Monday, October 7, 2013

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Recap: 0-8-4

The episode literally begins with a bang—as the side of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Aerial Mobile Command Center (a.k.a. the bus) explodes.  A man is sucked out of the plane and inside Agent Coulson is shown holding on for for dear life.

Not quite as impressive as Thor's Hammer

The episode then flashes back to nineteen hours earlier.  Coulson has dropped the (figurative) bomb that he is bringing on Skye as a consultant.  Ward and May are very unhappy with this decision.  Ward is mostly concerned that as a member of the Rising Tide she is a security risk while May is unhappy that they are adding another non-combatant into the mix.  Fitz-Simmons try their best to make her feel welcome, but Skye is obviously a bit overwhelmed.  She makes an attempt to mend fences with Ward but he cuts her off by insisting she read the safety instructions for the plane.

The 0-8-4, an object of unknown origin, was reported in Peru so that is where the team is going.  Coulson mentions that the last 0-8-4 he was asked to investigate, Thor’s Hammer, was pretty interesting.

Once in Peru, the team travels to an Incan archeological dig site.  The 0-8-4 is partially buried in the wall and Fitz-Simmons note that it seems to be a combination of alien technology and German engineering.  Skye feels a bit useless because there is nothing on the Internet about it and she can’t keep up with Fitz-Simmons technobabble.

Ward and May secure the perimeter.  Ward calls May by her nickname, “The Cavalry”, which she asks him never to call her.  They are then attacked by men in army uniforms.  May and Ward handle the first wave without much effort, but as reinforcements show up they find themselves in a standoff.

When Coulson comes out to see what is going on, he is surprised that the leader of the opposing group is someone he recognizes.  Her name is Comandante Camilla Reyes and the two of them have a history together.  Both sides agree to stand down.

Comandante Reyes wants to have a conversation about how to proceed concerning the unknown object found on Peruvian soil, but Coulson shuts her down by saying S.H.I.E.L.D. has authority in this matter.  Reyes seems a bit perturbed by this but lets the matter drop for the moment.

Ward is obviously concerned that the Peruvian National Police are now involved and attempts to get Fitz-Simmons to speed things up.  His concerns turn out to be justified when a group of anti-mining rebels show up and attack.  Over Fitz-Simmons protests Ward yanks the 0-8-4 out of the wall and places it in Fitz’s backpack. 

Ward buys them some time to escape by using some sort of S.H.I.E.L.D super weapon that emits a concussive blast that knocks down most of the rebels.  The S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and the Peruvian National Police both head towards the bus while having a running firefight with the rebels.  During the firefight Fitz-Simmons and Skye’s inexperience with combat becomes obvious, something Comandante Reyes notices with some interest.

Both the Peruvian National Police and S.H.I.E.L.D. manage to get onboard the bus.  May gets them in the safely in the air, but Fitz-Simmons express concern at how dangerous the 0-8-4 is. Fitz tells them that it is Tesseract powered Hydra technology and worse that it is not entirely stable.

With the immediate threat over, the tension that has been building between the various S.H.I.E.L.D. members finally boils over.  Fitz is pissed that Ward didn’t heed his warnings that 0-8-4 was too dangerous to move while Ward complains that Fitz doesn’t speak in plain English.  Simmons seems much more freaked out that she was in a firefight than she wants to let on, while Skye is freaked out to find out that this is only the second mission that this supposedly elite team has been on together.  Coulson reminds them they are professionals and tells them in no uncertain terms to “work it out”.

The various team members go their separate ways.  Fitz-Simmons continue to work on the 0-8-4 and determine it is an incredibly powerful laser.  Fitz notes that they were lucky they didn’t set it off when they were examining it with their drones.  Skye attempts some fence-mending with Ward by bringing him a bottle of liquor and trying to explain that her  worldview to him.  To sum it up, what Skye loves about the Internet (and the Rising Tide) is that it brings people together to solve problems.  No one has 100% of the solution, but if 100 people have 1% then you have something.  Ward is far from a convert as he was trained to be “the whole solution”, but actually seems to be listening rather than just showing her his “hate-face”.

