Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “0-8-4″ Recap
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: After extracting a piece of mystery tech from an ancient Incan temple, Coulson and his team are put to the test in the air.
*sorry for the delay in the review, still trying to determine if this is a show I’ll be reviewing weekly*
Despite a few moments of fun action, and a nice surprise cameo at the very end by Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, “0-8-4″ suffered greatly and tragically from “second episode-itis” (expository dialogue recapping the pilot, under-reaching plot, etc). And not only that, it shined a glaring spotlight on something that stuck out to me in the pilot which is the fact that everyone on the show, save for Coulson, is a bit of a boring mess. Also – and this is an unexpected truth – not every actor is capable of delivering Joss Whedon-style lines with the warmth and timing that they need. That is, if S.H.I.E.L.D., despite being from Joss Whedon, is even the sort of show where you want everyone delivering those kind of lines.
I think, all in all, I was just bored with this episode. Within this series is the potential to bring in so many exciting elements from the Marvel universe that I think I get even more disappointed when something isn’t as creative or meaningful as it could be. Even Fury’s cameo, as crowd-pleasing as it was, wasn’t about anything. It helped spike the episode a bit, but wouldn’t it have been better for them to use Fury in a much more meaningful way? And not just have him show up to yell at Coulson about the damaged plane?
So the bare threads that tie this episode to the Marvel-verse involved a mysterious, volatile piece of post-Hydra tesseract-powered tech that can shoot powerful blasts of energy. While retrieving it from an ancient Incan landmark in Peru, Coulson and the rest run into Comandante Camilla Reyes, an old battlefield lover of Coulson’s. The twist then happens when the agents, along with Reyes and her men, retreat into the “Bus” (S.H.I.E.L.D. jet) after local rebels open fire on them and Reyes uses the opportunity to turn on Coulson in order to get her hands on the tech. So business did pick up once the friendlies turned into foes. And I did like the fact that the entire thrust of the episode involved getting Coulson’s ragtag team to work together, despite three of them not being built, or prepared, for dangerous field work.
But there was a certain overall unimportance to this installment’s “weekly case” and having the episode focus more on the characters than the dangers and details of the Hydra doohickey just made it more obvious that these characters haven’t browned in the skillet long enough. Their specific hopes and fears aren’t ready to anchor an episode. And, like last week, Fitz and Simmons garble their lines (it’s not an accent thing) while also remaining totally unremarkable.
I liked the S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot, as pilots go, and know that this show has the ability to thrill and amaze. But last night’s chapter really smacked of standard network TV fare. Unsatisfyingly safe and visually underwhelming. As if it were any other show destined for a TV graveyard. When this is not supposed to be just any other show.
Matt Fowler is a member of the Television Critics Association. Follow him on Twitter at @TheMattFowler