Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) Season 1, episode 2. 0-8-4
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 Episode 2. 0-8-4 comes with a health warning attached to it. Having begun with a ho-hum episode which had some style but little substance, the series must either raise its game or begin shedding viewers. The first and most obvious question marks arise over two features. The first is the running time of just over 40 minutes screen time. This is even less than usual for what’s billed as a one-hour show. All it does is show optimism over the ability to sell advertising before the quality of the show has been established. The second issue is the use of the extended flashback format, i.e. the crisis is shown up-front and then we switch back to nineteen hours earlier. This is one of my least favourite plotting devices. I see no benefit from revealing the fact of a midair explosion at the outset. It seems to me far more powerful if we’re being carried along by exciting events on the ground and then, when everything seems resolved and the team take-off, the explosion will come as a shock and a challenge to be overcome. There’s no benefit to removing the shock and defusing suspense. All we viewers do is wait for the bomb to go off again.
Well, Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) has added Skye (Chloe Bennet) to the team as a consultant, “. . .because she doesn’t think like S.H.I.E.L.D agents”. What better way to have an outsider’s view of events than to recruit an outsider who can act as a buffer between the shoot-and-fight types, Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) and Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), and the science geeks, Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge)? Now we’re off to investigate an “object of unknown origin” (Code-named 0-8-4) in Peru. The last one was a hammer as in Thor (2011) (big hint there that we might just be about to see something awesome or merely something cheap CGI can generate on a television episode budget — the suspense is killing). I’m beginning to find the British science geeks annoying. I suppose they are intended to be endearing with their endless enthusiasm for all things scientific, but I do wish they would shut down every now and then to think about basic issues like food and access to toilet facilities in a remote jungle location. This is particularly important when the national police troops come. The fighters are in their element, of course. The others may have a brown emission issue. But it turns out Coulson knows the babe in charge. It makes a change from having a stereotypical South American male authority figure.
Anyway, when rebels with guns also turn up, the gung-ho fighter picks up the object and makes a run for it. None of the scientific niceties for him when there are bullets flying and explosions outside the temple complex (so far no CGI — just flashing lights on the thingy). As if we needed the stakes raising, we’re still in Captain America territory with a piece of German technology which pumps out gamma radiation if provoked. Being thrown around during a chase has obviously not improved thingy’s mood. At this point, we get into plotting 101 with the most obvious possible sequence of events plodding across the screen. The simplest way to discuss this without spoilers is to say the outcome at the end of 40 minutes has to be a better team so, whatever happens, has to break down their mutual animosity and create a more co-operative spirit. This involves problem solving. Assume the individuals start out at a disadvantage and then have to work together to avoid the explosion bringing down the plane.
Samuel L Jackson puts in a cameo at the end to prove this is a real S.H.I.E.L.D show and then that’s the end of this week’s completely unexciting and uninvolving episode. I think I have one more episode in the tank. If it’s no better, I’ll go back to reading. PS I forgot to mention the aeroplane carrying this band of so far useless bodies is a CGI construct. The show’s producers have spared no expense to bring real excitement to the screen as the modified cargo plane lumbers across the sky.
For a review of other episodes, see:
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) Season 1, episode 1. Pilot
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) Season 1, episode 3. The Asset
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) Season 1, episode 4. Eye-Spy
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) Season 1, episode 5. Girl in the Flower Dress
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) Season 1, episode 6. FZZT
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013) Season 1, episode 7. The Hub.