Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to improve, but it still has a few problems. Namely, too many characters and not enough time to develop them.
This episode establishes a bit of a trend; it’s the second episode to establish one plot idea, only to make it a total fake-out. Last episode, “invisible attackers” turned out to be gravity weapons, and in this one, the “ESP” we observe turns out to be a highly-trained SHIELD agent with an X-ray eye.
Granted, the episode cheats pretty hardcore; it never bothers to establish, exactly, why our anti-villain hears whispering voices. Maybe this agent, Coulson’s former protege turned thief, is just plain nuts? Either way, they do pay off the X-ray idea in interesting ways, like Slab Bulkhead, er, Agent Ward running around with X-ray specs while trying to dodge mirrors.
And we’re also starting to see the glimmers of a larger story coming into focus. Coulson’s being a bit… different is once again referred to, and it turns out there’s more layers to the large, shadowy conspiracy handing out X-ray eyes than one might at first suspect. And there’s a funny callback to a line of dialogue early in the episode that gives this show a feeling of finding its feet.
That said, the show’s problem is increasingly coming into focus: Too many characters. Melinda May gets some screentime and a fight, but the show’s Designated Protagonist is Skye, and she frankly can’t take the weight. She’s supposed to be the one we relate to, but she often comes off as shallow and annoying, and she doesn’t have the field skills for it to make sense for her to do things. She’s basically the voice in Fridge Largemeat’s ear as he does all the actual work, and the ending of the episode really makes her seem like a pet more than a member of the team. Which, while apt, is creepy.
Fitz and Simmons have really been getting the short end of this stick, though; Fitz’s first moment of character development comes at the very end of this episode. Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is still improving, albeit focusing more on being a spy show than a superhero show, but they need to start thinning the herd… or giving us a reason to stop calling Ward names from an old MST3K episode.
Some more thoughts:
- The director of this episode? Roxann Dawson, better known to you as B’Elanna Torres from Star Trek: Voyager.
- That last scene was a bit… molesty. Lady on dude or vice versa, it did feel a bit creepy.
- No, Skye, calling Coulson “AC” does not sound cooler unless you are in 1994.
- If somebody who knows Coulson well thinks he’s been messed with, you’d think that’d trigger more of a reaction from Melinda May.
Any thoughts? Let us know in the comments.