Tuesday, October 1, 2013

REVIEW: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Episode 1.02, "0-8-4"

The pilot episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was pretty much universally accepted as a success and widely-praised by critics and fans despite being hammered away at by a select few who, it seemed, were going to dislike it no matter what it did. It had my attention.  Even after watching it 3 times I still found it enjoyable.  I appreciated the connections to the MCU; I felt they allowed the fans to be comfortable in the environment and didn't believe they over did it.  In fact, I expected more callbacks to the movies early on as the show tried to build an audience.  The pilot, though not perfect by any means, was thoroughly enjoyable.  How did the second episode, "0-8-4", fair?

A big deal was made about an "0-8-4" in last week's closing and in all the promos.  As it turns out it is S.H.I.E.L.D. code for an object of unknown origin and this object is deep in Peru, so...that's where the agents head, in their pimped out plane, to deal with an object that doesn't seem to belong where it is.  However, when they get to the Peruvian jungle, things don't go off without a hitch as there are others after the device as well, including Camilla Reyes, a former "co-worker" of Coulson. As it turns out, the "0-8-4" is full of badness: a gamma bomb powered by the Tessaract and Hydra artifact.  And if we remember the opening of the episode, we know something bad is going to happen as a result of this object, though not they way you might expect.

We continue to get to know our agents on the fly: Skye joins the team as a consultant (to the chagrin of Ward), Agents Ward and May continue to be the muscle while Fitz and Simmons dial up the nerd talk just as we know they will but there are little wrinkles and winks tossed in that add some further levels of development to the team as they go through the to-be-expected growing pains and arguments of a group of top agents learning to play together nicely.  This episode, however, resolves those growing pains quickly and gives the agents every reason to set differences aside and become a team.

So, what is the "0-8-4"?  It's a MacGuffin.  That means it doesn't matter what it is, just that it is and that it put the team in the situation in which it ended up: needing to depend on one another's talents to get out of a mess which, in the end, is exactly what they do.  The "0-8-4" serves its purpose well and, in the end takes a trip into space without us ever getting any deep details about it.

The show builds the team and continues to add to the cohesiveness of the MCU: plenty of Easter Eggs and references, but, as was the case last week, those are not the centerpieces of the episode.  The agents are and they spend the last 20 minutes showing just why Coulson hand-picked this crew despite the concerns of the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. before getting the stamp of approval and learning that each one of them is going to be a valuable member of the team.  Skye even gets accepted by May and Ward...but can a member of The Rising Tide be trusted?

And that after-credits surprise: you read it here first (even though I had to read it somewhere else first).  Nick Fury pops in...further cementing the fact that this is an extension of the MCU and probably further pissing off the haters who think none of that has any place in this show...despite one purpose of the show being to grow the name and the MCU. 

Episode 2 did exactly what a 2nd episode of an ensemble could be expected to do: throw the team in a pickle and force them to come together in order to escape.  Two shows in and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. seems to be good entertainment for fans of the MCU or for people just picking up here.  Next week promises to up the stakes a little by adding an actual Marvel villain to the mix.  I'll be back next week to explore Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. under the threat of Graviton.