Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 1 Ep 5 (TV Show Review)

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD returned this week with a brand new episode, where we get to meet a new threat to Coulson’s team, and also get to see some real tie-ins between the episodes as more of the world is revealed to viewers. Till now, the show has been heavily serialised, with the episodes having little to no tie-ins with each other and this created quite a bit of a disconnect with me since I wanted there to be a build-up early on, and the show wasn’t giving me what I wanted.

But, with this episode, things look to be changing in that regard, even as on other fronts the show continues to disappoint. Casting issues remain, the pacing is still a problem, and the acting is not quite there yet either. The show seems to be stuck in a honeymoon period where viewership is dependent on people wanting to tune in every week for a small handful of positives resulting out of the show’s spinoff nature from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Agents of SHIELD Logo 0001The premise of this week’s episode is that Coulson’s team goes off to find a missing individual who has been on the SHIELD radar for a while. Said individual, Chan Ho Yin, is a pyrokinetic and SHIELD has tried to keep him off the radar so that he doesn’t attract the wrong kind of attention. But, that’s what happens anyway and now Coulson’s team is on the case. It creates a really interesting dynamic on all levels, not the least of which is that this episode links back to the series pilot in several ways and even builds on the previous episode.

First the positives.

We got a lot more information about the big bad organization that has been plaguing SHIELD right from the first episode, the one which has appropriated alien technology and the EXTREMIS project we first saw in Iron Man 3. Chan Ho Yin proves to be a crucial component of this organisation’s plans to move forward with an army of super-powered soldiers and while this entire subplot unfolds slowly, it nevertheless flows really well and it creates some really good moments of dramatic tension. We also see a character from the pilot return for this one and she gets a rather fiery reception by the end of the episode. A bit of a shame that we don’t get to find out much about her, but then again, she was clearly not the focus then or now, so that’s kind of fun, I suppose.

This episode also finally gave us a reason why Skye agreed to work with/for Coulson in the pilot. Till now, we’ve only seen why Coulson brought her in. For him, she’s a result of “out-of-the-box thinking”, and he wants to make use of her hacker skills, which she has displayed time and again across four episodes. And she does the same here again. But, we didn’t know why Skye was here, beyond the superficial reasons. Now we get to find out why and it created a very moving moment towards the end of the episode, once all was said and done with the team’s current mission.

And the pacing was much better this time. There was a good amount of tension throughout that kept me entertained and there wasn’t ever a boring moment this time, unlike in the previous episodes. The show is somewhat starting to find its footing, and that’s great really.

Finally, Coulson, as ever, was great. Clark Gregg delivered a fantastic performance this time around, and he packs in a lot of energy and a lot of emotion into the character. We see the character at a very emotional moment in this episode because of something that Skye does, and its great to see how much faith Coulson has in his team, even when one of them ends up disappointing him in a pretty big way. The final moments of the episode were especially great in that regard.

All the positives however don’t mean that there aren’t any negatives. There are plenty in fact.

First off, the casting bothered me immensely once more. In five episodes thus far, there have been five villains who have been characters of colour and they have all been pretty much disposal for the show. This is a huge, huge problem for a show based on a comic book setting, especially when the characters are just red herrings for established characters, such as J. August Richards’ character (who a lot of people, including me, thought was going to be the street-hero Power Man) in the pilot, or Louis Ozawa Changchien’s character (who a lot of people have said is distinctly reminiscent of Sunfire) in this episode. When the main cast is predominantly white, and the antagonists are almost always people of colour, that creates a big diversity disconnect. Even if it is unintentional, it is sending entirely the wrong message to fans such as me, and this is very, very disappointing, The show could seriously do a lot better.

Then there’s the fact that there was almost zero character development for FitzSimmons here. In fact, they were both completely peripheral to the main proceedings to the level that they were just entirely incidental. We still know next to nothing about either of them. Both of them are getting the worst of the treatment from the writers, and this is just not good at all.

And finally, given the big twist in this episode, we see a surprisingly minor amount of Dalton’s Agent Ward here. Given all the character development he’s been through in the last couple of episodes, I’d expected things to be different, but the focus in that respect is all on Coulson. So… another bit of a letdown.

Agents of SHIELD Cast 0002

The show is just not giving me enough of a reason to stick with it. For every positive, there’s at least one negative. Some of the problems are carry-ons from the first episode itself. Others are developing over the course of the show, as each episode comes out. Like I’ve said, yeah, I’ll continue to watch the show every week but my excitement is dwindling down with each installment too. That’s where I stand right now.

This was a better episode than the one last week, but not by much. The pilot and the third episode stand as my favourite episodes of the show in what we’ve seen of the first season thus far.

Previous episodes – S1E01, S1E02, S1E03, S1E04.

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Posted on October 24, 2013, in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Review Central, TV Show Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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