MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. episode 2: O-8-4 (T.V. review)

SHIELD Level 7

Last night’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode, entitled 0-8-4 (not to be confused with OU812), continues the small screen exploits of everyone’s favorite fictional global protection agency.  As led by Agent Coulson, the team investigates an 0-8-4, which is a S.H.I.E.L.D. prefix for “object of unknown origin”.  Considering that the last reported 0-8-4 (not to be confused with R.O.U.S.s) was a magical hammer that fell from the sky, the newly assembled team is in for one hell of a baptism of fire.

Coulson and company’s investigation takes them to an Incan temple in Peru where archeologists unearthed a mysterious mechanical device buried alongside non-mechanical ancient artifacts.  Before science nerds Fitz and Simmons can determine anything other than that the device is dangerously unstable, the team is confronted by the Peruvian national police.  This confrontation is put on hold when Coulson realizes that the police are led by his ex-girlfriend, Commandant Camilla.  When both forces are attacked by Peruvian rebels, they snag the 0-8-4 (not to be confused with O.R. scrubs, “Oh, are they?”) and take off in the S.H.I.E.L.D. super plane that our heroes arrived in.

With both factions in confined quarters, a game of musical MacGuffins ensues.  Coulson wants to destroy the Tessaract-fueled gadget, now deemed a weapon on par with Gamma bombs, in order to keep it from falling into the wrong hands.  Those hands may or may not belong to his sultry ex whose sultry advances are either sincere or a ploy to acquire the device that could end her country’s civil war.

Opening paragraph: Check.

Episode summary: Check.

Ridiculously in-depth analysis: Read on…


“If I can sneak up on that sofa…”

As in the pilot episode, the showrunners feel compelled to name-drop nearly every Avenger.  Aside from the aforementioned hammer of Thor and Gamma of Hulk, there’s also Captain America mentioned by name and Skye hired as a consultant like Tony Stark.  The Thor reference works because it effectively establishes the seriousness of this new O-8-4 (not to be confused with… Meh, I’m sick of this joke too).  The other allusions, however, feel mandated by studio execs to remind non-comics fans that this series occupies the same universe as the Marvel movies (Note to execs: Including Marvel in the show’s title already accomplishes this).

Another call-back to last week’s episode is the let’s-set-aside-our-differences-to-combat-a-common-enemy theme.  The pilot seemed to  set up and pay off all of this in one-and-done fashion.  Hopefully this redundancy doesn’t go much further than a three or four-and-done.

Agent Ward 2

“…then I can prove to this random army guy…”

The show’s special effects dazzle again.  These range from Agent Ward’s energy field generator spiked into the ground, to Fitz/Simmons working with 3D computer holograms like ones used by Robert Downey Jr. in the Iron Man franchise.  This isn’t a TV budgeted version of those tech holograms — this is the real deal.  Unlike the superhero name-dropping, this connection (as well as an A-list cameo) feels organic.  “Organic.”  I hate that word, mostly because it reminds me of overpriced produce.  Hurray for organic bananas free of pesticides!  But who cares when we’re not eating the peels anyway?  So stop charging mo’ money, Trader Joes!

But I digress.

What you really want to know is whether or not this episode contains the most implausible use of a life raft since Indiana Jones jumped from a crashing airplane in Temple of Doom.  The answer to that would be a resounding YES.

Agent Ward 3

“…that I do love Katie Holmes!”

This time around we learn more about the agents’ backstories, as do the agents themselves.  Coulson dated a hot chick.  Dour Melinda May earned the nickname “The Calvary” when kicking butt in the field years ago.  The most significant reveal involves Skye, a character who, unlike other Joss Whedon heroines, has not been very compelling — until her final scene in this episode.

Camilla calls “Phillip” a “sentimentalist… romanticizing history,” to which Coulson responds, “With everything around us changing so quickly, it doesn’t hurt to have a few touchstones to the past.  Reminds me of what’s important.”

Building upon his vintage Captain America collector cards from The Avengers, we see here that his penchant for nostalgia is not an anomaly.  It extends to his love of Lola, the high-flying car from a bygone era of S.H.I.E.L.D., to his Dick Tracy-like 2-way wrist radio.  Lest you think Coulson is a material boy, his affection for simpler times extends beyond tangible objects.  It includes his faith in people, such as the ex who catches him off guard by revealing her true colors.

Would he have been caught unaware if his old timey faith didn’t exist?  Probably not.  And there we have the true purpose of Coulson’s nostalgia — his character flaw.  This flaw, along with the mystery of his resurrection, launches plenty of character development for the writers, along with actor Clark Gregg, to explore in upcoming storylines.  This flaw works because it feels… organic.

I hate that word.




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2 Responses to “MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. episode 2: O-8-4 (T.V. review)”

  1. […] rule applies to comic books, the new Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. being just the latest example (click here for my latest […]

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