Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 4: "Eye-Spy" Recap

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In “Eye-Spy”, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Β tracks down a mysterious woman who has single-handedly committed numerous high-stakes heists.

Continue reading for a spoiler filled discussion of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 4.

“Eye-Spy” marks the first episode written by executive producer Jeffrey Bell (Angel, Alias) without co-writing credits to Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen. While this episode is an improvement over “The Asset”, the show is still working to find the right balance between the humor, espionage drama, and comic-inspired stories.

The concept of “Eye-Spy”, an all-seeing camera implanted into a spy’s eye, could be told in many other science fiction television shows. It’s plot, other than the spy being a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, does not directly tie into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.Β This is not necessarily a bad thing for a show that wants to attract a broader base audience and tell its own stories without dropping Avengers references to the disdain of some fans.Β 

For an 8Β o’clock ABC network family friendly drama, “Eye-Spy” added some unexpected gruesome moments. The severed hands and eyeball snipping gives the show an edgier vibe, something that could balance out the hit and miss humour. More often than not, I found myself laughing; however, comedy is subjective and I can envision other fans wincing or rolling their eyes at times.

The cold open starts off with an intriguing, mysterious hook. The imagery of faceless, masked men in corporate suits with a briefcase handcuffed to their wrist while walking amongst everyday people in a busy plaza has a layered context. The twist, if you can call it that, is that the masked men are not the perpetrators of a crime, rather they are the victims; there is a far more menacing unseen threat out there.

Enter Akela Amador, a thief and one-time S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Like Commandant Reyes from episode 2, her history with Agent Coulson gives insight on the man he used to be. Her presence in the story also explains why he is using a different approach in training Skye. Skye tells A.C., “you’re cool” but from what we learn the old Coulson was uncompromising on his agents-in-training. The way Coulson goes out of way to protect Amador from S.H.I.E.L.D.’s headquarters might foreshadow what he does when Skye, a possible mole for Rising Tide, betrays them.

When Amador asks Mays “what did they do to Coulson?” it suggests that he is altered or manipulated in a way that serves an ulterior agenda of S.H.I.E.L.D. This is similar to how Amador, as well has her handler, are forced to do something against their will due to an organization pulling their strings.

Skye’s comment, “it would be terrible to be watched all the time” is ironic considering real life concerns regarding NSA. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how the writers contextualize S.H.I.E.L.D. , an all-seeing espionage and surveillance agency, in a time when personal privacy is encroached upon and people have a strong distrust of their governments.

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The immediate popularity of Melinda Mays is a surprise to me. Usually the strong silent types that don’t play well with others take some time to warm up to. But fans love a woman who can kick-ass.

May’s stone-cold, unflinching demeanour is wicked to see in the all-too-brief confrontation with Amador. It could have been the show’s first epic fight. I hope the show doesn’t continue to shy away from more complicated, extended fight scenes.

One of the highlights of the episode is Agent Ward bromancing the security guard in Russian. The comedic touch is attributed more to the writing than acting, but Brett Dalton is noticeably less stiff than previous episodes.

Skye’s meta line “You’re a robot, can you do that?” is a tip of the hat that the show is aware how Agent Ward is perceived by many fans. Shooting the hapless guards while using the enhanced vision glasses was not necessary for Ward’s escape. It’s not bothersome to me but isn’t S.H.I.E.L.D. supposed to be the “good guys”?

Between the high-tech wizardry of Fitz and Simmons’ double PhDs, there’s no one on the team with life saving medical training. Coulson hand-picked each agent to assemble the most elite S.H.I.E.L.D. team. However, there are some obvious holes in the squad and aside from Mays, the others still need to prove their worth.

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Parts of this episode that are played for comedy or suspense unfortunately undermine the intelligence of the brainy half of the team. It took too long for super genius Fitz to realize the large white van he was looking it on the screen was the one he was sitting in.

We get that Fitz is not a field agent but the writers should still give him a moment where he can demonstrate his intelligence and therefore value to the team. For instance, Fitz the geeky gadget guy, should be the first one to figure out Amador’s camera is in her eyes long before anyone else.

“Eye-Spy” is a story which for the most part lives outside of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. However there are some intriguing threads such as who is responsible for coercing Amador and what is the weird alien glyphs/schematics that Agent Ward saw. Hopefully, these elements can be fleshed out as the season progresses and tie into a major nemesis or overarching mythology that this series desperately needs to raise the stakes.

What is did you like or dislike about “Eye-Spy”? What are your theories on Coulson?

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