Okay, so before we get to the episode itself, I first have to lodge a major complaint about the promo-episode symbiosis (Venom suit reference!) that punched us harder than Skye hit that boxing bag pre-mission.
The preview was very clear in showing a lot of, well, backside during Skye's balcony jump, which was conveniently edited out of the actual show. What was that all about?
I know it's not The Bachelor
, but c'mon! Don't they know how many comic book nerds are in the audience? That's the most action The Big Bang Theory
crowd would get all week.
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Skye's the Limit
Now that we've got Skye's apparently protected assets out of the way, let's turn to "The Asset" itself. We are now three episodes in to the first season of Agents of SHIELD, and despite the procedural format (standalone episodes, a la Law and Order), each one has served a determined purpose in setting up the future of the Marvel Universe.
The pilot brought the team together, and as I pointed out last week, the second episode got the team on the same page. And "The Asset" is about Skye finally becoming one and figuring out her purpose and loyalties. Oh, and the creation of our first Super Villain, but more on that later.
The abduction of SHIELD "priority red protected asset" Dr. Franklin Hall -- throwing us for a loop since Skye is the real titular asset (wink, wink) -- and the discovery of a tiny element-powered ring that alters gravity brings the team first to Colorado and eventually to the apparently lawless Thunderdome that is Moldova.
They suspect the kidnapping is an inside job, since no one but an agent could have leaked the whereabouts of the good doctor to a Mr. Ian Quinn, who FitzSimmons surmise is behind the plan, thanks to incredibly superficial and rather easily connected links like the fact that they are old college buddies. Of course, they are right about the leak, but the source remains a mystery pending a pseudo-twist.
And since Moldova does have one law -- that you can shoot a SHIELD agent on sight (with bullets) -- there's no way to make a big international incident out of it. So that's where Skye comes in.
While the rest of the team haggle over who should be the mole -- Agent Ward wants a few months to work his way in -- Skye hacks herself an Evite to Quinn's hoity-toity rich-guy party under the guise of Skye the Rising Tide hacker, which no one sees coming.
Agent Ward's Got a Backstory!
It turns out he's not just a muscly ass-kicking robot after all, as we find out while he tries to train a very unenthused Skye in the finer points of hand to hand combat. For real, she couldn't have knocked out a hamster with the force she put behind those punches.
As he tries to turn her into an "operative" for the big mission, he also reveals that he learned his sweet fighting skills protecting himself and his little brother from his douchey older brother, who used to beat the crap out of the two of them for partaking in his birthday celebration.
If his brother was hording all that cake to himself, though, methinks it didn't take very long for Agent Ward to put him in his place. Still, that's apparently all you need to foster a successful career as a secret agent.
And speaking of fosters, we also learn throughout the episode that Skye grew up an orphan bouncing around through homes. But since hoping for something and losing it hurts worse than never hoping for anything, we still aren't sure where her loyalties lie. Even though we really do.
The Secret of Gravitonium
It turns out Quinn's master plan is to make a full-sized version of the gravity-altering device, but he needs Dr. Hall to help him control the gravitational field. This all stems from his discovery of the aptly-named element Gravitonium, which the duo dreamed of finding in their college days.
When placed between the spinning rings, any electron supply nearby forces the molecules to tighten, which literally turns the world upside down.
Skye infiltrates the party, which is stereotypically full of super hot chicks and important looking men in suits, and no one notices that she's walking around talking to herself like a crazy person because of the SHIELD transmitter in her ear.
Despite the classic fish-out-of-water approach, she still manages to arrange a meeting with Quinn, who's impressed with the sweet hacking skills and offers her a job.
That is, or course, until she sneaks away and gets caught snooping through his crap. And the story about looking for a pen sure doesn't fly.
A Divided Skye
At first, it seems like Skye might go for the deal. After all, SHIELD is just as bad about keeping secrets and preying on talented folks with no family connections.
She even rats out the team when she gets caught, but it's all a ploy to buy more time so she can sweet-talk her way to a wireless access point and use a souped-up compact to shut down the explosive force field around the compound and let Grant and Coulson inside.
I desperately tried to find a photo of the force field from the 1980s TV series V, but I couldn't find one. The update here is eerily similar to the Back to the Future flying car rip-off in the premiere.
After succeeding, Skye jumps off the balcony, doesn't show her butt and then lets Grant ass-kick their way to safety. Mission accomplished.
Coulson and the Gravity Trap
After discovering that Dr. Hall himself is the leak, intentionally setting up his abduction to destroy Quinn's machine that he probably couldn't have known existed yet, Coulson attempts to talk him into surrendering.
But Dr. Hall is hell bent on using the Gravitonium to sink Quinn, the entire compound and everything around it into the ground, so Coulson makes his own decision to instead sink Dr. Hall into the middle of the device.
How he times it so perfectly (with bullets) that Hall falls through the floor and through the rotating rings, Contact-style, I have no idea. And how he knows that'll stop the machine instead of exploding the entire world or altering the gravitational pull of the planet, I also cannot speculate about.
But it works, and he somehow comes to the conclusion that it's what Dr. Hall would've wanted, even though Dr. Hall made his selfless intentions of saving the world at his own expense quite clear.
A Super Villain is Created and Agents Fall into Place
Coulson has the suddenly stable Gravitonium locked in an unmarked vault in the subsection of SHIELD headquarters so that it'll never be found, but not before we see a molecule-laden hand emerge from the molten substance. Yes, for those familiar with the comic book, Dr. Franklin Hall is the baddie known as Graviton!
All in all, it's another solid standalone episode. Not much going on for Agent May in this one, other than the fact that her desire to remain out of the field forces Coulson into a mission that probably would've failed without him anyway.
But still, fears over his safety leads to her about-face at the end. So now she's always a go in the boots-on-the-ground situations.
And Skye is now ready to hit the boxing bag harder than she would if she were playing a Wii game, so she's locked in and ready to go. She's made her choice, and as she tells Agent Ward, she "wants this ... bad."
You decide whether she's talking about SHIELD or Ward himself, but either way, it's time to become a full-blown operative.
You can watch Agents of SHIELD every Tuesday at 8pm on ABC.
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