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

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

MovieBob gives us the spoilerific review of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Episode 3: The Asset, taking advantage of his in-depth knowledge of the comics and movies.

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It's nice, entertaining and I am really enjoying FitzSimmons.

On the other hand it's pretty much built on clichés and these anvils really need to stop dropping all over the place.

Out of the 3 episodes so far, I like this one the most. It felt like it finally is starting to catch its balance. I watched Avengers over the weekend and was sad for this series because I felt like if they took the feel of the movie and tried to instill it in the series, it could be so much better. I felt a lot better for the series after this episode.

The jokes and quips didn't feel as forced. They were a lot lighter and less "HERE'S A JOKE, LAUGH!!". The actors didn't feel as wooden. Even Coulson felt like the Coulson I knew from the movies. It was all around smoother.

So, I suppose it's because I'm blissfully ignorant of the comings and goings of our political system, but I didn't feel any political agenda is being force fed to me through this series. The "I'm working against he government mandate" excuse is used by any great madman. And the "Fight the power" hacker type has been around forever. I've been playing Cyberpunk and Shadowrun long enough to know that.

I really want to like this show but so far it hasn't given me much to like. I'll give it a few more episodes because of Coulson.

I am really enjoying these things, Bob. I like having place where I can get a detailed look at things I don't have the background knowledge of.

And I did enjoy this episode best out of the three. I felt at least some of the characters were interacting more naturally, especially Skye and Ward. And I didn't think much on Ward's "defining moment" thing until you mentioned it could just be a reference to something worse.

I'm still up to watching more, even if its just to see where they go with all this stuff for Coulson. Keep up the analysis stuff, Bob~!

ok...i think there's a good chance Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch (who are apparently going to be in Avengers 2) may well be introduced via this show...

just getting that down in black and white here and now as it were ;P

btw, and i know this sounds totally cheesy, but when i watched it episode 2 last week i did notice that when they got attacked by the rebels Agent Coulson (who was chatting with his ex at the time) pulled his gun really awkwardly...

Yay, the espionage agency actually did some espionage. Easily the best of the three, still more room to grow but practically every Wheadon project I remember (discounting Avengers) starts slow and sets plot elements before the main plot kicks in. So I'm optimistic and now that they've set themselves up for a super villain, I feel better about them showing more B and C grade heroes like Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, Daredevil (seriously, how hard would it be to put an attorney named Murdock in an episode?), Luck Cage, and Iron Fist. Hell, Pym is getting a movie down the road, introduce him here before Phase III kicks in.

I'm starting to think they're hinting too hard at Coulson being a decoy for it not to be a misdirect. Especially when in the preview for the next episode someone (Skye, I think?) flat out calls him a robot.

bluepotatosack:
I'm starting to think they're hinting too hard at Coulson being a decoy for it not to be a misdirect. Especially when in the preview for the next episode someone (Skye, I think?) flat out calls him a robot.

Actually I believe she was calling Ward a robot. May have to rewatch that part..

I only know of Gravitron from the The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes cartoon were he is powerful enough to be the reason the Avengers formed in the first place. So having him be reduced to be a future TV show enemy rather than a future film enemy is really disappointing as there are so few Earth born supervillians capable of going against the Avengers on their own as it is.

Personally I thought the 'muscle memory' comment by Coulson at the end was the biggest hint to him being a life model decoy.

Unfortunately I think I like Bob's recaps of the show better than the show itself. I guess part of that is that Agents of Shield, like many ill-fated shows(particularly "superhero" ones), sounds a lot better on paper than it is in reality.

I'm still rooting for it, this episode was better than last week's, but a lot of the show seems really cheesy and/or cheap. I don't know if it a result of poor writing, acting, cinematography, or some combination there of but the show just really falls flat on many occasions and is really hard to get immersed in.

The writers of the show particularly seem to struggle with subtlety. The Ward Skye dynamic seems solely to exist to ham-handedly explain the shows themes to the audience. The Coulson/Robot thing is also a mess. Good twists are the ones that surprise you but make complete sense in retrospect. Bad twists either make no sense at all, or are so heavily projected and predictable that they are not surprising at all. Agents of Shield appears to be lining up for the latter. If Coulson stares straight into the camera and slowly says "magical" one more time I am going to throw something through the tv.

Oddly, Bob just straight stating the various themes and potential twists in the show somehow seems more subtle than the show itself.

