New Show Recap: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D 1×02 “0-8-4”

After last week’s pilot episode, I kind of knew what to expect from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I knew it was going to be a superhero procedural with a Whedon twist. I knew that Marvel and Disney were giving them movie budgets for the whole season. It has delivered on that promise so far, albeit a bit less Whedon-y in the second episode than I would have liked. I got close to muttering Vamp Willow’s favorite phrase, “Bored Now,” during parts of the episode. 

The opening sequence to this week’s episode starts with a bang, as a giant hole is blown in the plane. We find out that this event will be shown later in the episode because it flashes back to 19 hours earlier.  Skye is unloading her Matt Foley van and moving in with the crew on the Bus.

Cutting to what I am deeming the War Room, Agents Coulson, Ward (Less Boring Riley Finn), and May are conversing about the rest of the team and how they are not ready for the field. Ward puts on his big, blustering nature and talks about how none of them are ready. Coulson makes a joke that his frown will be included in the official report.

Fitz and Simmons are showing Skye around the plane and getting her settled in. Ward brings Skye a safety pamphlet, saying this is not like other planes. Skye has a conversation with Coulson, who references Tahiti again. I am beginning to think “Tahiti” means some sort of afterlife/heaven in the Marvel Universe. We learn that an 0-8-4 is an object of unknown origin and we find out the last known 0-8-4 was Mjolnir, which is another call back to the cinematic universe.

The team shows up in Peru at an old Incan Temple. The 0-8-4 is inside the temple. It looks alien and also German. I successfully guessed it was made by Hydra (Hail Hydra!) based on Tesseract energy. Coulson informs Skye that her job on the team is basically doing everything she is against, AKA spreading false information on the Internet/social media instead of finding the truth. Skye does not seem too happy about that.

Ward and May are talking outside and Ward references May’s past again. May is still not pleased people know she is more than just a pilot. Ward even called her the cavalry. He jokingly asks if she needs a gun. She says she will take one if she needs one. Men in camo end up jumping the agents. This is just not feeling very Whedon-like to me; it seems too paint-by-numbers. The military commander, Camilla, is revealed to be someone Coulson knows.

Fitz, Simmons, and Skye are inside analyzing the unknown object again. Skye and Ward trade barbs and set up their sides; Skye is pro-rebels or at least pro-freedom; Ward is pro-authority. Boom, pow, rebels have overrun the temple area. Ward goes all Hulk and pulls the object from the wall. Fitz and Simmons are not too happy with him over that, based on the fact they know the object is very unstable. Ward goes outside and pulls out something cool, a staff that causes an EMP-like wave that knocks the rebel soldiers off their feet. Michael Bay Explosions happen by the temple. Chase scene.

They get safely on the Bus and Fitz explains that the object is indeed Hydra technology fueled by Tesseract energy and gamma radiation. Coulson is getting a stone-face from May as he is apologizing for getting her involved in combat. May does not look happy. Ward and the Fitz-Simmons are getting in a fight. It seems like the point of the episode is to have the team bicker before they come together. Coulson and Skye join the conversation, and it’s just bicker bicker bicker. It is a bit of funny, and I realize that Ward is not Riley; he is a less funny Jayne. Playing the parental figure, Coulson tells them all to work it out.

Camilla and Coulson end up in Coulson’s room. Camilla is impressed by the old historical artifacts he has. This definitely comes off as a not-so-subtle metaphor for Camilla and Coulson’s history. Skye and Ward are engaging in conversation at the same time, trying to explain their differences, and Skye basically explains the idea behind crowdsourcing to Ward.

Ward begins to suspect that this is not all that it seems. Coulson too has the same opinion. This leads to the third act of bang bang pow pop. Camilla and the MP are planning on hijacking the plane and taking the object for themselves. Fitz and Simmons are being held hostage in the science lab and that basically convinces Coulson to give the plane over to Camilla… for now.

The team is all tied up together in the cargo hold. Doesn’t Camilla know that you never put all the good guys together in a room when you are the bad guy? Seriously, this show is like trope after trope after trope. Everyone finds out that May is, in fact, the cavalry. Camilla also reveals that she knows it’s a former Hydra weapon. It seems like Camilla has never seen a Bond film. Coulson is pointing out that petty country fighting is nothing now that we know there are aliens. Coulson is arguing for uniting everyone.

