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. Season 1, episode 4. Eye-Spy sees me keeping up with the news. Hot from the presses is confirmation the series has been picked up for the full diet of twenty-two episodes in this first season. In theory, this means the scripts can now build the narrative over the season which should improve the quality of the plots. Except, so far, there’s absolutely no sign of continuity from one episode to the next. We’ve had to deal with a “good” man given supersoldier ability, we’ve recovered a threatening object from the Peruvian jungle, and we’ve been sent to rescue a kidnapped “asset”. This time, we’re off to sunny Stockholm, Sweden where fifty-five identically dressed men, all wearing the same red masks, were despatched to carry diamonds across the city. Only one had the right case containing the diamonds and yet, as if by magic, a robber singles him out on the underground and, having disabled the lights, kills all the masked men on that train and steals just the one case. With all the surveillance cameras in the area disabled, Skye (Chloe Bennet) suggests they try the online sites and, with people surveilling themselves, they soon have more pictures than they need from Facebook, etc. Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) quickly identifies the attacker. She’s Akela Amador (Pascale Armand), an ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. operative. She was fearless but not a team player.
It’s one of these tiresome Lazarus plots. She and two others went on a mission years ago. When they didn’t come back, a second team found body parts but nothing to directly confirm she had been killed. Nevertheless, she was listed as dead. Obviously she’s back and now in Belarus, fencing the $30 million in diamonds she’s accumulated from Sweden and other heists for a small gizmo that opens doors. The game we’re playing in the episode is whether she has a superpower such as ESP, or the resurrected agent has tapped into some new technology. Adding to the supposed level of interest is Coulson’s unwillingness to notify HQ that he’s found her alive. Perhaps she never went over to the dark side. Perhaps she can be brought back from the dark side if that’s where she’s gone. The first and most obvious problem is the news of extended life for the season did not affect this episode. It was already written and recorded. We therefore have to sit through ghastly dialogue which pretends to be character development but fails miserably to reveal anything of interest about any of the characters. Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), the Brit science geeks, remain deeply annoying. Even when pushed into the ditch, they still can’t say anything interesting. Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) is monosyllabic. This may be a language problem and the script is “shielding” her from having to say too much in English or, until she has the chance to fight, she sees no point in saying anything. Our supposed top male agent is wooden. Only Skye and Coulson have anything approximating intelligent dialogue. So what of this episode’s plot?
The episode is literally about this ex-agent’s eye. She’s been implanted with this high-tech, micro-miniaturised camera with fringe benefits. Whoever is controlling her, writes instructions and can see whatever she sees. But there’s no audio (high-tech ears come next year when the rest of the $6 million dollars development budget gets spent). So our geek scientists hijack the data-stream from the fake eye and enable a pair of spectacles to take its place. Woodentop gets to wear this substitute and penetrate the secret base, while the geeks operate to remove the original eye before it blows up and kills the ex-agent. There’s one moment of humour as the point of the penetration becomes clearer — sex was not originally on Woodentop’s mind — it’s all in the alien formula. Great x-ray spectacles! They were advertised in the comics back in the 1950s. It seems S.H.I.E.L.D. has finally cracked the technology and made them work.
The whole episode is still playing the “team” game. Akela Amador failed all those years ago because she was not a team player. May is also having problems fitting into this team. The geeks are just having serious social problems. While Skye is doing the double-agent thing, supposedly to keep us guessing where her real loyalties lie. It’s all plotting 101 and boringly simplistic. Perhaps I’ll watch just one more. . .
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 2. 0-8-4
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 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.