This week on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D … The team takes extreme measures to save Skye’s life. Ward is reunited with his former supervising officer. And Coulson makes a disturbing discovery about ‘Tahiti’.
This week’s mission
Picking up from the events of last week’s episode, Skye’s condition is diagnosed as fatal and Coulson and the rest of the team set off to locate the advanced medical technology which saved his own life. They’re aided by Ward’s former SO John Garrett (Bill Paxton) and his new protégé Antoine Triplett.
Too many clichés spoil the plot
After the noticeable improvement of recent weeks, this episode unfortunately sees a return to pre-hiatus form, with a pedestrian, cliché-filled story riddled with holes.
It starts well enough, with each member of the team reacting in their own way to the potential loss of Skye and finding different people or things to blame before the ever pragmatic May simply chooses to blame Ian Quinn, the man who actually shot her. She then takes out her frustrations on him by savagely beating him in the interrogation room on the bus.
Equally, Coulson’s decision to go rogue to prevent the death of the girl who has become a surrogate daughter is understandable. His willingness to share highly classified data with the rest of the team is also indicative of how his new-found awareness of the circumstances of his ‘death’ have changed him.
However, from there it’s mostly downhill. Bill Paxton chews plenty of scenery as the gruff, wise-cracking veteran Garrett, but he’s a well-worn stereotype who abandons his own orders – to bring Quinn in to S.H.I.E.L.D. for questioning – at the drop of a hat. (Does anyone in S.H.I.E.L.D. actually follow orders, or are they all modelling themselves on the Avengers now?)
Agent Triplett’s role in this episode is limited to half a scuffle with Ward over nothing in particular and going all gooey-eyed over Simmons, who appears to have the same effect on him as Lorelei (see below). I’m sure we’ll see more of him in subsequent stories, but here he’s very much a fifth wheel.
Fitz and Simmons Minority Report their way through a holo-library of S.H.I.E.L.D’s data archives to piece together the location of the ‘guest house’ where Coulson’s surgery took place. They achieve this with ridiculous ease – as Fitz acknowledges, it’s not like either of them possess Skye’s hacking skills. (It appears S.H.I.E.L.D’s security protocols aren’t up to much either).
Despite the risk that their mission could give the Clairvoyant the details of Coulson’s resurrection that he has been seeking, Coulson and Garrett decide to infiltrate the facility and take on a force of unknown strength and quantity. They take Ward and Fitz but not May, who has historically proven quite useful in such situations. Why? For no other reason than because she is needed to fire up the bus at short notice at episode’s end, meaning the plot requires her to be on the plane even if all tactical common sense dictates that she should be on the ground. That’s just lazy story-telling.
Then, of course, we have the old chestnut of the timer-rigged explosives to add narrative urgency, and Simmons’ desperate efforts to prevent Skye from flat-lining, which draws on every cliché from every emergency room drama you have ever seen.
At the end of it all, the team overcome the base’s guards and locate the secret drug GH325 required to save Skye, but not before Coulson opens a locked door marked T.A.H.I.T.I. and discovers the source of the drug – a blue-skinned alien which is apparently being farmed. He tries to stop Simmons administering the drug to no avail, later concealing his alien discovery from May.
Overall, this was no more than a workmanlike episode which strangely felt lacking in pace and jeopardy, despite the high-stakes urgency of the situation. A disappointment.
John Garrett has appeared in a number of forms in the Marvel universe, including one where, after being injured in the line of duty, he receives a number of cybernetic implants to save his life.
Fitz mentions a friend who works at the Triskelion. This is S.H.I.E.L.D’s main headquarters. In the comic book universe it’s originally located on an island, with a later version built in New York.
The blue-skinned alien is not identified, but could this be a tie-in to the upcoming Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy film?
In the coda we are introduced to Lorelei, a woman from Thor’s realm of Asgard who possesses the ability to enchant any man she meets. She mistakes Death Valley for Midgard. Easily done.
Sounds like some wrestler from the eighties.
Garrett is unimpressed by Deathlok’s name.