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MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Recap: 0-8-4

Gamma radiation! Mid-air hijackings! Surprise Nick Fury! In a strong second episode, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. managed to course-correct from some of the missteps of the pilot with a team-building episode that gives us more of an insight into the personalities, quirks and idiosyncrasies of Coulson’s crack team. Chief among my complaints last week were the fact that I felt the characters felt a bit like cardboard cutouts and the whole thing felt a bit safe. This week, my fears were assuaged, as writers Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen and Angel alum Jeffery Bell managed to shine even as Joss Whedon departed to direct Marvel’s big screen adaptations. With a solid mix of action, character development. and humor, “0-8-4” isn’t a perfect episode of television, but it renews my hope for the show and gets me more excited for the forthcoming episodes than the pilot did.


After getting caught up in a metahuman mix-up last week and getting black-bagged, then recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D., Skye is officially being brought onboard as a consultant to the delight of Fitz and Simmons and the horror of Ward and May. Still, Coulson believes in her and assures them that he’s accounted for every scenario. Plus, the fact that she was able to hack into their system with little to no difficulty on more than one occasion is either a pretty big feather in her cap or an indication that S.H.I.E.L.D. IT needs to update its Ultron Disk Doctor database.

Soon enough, the crew finds themselves headed to Peru to recover a gamma-powered Hydra weapon, referred to as “0-8-4” in S.H.I.E.L.D. shorthand, and gets caught in the middle of an intense civil war between a squad of elite Peruvian commandos led by Coulson’s old flame,  Camilla. The mission is an unmitigated disaster. Constant bickering, an utter lack of tactical cohesion, and overall greenness nearly costs the team the mission and the asset. Ward thinks he can get the job done better himself. Fitz and Simmons see Ward as a neanderthal. Agent May is busy smoldering and brooding. They all see Skye as… well, they see her as a tag-along. If this were a video game, she’d be the escort mission, but I have a sneaking suspicion that she’s more like Elizabeth from Bioshock Infinite than Ashley from Resident Evil 4. Taking heavy fire, the team, now with bonus Peruvians, barely makes it back to the plane before taking off with the asset.


One thing leads to another, Camilla tries to seduce Coulson, and her commandos take the team hostage, which proves to be just the catalyst they need to learn to work together in order to kick ass, take names, and recover their plane from their Peruvian paramilitary captors. Seeing the team at loggerheads for the majority of the episode makes for some witty banter and interesting character pairings, but seeing them work together to take down the Peruvians really brings the show to life. That being said, Coulson continues to anchor the show through his perfectly dry delivery and proud papa demeanor. Always one step ahead of the game, Coulson plays it cool, telling the air traffic controller that, “It’s gonna be blue skies from here on out” right before Fitz’s drone activates the gamma weapon and blows a hole through the side of the plane. Oh, Agent Coulson, you master of understatement, you. Only you could keep such a calm, matter-of-fact demeanor in the face of getting sucked out of a moving aircraft at 30,000 feet.

The show may still be finding its legs character-wise, but it definitely has its action beats down to a science. This week featured elaborate gunplay, ferocious fisticuffs, and some next-level gadgetry that had me pumping my fist in my living room. My dog may not have shared my enthusiasm, but it was kind of difficult to contain myself after Ward deployed that railroad spike-style stun grenade. The physics once the airplane got a new emergency exit may be a little off, but it makes for an exciting visual tableau. ABC has clearly put a lot of money into this show to make it look as close to the visual tone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as possible, and it shows. S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t meant to be Homeland. It’s a far less serious show, prioritizing fun and adventure over tension and life-or-death intrigue, and it makes for some genuinely enjoyable television.

Plenty of Whedonverse TV shows struggled with the “villain of the week” structure when they started, but once they broke free of its narrative constraints, they were able to truly shine, so don’t let Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s lack of an overarching big bad turn you off just yet. And remember all of you in the comment section who told me I was wrong about Rising Tide? Well, check Skye’s text messages, then start looking up a recipe for humble pie. It could turn out to be innocent, but my Spider-Sense is telling me that they’re up to no good. Cliffhangers like these, and continued character work, are exactly what the show needs to introduce going forward. Now, it’s to the writers to come together just like the Agents did this week.

