In “The Asset”, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s first super villain is born and Skye’s loyalty is put to the test.
Continue Reading for my spoiler filled thoughts on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 3.
The premise of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is an open template for a variety of stories to be told. Each week could alternate from a spy vs spy thriller to a Indiana Jones action-adventure or a mysterious investigation of a new meta-human. But it’s evident after Episode 3, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is struggling to commit to any particular vision other than mildly entertaining sci-fi story of the week featuring cookie-cutter characters.
The Asset’s opening scene started off with a strong hook. I love seeing the cars and semi-truck plucked out of the air like it’s snatched by an invisible hand. The reveal of the highly valued cargo contents is a good twist, none other than Dr. Franklin Hall.
A takeaway from this episode is witnessing the origin of comic-based super villain Graviton aka Dr. Franklin Hall. It’s a clever ploy for Dr. Hall to arrange for his own kidnapping. He will be both an extraordinary physical and cerebral threat when he inevitably breaks out of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s vault. Too bad we have to wait for future episodes to see him in full villainous action.
Unfortunately, Dr. Franklin Hall is sorely miscast. The actor’s line deliveries fell flat. As much as I wanted to be convinced by whatever he was saying to Agent Coulson at the end, I could not follow his dialogue. I guess I’ll pencil him in as a mild-mannered physicist gone mad; a man willing to cause mass destruction for what he believes is the greater good.
As fellow blogger Tim The Film Guy pointed out, Agent Coulson is best when he is playing off other strong characters. Coulson’s strongest chemistry among his teammates so far is with Melinda Mays. In upcoming episodes, I hope to see more scenes and development between these characters but not necessarily as a romantic pairing.
The writers don’t have a good handle on how to best utilize Coulson yet. A couple of moments in “The Asset” he’s regulated to narrating some obvious plot points: “Are you saying it was an inside job?” and “I didn’t see this twist coming”. It is a cool moment when Coulson sacrificed one individual to save many others although it’s a decision that will come back to bite him since he created the show’s first super villain. If you’re playing along with the Coulson resurrection mystery game, his lack of muscle memory is an intriguing clue.
FItz finally got some more screen-time this episode but it exposed the actor’s lack of comedic chops. I think I was supposed to laugh when Fitz proposed his monkey infiltration plan and talked about Skye’s secret weapons (ie. her boobs). Fitz could take a page from another geeky character: Buffy’s Xander Harris. Xander is endearing because of his self-effacing humor and not taking himself too seriously. Similar to how Xander was infatuated with Buffy, Fitz’s not so subtly pining for Skye should come across as adorable but viewers need a reason first to care about him.
Last episode’s ending revealed Skye is a possible double agent for Rising Tide. So the crux of “The Asset” largely depended on how likely she would turn on S.H.I.E.L.D. Because of her conflicted expression in “0-8-4” and it’s so early in the season, I found it hard to believe she’d double cross S.H.I.E.L.D. even after confessing everything to Ian Quinn which took away from any suspense. That’s not to say Skye doesn’t have a long-term strategy as a mole or ulterior motives.
The development between Skye and Agent Ward feels forced but it’s a small step in fleshing out their characters. We learn that Skye does not have a family and moved around several foster homes. S.H.I.E.L.D. might just be the closest to family she has known making it all the more difficult to betray them and another reason why she’s committed to becoming an agent. I did like Agent Ward telling Skye there is no such thing as a truth serum. It would be great if we find out that Agent Ward is fibbing or playing with Skye because he’s a very stiff, humorless dude.
“The Asset” is the weakest of the first three episodes of S.H.I.E.L.D. There isn’t much meaningful character development and the show hasn’t developed its own identity. There is a possibility for a cool, super villain but there wasn’t one in this episode. I’m still loyal to the show and I’m hoping the next episode can show me the potential I saw in the pilot.
What is did you like or dislike about “The Asset”? Does S.H.I.E.L.D. have a truth serum?