Agents of SHIELD
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review - Episode 9: Repairs

Bob Chipman | 27 Nov 2013 12:00
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"Last week's episode" of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D was a real winner: An interesting story, fun new characters, bravura action sequences and an intriguing cliffhanger. Unfortunately, by the laws of episodic television that means it's likely to be immediately followed by something less than a winner, which is what we get in Repairs.

Our opening: Batesville, Utah; a small town where we're informed a tragic explosion at a research laboratory recently claimed four lives. A young woman in a gas station convenience store (Roxxon, the Marvel Universe catch-all stand-in for Big Oil) is recognized as said laboratory's (surviving) safety manager by the clerk, who begins harassing her because he lost a friend in the accident and blames her for failing to prevent it. But before he can threaten her further, he's attacked by flying cans... and then shelves, and then loosened gas-pumps and a fiery explosion; all while the girl cowers on the floor clutching her Crucifix necklace and repeating "Not again!"

Naturally, this is a job for the Agents. But first, we pick up the big dangling plotline from last week: Agent May and Agent Ward getting dressed after spending the night in a hotel room - not the same one as last time - and resolving to stick with the plan of going back to HQ separately so as not to arouse suspicion. So... yeah, at least by implication Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D's first big office romance is between the team's resident young hunk and a woman twenty years his senior. That's something you don't see on genre TV every day - well done.

Telekines apparently not being on S.H.I.E.L.D's list of strange phenomena that they know to actually be real, Fitz/Simmons are dispatched to investigate the original explosion site (a particle accelerator facility) while the other Agents go to collect the girl (Name: Hannah Hutchins); taking Skye along so she can witness official Agency procedure for making first-contact with "Gifted" individuals. Unfortunately, they find Hannah's house being picketed by an unruly mob of locals; a tableau which feels like an attempt to fake-out viewers who may not know that Mutants are contractually-unable to exist in the Marvel Studios universe. When things get heated (i.e. when Hannah appears to telekinetically throw a police car at the crowd) May drops her with a tranquilizer gun.

Meanwhile, Fitz/Simmons are musing about a telekinesis-oriented prank pulled on them as Freshman at S.H.I.E.L.D Academy, and how they feel cheated out of the prank-playing experience since they graduated so early they never got to torment Freshmen themselves. This turns out to be a puzzlingly clumsy clothesline on which to hang the episode's B-story: Teasing out Melinda May's backstory (specifically the origin of her nickname, "The Cavalry") piecemeal by having Skye ask about it and Fitz/Simmons decide handing her (the newbie) an intentionally-exaggerated fake story can be their version of a Freshman Prank. Clumsier still, their fabulism - that May is so nicknamed because she wiped out a bunch of enemy commandos by dual-wielding automatic weapons on horseback - doesn't really sound that out of the ordinary either for the Marvel Universe or just for May, a woman who just last week shook off the effects of a magical rage-enhancing Asgardian relic without much visible ill-effect.

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