Odds and Ends

– “Yeah, but the shape and the craftsmanship? It’s almost German.” It may not be Joss, but this is definitely the writing of a Whedon. I’d compare them to the Bronte sisters, but nothing made me happier than when Emily Bronte died of tuberculosis. Fuck everything about Wuthering Heights.

– Is it just me or do the rebels all look like train conductors at a nightclub?

– I love that Coulson is a stickler for coasters on his hardwood sky tables. No one wants unseemly rings, especially on your black ops aircraft.

– “I would love to see a capuchin in the wild.” Fitz and Simmons are pretty delightfully out of place as field agents. Note that at one point Simmons takes a selfie in front of the ziggurat.

– Agent May’s nickname is “The Cavalry”. Pretty badass. Also, the holy shit look on everyone’s faces when she dislocates her wrist then takes out a guard.

– “You know, I have the authority to downgrade your ass to a Winnebago.”

What did you think of episode two? What would you like to see happen? What is Rising Tide’s real goal? Let us know in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter.

Image: ABC/Marvel Studios

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  1. Craftcunt says:

    You are all cunts, except for those who realise that we don’t need to be spoon fed information, there is far too much dialogue, hardly any acting. Quite frankly I’m bored during it and I won’t be watching any more. I don’t give a shit about what happened to each character 10 years ago and how they know each person they meet.
    Too much going on all at once. More dramatic looks, less dialogue to explain things
    More mystery less obviousness and then thy obviousness being explained.

  2. S.H.I.E.L.D. is edging closer and closer to disappointment. The cast is far too demographically skewed to tweens and the humor is uneven and unnecessary. I can stand Fitz and Simmons’ goofiness but Skye is just plain annoying. Ming Na Wen isnt being used well and her character is one-note. Hell, everyone but Coulson is one-note. If they can kill off Skye and introduce a more mature and believable female lead, the show is saveable. This week, Coulson assaults a fortress in a suit. The same suit he always wears. Take it more seriously and revolve in actors who could credibly be gov’t agents. Oh, and Skye just got soaking wet but is instantly dry. Boo. My guess is, Joss Whedon has little to do with writing this show; he needs to take a firmer hand so the show doesn’t fail.

  3. dindin says:

    I found the “raft solution” annoying, but for a different reason: it shouldn’t have been necessary! Once a pressurized cabin loses its pressure (which should only take seconds with a 7-foot hole in the plane) after the initial exploson, it will be equalized with the outside air pressure. No more suckage! Sure, it would be windy as hell, but anyone keeping a safe distance from the hole could walk around normally.

  4. gen says:

    also i think the fact that they had slj as nick fury means they are trying to make an effort to entertain it’s free tv and marvel the complaints FREAKING piss me off to no end am i saying it’s flawless no but to say it’s shit what the cabbage yo no such thing as a perfect show even the great breaking bad had flaws but i enjoy every minute of agents of shield and i would rather watch this the dancing with the g list stars

  5. gen says:

    I LOVE AGENTS OF SHIELD i just don’t understand the negativity behind the some of the reviews and comments about the show skye lives in a van by choice shes a hacker she had to stay on the run to escape capture she has more money because she dosent have to spend on bills fitz and simmons who i love reach international fans and i think people should stop trying to find holes and just be glad that there is a show and not more reality tv if this goes away then they cant learn and get better

  6. RG says:

    ^ This.

    Stuff doesn’t matter that much. I understand that hearing that makes people feel stupid for being invested, and everybody on the other side of it will say everything they can to prove that media criticism DOES matter so as not have to confront the whole “maybe I’m wrong, maybe it’s not a big deal, maybe I’m too concerned with things that don’t matter” thing that should be in every self-aware human brain.

    But the fact is, we’re down this rabbit hole of “stuff that we care about but doesn’t really matter,” where, of course, you have a nerd culture blog, so yeah, logically you’re gonna write reviews of stuff… but then those reviews give way to comments which take the negativity further… it becomes inherent to the culture… and suddenly we all have massive feelings about minor things.

    Ultimately, I don’t think there’s anything convincing anybody can say to deny that the ideal approach would be nerdy consumption of commercial things, but all the without consumer-culture creative vs. critical entitlement issues.

