Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: 0-8-4 (1×02)
Synopsis: Right where the pilot left off, Coulson’s team heads to Peru to investigate the 0-8-4, where he quickly runs into a figure from his past. Coulson’s team has to learn to work together in order to survive the mission and each other.
Now this is what I’m talking about!
Last week, I waffled on giving the pilot episode three or four stars since we don’t believe in half-ratings here at Nerdophiles. While there was still room for improvement, the episode was enjoyable enough for me that the potential let me bump it up to four.
This week with the full team on its first real case, we’re up to a solid four for my personal rating. Exciting story, character development, and a lot of call backs to the previously established Marvel Cinematic Universe have the show starting to whip itself into shape.
(That, and the beautiful Bear McCreary score that I want on an album as soon as the season is over so I can listen to it and feel like a superpowered spy.)
The episode opens with the Bus (known formally as S.H.I.E.L.D. 616 because clever) is being contacted by ground control. Ground control asks Coulson if everything is okay. He responds that it is and that everything will be blue skies from here on out.
That, of course, is quickly followed by a massive hull breech and Coulson hanging on for dear life.
Cut to 19 hours earlier, and Skye is moving into her new home on the Bus. Which, hey, it might just be a tiny bunk for personal space, but it’s a lot better than living in a van in an alley. Which is only marginally better than living in a van down by the river. The team of FitzSimmons is quick to welcome her aboard, but Grant and May are cautious about her, given her connection to The Rising Tide. Coulson realizes this, but decides to go for the risk of having her as a consultant. Well, she’s probably already doing better than Tony thus far.
The team ships out to Peru to inspect the 0-8-4 to determine whether it’s a threat or an asset. The last 0-8-4 was Mjolnir, so that should tell you the level of unknown this object is to S.H.I.E.L.D.
Upon landing in Peru, the political situation in the country becomes obvious. However, S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t there to deal with politics or rebellions. They just need to get the 0-8-4 and leave. They find the object stuck inside the wall of a Incan temple. Simmons determines that the object is at least 1500 years old, but Fitz makes a note that it looks German. If you caught up to what this means before I did, I congratulate you.
May and Ward are outside the temple keeping an eye on things. Ward makes a comment about serving with “The Calvary,” but May insists that he not call her that. Suddenly, a bunch of members of the Policia Militar del Peru come out of the woodwork and have the two surrounded. Their leader Comandante Camilla Reyes rides up and Coulson comes out to diffuse the situation. Which turns out to be surprisingly easy when it turns out that her and Coulson have history together. Of the work and possibly sexy variety. Get it, Phil.
FitzSimmons continues to be confused by the 0-8-4 while Skye fails miserably trying to fit in with the team. Ward tries to get them to hurry up in his usual abrasive manner and him and Skye have a misunderstanding over what she means about the rebel uprising being “kickass.” I smell plot line later…
Reyes and Coulson begin to have a conversation about who the 0-8-4 belongs to when rebels begin to attack. The team quickly evacuates the temple, with Fitz having a technobabble freakout when Ward yanks the 0-8-4 out of the wall and tosses it in a bag. A thrilling fight and chase begins as the team and the Policia Militar have to outrun the rebels back to the Bus. This whole sequence kind of reminds me of certain scenes from Firefly, but on a superpowered Earth. I have to admit, I rather enjoyed Coulson being a badass with Reyes and Ward and May basically being team parents to the three members who aren’t cleared for field combat.
After nearly being shot by rebels, the team makes it onto the plane and Fitz explains why he was having the freak outs about containing the 0-8-4: It’s a piece of HYDRA technology fueled by the Tesseract and it’s leaking pure gamma radiation. If it blows, it’s going to end badly for everyone involved. This, of course, makes the team back away from it as slowly as possible.
The team sets out for the Slingshot to determine what to do with the 0-8-4, which will either be destroyed or archived by S.H.I.E.L.D. May is righteously pissed at Coulson after the firefight since he promised her that she wouldn’t be put into combat again. Maybe the silent treatment is a bit immature, but hey, I’d do the same. Keep on that silent treatment, Melinda!