Side note/nit pick: Bob, please don't say "how much of a nerd am I" in one of these recaps again. We are all thoroughly convinced of your nerdiness and extensive knowledge of comic books or we wouldn't be reading the column to begin with. It is just a pet peeve, plus it brings to mind the whole "fake gamer/nerd" boogeyman that causes so many people to pointlessly rage at Big Bang Theory fans and the like.

2 things:

-I think (hope) the bigger twist on Coulson's "resurrection" will be not that he's an LMD, but the REASON why he was brought back at all. Seriously, if the Avengers suddenly found him apparently alive, wouldn't that cause a massive riff in their trust in Shield and derail the whole initiative? And why bring back an operative? Coulson may be good at what he does, but I would think agents die all the time and not warrant spending millions to "replace" them. What makes him special enough to keep around?

-The quip about friendly big government being possibly "creepy" coincides with my emerging distaste at the realization that The Dark Knight was essentially pro Bush-era skull-duggery. I'm not necessarily against writers propping up a valid argument and there aren't enough examples to officially make this a trend just yet (unless maybe you count government-based shows like Homeland and such), but I'm worried this could become some sort of propaganda.

Don't really know much about LMD's, but can they bleed?

'Cause agent Coulson clearly bled in episode 2.

Coulson wasn't trying to reload the gun, he was trying to do that cool "grab the slide to disassemble it" trick. Which is why Ward just chucked it into the force field...it was an easier way to get rid of it than waiting for Coulson to pull the trick off.

And yeah, as has been mentioned, Coulson's lack of "muscle memory" was this episode's hint towards LMD/Clone/Skrull/whatever the hell Coulson really is. Of course it could be that this is a fake out and he really is the Phil Coulson we know who really is just rusty, and the "he can never know" is about how he was brought back from the dead rather than what he is now. I'm guessing it was way more involved than just some crash cart.

Silent Protagonist:
Unfortunately I think I like Bob's recaps of the show better than the show itself. I guess part of that is that Agents of Shield, like many ill-fated shows(particularly "superhero" ones), sounds a lot better on paper than it is in reality.

I'm still rooting for it, this episode was better than last week's, but a lot of the show seems really cheesy and/or cheap. I don't know if it a result of poor writing, acting, cinematography, or some combination there of but the show just really falls flat on many occasions and is really hard to get immersed in.

The writers of the show particularly seem to struggle with subtlety. The Ward Skye dynamic seems solely to exist to ham-handedly explain the shows themes to the audience. The Coulson/Robot thing is also a mess. Good twists are the ones that surprise you but make complete sense in retrospect. Bad twists either make no sense at all, or are so heavily projected and predictable that they are not surprising at all. Agents of Shield appears to be lining up for the latter. If Coulson stares straight into the camera and slowly says "magical" one more time I am going to throw something through the tv.

Oddly, Bob just straight stating the various themes and potential twists in the show somehow seems more subtle than the show itself.

uh I wanted to say all of that, but you did it much better. What he said :D

I think this is my favorite episode so far... Probably for the simplistic reason that it's basically the origin story for a potential super-villain down the line. There's lots of other stuff to enjoy, too, but they're all in the details.

I'm in the "third time's the charm" camp too. I like that they are now starting to delve into parts of the source material that isn't just a reference to one of the bigger movies, the character interactions are still fun and a bit more fluid than previously and I liked that they got a bit creative with the set when gravity got all wonky. Character development felt a bit hamfisted, but after reading Bob's take on Ward's backstory I feel much better about it.

Overall, I say the show is still solid and really starting to come into its own. Definitely a must watch for me this fall.

I'd like a little clarification. I'm still not sold on the Life Decoy Model idea just yet, But are they actual sentient robots/androids or are they just remote controlled like in the movie Surrogates.

Show is getting better, but it hasn't grabbed me yet. I'm a Whedon fan and that's carrying me through.

It's not a blind loyalty thing mind you, it's the fact that every show he's done save for Firefly has taken a good while to get good (Firefly was his most realized show right off the bat). And when they get good they get really good. Buffy The Vampire Slayer took a season and a half, Angel took til the end of season one, Dollhouse took five episodes.

Whedon writes slow burns. He inhabits his worlds with fairly stock characters, giving you time to get comfortable with the archetypes til he pulls the rug out from under you. I'm confident that even the most stereotypical roles in this show will end up heavily subverting expectations sooner or later. Fitz and Simmons aren't going to remain just the quirky twee info dumps. Ward won't remain just the stern straight man. Skye won't remain just the happy go lucky fish out of water with a 'tude. God I hope not anyway. She can be grating.

Just hurry up already, SHIELD. We've had enough shows from Whedon and Co. cancelled before their time.

