Thursday, February 6, 2014

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 13: T.R.A.C.K.S.

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back after a couple weeks off. Don't get too comfortable with its return though, because it's about to be pre-empted again due to the Winter Olympics. For a whole month this time.

This was the best episode yet, as slowly but surely the series continues to improve. It seems like the producers have finally listened to the audience's complaints and are taking steps to make the show better. I just hope it's not a case of too little, too late.

It's not rocket science, guys. When you decide to make a superhero show, it's a given that the audience is going to expect to see a superhero now and then. And that they'll be disappointed when they don't.

The Plot:
This week the Team boards a train to capture a device they believe will lead them to evil industrialist Ian Quinn. Hijinx ensue. And Quinn kills Skye maybe. Oh, and Mike Peterson becomes Deathlok.

Thoughts:
• I liked the Rashomon story structure, in which we see the same sequence of events from various character's viewpoints.

• There were lots of fun character bits in this episode as the Team went undercover. Coulson and Simmons in particular were good, posing as father and daughter. 

Likewise Coulson and Ward trying to activate the holo-table. Funny, but unfortunately not terribly realistic. Why would it be so hard to operate? We've seen Fitz using simple gestures on the table like it was a giant iPad, so why wouldn't Coulson and Ward be able to do the same?

• Hey, ABC, a bit of advice: things like the little Stan Lee cameo might be more fun for the audience if you didn't promote the living hell out of them a month in advance. Just sayin.'

• Fitz does an American accent! It always fascinates me when I hear Brits speaking like Americans. What accent? Americans don't have an accent! We're the default!

• Melinda May in a catsuit!

• OK, when May was on top of the train and used a parachute (?) to quickly fly off it, the FX were a bit wonky. I'm sure creating effects on a TV budget and schedule though, so I'll cut 'em some slack.

• Ian Quinn's men seem to have Night-Night Gun (oy, that name) technology too. Or something damned similar. Where'd they get that? Is someone at S.H.I.E.L.D. providing tech to the enemy? Or did the Clairvoyant get the instructions to build the gun from Fitz's mind?

• A few weeks ago I suspected they were setting up Mike Peterson to become Deathlok, and sure enough, that's exactly what happened. He doesn't look much like the Deathlok of the comics though, who's much more cybernetic. This version just has a bionic leg and eye. What good is one bionic leg gonna be to him? Is he going to hop over tall buildings in a single bound? He's certainly not going to be able to run at super speeds with only one super leg.

Maybe this is just the initial version of him, and he's going to become more machine-like as the series progresses? After all, his bionic leg started out as a tube the size of a bucket of chicken and it expanded much like a Transformer to become full sized. Maybe it's going to continue to expand until it envelops his entire body, making him look more like his comic namesake? If so, cool. Well, cool for us in the audience, not so much for Mike.

• So Ian Quinn shoots Skye in the gut a couple times and leaves her for dead. I'll admit that was a bit shocking, but it wasn't the jaw dropping bombshell the producers obviously intended. I'm just not emotionally invested enough in these characters yet to worry about their fates. I'm far more interested in Mike Peterson becoming Deathlok, and he's only been in three or four episodes.

Oddly enough the other characters' reaction to Skye's injury was far more emotional than her actual fate. Coulson in particular stood out, as he stared at Skye in the hyperbaric chamber, silently blaming himself for putting her there.

I wouldn't worry too much about Skye though. They ain't gonna kill her off-- yet. Not before we find out what her alleged superpowers are.

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