Agents of S.H.I.L.E.D, the joint Marvel/ABC superhero espionage procedural continues to be an exercise basic network adequacy. Tonight’s episode, (the third episode of the first season entitled “The Asset”) follows Skye in her first field mission as the team plots to retrieve a captured S.H.I.E.L.D scientist who may not actually be a hostage. Fitz, Simmons and Melinda May take a backseat this episode as we are granted further insight into Skye and Agent Ward through their handler/asset dynamic. We also see that Agent Coulson is still rather rusty at field work, executed with a suitably foreboding air further alluding to the dubious circumstances under which he returned from the apparent death he suffered in Marvel’s The Avengers. All the actors seen to be assimilating nicely into their characters, although Chloe Bennet/Skye’s comic relief is still laid on a little thick, though not nearly as much as in the pilot. Brett Dalton still seems to be the least interesting member of the cast, though I can’t entirely blame the actor as this often happens when a character is relegated to the stoic straight man archetype.
Ian hart guest starred as “captured scientist” Franklin Hall, an expert in the research of the fictional element known as gravitonium (which does exactly what it sounds like it does). He is ultimately revealed to one of the antagonists of the episode, and to the writers credit they do a good job of transcending the 2-dimensional mad scientist trope by giving him a martyr complex in his crusade to keep the power of gravitonium out of the hands of shadowy organization like S.H.I.E.L.D and his supposed kidnappers. This ultimately results in his apparent death by way of falling into the core of his gravity warping doomsday device, thus merging with a floating mass of gravitonium. The anti-gravity effects throughout the episode are executed rather well, resulting in particular scene featuring Coulson and Hall traversing a room as it rotates around them that is simply cool to watch. That perfectly captures both the tone and grade of quality to the show: it’s just cool. The writing and characters are not particularly profound or deep but they are at least competently handled which, along with the cool sci fi elements throughout, make for a fun, enjoyable hour of programming, at least thus far.
Oh, and make sure you stay tuned until the VERY end of the episode, it is a Marvel production after all.