Last week, the team came together. This week, they have to learn to work together. It’s sort of like The Avengers on a smaller scale with many disparate personalities putting their differences aside to become a functioning (almost) super team. This week’s episode starts with a McGuffin hunt but soon, thankfully, grows into something more substantial. Coulson and company arrive in Peru to investigate what seems to be an alien object embedded in the wall of an ancient temple. The team snipes and snarks at each other until an old flame of Coulson’s shows up working for the Peruvian government. The episode establishes all the SHIELD teams’ personality quirks and skill sets as they try to figure out what the object is. Soon, things go pear shaped as Peruvian rebels attack and the team must escape with the McGuffin so the item of unknown origins doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
The plot is pretty thin. In fact, it’s barely there. It’s the characterization that saves the show. The rebel attack was the first time new Agents Skye, Fitz, and Simmons saw combat, and their adrenalin-fueled adverse reaction to the near-death experience makes the three new Agents human. Agents Ward and May are the veterans. How they react to unseasoned warriors in the field defines their points of view. May in particular was utilized with great effect this week. She is clearly the team’s Wolverine, the capable badass that is the closest thing the team has to a legit super-hero. But she wants to avoid combat situations. Her continuing arc is a compelling reason to return to the show as Joss Whedon slowly reveals her past.
With the McGuffin onboard, it’s time to reveal a bit more about Coulson’s past as it is revealed that he had an intimate connection to the leader of the Peruvian forces, the sweltering Camilla Reyes. Of course, Reyes betrays Coulson and the new team must bring their particular skills to the forefront to escape the death trap their flying headquarters has now become. It was very fun to watch the team’s contrast as become a functioning unit. Fans have seen it before, most recently on a grander scale in The Avengers, but it’s good that the unifying event happened early so we can get to the meat of the series. It was a fun action piece that really set the tone for the show moving forward. Hopefully, there will be a little bit more meat on the plots, but with spot on characterization and really fun Marvel style action, the show continues to show promise, if not perfect execution.
Most fans will discuss the surprise appearance by Sam Jackson’s Nick Fury at the end of the episode, and it seems like Marvel wants this sort of post finale surprise to be a key note event each week. It’s a fun little gimmick and something to look forward to, but it’s the characterization and world building, like revealing the McGuffin was a Hydra weapon taken to Peru after the fall of Nazi Germany that will define Agent of SHIELDS’ legacy.
MARVEL MENTIONS: the tesseract powered McGuffin that leaked Gamma radiation tying to both Captain America and the Hulk. Lots of Hydra stuff. Nick Fury.
Den of Geek Rating: 3.5 Out of 5 Stars