Anghus Houvouras reviews the thirteenth episode of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (spoilers ahead)...
Let me first say that I really liked the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a show that is rapidly losing both viewers and defenders. As always, it's far from perfect, but the pulpy low-stakes Marvel Universe based show still does enough for me to warrant watching.
It's a show that is still trying to find it's footing, even after an entire half season of episodes. Thematically it's all over the map, and it's a show so white you could use it to balance digital cameras. This week's episode gave hope to viewers who have been hoping to see two things:
- More Marvel Madness
- Less Skye
"T.R.A.C.K.S." almost single handedly took care of both those complaints by introducing Deathlok, a cool little Easter egg finally ready to hatch, and by killing Skye, the most reviled character on the show.
Our favorite S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents are trying to recover a mysterious package that's being delivered to evil entrepreneur Quinn in the hopes that they can learn the whereabouts of the even more evil Clairvoyant who's psychic tomfoolery has been a constant thorn in Coulson's side. The mission goes awry leaving Skye and Simmons to try and continue the mission without backup. This leads to the extremely plausible scenario where Simmons is utterly useless and Skye takes two slugs to the chest. I was wondering if the show's creators had the moxy to kill off a major, generally disliked character to try and get the show 'back on track', but they loaded up her near lifeless body into a hyperbaric chamber and left her fate to be determined in the next episode (I'm guessing she lives).
There was some cool stuff in this episode, mostly dealing with J. August Richards' emerging Deathlok. A character that could be all kinds of cool on a show like this. There might be a lot of people who are forgiving of some of the earlier, slower installments of the series if it ends up being a Deathlok origin story. It certainly feels like it's making slow, plodding steps in the right direction. There's still so much of the show that feels like pointless filler. The relationship between Agent Ward and Agent May. Coulson's paternal like instincts towards Skye. You get fifteen minutes of meat and half an hour of pointless, sugary confection.
I always go back to the comparison I made awhile back to The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. A show that bore much of the same criticisms that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gets because it's not exactly the thing fans want it to be. A show like this is never going to please everybody, if for no other reason that the superhero to non-superhero ratio is always going to be far too low for fans who want more than the what the show is currently delivering.
For me, "T.R.A.C.K.S." was another solid episode. I'm still curious to see how the Deathlok and Clairvoyant stories play out. There's still enough here for me to stay invested in each week, even if the restless masses have already given up on what is still an engaging premise with potential.
Anghus Houvouras is a North Carolina based writer and filmmaker. His latest work, the novel My Career Suicide Note, is available from Amazon.