Those waiting for some more familiar SHIELD faces from the comics to show up got a treat in the latest episode of Agents of SHIELD, not only with the introduction of the Brian Michael Bendis created Victoria Hand, but classic SHIELD Agent Jasper Sitwell as well. “The Hub” also introduces fans to a bit more about the command structure of SHIELD and the whole thing feels right and pretty accurate to some of the classic SHIELD comics. Hand isn’t used for much more than being a foil for Coulson but her appearance and demeanor are pretty comic accurate which should please the more ardent fan base.
As for the episode’s story, it is light on concrete threat and strong on character. While possibly the strongest character driven episode yet, sadly the enemy the Agents face is almost nonexistent. When Agents Ward and Fitz go on a mission behind enemy lines in some generic Russian setting to disable some sort of super weapon, Skye discovers that SHIELD has no plan or intention of extracting them alive. The show bounces nicely between the Agents’ mission and Skye’s discovery, and the pacing on both sides is pretty intense.
While there’s a sense of imminent danger for Ward and Fitz there really is no attention paid to fill in viewers on what the actual danger is. It is evil Russian people who are having some sort of vague conflict with good Russian people that drink and watch European Football, but it all sort of gets lost. I’m sure there was some exposition on who’s who and what’s what, but it all seems like vague background noise. What is good is the budding relationship between Ward and Fitz as they both learn to respect each other’s skill sets as they race to complete their mission, plus Skye’s loyalty to her team as she sacrifices finding out information on her parents’ fate to find out the current location of Fitz and Ward.
Now that we are a good seven episodes in, the character stuff is falling into place, and quite nicely. What this show needs is a villain, an actual threat that plagues the Agents fans are growing to love. Someone like The Governor from The Walkind Dead, whose very presence mean bad things for the protagonists. Everything the Agents have faced so far has been disposable and generic, even though there are countless Marvel baddies to choose from. The only ominous things that the crew have faced are the shadows of their own pasts. Coulson’s secretive return to life, the truth about Skye’s parents, the reasons May stopped being a field agent. All are interesting and worth exploring, but after seven episodes, there needs to be something or someone that feels like a threat rather than the assumption that fans will wade through throwaway villains to see mysteries solved.
That being said, “The Hub” did provide intriguing clues about both Skye and Coulson’s secrets, an effective introduction of Victoria Hand into the role of keeper of secrets, and some good Ward and Fitz bromance. It’s a fun show, one I get psyched to revisit every Tuesday, but please Marvel, just one real, scary, threatening, evil force, or else all this good character work will be like pissing in the wind.
– Welcome to television Ms. Hand and Mr. Sitwell!
– “Barton and Romanov don’t need extraction.”
– Brace yourself Ultimates fans, as there’s a mention of the Triskelion.