Welcome to Level 7: This Week on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Episode 3 / October 8, 2013)
NOTE: Join us every WEDNESDAY as we review the latest episode...
EPISODE 3: "The Asset"
SYNOPSIS: When the brilliant scientist Dr. Franklin Hall is kidnapped, Agent Coulson and his S.H.I.E.L.D. 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.
BREAKDOWN: (The following column contains MAJOR SPOILERS, so I don't recommend reading this if you haven't watched this episode).
Last week, Agent Coulson's team came together to battle Peruvian soldiers and a HYDRA weapon. This week, they start out with a bang with an impressive sequence featuring a careening tractor trailer and S.H.I.E.L.D. vehicles being tossed into the sky like toys. Soldiers clad in fatigues (will this be the go to for generic bad guys on this show??) break into the truck's cargo hold to reveal Dr. Franklin Hall (Ian Hart) strapped to a chair,
Next we see Ward training Skye aboard their plane as he lectures her about what it takes to be a S.H.I.E.L.D. field agent. I am still wondering how this non-vetted outsider is so easily infiltrating such a high level secret organization. With that, the team is re-routed to the Colorado site of the truck attack. Fitz and Simmons recognize Dr. Hall as a former professor who is also an informant for S.H.I.E.L.D. As they arrive on site, they interview the truck driver, Agent Mack, who describes the invisible attackers. Mack suggests their route was compromised by a mole inside S.H.I.E.L.D.. At that moment, Fitz and Simmons discover some sort of invisible forcefield made of small rocks.
As the team tries to figure out where Hall was taken, Coulson confronts a suspect who may have sold the equipment to the invisible convoy attack squad. They find that the suspects paid for the equipment in gold bars. Analyzing the gold, they ascertain which mine it came from to pinpoint who it could possibly belong to (it's that easy!). Meanwhile we meet the man who kidnapped Hall, a man named Quinn whom Hall recognizes. Quinn and Hall were previously partners and Quinn stole ideas and made millions. He now has kidnapped Hall to try and have him develop a machine using a rare element, gravitonium, that allows the manipulation of gravity. Hall refuses to work for his friend, but the allure of completing his life's work is too appealing.
Convinced they need to infiltrate Quinn's compound and rescue Hall, the team tries to devise a way in during a big party. Skye volunteers to go in. Ward doesn't like it and tells Coulson he doesn't trust Skye's commitment to S.H.I.E.L.D.. Coulson tells Ward to change his approach with her and she may open up. Ward shares a defining moment from his childhood that made him an agent and Skye seems to respect that. Skye is then equipped with a James Bond-like compact that also signals the team when she has found Hall. Melinda May objects to going into the field so Coulson decides to join Ward.
In a nice pink dress, Skye turns heads at Quinn's party using information fed to her remotely by May. Quinn meets Skye and offers her a job to utilize her skills as a hacker. Skye seems vaguely interested. Quinn delivers a speech railing against government regulations on companies like his as he then presents their findings using gravitonium. Dr. Hall activates his machine while Ward and Coulson approach from the beach. Skye explores the house but is caught by Quinn who thinks she is trying to steal trade secrets. She reveals S.H.I.E.L.D. is listening and Quinn takes her to his office where their signal goes dead as she drops it into a glass of champagne.
Skye tells Quinn she is tricking S.H.I.E.L.D. and Quinn responds positively and begins to dissuade Skye that she fits a profile and offers her another chance to join him. Coulson and Ward discover an invisible fence and take down a pair of guards as they wait for Skye to help them into the compound. Skye then triggers her compact signal, allowing Fitz and Simmons to get past the fence. Quinn holds Skye at gunpoint as Coulson finds Hall who refuses to leave his machine. Hall is using the machine to detonate the gravitonium so that no one, including S.H.I.E.L.D. and Quinn, can have the weapon.
As the weapon goes into overdrive, the gravitational field goes out of control, sending Coulson flying. When he stands up, he finds he is on the ceiling and Hall tells him there is no way to stop it. Gravity shifts in crazy directions. Skye disarms Quinn and jumps from the balcony into the water as gravity shifts again. Quinn attempts an escape by helicopter. Hall reveals he leaked his location so that Quinn could find him so that he could destroy the machine. Ward helps Skye escape as gravity keeps getting worse for Hall and Coulson, spinning the room even more. Cutting the power does nothing as the machine is operating on it's own. Coulson shoots the glass floor, sending Hall falling into the gravity generator which absorbs him and shuts itself down.
Coulson takes the machine and has it stored securely, off the books, where no one can find it. May confronts Coulson and says she wants back into active duty on the next mission. Skye is next seen training according to Ward's directions and the two have a bonding moment as she shares her life bouncing from foster home to foster home. Skye admits she wants to be an Agent bad and they continue to train.
The episode ends with a look at the gravity machine being locked away in a safe. As the door locks, the arm of Hall is seen emerging. Could this be our first supervillain on the show? Stay tuned.
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES:
Dr. Franklin Hall is the name of the supervillain Graviton who has the ability to manipulate graviton molecules, effectively controlling gravity. In the comics, Graviton is a foe to Spider-man, the X-Men, and the West Coast Avengers. Hall also mentions S.H.I.E.L.D.'s attempt to use the Tesseract and how it brought the Chitauri down on New York.
"You forget, I saw plenty of action with The Avengers."
The rotating room is a pretty impressive play on the INCEPTION hallway scene. The use of practical effects makes this sequence all the better. If we get more of this type of sequence, the show will be the better for it.
DO WE KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO COULSON YET?
A vague reference to Coulson's muscle memory not being quite the same may have to do with his fate in THE AVENGERS, but no direct references.
EPISODE CLEARANCE LEVEL: 8/10
A strong entry that doesn't have quite the bumbling hijinks from the last two weeks, this episode is a solid Enemy of the Week entry with some really good special effects.
NEXT ON MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.:
"Eye-Spy" - A former protege of Coulson comes after the team while under the control of some sort of robotic device.
TELL US WHAT YOU THOUGHT OF THIS EPISODE BELOW!