the characters, they need to keep up the quality of the stories. I didn't buy the mission wouldn't have had an extraction plan. There's no good reason S.H.I.E.L.D. couldn't get involved stopping a separatist group with dangerous weapons. The Russian government would be happy for their help.
The confrontation scene with Simmons went on too long. I didn't buy the agent would have let her fumble around and get himself zapped. Also, how does she not get some sort of punishment or reprimand for breaking the rules.
I hope Disney puts a little more money into the show. Almost every location looks like a backlot. And they are still doing a poor job of shooting action. I had to go back twice and still couldn't see Fitz kick a guy in the face and knock him out.
Not looking forward to the next episode, nor am I sure I'll be back for next season, but they are making progress. Save me a seat at Thor. I don't want to miss out on anything. And kudos to them for the cross-promotion. I wasn't in any hurry to see the movie until I saw the preview for next week's episode.