Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Ep 6 (TV Show Review)

There’s a lot that has been happening in Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD since its launch six weeks ago. Some promising characters have come and gone, leaving me disappointed with the direction that the show has been going in. Some of the characterisation for the main cast has always been a major issue, as has been the lack of a clear meta-story. All the same, the show has offered some interesting things to keep viewer, such as myself, hooked.

While some of the flaws of the previous episodes have carried on through this week’s episode, the show also went in a clearly different direction than I expected from watching the first few minutes. For the first time, the show really surprised me, and that has weight for me since it makes clear that the show isn’t afraid to take some challenges with viewer expectations. Although I wish that they went more full-out with a devil-may-care attitude. That would certainly help.

Agents of SHIELD Logo 0001This episode tones down on all the action and it instead focuses on two of the most overlooked characters on the show: Agents Jemma Simmons and Leo Fitz. They’ve mostly flown under the radar thus far, largely because the show has been too busy focusing on the developing the mentor-student relationship between Agent Grant Ward and Skye, who’ve had a rather boring run so far. The change in direction is great, it feels natural, and it adds to the characters really nicely.

We’ve known from the start that Fitz and Simmons are a team. In fact, whenever they are both in a room with the other characters, they’re referred to as FitzSimmons (no pause between the two names). We’ve known that the two of them studied together in college and that they became agents for SHIELD at the same time as well and that all the adventures we are watching are their first time in the field. However, despite having a really interesting background, they’ve been relegated to the background as the necessary science-geeks, which has made them rather one-dimensional till now. In this episode, we get to explore their friendship and their loyalty to each other in some extremely adverse circumstances.

In fact, at one point, the entire subplot got extremely emotional, in a way that it hasn’t till now, not really no. There was impact in that episode because the direction, the lighting, the entire atmosphere, the whole vibe, everything was perfect in those few seconds. That’s the kind of stuff that I want to see much more of in this series, not the one-note things that we’ve been given by this point.

Elizabeth Henstridge and Ian DeCaestecker finally have some half-way decent material to work with and they prove, for me, why they were picked for these roles. Their weird accents aside, which is not something I really care about, in this episode there’s a whole lot more for them to do this time and their range is quite apparent. The emotional scenes in particular are their best moments in the episode.

This episode also has some plot similarities to the premier, since there is a chitauri relic from the Battle of the New York involved here, but it manages to stand on its own. And it even delivers a plausible scenario, much more plausible than the O-8-4 incident from the second episode. If there was any negative aspect of this whole thing, it was that I didn’t get the relationship between the Battle of the New York and the events here since we are not given any location references as to where this episode largely takes place. This is important given the volunteer activities that the dead people here engaged in.

One of the other things that bothered me was how the characters pronounced chitauri. In Avengers the first two letters were pronounced as the “ch” in chair. In this episode, the characters pronounce them as the “sh” in “ship”. Its just weird and… odd.

However, the episode had more good things than bad, which is more than can be said of some of the previous episodes. This installment was all about character dynamics, how the characters all relate to each other, particularly Fitz and Simmons. But it doesn’t stop there, not at all. The episode is also about death, or dying rather, and about accepting that inevitability. This whole theme then dovetails nicely into Coulson’s death in Avengers and how that event has ended up affecting him. Hint: he doesn’t feel like he is the same person anymore and he is struggling with what the difference is. This then comes full-circle later on and we finally get an indication of just what happened to push Agent Melinda “Cavalry” May out of the field and into a desk job.

This episode displayed some really subtle touches throughout. It constantly throws you for a loop, presenting you with one thing and then taking the story in a different direction. That’s what I really admired about this episode, truth be told. It felt like finally the show’s writers trusted the viewers to pick up on things rather than throw them in their face. They continued to go against cliches and built something that the viewers could truly connect with.

I certainly did. When Fitz tells Simmons that they are going to fix the predicament… together, because that’s what they do. Its a most touching moment. Also, unless I’m mistaken, this was the first time that both Fitz and Agent Coulson actually use Simmons’ first name. It gets across the severity of the whole thing. Another moment is when Skye and Ward are talking about what’s happening and the latter says that he wants the enemy to be a physical manifestation, something that he can take his fists to and beat the hell out of, essentially. He can’t protect the team from things that he can’t see or understand. It is the most nuanced moment of the character in the entire show thus far. It finally raises him out of the bland rut that he’s been stuck with.

Agents of SHIELD Cast 0002

Ultimately, all I can say is that this week’s episode was really good for the things that I didn’t expect. I expected more of the same, but the show managed to surprise me. Now hopefully, we can continue that for the next few episodes.

I finally had reasons to really care about Fitz and Simmons most of all. Joss Whedon had this knife in his viewers’ guts that he was twisting rather manically, and he had me on the edge of my seat for the last 15 minutes.

Previous episodes – S1E01, S1E02, S1E03, S1E04, S1E05.

Posted on November 8, 2013, in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Review Central, TV Show Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I thought this one was the best episode yet. And goodness, Clark Gregg’s Coulson is tops.

    Like

  1. Pingback: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 1 Ep 7 (TV Show Review) | Shadowhawk's Shade

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