Lvl 64 Klutz:
Don't really know much about LMD's, but can they bleed?

'Cause agent Coulson clearly bled in episode 2.

Yes, they can bleed, wouldn't be a very good decoy if it couldn't bleed. They are pretty much indistinguishable without doing massive damage to them.

jng2058:
Coulson wasn't trying to reload the gun, he was trying to do that cool "grab the slide to disassemble it" trick. Which is why Ward just chucked it into the force field...it was an easier way to get rid of it than waiting for Coulson to pull the trick off.

Okay, that's what I thought too. I was confused when he said reload.

I'm just watching it and got to the gravitonium part.

Ain't that basically Mass Effect (as in the material)?

Not a fan of all the superficial political statements being made, I wish it showed SHIELD more as the two-faced organization that it is.

thanks again for this blog I really like it.
The parts I like best are the Marvel Universe explanations, I have no comic book back ground so these blogs help me appreciate the show.

Also im pretty sure "reload" in bob's post was just a mental typo, and he meant get the bullet out of the chamber.

Sweet I am now 99% sure one of my theories from last episode is right, there is a secret Shield Space station, and that's where slingshot is taking the items. When Coulson was detailing how deeply he wanted that element buried and secret, to that agent that was putting it into storage because that's what Hall would have wanted, he specifically mentioned He did not want it flagged for the slingshot. Coulson makes it quite clear that he never wants this stuff to be touched again, and yet he specifically dose not want it to be flagged for slingshot, which would send it into the sun, that would guarantee it was never touched again. Graviton is implied to be very dangerous, and I'd have to say it sure seems to far more dangerous than the Hydra Ray weapon last episode, that when fired only put a relatively small hole in the side of a plane, but was "too dangerous for any person or government to have."

JSF01:
Sweet I am now 99% sure one of my theories from last episode is right, there is a secret Shield Space station, and that's where slingshot is taking the items. When Coulson was detailing how deeply he wanted that element buried and secret, to that agent that was putting it into storage because that's what Hall would have wanted, he specifically mentioned He did not want it flagged for the slingshot. Coulson makes it quite clear that he never wants this stuff to be touched again, and yet he specifically dose not want it to be flagged for slingshot, which would send it into the sun, that would guarantee it was never touched again. Graviton is implied to be very dangerous, and I'd have to say it sure seems to far more dangerous than the Hydra Ray weapon last episode, that when fired only put a relatively small hole in the side of a plane, but was "too dangerous for any person or government to have."

I turned to my wife and said the same thing. If he didn't want it to fall into the wrong hands, why not put it on the slingshot and hurl it into the Sun. Perhaps the Gravitonium would have a catastrophic effect on the Sun? They mentioned that if an electrical current is passed through it that it goes unstable (or something like that). I'm guessing all the radiation generated by solar activity may cause it to go gangbusters. Then again, who knows.

I was really trying to like the show, but it has too much of Whedon's stink on it.
Avengers was tolerable because it barely smelled like Whedon (Other than his inability to stop re-writing the same characters). This isn't working because you can tell it's his doing from miles away.

I usually like Joss Whedon's stuff, but I can't stand this show. This show feels like someone trying to imitate him to be honest. Usually, when Whedon uses clichés and cheesy dialogue he does it with a self-aware finesse that makes it work. This show lacks a certain je ne sais quoi that is present in his other work.

Yep, this show is picking up its stride. I loved how they clearly blew the budget on the small rotating lab set (probably repurposed from a movie set) and spent the rest of the money renting a short stretch of highway and a California coastal mansion.

Did it break the immersion? Yep. Did I care? Not one bit.

Lvl 64 Klutz:
Don't really know much about LMD's, but can they bleed?

'Cause agent Coulson clearly bled in episode 2.

He's not a life model decoy. He's clearly a clone. The life model decoy will be Agent Coulson 4.0 when his spare bodies run out.

Sgt. Sykes:
I'm just watching it and got to the gravitonium part.

Ain't that basically Mass Effect (as in the material)?

No, no, no... the stuff that manipulates gravity when you put a charge through it and gives people superpowers was called Element Zero, whereas this stuff was called Gravitonium. Totally different things. Note how Element zero is two words and Gravitonium is one.

Sgt. Sykes:
I'm just watching it and got to the gravitonium part.

Ain't that basically Mass Effect (as in the material)?

You're thinking of Element Zero, and no, the defined properties of Eezo (which is heavily documented) do not match up to the displayed properties of Gravitonium. Key point being, Eezo affects mass, not weight and direction of gravity.

