Anghus Houvouras reviews the fourth episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D…
Last week I said this about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
“At some point we’re going to need some steak to go with this sizzle.”
Episode 4, “Eye Spy” delivered the steak.
It took a few episodes, but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has successfully found its footing and is fast becoming one of the most entertaining, albeit disposable, hours of television each week.
That sounds like a backhanded compliment, and I suppose it is. I’ve been enjoying Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. As a lifelong fan of comic books and being insanely well schooled in all things Marvel, this is exactly the kind of show I’ve been waiting for. So I’ve been very forgiving and apologetic for some of the show’s shortcomings.
Yes, it’s derivative. Practically a photocopy of every Whedon show that has ever aired. Yes, the show has been trying way too hard to be pithy. Finding the blend between drama and comedy has always been something that seems natural for anything Whedon touches. Like all Whedon shows, there’s always an adjustment period. The first season of both Buffy and Angel showed the same kind of growing pains, but eventually they found their rhythm and the results were highly entertaining.
After watching the fourth episode, “Eye Spy”, I can say without reservation that if the show can maintain the balance found in this episode, I’ll proudly declare SIX SEASONS AND A MOVIE!
The fourth episode sees Agent Coulson and company in pursuit of a rogue Agent. A former protege of Coulson who was thought dead. She’s popped back onto the grid with a murderous agenda and has to be tracked down. For Coulson, it’s a personal mission. He wants to find out what happened to her to cause this transformation.
The team heads to Belarus to track her down and discovers that she had been kidnapped and implanted with a bionic eye that sends her instructions from a mysterious handler. If she doesn’t follow the instructions, the implant is detonated and she dies. It’s a complicated conundrum that gives each member of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team a job that caters to their particular talents.
I mentioned the word ‘rhythm’, because that’s that the show had been lacking. It had been fast, loud, and talky as if the diverse cast of characters had to shout over one another for screen time. Things feel so much smoother in “Eye Spy”. Everyone had something to do and nothing felt shoehorned in. Much like the last episode, they got Coulson acting like Coulson again. He’s back to being an intense straight man who’s all about the mission. Not the jokey, one-liner delivering sarcasm machine he appeared to be in the first two episodes. This is the Coulson I like.
The rest of the team has also found a groove. Agent Ward (Brett Dalton) is becoming an effective blunt instrument who even manages to get the biggest laugh of the episode (“Seduce’… “Help”). Skye (Chloe Bennet) is so much better in small doses and is pretty endearing when reigned in. There was a subtlety to “Eye Spy” that felt so refreshing. Every character got their moment to shine, but the pacing was brisk and the story moved along. It’s amazing how much the show benefits from brevity.
The other great thing about the fourth episode is the expansion of the show’s ongoing mythology. There’s a mysterious enemy out there lurking in the shadows. An organization with access to advanced technology and an agenda involving an alien theorem. We get more hints that something isn’t quite right with Coulson. The supporting cast has finally turned into effective role players instead of hammy scene stealers.
Things are building nicely. “Eye Spy” is easily the best episode of the bunch and finally delivers some quality thrills, some well earned laughs, and some steak to go with the sizzle…
Anghus Houvouras is a North Carolina based writer and filmmaker. His latest work, the novel My Career Suicide Note, is available from Amazon.