Thursday, October 3, 2013

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1.02 Review: Fighting the Common Enemy

Let’s get this out of the way, if you have yet to watch Tuesday night’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., entitled ‘O-8-4’, then please exit the premises immediately. As always, my blog may contain some amount of spoilers in reference to that episode, as well as the episode before it. THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS! You’ve been warned.
As I expected reviewing last week’s pilot episode, there was a noticeable dip in the budget, evident in the quality of this episode. I understand that they are now working with a lower regular episode budget now, rather than a pilot episode budget, but when a series like this strives for greatness, there are tricks around lower budgets.
Along those lines, I don’t think this episode was quite as good as last week’s. These characters are just beginning to get to know each other, but their lack of believing in each other’s talents is disheartening, when you take into account the events of the last episode. Not only that, but the character development for some of them – particularly May – was somewhat lacking. I need to get to know these characters, and I’m only being given hints to who they are, that needs to hit a deeper level.
One of my least favourite lines in this episode was when Skye asks, “What do we got here, guys?” Not only is there terrible grammar in that statement, but the way she says it just isn’t convincing to me. The tone to that question just feels like she doesn’t really care to know very much. Last week she got all excited over superheroes, but this week she could care less about an unknown object. Uneven acting, that definitely needs to be worked on.
Similarly, I wasn’t so fond of May in this episode. When she first tells Ward not to call her the Cavalry, I don’t really feel that she doesn’t want to be called that. There’s something about that term that reminds her of a bad past, but I still need to see it in her. She’s certainly badass, and much better on in the episode when she tells the others they talk too much, but early on in the episode she isn’t quite convincing as her character.
On that note, what is it with this Cavalry business? I’d really like to know what that’s all about. And why does May hate being reminded of it so much? I’m picking up that something bad happened, from where she was recruited from, but why not deal with it? It certainly makes her character a bit more interesting, but I’m still not feeling it completely.
These are definitely intriguing characters, but they need to be developed a great deal. I’m not seeing a full depth to most of them. It comes out at moments, but it’s not always evident in each character. To me, it’s like they aren’t entirely rounded out characters with a full set of emotions. There are little bits of emotion from time to time, but it’s like they are just surface emotions, and nothing much deeper. The subtle acting cues and facial changes really need to be worked on in this series. Yes, it’s about everyday heroes, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to feel like real people. Show the world anyone can be hero in their own right.
Ironically, this week’s episode of S.H.I.E.L.D. had a bit of a parallel with a show on the same night Trophy Wife. In that episode, it was about finding her place as the new stepmom, in this show it was about Skye kind of trying to use her talents and find out what her place in this group is. It was an intriguing similarity that I found to be perfectly fitting.
Yet another parallel, or possibly an Easter egg, to the movies was the mention of uniting the group together by having them fight a common enemy. Although it was a clever idea to throw into the episode, the fact that they’d thrown in a heavy amount of Easter eggs in the last episode, made it unnecessary to include it just yet. Especially with the cameo at the end. Plus, I’d have liked to see this group struggling to become a unit for a few episodes before it strengthened because the audience isn’t really able to see them trying to work out their issues so much. Throwing in a common enemy to unite over was a little premeditated being that we haven’t quite seen the faults of each character fully yet, and it’s only the second episode. This series needs to try to withstand storylines.
A couple little tidbits that intrigued me. One was the fact Fitz was right, the 0-8-4 was somewhat manufactured by the Germans. The other was the little Chuck move, where May breaks her wrist – although in that series it was thumb – to get out of her restraints. Those were nice little hurrah moments for those characters.
From future episodes, I do expect a little more effort going in. This is a Joss Whedon series, run by a crew that has worked with the man on numerous projects, I expect more out of this than a regular series. Although, I am slightly excited by the previews for next week, getting to see Ward and Skye work together, and seeing chemistry between characters.
My rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Best Lines:
“Do you need anything else before I go check on the device fueled by evil that’s sitting in our cargo hold?” – Coulson.
“See them proving the point I just made?” – Skye. I really liked the way she said this to Coulson, her tone was remarkably spot on.
“And Fitz, you are a rocket scientist.” – Coulson, trying to get the crew to get it together.
“Talking to me about authority?” – Fury rhetorically asks himself.
“Yeah, we’re going to have to kill the fish tank.” – Coulson radios in, after having to fix up his plane just six days in.

Okay, I’m sorry I didn’t post this yesterday, but I was too tired after watching the episode, so here it is now. I’m off to go watch Nashville, then it’s the real excitement, Revolution! Stay tuned.

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