THE ONE WHERE A new gravity-manipulating element has been discovered by SHIELD scientist Franklin Hall, who is promptly “kidnapped” by businessman Ian Quinn who takes him to his mansion on Malta. Our agents go to rescue him, necessitating Skye’s first undercover mission – but the team discover Hall’s abduction may not be what it seems.
VERDICT Once more there’s a whiff of new Knight Rider about Agents Of SHIELD – a sort of lightweight teatime show with characters who are just a bit too good looking and action scenes which are just a little too preposterous. There is a great moment at the start when the convoy is flung invisibly into the air but driver Agent Mac gives a pretty unprofessional explanation to SHIELD Region CT what’s going on (“Hell I can’t explain!” – well, why not describe what’s happening? This is an agency that has dealt with alien invasion before). But this is another example of SHIELD doing things for giggles rather than making any sense.
But maybe that’s all part of the fun. Party frocks, big trucks, explosions: these are the foundations of this episode. The daft science and the even dafter geography (see below, about Malta) don’t matter. This is Skye’s breakout episode, we learn more about her background and motivations through her conversations with Ward, and we see her resourcefulness in the field – she’s still the most interesting character on the whole show (except for Melinda May who I’m itching to see just beat everybody up, including Fitz and Simmons). Once again Skye is the only one with any real personality. There are several team members in this who take themselves way too seriously while they’re doing frankly ridiculous things, and I wish there were a few more wisecracks. But even with Skye, and the brilliantly played “is she betraying them?” scene, the show lets her down; given that Whedon’s stories have a reputation for independent, resourceful female characters, it’s a bit disappointing that after getting so far, Skye needs to be saved by Ward like a damsel in distress (in a clingy wet dress).
And with Franklin Hall, SHIELD introduces its first major comics villain, Graviton. Apparently Hall taught “chemical kinetics” to Fitz and Simmons – do you think it’s him who taught them to spout all this technobabble? “Electrostatic field scanner!” “Isolated positive charge!” “Trace the DHTP server!” He certainly didn’t teach them any manners.
MARVEL UNIVERSE Ward refers to Coulson sacrificing himself and the boss man quips back, “And my card collection”, referencing Avengers Assemble. SHIELD (who are, by the way, likened to a cult and to Big Brother this episode) are criticised by Hall because their search for an unlimited power source “brought an alien invasion”.
INAPPROPRIATE CLOTHING Skye goes undercover by wearing the brightest pinkest dress on the planet. Coulson hits the shore in a dingy to take part in the extraction… wearing his usual suit and tie.
LMAO Coulson is funny this week. “Something tells me that wasn’t the off button!” he says as the Gravitonium field swipes him to one side like a Muppet. “I’ll be honest. Our strategy did not take into consideration you saying that,” he says to Hall when it’s clear their target doesn’t want to be rescued.
DISNEY DROIDS No sign of the seven probes today.
IT’S WOSSISNAME AND ALSO WOSSISNAME Suave businessman Ian Quinn is played by David Conrad who you’ll know from Ghost Whisperer. Franklin Hall is of course British character actor Ian Hart who you’ll most likely recognise as Dr Watson from two Sherlock Holmes TV movies a decade ago.
VIEWING FIGURES SO FAR In the UK, SHIELD episode two was down almost a million since the first week (2.3 million as opposed to 3.1 million). 2.3 million is still a great figure for Channel 4, though. In the US on ABC the show dropped from 12.1 million for the first episode to 8.7 million then 7.8 million.
FULL SEASON ORDER But it’s just been confirmed for a full season order. At first, as is typical with US television series, it was commissioned for the first 13 episodes, but the “back nine” have been ordered now as well.
ELEMENTARY The new element is call Gravitonium [Gr] and Quinn’s presentation labels it with atomic number 123 – the highest genuine number on the periodic table to date is 118 [Uuo]. Apparently Gravitonium has an atomic mass of 308.
SPECULATION There are lots of reminders this week about Coulson’s death. Of particular interest is that he has no muscle memory. “I’m a little rusty,” he says, failing to clear the chamber of a pistol. Is this, then, not the body his mind is used to?
TRAVELOGUE Malta is hardly the supervillain’s haven Quinn makes out. It’s a part of both the UN and the European Union, for a start. SHIELD can go to Peru (last week) but not, apparently, a European republic with close ties to Britain. “Stunning beaches, beautiful tax laws and a deep seated hatred of outside forces telling them what to do” where SHIELD agents can legally be shot “without the stranglehold of regulations.” I doubt all this very much.