“Marvel Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Recap: ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Is Burning Through Its Potential

Agents of Shield, 10/22ABC

This week’s Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. feels largely like a retread of the pilot episode. But without the fantastic J. August Richards adding heart to the monster of the week, things feel pretty cold and distant, which is especially disappointing considering the baddie of the week has the power to create fire.

The episode opens on a bustling street in Hong Kong where a street performer is doling out low-rent magic tricks to a crowd of semi-interested on-lookers. The magician turns up the heat and reveals that he has fire powers. But calling them “powers” is a little generous, considering he has the pirokinetic ability of a human bic lighter. The magician is approached by a sultry woman who takes special interest in his cigarette lighting abilities, but she turns on him in what is probably the most obvious kidnapping in human history.

The magician, named Chan Ho Yin, was being watched by S.H.I.E.L.D., and his disapearence sets of some alarms. It turns out that the folks at The Rising Tide were the ones who leaked the information to Chan’s kidnappers. All eyes turn to Skye, who denies involvement. The team tracks The Rising Tide hacker to Austin where Ward gives him a chase, only to lose him after the guy employs some nifty hacking on the city’s street lights. The Hacker get’s home only to find Skye there, who starts to berate him about stealing S.H.I.E.L.D info. The two then do the most logical thing to do when an impossibly powerful multi-national security force is searching for you, it’s obviously time for a quickie. When the deed is done, Melinda May is waiting right behind the door, just as Skye is looking for her shirt in a terribly obvious reveal. Skye is in big trouble with Coulson and the gang, and she tries to pretend that they’re only friends, as if that would make tipping off a rouge hacker okay.

Centipede is revealed to be behind the kidnapping and they inject the human bic lighter with the Extremis serum from the first episode, believing that his fire ability will stop the drugs’ unfortunate side effect of blowing people up. Chan’s powers multiply and he becomes more of a human blow torch. Centipede then steal his blood platelets (which were controlling his powers) resulting in some nasty burns. Chan then begins attacking both S.H.I.E.L.D. and Centipede agents, so Coulson must make the tough decision of killing him… though they didn’t try all that hard to save him in the first place. I’m starting to think that Coulson likes to skip all the moralizing and just kill the “out of control good guy turned bad guy of the week” just so he can get back to his jet sooner. Lola needs a good buffing anyway.

An angry Coulson meets with Skye and demands to know what she’s hiding. It turns out she joined S.H.I.E.L.D. to learn what happened to her parents, information that was redacted by none other than S.H.I.E.L.D.. For some reason, she’s still allowed to be a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent after all of this. I guess Coulson lost his common sense when he got stabbed by Loki.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is still resting on the fact that action and superhero name checks are a suitable replacement for actually creating interesting characters and compelling stories. Everything about this episode was terriby bland. Everyone’s decisions and actions ring false, and the show makes impossible to emphasize with anyone. It’s trying to be a show for everyone, but it’s failing at entertaining anyone.

Best Quips and Other Observations
– “Oh crap. They gave him a name.”
– “Scorch” is such a lame name for a superhero. It’s a shame Chan got so attached to it.
– Even lamer than Scorch is Centipede. Really? You named your terrorist organization Centipede? Watch out for their fearsome sister-organization “Gentle Bug.”
– Couldn’t Coulson just shoot the guy in the head when he snuck up on him instead of purpously blowing him up? How is that “minimizing the damage”? Thats actually increasing the damage… by a lot.
 – Just how long was Melinda May waiting behind the door while Skye and generic hacker guy were getting it on? Was she just waiting there listening? That’s kinda creepy.