Coulson takes Reyes to his quarters to look at his collectables.  She makes a play to seduce him, but since showing a woman your collectables never works as a prelude to a seduction Coulson realizes something is up.  Back at the bar, Ward realizes the same thing when he notices that none of the Peruvian National Police are touching their drinks.

Despite some slick moves from Ward, the Peruvian National Police manage to gas Agent May and get the drop on both Fitz-Simmons and Skye.  Coulson is forced to surrender to Reyes, who admits that she decided to betray them as soon as she saw how green Coulson’s team is.

Reyes has the majority of the team tied up down in the hanger bay while keeping Coulson close so that he can confirm the route change with S.H.I.E.L.D. ground control and keep them from being shot out of the sky.  If he refuses to comply, she will simply open the hanger bay and his team will be blown out if the plane.

In the hanger bay, the group tries to formulate an escape attempt.  When Fitz-Simmons find out that May is “The Cavalry” they figure she will be able to get them out.  She counters that they are the geniuses, but they are having difficulty dealing with the pressure.  Ward however tells them that they don’t need to come up with the entire solution, that they all can just come up with part of it.  This hearkens back to his earlier discussion with Skye.

The plan they come up with involves Agent May disabling their guard, then the group breaking into Fitz-Simmons lab.  Fitz than pilots one of his drones (Sneezy) through the plane until he gets it near the 0-8-4.  It sends out an electromagnetic probe that activates the laser and blows a hole in the side of the plane (and bringing us to the scene from the teaser).  The sudden depressurization causes the safety protocols to unlock the doors and allows the agents access to the rest of the plane.

Agent May takes back control of the cockpit while Agent Ward tries to neutralize the remaining members of the Peruvian National Police.  Everyone else works on retrieving the 0-8-4.  Seeing one of the safety instructions from earlier blow past her, Skye realizes she can plug the hole in the side of the aircraft with one of the inflatable rafts stowed onboard.

The bus safely arrives at “the Slingshot”, where dangerous objects like the 0-8-4 can be shot into the sun.  The group, which has finally gelled, gathers together to drink some beers and watch the rocket launch.  No one notices as Skye gets a message on her phone from the Rising Tide asking for an update on her status.  She simply types, “I’M IN.” and puts the phone away.

Normally, this would be where the episode ends, but there is a special scene with Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury berating Coulson for blowing a hole in the bus after only six days.  He demands that Coulson rebuild it just the way he found it, which causes Coulson to place a call to “cancel the fish tank”.

Stray Thoughts

This episode really had me wondering about S.H.I.E.L.D.’s jurisdiction.  The name “Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division” implies a U.S. organization.  Also, Reyes makes the comment “You stay inside of your borders and I will stay inside of mine” to Coulson.  I know in the comics S.H.I.E.L.D. has tended to bounce between being an international UN run organization and a U.S. organization, but this episode did little to clear things up.

For that matter, the 0-8-4 itself was a bit of a disappointment.  I didn’t see how it was such a huge threat that it needed to be shot into the sun.  In the end it was just a big laser powered by Tesseract technology. 

This episode also made S.H.I.E.L.D. seem really hypocritical. One of the subplots of The Avengers was that S.H.I.E.L.D. had a stockpile of this kind of weaponry.  Agent Ward even uses a S.H.I.E.L.D. super-weapon to take out the rebels in this very episode.  I guess it is only wrong for other people to use the alien technology they find.

Another question is why did the ministry call S.H.I.E.L.D. in the first place if they were just going to send their own people in to secure it?  Especially since Reyes states that it wasn’t an unknown object after all, but a super-weapon that had been commissioned by the government of Peru after the fall of Hydra and had simply been lost.  I guess this was just a case of the right-hand of the Peruvian government not knowing what the left-hand was doing?

On an entirely different subject, I was really bugged by the raft being able to plug a hole in the side of the plane.  I know it is silly to nitpick something like this in a TV show with alien super-weapons and flying cars, but it really took me out of the show.

In Conclusion

This episode wasn’t bad, but failed to improve on the pilot in any substantial way.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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