A review of tonight's “Agents of SHIELD” coming up just as soon as I introduce the teams over the PA system…
In its bumpy early days, “Agents of SHIELD” was a superhero show that seemed unwilling and/or unable to admit that it was a superhero show. The stars of the movies were absent (aside from that goofy cameo where Nick Fury showed up to yell at Coulson about a repair bill), and though the team dealt with alien artifacts and people with powers, it always felt like the show was trying to hold all that stuff at arm's length, as if even the popularity of the Marvel films had somehow not made this stuff mainstream enough.
That was a long time ago, though, and “One of Us” was a fun damn episode of a show that takes place in a superhero universe and is no longer the least bit ashamed to admit it, and one that's become more resourceful of playing in the out-of-the-way corner of the Marvel sandbox where the creative team has been parked by corporate.
So, no, this wasn't Coulson's team going up against the prime members of the Masters of Evil or anything like that, but they weren't meant to be anything but a motley crew of people from “the index” looking to stir up trouble for the remnants of SHIELD. Several members of the Doctor's group were wholly invented for the show, Karla Faye Gideon (from the “Daredevil: Redemption” miniseries) was turned into a supervillainess with a ridiculous '60s-style origin and powers to match(*), and Angar the Screamer lost his code name and cool hippie wardrobe, and they mostly made convincing foes for our heroes. (Bobbi arguably should have made shorter work of Razor Fingers, but May's not going to take down a guy with super strength in five seconds.) And when you have Kyle MacLachlan wandering around with that demented grin on his face, the whole thing's light and fun in a way “SHIELD” hasn't been very much in its most recent episodes as the team grieved over Tripp and worried about Skye's secret.
(*) I don't know that a '60s comic would have been so blunt about her having an abusive boyfriend, but the idea of someone surgically grafting razor blades onto their fingers to feel safe absolutely seems like something Stan Lee and Steve Ditko would have thought up back in the day.
Speaking of Skye, I appreciate that she hadn't suddenly learned to control her powers within a few days, and her therapy sessions with May's ex-husband Andrew(**) shed some useful light on where her head's at with all of this, while also giving us the briefest glimpse of another side of May herself. So that was good.
(**) Missed opportunity to not have Blair Underwood playing a pre-gamma radiation Leonard Samson? I can't imagine the movie people ever having plans to use that guy. UPDATE: And right after posting, I was reminded that Ty Burrell played Samson in the Ed Norton “Incredible Hulk” film, which I always forget exists as a part of the MCU.
Also promising was the revelation of who Bobbi and Mack are working for – or think they're working for. If they were part of another evil spy organization, then it would just be a rehash of the Hydra business and make everyone look stupid. But the idea that there would be multiple SHIELD off-shoots rising up in the aftermath of “Winter Soldier” makes sense, and my hope is that whoever's leading this other faction (can't be Nick Fury, and I believe Maria Hill is helping supply Coulson's group, so it wouldn't be her) is a genuine good guy who just disagrees with Coulson's approach, rather than a villain who's manipulating Bobbi, Mack and others. But at least that story finally advanced a little after sitting in neutral for weeks.
All in all, “One of Us” was easily the best post-hiatus episode.
What did everybody else think?