Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ep.3: The Asset

ustv-marvel-agents-of-shield-the-asset-1So, we have reached episode three. If my life were an episode of Friends right now, it would probably be titled ‘The one where Kim decides whether or not she gives a shit’.

And I do. Give a shit, that is. After a shaky start, I think this show is starting to figure out what it is, and where it needs to be heading. Even if it’s not exactly what I had hoped for in an MCU based show, it’s fun, silly and unpretentious. The in-universe name drops are beginning to abate, and it’s becoming self aware in a way that’s amusing, rather than grating.

I didn’t enjoy The Asset quite as much as 0-8-4, but that’s probably thanks to – following the pilot. The sudden upturn in the acting and writing cast a rose coloured tint on 0-8-4, rather than it being a particularly successful episode of a television series in its own right. Where 0-8-4 was a sharp U-turn as far as my enjoyment is concerned, The Asset holds steady despite a few speed bumps, but ultimately succeeds in being an entertaining episode.

The Asset has one huge plus on its side, and that’s the introduction of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s first new character from comics canon. I really love seeing the interpretations of both the heroes and the villains’ origin stories, and while I kind of wish Franklin Hall’s plot here was a bit less cliché, it’s a decent take on Graviton’s beginnings.

The show’s core characters are still finding their feet here, but Agent Cardboard does seem to be a bit less… stiff. Not an overwhelming shift, just more going from 5mm solid board down to the double sided corrugated stuff they use for boxes. Everyone else is largely the same as in 0-8-4 – Coulson is still solid and in character, Skye is still a bit annoying but mostly pretty okay, Fitz and Simmons are still adorable motormouths, and Melinda May still doesn’t say much while continuing to be the most interesting character on the screen. Here’s hoping for a bit more development in the next episode, now that all the introductions are over.

There are hints on what’s to come here, from Coulson’s unexplained and frustrating difficulty with a gun, through to the teaser after the final scene. I’m really thrilled that AoS is continuing with the end credits idea from the MCU films. It’s a great way to build anticipation, without relying on the obligatory next week on…

As with any show of this type, there are a bunch of plotholes, convenient coincidences, and just as many things that just don’t make any sense at all. The opening sequence shows Dr. Hall being transported in the back of a truck, driven by someone who appears to be just your run-of-the-mill truckie, but (of course) turns out to be a SHIELD agent. Skye gets an invite to a private party held by a power crazed billionaire after a few taps on her smartphone. There’s an incredibly rare element called gravitonium. Hall just happened to be FitzSimmon’s favourite teacher. Needless to say, there’s some pretty serious suspension of disbelief required, but it’s okay because The Asset is fun and entertaining.

The focus is once again mostly on our audience surrogate Skye. I get it, she’s pretty and cute, and it’s a neat thing to have a computer nerd who is a hot chick (they exist, who knew?). I really want to like her, and enjoy her story, but she’s still not quite interesting enough. I also really don’t like the forced tension being created between her and Agent Cardboard. Not only is it unnecessary, it also feels a bit condescending towards the audience.

There’s some neat scenes in the back half of the episode which feature the gravitonium (I’m sorry, I can’t not put that in italics, it’s just too funny) causing things to go haywire, while Skye is talking her way into Quinn’s (the power hungry billionaire dude) trust, and gets to have a moment where she successfully acts like an agent of SHIELD, followed by the sudden skill development being thankfully subverted. We also get a welcome character moment for Melinda May right at the end of the episode, which should mean plenty of action from her in episodes to come.

Part of the reason I was hoping for something a bit less gimmicky, and more political from this show, was because I enjoy the idea of exploring a more realistic side of the Marvel universe. Now that a precedent has been set for something a bit more OTT and less grounded, I’m happy enough to be along for the ride, but I think I’m still going to be hoping for something with a little more substance.

Rating: 7/10