Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD Review: "The Asset" (Episode 1.03)
Although Agents of SHIELD’s momentum dipped following its explosive pilot, things felt right back on track in the opening sequence of its third episode, “The Asset.” It wasn’t necessarily the lack of action that dragged down episode two —there was plenty of that, with Agent May whooping ass and basically shutting down a team that ambushed her early on. But what the follow-up lacked was that sense of wonder, or the superhuman presence that propelled this SHIELD team into existence in the first place and replaced it with a human-heavy mission to Peru that investigated an unidentified object. Sure, the goal here might be to focus on the characters, not heroes, but we’re two episodes in—throw us a bone, Marvel. Thankfully, the team remedied that situation quickly with last night’s episode.
Right away, we’re swept up into a gravity-defying truck-wreck scene, with a SHIELD-employed driver displaying the same awe and mystery that we missed so badly in the second episode as vehicles in front of him are seemingly plucked up by a lack gravity. No jungle ambushes here, no crouching through Indiana Jones-style caves. No, here we just have questions of “How does one flip a sedan and a semi-truck out of nowhere?” And more importantly, “How did this team sniff out that SHIELD was even involved with our Sherpa-jacketed, barrel of a driver?”
It doesn’t take long before pointing the finger at a new advancement, something called “gravitonium” (yep, that’s more like it, guys) that tips SHIELD off to the team behind their roadway misfortunes, and a swift, high-tech SHIELD search leads to rich dude Ian Quinn and kidnapped Dr. Franklin Hall (played by Ian Hart) in Malta as the sources here. Believe it or not, there are places where SHIELD has no jurisdiction, Malta being one of them. So our wildcard character Skye—who hasn’t yet signed on officially with SHIELD and is looking shiftier with every episode—volunteers to officially extract information from Quinn to investigate this gravitonium situation. We’ll assume she’s where the episode takes its name.
While last week’s offering focused on developing the team as a whole, this time it turns its gaze to single characters—mostly Chloe Bennet’s Skye, a character that seemed to be one of the weaker links at the beginning. But with “The Asset”s twists and turns, and where Skye makes an unexpected, loyal move for SHIELD, I’m warming on her character and what she can do for the team.
More significantly for the overall picture, more light has been shed on the mystery of why Coulson has returned from the dead. If you stepped away for a second, you might have missed it, but Agent May snaps out a significant development: after explaining to her why he had seen more action with the Avengers, not to mention he’d seen more field action there, May lets out “and you died” under her breath. Now, so far we’re “officially” under the impression that Coulson was revived after an extended period after his stabbing from Loki in The Avengers. We’ve been told that he later went on an extended recovery in Tahiti (“a magical place,” Coulson keeps saying), but as the characters around him repeatedly prove, there’s plenty more than meets the eye here.
After a showdown between Hall and Coulson that was just as fit for Doctor Who as a Marvel property, we see something we’ve been waiting for this whole season—a superbaddie is born after Hall stays with his troubled gravitonium work, even as it’s exploding. A final, bubbling, T2-style hand pops out from the silvery mess, and we can only wait for Graviton, a Marvel comic character, to make his next appearance.
And although there have been speedbumps along the way, most comic fans probably can’t say a scene like that didn’t stir up a smile. Hell, even if you’re completely removed from the superhero world, it wouldn’t take much to separate this final scene from Jack Nicholson’s tumble into a steel cylinder of green goo. Super-stuff is on the way, I’m starting to get attached to these characters, and as far as Marvel is concerned, that’s a successful mission so far.