The team begins to bicker about the lack of communication and other things when Coulson urges them to get over it and figure something out. Skye feels left out still due to her odd man out place on the team. Later that evening, while FitzSimmons deconstruct the 0-8-4 for the audience, Ward and Skye have a talk to come to a better understanding of each other. Skye explains how she’s intrigued by the Peruvian uprising for how Peruvians have come together on social media to speak out with a whole little bit about “100 people with one percent of the solution” coming together to solve a problem. Bookmark that for later. Ward explains how he doesn’t understand people or something to that effect. I’ll admit I kind of zone Ward out when he’s being like a S.H.I.E.L.D. version of Angel. But with the soft music and Skye showing concern for Ward’s gunshot wound, I’m starting to sense where this plot line is going.
Coulson and Reyes have a moment talking about sentimentalism in his office when she tries to seduce him like the days of old. Before I can utter another “Get it, Phil,” Ward begins to figure out that there’s something up with the Comandante’s troops. Which turns out to be correct as they knock out May, hold Fitz hostage, and overtake the plane. Like a true champ, Reyes figured out the team could be easily overtaken and that she could hold them hostage in order to take the 0-8-4 back for Peru and to take out the rebel army. Coulson warns her not to underestimate his team because she’s given them a common enemy to fight. The parallel to The Avengers smacks me right upside the face with feelings, especially with the position Phil is in while having this talk.
As the team is tied up in the cargo bay, they start to formulate a plan after Ward recalls Skye’s previous statement about pieces of a puzzle. They come up with a grand plan to get back inside the main body of the plane using all of their special skills, but need to get past the guy guarding the door. Which May does after breaking her own wrist to get out of her restraints, climbing up the cargo bay, taking the guy out, and resetting her wrist. Then when the team is done talking out their plan, she runs through the lab doors with the S.H.I.E.L.D. van. Oh, be still, my little queer heart with a weakness for nonplussed badass ladies.
The team immediately gets to work on their plan as the episode wraps back around to where it started. It then starts to make sense: Using one of Fitz’s drones, the team causes the 0-8-4 to send out an energy blast to blow a hole in the plane to get the doors open. It’s kind of a common action movie trope to cause a hull breech, but it brings back sweet, sweet memories of that 2006 classic Snakes on a Plane. Which is appropriate since… well… I’ll get to that later.
As the doors open, the team splits off. Ward handles the soldiers, FitzSimmons and Skye make their way to the 0-8-4 using a series of ropes to hold them down, May takes back the cockpit and Coulson hangs on for dear life. After a series of struggles and fights that result in at least seventeen near deaths, the 0-8-4 is retrieved, Coulson ties Camilla down in a “you’re under arrest” sort of way and Skye saves the day by thinking on her feet and releasing a safety raft as a temporary seal. With a trashed plane and the team taking a breather after everything that’s just happened, Coulson looks smugly at Camilla, saying, “Told you they were good.”
With the team (and Lola) safe, the team stops in the Slingshot and turns the 0-8-4 over. Verdict is: Destruction! Whee! It’s mostly to keep it out of the hands of people like Reyes, but probably also because between Tony Stark, the Rising Tide, and a crack team being overtaken by Peruvian military, keeping it in some warehouse might not work. Ward appears to have a change of heart about Skye, and May hints that maybe Ward should take up being her supervising officer and turn her into a field agent. To the casual viewer, it seems that romance may be in the air between the gruff agent and the hacker. To a Whedon fan like me, there’s a dark feeling that someone is going to die if this relationship gets off the ground.
Reveling in the new experience of being an actual team, they all sit together in the cargo bay with beers, chatter happily, and watch as S.H.I.E.L.D. shoots the 0-8-4 off into the sun. Happy ending, right?
Well, almost. If not for the fact it looks like Skye is still in with the Rising Tide and is using her position as a newfound consultant to infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D. Uh oh…
And then, of course, in true Marvel fashion, comes the best cameo ever. Commander Nick Fury shows up, and chews Coulson out for only taking six days to wreck the plane. Only two episodes in and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is already giving me the good stuff with angry Samuel L. Jackson cameos as he threatens to downgrade Coulson to a Winnebago and reminds him that Skye is a risk. What I wouldn’t give for this to be a regular thing. Maybe with some extra Avengers later in the season? I mean, London is going to be attacked by Dark Elves soon. Maybe it’s as good of time as any to reveal to Thor that the Son of Coul is alive.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. still has some ways to go as a show before it fully develops into its own, but currently, it’s just a whole lot of comic book style fun. It’s also great to see the team starting to work together and get to know each other, even if it means someone is going to die. My money’s on Ward, but feel free to add your own vote to the “Who is Team Whedon going to kill?” betting pool.