This week’s episode of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” brings us a few firsts: The very first super villain of the series! Skye’s first official solo mission! First time no one thought to mention Thor’s biceps! After the last two installments saturated us with references to Marvel’s cinematic universe, “The Asset” finally allowed its core group of agents to stand on their own two feet. (Well, mostly. There is the small matter of the anti-gravity machine, but more on that in a moment.)
Executive producer Joss Whedon is well known for his nuanced, fast-talking, ballsy female characters, so it’s no surprise that this episode focuses heavily on Skye. It’s her big opportunity to prove to the S.H.I.E.L.D. team that she’s got what it takes to become a fully fledged member of the agency. Of course, let’s not forget that last week she was a hacker (or a “hactivist”) still secretly aligned with the mysterious “Rising Tide” organization, so the enthusiasm she shows for her new job raises a some questions.
Like is she going stay true to her new pals, or will she decide to stick with old Rising Tide alliances? If it’s the latter, how will Coulson deal being stabbed in the back a second time? Do you think he’s got enough PTO with S.H.I.E.L.D. for another trip to Tahiti? Where in Odin’s name is Skye finding time to do her hair?!!
Anyway, before Skye can go out and do what S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives do best, first she’s got to go work on her fitness. With Ward. Of course. Sexual tension ensues, and we learn that not only can Ward do a hundred pull ups (so he says) but he’s also got an abusive older brother who used to beat up on him and his younger sibling during birthday celebrations. Yes, folks. This is our token hottie’s deep and troubled past. To say I’m not disappointed would be like saying I didn’t hit the pause button on Steve Rogers’ overly gratuitous butt shot in “Captain America.” Because I did. And I am. Luckily Skye’s past (young orphan bounced from foster home to foster home blah blah blah) makes up for it.
It’s a rescue mission for the team this time round, taking them to Malta where our big bad of the week, That-Guy-From-Ghost-Whisperer, aka Ian Quinn, has kidnapped S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist Dr. Franklin Hall. (Recognize that name, comic book aficionados? Were you all waiting on the edge of your seats for the big reveal? Uninitiated: Read on, the twist is coming soon!) Dr. Hall has pioneered the Gravitonium, which manipulates the field of gravity in a big, dangerous way. Quinn, who’s kind of like an evil Tony Stark, (hot and charming but without the alcohol dependency) wants to exploit that.
Anyway due to The International Law, and other Terribly Important Legal Stuff that S.H.I.E.L.D. wouldn’t dream of ever getting involved in, Skye is the only member able to get inside Quinn’s compound undetected. Right on cue, loverboy — sorry — Ward objects, because he thinks she’s untrustworthy and untrained and a liability and so on and so forth. Sheesh. Just ask her out already.
His objections are quashed by Coulson, and so, using her extensive two week espionage training course (that is: her boobs — hey, Fitz said it first!) Skye manages to schmooze her way right into Quinn’s private lounge. Then, using a makeup compact as a kind of high-tech interference device, she disables Quinn’s security allowing for Coulson and Ward to fight their way inside.
Ward comes to Skye’s aid while it remains up to Coulson to rescue Dr. Hall … who ... actually doesn’t want to be rescued. Turns out he planned the whole thing in order to take out Quinn himself and destroy the Gravitonium before it becomes a major headache for the rest of the world. It’s a noble cause, but kiiiiind of misguided, seeing as though Dr. Hall’s only solution is to trigger the machine into self destruction. Which will kill everyone on the compound. Not good.
Coulson’s regular charming shtick doesn’t succeed in talking the good doctor down, and so he does it the hard way: throwing Dr. Hall into his own creation.
Now, every good comic book nerd knows it takes equal parts of “pure genius” and “a twisted desire for revenge” to create the perfect super villain, and it looks like Coulson’s mastered this recipe. I doubt the silver hand trying to pull itself out of the spinning gravitational vortex will be the last we see of Dr. Hall. We comic book nerds know him better as Graviton.
“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is definitely building momentum, guys. It was really great to find out a little more about a few of our agents, and while some aren’t necessarily the most compelling, I’m thinking a few more missions and I’ll be hooked. Overall, this was the series’ strongest episode to date, and I’ll certainly be tuning in for next week’s episode. How about you?
'S.H.I.E.L.D.' mission notes: