Agents of SHIELD
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review - Episode 3: The Asset

Bob Chipman | 9 Oct 2013 12:03
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How big of a nerd am I? When the third episode of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. opened with a highway assault by an unidentified paramilitary team - backed up by an unseen force that seems to yank large objects into the sky - on an 18-wheel truck that turns out to be a high-tech, kitted-out S.H.I.E.L.D. vehicle driven by one Agent Mack (heh); my mind immediately went to U.S. 1. (I wonder if any Atop The Fourth Wall fans had the same reaction?

But while the truck is not, sadly, carrying CB Radio telepath Ulysses Solomon Archer, it is carrying actor Ian Hart as one Dr. Franklin Hall - better known in the Marvel Universe as the gravity-warping supervillain Graviton. Three episodes in, we now have our first guest appearance from the comics who hasn't previously appeared in the movies. Hall, we're informed, was a mentor of FitzSimmons in addition to being a high-value S.H.I.E.L.D. asset, so now it's up to the Agents to find out who took him and mount a rescue.

Up on "The Bus," Ward (the hardcase) has taken over field-training for Skye (the hacker). It's not going well, evidently because if Ward and Skye got along we'd lose opportunity for maudlin back-and-forth dialogue scenes that spell out the thematic arcs of the series and individual episodes: This time, Ward offers that every Agent will have a "defining moment" that determines whether they're cut out for heroism or not; which may as well be a blinking sign reading "This is an important episode for Skye." In the course of this particular session, we learn that Ward has two brothers: An older one who was violently abusive and a younger one who looked to him for protection. (His "family history" was grimly alluded to in the pilot episode.)

There's also a bit more business about not even Skye knowing exactly what her "niche" on the team is yet, which is starting to feel like intrigue for intrigue's sake but at least ties in with the emerging subtext that Coulson is as big believer in unorthodox motivation techniques as Nick Fury is. (He's still annoyed about his trading cards, though.) To wit, Melinda May is still adamant that she doesn't want to be in combat, and feels like she's being nudged to get back in anyway. To make a point, Coulson opts to put himself in the field for this one.

"You forget, I have plenty of field experience. With The Avengers."

"Yes. You died."

Incidentally, it's refreshing that this is really the only direct "Hey, remember those movies we're sort-of connected to?" moment this time out, apart from a general reference to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s role in The Battle of New York towards the end. A little bit of that goes a long way.

The investigation, which involves gold bars, Ward and Coulson interrogating a cowboy and a super-rare element called "Gravitonium," ultimately points to a billionaire geo/tech industrialist named Ian Quinn who's kidnapped Dr. Hall to force him to complete a working version of a hypothetical machine that would allow Quinn's company to bend the forces of gravity for profit. He's hiding from international business-regulators in a Maltese compound, so Skye offers to hack herself an e-vite to his Bad Guy Cocktail Party so she can disable security for Coulson and Ward's extraction team. The plan goes just slightly awry, however, when Quinn reveals that he let Skye hack her way into the event - he's a big Rising Tide booster, and he wants to hire her.

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