May dislocates her wrist to get out of her bonds and the wheels are set in motion to survive. Everyone works out a plan and they start going about it. The object gets used to blow a hole in the cabin to depressurize the door to the upstairs. Go TEAM!  Wham bam, the hole is sucking people out. Oh you know that safety pamphlet from earlier? Skye read it and found out where a raft is stored. She uses the raft to secure the breach. The team retakes the plane.

The team lands in the slingshot base. We find out the slingshot is a rocket pad where they launch dangerous tech into the sun. They all hunker down and decide they really are a team. A beer is even shared. Yet again, another surprise is given but I won’t spoil it. You have to watch it!  Maybe io9 has already spoiled it though.

My biggest take away is that I want to know more of Skye and May’s backstories. Skye is definitely a double agent of some sort. She even received a text message basically stating that. This episode was kind of boring. I hope the show gets better. I think it lacks a certain quality I like that other shows have. In reality, it feels too masculine to be a Joss Whedon show, if that makes sense.

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Alyson

Queer Pop Culture Junkie in the Northwest. Addicted to Coffee, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Fantasy Sports, The Mountain Goats, and Tottenham Hotspur.

7 thoughts on “New Show Recap: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D 1×02 “0-8-4””

  1. I’ve heard Joss Whedon talk about how he prefers serialized shows over episodic: he had the big bads in Buffy and Angel, Firefly was leading towards more of a continuous plot line, Dollhouse realized one at the end of the series. The TV landscape is now very favourable to serialized shows and should be a haven for what Whedon has claimed to want, but he’s still starting every season off with standalone episodes rather than hooking us from the beginning. I don’t want just hints of what is going on with Skye to keep me tuning in, I want that to be the story.

  2. Seriously, this show is like trope after trope after trope.

    THANK YOU. I was so bored with this episode and I actually enjoyed it less than the pilot. I don’t really care about the “learning to work as a team” trope; I don’t care about “Skye is a rebel but will later feel bad for betraying her new team” trope; don’t care about the “Ward and Skye are opposites that attack” trope; and I seriously am over people actually using the words, “Speak English!” when onscreen scientists start with the pseudoscience jargon. Between all of those tropes and referring to Agent May as a “ninja”, the tired ass Latin America stereotypes, and the notion that SHIELD are the “good guys” in the context of this episode, I just couldn’t get into it. It was like someone used a screenwriting out of a box kit for this one.

    I hope the next episode is better. I did enjoy the cameo by Sam Jackson. Love me some Ultimate Nick Fury.

    1. Nick Fury was the best part of this episode, for sure.

      I still like it, I think. I laughed a few times, though not as many as I did in the pilot. I see many parts that remind me of Firefly. (The bus is like a really fancy ass Serenity, it even has a ramp and a rover. Named Lola.) Coulson has many lines that could have easily come from Capt. Mal, and May has more than a little Zoe in her. Which is fine, Mal and Zoe are certainly worth emulating, but I don’t think the show has enough of the heart and cohesion, or enough of its own voice, to pull off something that looks like more than a cheap copy.

      I’m still going to tune in, I like May and Coulson enough as characters (and Ming Na and Clark Gregg enough as actors) to want to know what happens to them. (And also what Tahiti is.) I hope the show gets its legs under it, and becomes more than a witty Law & Order: Classified.

  3. The show feels cheap to me, I think that’s what it is. Most of the dialogue feels unnatural, I don’t like Coulson as main character (really hope he’s going to be more in the background soon) and everything is just so obvious.
    I’d like it better if they went with C-Marvel name of the week and an underlining plot line that can explode in the finale.

    1. I completely agree on your thoughts about a OH I WISH structuring of the show. I thought the show would be a great opportunity to explore some of the lesser known Marvel characters and heroes from the comic book canon and every week or couple of weeks with a larger story arc as a backdrop. I guess Whedon & Co. decided differently. Sigh.

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