This is going up a little later than usual. For some reason, I felt the need to let last night’s episode percolate a little longer. This was probably the oddest reaction I had; I immediately felt the need to sit back and think about what I’d just seen. Well that and the fact that the episode is titled “The Asset.” With all the promotion I saw online, I would’ve thought it was called Origin.
The episode is centered around the kidnapping of a SHIELD asset, Dr. Franklin Hall, by his old college buddy Ian Quinn. Quinn had recently discover an up til then theoretical element (gravitonium) that would allow Hall’s previous designs to become a reality. Quinn needs Hall in order to control the devices on a large scale, but also because he believes in freedom of information and that he is actually saving Hall from SHIELD. My impression from the few lines dedicated to these beliefs is that he’s less for complete transparency and sharing of information and more wants a corporate oligarchy in charge. He is a businessman after all.
Back on the Bus, Skye is beginning her field agent training with Ward, which currently involves boxing and previously involved pull-ups. We learn a little bit more about the responsibility of the SO, as well as the differences between the different tracks. We also get a bit more tension between Skye and Ward, and hopefully Whedon will just let them hook up, because I don’t care about them enough for a “will they, won’t they” relationship. The team is then assigned to retrieve Hall and struggle to come up with a plan that won’t break international law since Quinn is located in Malta, a country that does not work with SHIELD. As the agents throw out and shoot down ideas to infiltrate Quinn’s shareholder party, Skye interrupts with the news that she has an invitation, or rather and e-vite.
So Skye gets a quick lesson in disarming an opponent and is shuttled off to the party. She makes small talk with a businessman (Qasim Zaghlul) who approaches her, and we’re shown May feeding her information to keep the conversation moving. Then she ambushes Quinn as he talks to some people and reveals herself as the Rising Tide person that wanted a last minute invite. Quinn is charmed and makes a job offer. Meanwhile, Coulson and Ward land on the beach.
Skye tries to locate Hall, but Quinn discovers her, so to save her ass, Skye reveals that SHIELD is listening, and they continue meaningless talk until they destroy the earwig in Quinn’s office. Coulson and Ward wait at the force field that protects the compound for Skye to provide Fitz the connection needed to bring it down. They fend off a patrol and just as gunshots are fired, Skye achieves her objective. Coulson makes it to Hall just as May discovers that Hall is the one who leaked the information that allowed Quinn to kidnapped him. Hall turns on his device and is prepared to take the whole compound (at least, they never said exactly how much would sink to the bottom of the ocean) out in order to keep this technology from the world. The lab goes sideways, Ward and Skye fight people, and Coulson sends Hall into the device trapping him in the gravitonium and stopping the reaction. May, frustrated by staying behind the scenes, requests to be reactivated for combat. The episode ends with Hall’s device locked in a vault, and Hall’s hand struggling to escape the gravitonium.
If my recap didn’t make it obvious, this was an episode I just consumed. I enjoyed it for sure, and it was definitely better than the previous, but I didn’t really react. So if there’s any real problem with this episode for me, it was broad to the point that it didn’t really make an impression. Of course, the other episodes got me to react more on what I didn’t like, so this can be considered an improvement.
What I liked:
- Melinda May. Get used to this. Ming-Na Wen makes complete use of every scene she’s in. This will probably be number one every week until Whedon inevitably kills her off. (I need to prepare myself for the possibility.)
- Hall’s motivations. There’s no shock that Hall turned villain; all the promotion for the episode screamed it. But I do like that he crossed the line for the greater good and the reveal during the tag made a perfect endcap to the episode. (Last’s weeks Fury appearance was fun, but didn’t feel cohesive with the episode.)
- Qasim Zaghlul. I know it was just a bit scene to show off how Skye is handling the party. But I would like this to be the first glimpse of an opponent for the team, or some sort of contact for Skye. So I want to see him again for the potential he can present.
- Wonky gravity. Didn’t care about any realism.
- Simmons bringing up that Quinn makes his money off of mining the earth, after Skye brings up his charity donations. It was nice having Skye on the other side this time.
What I didn’t like:
- Ward. I didn’t hate him, it’s just that he’s blegh. I want more of the glimpse we got during the interrogation scene, just to see more to Ward than the competent agent. Also, I’m now second guessing any details we “know” about him, because I wouldn’t put it past SHIELD (or the show) to have Ward manipulating Skye emotionally to motivate her.
- Skye’s back and forth. With the question of whose side she’s on in the air, it really wouldn’t surprise me if she turns out to be the season twist.
- I do wish we would’ve had another week with May refusing to re-enter combat. But it really made sense with this story.
- This was a Skye episode. Which didn’t give us too much development.
- You may have noticed, but I’m taking Skye’s foster care and Ward’s abusive older brother stories with a grain of salt. These are spies (even Skye because the Rising Tide wanted her there), and as Natasha taught us, they will lie.
- Whedon and company like to make up elements: gravitonium, wonderflonium …
- For now, I’m going to call Hall out second sympathetic villain. If the ending is actually foreshadowing something, I look forward to that impression changing.
- We get a real hint at what’s up with Coulson. He’s “rusty” at disarming/deconstructing/whatever guns, something that “should be muscle memory.”
- Tahiti mentions: 0; Magical place: 0 😦
- Pop culture references: Marvel Comics-verse
(Sidenote, other than Firefly, have any of Whedon’s TV shows had a strong first season? Buffy’s was okay and Dollhouse had it’s moments, but neither really blew my mind like Buffy season two. And Firefly gets a pass due to it’s fandom. I haven’t finished it yet.)