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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1x3 - "The Asset"

This episode could also be titled "You Can't Take The Skye From Me". As the center of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s gravity switches to more character-based focus, all eyes are on Skye. Once again, not an official Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and merely a consultant, albeit one who has "a bunk on their plane," Skye's commitment to S.H.I.E.L.D. and her very loyalty are questioned. First, there's whether she's even physically fit for field work. Her personal trainer Supervising Officer Ward isn't terribly impressed with her physical fitness as they train on the heavy bag in Serenity's hangar, though Skye has a point about pullups. They're a bitch. But then Ward is also right that if she's hanging off a building by her fingertips, she'll want to have the ability to do at least one pullup. Ward is also not thrilled with her horsing around when he's trying to show her how to disarm someone with a gun pointed at her. Though wouldn't you know it, Skye did absorb those lessons into muscle memory right when the Big Bad of the episode has a gun pointed at her.

That Big Bad is named Ian Quinn, a billionaire who made his fortune raping and pillaging the Earth's natural resources while hiding out in Malta, free from the long arm of International Law. A quick Google search indicates Quinn is not a Marvel character, unlike the man he kidnaps in this episode in a daring, anti-gravity truck heist, Dr. Franklin Hall. Hall, in Marvel lore, is the alter ego of the super villain Graviton, a B-grade baddie who tangles with the Avengers now and then. In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Franklin Hall is a bald, nebbish of a professor and the former instructor of Fitz-Simmons. He taught them a lot of technobabble. Quinn has built a super weapon using an element called Gravitonium that, of course, can alter gravity. It's a dangerous weapon that Coulson feels shouldn't be in anyone's hands, plus two of his kids are yapping about how they need to go rescue their teacher, so off to Malta they go. Illegally, because S.H.I.E.L.D. has no jurisdiction. They need to send a man in, who can technobabble Quinn's technobabble and lower the force field surrounding Quinn's compound.

Skye's just the man for the job. For one, she's E-vited to Quinn's evil billionaire and world leader party, thanks to her hacking skills and links to The Rising Tide. For two, she balks at every task S.H.I.E.L.D. has given her, and she hasn't even hacked anything for them, so what the hay, field mission! Ward and May doubt Skye has the assets for this mission. Skye shows up in Malta in a clingy red dress and we see why, yes indeed, Skye does have the assets. They're wonderful assets. They're even better when Skye dives off a balcony into the pool and gets the assets wet. 007 himself would agree. Although Daniel Craig's James Bond would yell at Skye that she needs to stop touching her earpiece. The rest of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. listening in can't help but admire Skye's resourcefulness as she talks her way into Quinn's secret chamber (the assets surely helped). Skye then goes dark; all the better so the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. can't listen in as Quinn questions her loyalty to S.H.I.E.L.D. and offers her a job in his evil organization. She may be a homeless orphan and a high school dropout, but everywhere Skye goes, someone offers her a job. If she met Hank Scorpio, he'd surely offer her a job. But Skye knows where her bunk is, on the S.H.I.E.L.D. plane, and was only playing Quinn to get the technobabble out of the way so Coulson and Ward could penetrate Quinn's compound.

Coulson shows up to this mission on a beach in full suit and tie. It's weird. Ward, meanwhile, invades Quinn's compound to rescue Skye, a compound full of armed guards, and he never draws his gun, preferring to karate his way through the guards, who obligingly karate him right back. As Ward rescues Skye, who did a pretty good job of escaping Quinn's clutches by confusing him by regurgitating Ward's confession of how he used to be beaten up mercilessly by his cruel older brother over birthday cake, Coulson finds Dr. Franklin Hall. He didn't expect Hall to actually be the one who arranged a phony kidnapping so that he could gain control of the Gravitonium reactor thing. Hall's master plan: use it to sink the compound, or the whole country of Malta, probably, so that no one can get their hands on the Gravitonium. Hall does make some fair points that even Coulson acknowledged about S.H.I.E.L.D.'s unreliability when it comes to energy sources like this, alien invasion and all. The Gravitonium makes things all wacky, with Coulson and Hall fighting Inception style on walls and ceilings, and yet no one was floating around or doing Matrix moves outside the lab? Physics. Who needs it?

Coulson makes the tough call and shoots some glass, sending Hall into the Gravitonium and to certain supervillainy. Because we learn in the tag, of which there will be one at the end of every episode, when the Gravitonium is sealed in a vault in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s super secretest facility, Dr. Hall is alive in the Gravitonium ooze and will presumably become Graviton (though the odds of him appearing in an Avengers movie are nil. Sorry, Graviton.) Speaking of, Coulson reminded May, who doubted his competency as a field operative, that he saw plenty of action with the Avengers. May's retort: "And you died." That was uncalled for! For her part, May later approaches Coulson and finally stops complaining about being put in combat situations, asking instead to be put in combat situations. Like Mr. Burns, May had one of her trademark changes of heart. Speaking of trademark changes of heart, this brings us back to Skye, who is now the hottest, sweatiest, most committed new member of S.H.I.E.L.D. 24 Hour Fitness. That taste of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. field action made Skye realize she wants in, assets and all.

Now enjoy some Tweets from Uatu The Watcher.

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