  7. Amy says:

    Okay I am not a negative person by nature, so this is going to sound a bit sunny. I love the show and characters. Get over yourself if you think that the first few episodes of Buffy were well acted, please I think you are looking at it through rosey glasses of your first viewing. Also think of all the people that didn’t watch the now beloved Firefly… HELLO! If you love the creative team behind it and you trust them, you give it an entire season, unless you want more non-scripted Dancing with the Start type TV. I can agree with the comments above, but I choose not to! I like fun TV, so what if the raft would not cover the hole in the plane… a little camp in a show is good. I think my husband got the general feeling of the show right when he said, “It reminds me of Chuck” … I liked Chuck very much and it made me smile, so yes! VIVA la Agents of SHIELD. I will watch you until someone takes it away from me.

  8. Kristoffer says:

    Much more solid of an episode than the first ep, however still not quite sold on the show. I dunno but i sort of expected alot more of this show and it’s not living up to those expectations.

    I will give it a few more episodes to build on me.

  9. Steven says:

    It’s fun, I guess, but I agree with the comment that just felt like a continuation of the pilot in that the action was still justification for exposition and convincing us that this is a team.

    But what really lost me was the way the show expected us to believe that a flimsy rubber raft could successfully seal a gaping hole in a pressurized aircaft at altitude. You don’t need a physics degree to know that that thing would have been sucked right out with everything else. So silly and cringeworthy that it made me feel guilty about the whole enterprise to the point that I wasn’t even able to enjoy the Nick Fury walk on.

  10. tomK says:

    I was happy to see a decent 2nd episode with a bit of character building but there is NO WAY an inflatable raft will block a 7 foot wide hole in an airplane.

  11. cgf68 says:

    I really enjoyed the first episode. It felt very grand and cinematic which explains why last night’s episode looked and felt cheap. I was bored . The performances were wooden as hell and it felt very formulaic. I figure i will watcg next week and if it is more of the same, i’m done.

  12. Justin Curiuos says:

    Fitz and Simmons are my favorite characters on the show so far. They are fun and seem to get their characters. Fitz certainly gets the introvert genius. Mae by far is the most wooden (I’m angry!) but Skye (I’m confused!) and Ward (I’m grumpy!) seem to be trying to give her a run for that title.

  13. Joe says:

    The whole thing seemed contrived and formulaic to me. Team not getting it together “I’m a loaner” “We’re annoying and incompetent” I’m hot” Enter lame bad guys posing as good guys infiltrating home turf and viola! Team comes together and learns valuable lessons about each other. The ramp on the bus keeps reminding me of Firefly, too bad nothing else does.

  14. amysrevenge says:

    I also saw this as more Pilot Part Two. It was a stronger part 2, and I quite enjoyed it.

  15. Peyton_drinking says:

    I feel like this was the second half of the pilot as they were a team by the end. I hope that is the case and that we are done beating you over the head with who the characters are and what they are having to adapt with to become part of the team. We get it. He wants to do everything by himself, she never wanted to be in combat again, they don’t want to die!

    The other thing that needs to change is that they need to watch Buffy and get the (group figuring things out/arguing with each other) down better. Less screaming and mile a minutes dialog and more acting.

  16. boB says:

    I actually thought the first episode was much better than this one. Where you saw it as “too safe”, I actually thought it made a lot more sense for a highly-funded and militarized government department to be in pretty much total control of a situation, than for it to shove a bunch of green SHIELD agents (one was a complete rookie, and two were on their second mission) into the middle of a war zone in a highly-visible operation with no backup.

  17. Mike says:

    Seriously, I know everybody wants to be the first one to post their recap, but would it kill you to proofread before you post? It’s Melinda MAY, not Mae. And if you’re going to play “Nah nah” with your commenters, at least try to get the character’s name right when you smack them down: those texts are Skye’s, not Chloe’s, unless this show got really meta all the sudden.

  18. John says:

    I liked it for the most part. Some of the characters still feel a bit stiff, and I hope they loosen up a bit. Coulson was great especially with the last line, “kill the fish tank”. I’m still interested enough to keep watching but I do think they need to find the tone of the show which can take awhile.

    Look at the first two seasons of Star Trek: TNG, they are terrible. Yes there are good episodes here and there but largely they’re awful. So I’m willing to give SHIELD some time to find itself.

    I’d say the episode is a 6/10

  19. I liked the episode for the most part, but I have to make a plea to axe Fitz and Simmons! They are so incredibly annoying that it impacts the entire show! Please kill them!