‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Review: “0-8-4″
Marvel's 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ assembles offers its second episode “0-8-4,” as the team's constant bickering becomes a problem when a mission to examine a mysterious artifact in Peru quickly takes an unexpected turn.
Last week’s ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ premiere saw a very-much alive Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) gathering a new team as a civilian man's artificial superpowers quickly spiraled out of control, so how does ABC's 'Avengers'-adjacent series keep us marveling at its inaugural season?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about the ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’'s second episode, “0-8-4!”
S.H.I.E.L.D. agents make contact with the plane in mid-flight, where Coulson assures them everything is fine, shortly before a hole rips through the plane, sucking soldiers, and nearly Phil himself out. Let’s back up! 19 hours earlier, Skye arrives to the plane with her belongings, greeted by Fitz and Simmons, while Coulson ignores May and Ward’s concerns about harboring yet another untrained youth on the team. Fitz eagerly finds Skye a room, as Coulson explains the circumstances of his “demise” once more, and the team jets off to Peru for their “0-8-4,” an entirely unknown object.
Pulling up to the site of an Incan temple, Skye struggles to make herself useful among the team, as the researcher on the ground shows Coulson and the others a mysterious machine embedded within a temple wall for generations. Just outside, Ward lets May know how much he admires her past work, before the two find Peruvian soldiers preparing to ambush them nearby. Military reinforcements arrive and a standoff ensues, though Coulson quickly recognizes the Commandant as an old flame, Camilla Reyes.
Fitz and Simmons realize the device to still be active, as Ward continually questions Skye’s role in the mission, as well as her sympathy with local rebels. While Coulson and Comilla catch up, an explosion begins a firefight with said rebels, forcing Grant to rip the device from the wall as the team desperately attempts to flee. Taking separate cars, the agents barely make it back to the plane, Coulson among the last of them with Camilla and several agents, as Fitz warns the group that the device is powered by Tesseract energy, and likely of HYDRA origins.
With the plane in the air, the team begins to argue amongst themselves about the impediments caused during the mission, while Camilla and her soldiers make themselves at home. Coulson urges the team to find a way to work out their differences, lest the team fall apart on only their second mission. A short while later, Skye brings Ward an alcoholic peace offering, while Fitz and Simmons examine the device to reveal it as an unstable weapon. Skye points out to Ward that she only sympathizes with the rebels as underdogs working together toward a solution, while upstairs, Camilla admires Coulson’s…”collectibles.”
Ward notices that none of Camilla’s soldiers are actually drinking, just as Coulson realizes that Camilla had never previously seemed so forward with him. Soon, the turn takes place and the soldiers manage to get the drop on the agents, incapacitating Melinda and tying all but Coulson in the cargo bay downstairs. After explaining that her government lost the HYDRA weapon some time ago, Camilla demands that Coulson verify the flight plan with home base to avoid being shot down, as Coulson points out that the recent alien invasions should have them united, rather than continually squabbling as nations.
Downstairs, May dislocates her wrists to slip out of the cuffs, incapacitating their guard and snapping the wrist back into place while the others formulate a plan to get the pressurized doors open. The team works together to send one of Fitz’s flying drones upstairs, which purposefully triggers the HYDRA weapon and blows a hole in the side of the plane. Chained together, the team make their way up through the decompressing plane, while Coulson barely hangs on to avoid being sucked out. Ward and May take out the guards, as Skye comes up with the innovation to use one of the plane’s life rafts to plug the hole, just barely saving Ward from getting sucked out as well
The team arrives at “The Slingshot” facility to repair the plane, and launch the Tesseract weapon into the sun, as Coulson laments the damage to his precious plane. Ward remarks to May that Skye might make an effective agent one day, as May suggests he train her as a superior officer. Fitz and Simmons lead the team with beers to watch the device shot into space, as Skye receives a mysterious text from the Rising Tide, and reluctantly replies “I’m in.”
After the credits, Nick Fury himself appears on the scene to chew Coulson out for damaging the plane only six days into his new mission. Fury further warns about Skye, before leaving the scene with his Fury-ous muttering.
Woo! So, lets quickly get the obvious out of the way, Samuel L. Jackson's closing appearance as Nick Fury proved every bit as priceless as we might have hoped, though we also worry that 'Agents of SHIELD' might end up spoiling us too much too quickly between Cobie Smulders and Jackson, setting a precedent it can't hope to keep up with 20+ more episodes in the season. Don't get us wrong, we loved the appearance, and certainly appreciated all the references to Thor's hammer, HYDRA, the Tesseract and beyond, though it occasionally felt as if the story had been obligated to namedrop the films, rather than trust 'Agents of SHIELD' to stand on the strength of its characters so early in the run.
Speaking of which, it stands to reason that the show's sophomore effort would explore the team dynamic, given the ages and relative inexperience of the group thrust together only one week prior. Most of the team-building life-or-death scenarios worked, building the relationships among the core cast through some deftly thrilling (and gorgeous-looking) heroics, though occasionally things landed just a bit on the nose. We're looking at you, Ward and Skye, and we could use an ounce of subtlety in pairing you two together already.
So too did Coulson end up a bit sidelined in the episode's climax, though the bits of history and humor between he and Camilla gave us more insight into the agent's past than the whole of the Marvel movies before it, which nicely humanize the character at a time when we're not sure what to make of his mysterious return. That "magical place" line pops up once more, as for a moment it seems even Skye doesn't know what to make of the circumstances behind his death.
So, what else has us hooked? We'd definitely like to see more of Melinda May's past and "Cavalry" status, and perhaps some clearer focus on the dynamic and history between Fitz and Simmons. Everyone will get their time in the spotlight to be certain, but there certainly seems to be quite a bit of information to absorb each hour, compounded by Skye's continued Rising Tide connections, and the weird balance of national and planetary security taking focus thus far.
All in all, "0-8-4" might have leaned a bit heavily on its Marvel connections for only the second episode, though the end results should more than allay anyone uncertain that 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' can carry itself as a series. The characters and Whedon-istic humor are all there, the series just has to iron out the kinks -- to paraphrase Coulson himself. Now, if you'll excuse us while we check on the device fueled by evil that's sitting in our cargo hold, and begin counting down the minutes until next week's episode.
Well, what say you? Did 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’’s sophomore outing “0-8-4” sell you on the series? What did you think about Nick Fury's big cameo? Give us your thoughts in the comments, and join us again next week for another all-new recap of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’’s latest episode “The Asset” on ABC!