Tuesday, October 8, 2013

REVIEW: 'Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' - 'The Asset' Plays with Gravity but Doesn't Add Excitement

ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Episode 1.03 The Asset

When the brilliant scientist Dr. Franklin Hall (Ian Hart) is kidnapped, Coulson and his agents must race against the clock to locate him. Skye is their only way in - pushing the team to their limits when the entire plan turns upside-down.

So, "The Asset" was better than "0-8-4" but it still was not great. A large bulk of the action plot hinged on a plot device that simply is not interesting or complex. The question of Skye's loyalty was meant to propel the action and excitement during the middle part of the hour. And yet, the show has never succeeded in making it feel like she will ever turn against the S.H.I.E.L.D. team. She is our point of entry character. She is learning what it is to be a part of this team. How her unique hacking skills will benefit the group as well as learning self defense from Ward. The writing doesn't propel the mystery. It doesn't feel like the show has a clear idea of where to go with that character. And that spreads into Chloe Bennet's performance as she is unsure of how to play it. As soon as they figure out the path they clearly want to go down, then that character - as well as most of the team - will seem interesting. Right now, it's spastic and uncertain. They are trying to please everyone and the end result isn't all that pleasing.

And yet, I strangely appreciate the attempt at creating a larger story for the future. Ian Hart was fantastic as Dr. Franklin Hall. The hour really doesn't get moving until his true motivations are revealed. His big monologue about keeping these powerful forces out of the hands of people looking to exploit was a great scene. That sequence used Coulson well and offered up consequences that I'm intrigued to see the ramifications explored with.

Also, they kept David Conrad's character alive. I didn't especially like that character as he was either a walking talking point or a simple grand idea. That role could grow and I'm curious to see if the show brought him back how he would figure into the larger story. I'm not opposed to it but would love for the series to take more risks and try to hit something bigger.

Some more thoughts:
  • I hate the scene between David Conrad and Ian Hart that lasted forever and was only about how government agencies can't step foot legally in Malta.
  • After establishing the shoot last week, why wasn't the gravity-altering element immediately sent there as well?
  • The dynamic between Coulson and Melinda is the only inter-team relationship I enjoy watching. Their short argument about going into the field was an intriguing aspect squandered by the series intent on focusing on a plot thread they have no confidence in.
  • "Hactivist" is a word I hated when the cast used it in interviews and now it has actually made it into the show. Please stop this now!
  • The anti-gravity throwing Coulson against the wall before the commercial break. Talk about bad special effects.
  • In tragic backstory news, Ward had an abusive older brother and Skye was in the foster system.