Your Rival:
I usually like Joss Whedon's stuff, but I can't stand this show. This show feels like someone trying to imitate him to be honest. Usually, when Whedon uses clichés and cheesy dialogue he does it with a self-aware finesse that makes it work. This show lacks a certain je ne sais quoi that is present in his other work.

It's run by Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen. Notably, Jed's worked on Dollhouse and Avengers, as well as having co-written Dr. Horrible with Maurissa.

I like the new series.
It's a bit stupid and it's sci-fi to a point (so far) that in the future most the stuff in it, we might actually have.
But I think some of these analysis are too analytic?
I mean does everything have to be tied to todays politics? If someone wants to read into stuff as much as you Bob (not sure if you normally do it, or just now because it's... well a part of your job) but I just want to sit and enjoy a show that seems to get more and more interesting all the time.
No super-hero marvel cameo in this episode :/

Well this episode wasn't bad. The last one had me very worried about where this show was going. This one was better even though it was once again filled to the brim with cliche. I'll give this show longer, hopefully we'll get some episodes that give us more than the potential of greatness. Arrow was like this at the start too and in the end, it got a lot better (although it never really handled the side villains very well -but this show seems to be doing the same thing). Arrow had a much more compelling main arc (along with the island arc too) and this show looks like it's probably going to be the same way. I'm excited to see this show hopefully start showing some kind of overarching plot since it's only really hinted at it so far.

I am happy to see Graviton born. He is a formidable bad guy in the Marvel Universe and a reaonable choice for the show. Special effects for a gravity-based hero can stay low budget.

The abduction scene to lead off the episode seemed a bit dopey. There were way too many loose ends, but the plot had to be moved along. The lack of FitzSimmons closure at the end (after their obvious emotional involvement) seemed odd to me. Skye's potential double cross seemed a little shallow, but that red dress bought her some leeway. A "catalyst" can be anything I guess. But who decides "that dude looks like the perfect catalyst to me"?

All that being said, this a damned Marvel TV show better than any other comic book show I can remember. I have alway hated SHIELD in the Marvel Universe. Buncha government funded jerks always showing up with who-knows-what agendas. People's tax dollars are funding flying aircraft carriers? This always seemed dumb. But, if a TV series can't afford the special effects budget necessary to do a real superhero team, I'll take this.

As I think about Graviton, I think back to the 1984 comic, West Coast Avengers. Their battle with Graviton is the only time I actually remember him as a baddie. He did a great job of taking the team down. And this makes me think "how tough would it have been to make a series with this team?" Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Tigra, Mockingbird, Iron Man and Henry Pym. Maybe you ditch Iron Man for budget reasons. Budget-wise you wind up with one super strong guy, one poor lady who has to spend 3 hours in make-up every day, and a shrinky guy.

Programmed_For_Damage:

JSF01:
Sweet I am now 99% sure one of my theories from last episode is right, there is a secret Shield Space station, and that's where slingshot is taking the items. When Coulson was detailing how deeply he wanted that element buried and secret, to that agent that was putting it into storage because that's what Hall would have wanted, he specifically mentioned He did not want it flagged for the slingshot. Coulson makes it quite clear that he never wants this stuff to be touched again, and yet he specifically dose not want it to be flagged for slingshot, which would send it into the sun, that would guarantee it was never touched again. Graviton is implied to be very dangerous, and I'd have to say it sure seems to far more dangerous than the Hydra Ray weapon last episode, that when fired only put a relatively small hole in the side of a plane, but was "too dangerous for any person or government to have."

I turned to my wife and said the same thing. If he didn't want it to fall into the wrong hands, why not put it on the slingshot and hurl it into the Sun. Perhaps the Gravitonium would have a catastrophic effect on the Sun? They mentioned that if an electrical current is passed through it that it goes unstable (or something like that). I'm guessing all the radiation generated by solar activity may cause it to go gangbusters. Then again, who knows.

Coulson knew the doctor was absorbed into the Gravitonium. He didn't want it destroyed because of the sacrifice made to keep it stable.

A few statements were made in Ep2 that confirm the slingshot sends things to be destroyed. The first is.. incidental. Skye said they went through a lot of trouble for something that was just going to be destroyed, to which Coulson said that the Slingshot was protocol for these types of devices.

Second, FitzSimmons comments while the rocket was taking off. Saying it was going beyond the Lagrange points (which are points of orbit) so it doesn't hit Herschel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herschel_Space_Observatory). Also mentioned the coronal mass ejections of the sun, implying that the rocket was going in that direction...

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