'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' Season 1 Episode 2 Recap: Skye is Good At Stuff, Too


Last week, the series premiere of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. introduced us to a post-Avengers world in which the epic Battle of New York exposed superheroes — and villains. In this week's follow-up we get to see the team Agent Coulson has assembled in action.

As you may recall, the pilot ended with Coulson recruiting Skye to the team investigating a 0-8-4, code for an object of unknown origin. Agents Ward and May have some reservations about bringing Skye on board, as her ties to the nascent hacker terrorist cell The Rising Tide are more than enough cause for suspicion. But Coulson is resolute in believing that Skye's perspective as an outsider is essential to the team's success.

Given that they only had one mission before she joined, it's hard to say that Skye's introduction to the team messes with the group's dynamic. However, as the gang embarks on their investigation of the 0-8-4 in hostile territory with yet another team member who lacks combat training (scientists Fitz and Simmons are absolutely clueless about the realities of "fieldwork"), Ward and May spend a lot of time doing this: 

Photo courtesy ABC.

After finding the 0-8-4, a nefarious piece of Nazi HYDRA gamma radiation technology, the gang escapes a Peruvian rebel attack with the help of Comandante Reyes, a gorgeous former paramour of Coulson.

Photo courtesy ABC.

Reyes and her men board The Bus with Coulson in the nick of time, but it turns out that their arrival on the scene spells trouble for the S.H.I.E.L.D. team.

Skye sticks out like a sore thumb throughout the entire first act. Her role on the team is undefined, and more often than not, she's left standing in the corner. "I'm good at stuff too," she gripes. Coulson said he might need her to create internet chatter to throw folks off, something that obviously runs counter to Skye's hacktivist sensibilities.

It takes an imminent disaster to make this group of misfits start acting like a team. Reyes and her men stage a violent takeover of the plane. Reyes holds Coulson hostage in his office while the rest of the crew is tied up on the hangar deck. May and Ward show their combat skills, but rely on Skye, Fitz, and Simmons to execute a truly insane plan to take back the plane: setting off the unstable HYDRA weapon and blowing a hole in the side of the airship to distract (or dispel) their captors. In the end, it's Skye who saves Ward from flying out the side of the hull, in a maneuver with a life raft that probably wouldn't hold up to MythBusters' standards (though, honestly, how would they test that one?).

The episode closes with some group bonding, as S.H.I.E.L.D. launches the HYDRA weapon into the sun. (Does that really seem smart, though? What if it's intercepted by an alien menace?)

Photo courtesy ABC.

But there's clearly about to be trouble, as Skye is secretly texting The Rising Tide.

After the credits, Samuel L. Jackson made an #epic cameo as Nick Fury and set Twitter ablaze. It felt like undeserved fan porn, something to tempt the nerds and keep us coming back for more. Marvel has promised that more post-credit scenes are to come.

Photo courtesy ABC.

What Worked Ming-Na Wen, who plays May, was this episode's break out star. The lady can kick butt!

Photos courtesy ABC.

The fact that we don't know her character's back story is intriguing. Why is she called "The Calvary"? Why would someone that badass ever take a desk job? How can I learn to do that wrist breaky thing?

Coulson's back-from-the-dead plot brought about one of the funniest moments of the episode. Reyes, reminiscing about her affair with Coulson, accuses him of having a midlife crisis. "It's actually more like an afterlife crisis," quips Coulson. The joke made the viewers feel like insiders, though Reyes may have had a point about Coulson assembling a bumbling team just to make himself feel needed.

Also, what's with Coulson frequently saying that Tahiti is "a magical place"? He's said that three times now, and I don't think it's because the writers are lazy. Is magic behind Coulson's miraculous recovery from that Asgardian backstabbing in The Avengers? Is this a Scarlett Witch tie-in that might explain her role in The Avengers: Age of Ultron?

What Didn't Work

This episode definitely built on the premiere, as the writers attempt to show how the group of misfits can become a team, but the show needs some character development, stat. The mysteries about May and Skye work because they both have something to hide, but it's unclear why we also know nothing about Ward, Fitz, and Simmons (or why we should care to).

Also, without Joss Whedon's hand in the writing (this episode was written by Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, cocreators and producers of the show, as well as Angel alumnus Jeffrey Bell) there were far fewer comedic asides and bon mots. This episode was action and drama heavy, and it lacked the comedic relief and heart that made the pilot so enjoyable.