Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD Recap: They Still Have A Plane And The Plot Is Still Too Unreasonably Complicated

  Season One Episode Four

[Yes, yes, last week said "episode two" because I was not counting the pilot in the numbering because that is not how you do it! Except that IMDB disagrees with me and they are for sure right and I am for sure not. So, you didn't miss a week of recaps. I just can't count.]

OK. I’m going to keep watching this show if it kills me. Ooh, mysterious red-masked men!

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At least they are not wearing Guy Fawkes masks. Those things should be banned forever. The red men are all business no pleasure and head for the subway with those really expensive steel briefcases that signify you are a rich douche. They’re tailed onto the subway by another mysterious person, a young-ish woman who is doing some freaky thing where once she blinks, time slows down. She smashes a fire call box, the train goes dark, everything goes chaotic, and when the train arrives, pile of dead red men and handsome rich douche briefcase belongs to mysterious young lady and is chock full o’diamonds. Can you feel the mystery?

Oh for fuck’s sake we open with the plane again?! YOU GUYS HAVE A PLANE. WE GET IT.

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Nerds, is this A Thing with the Marvelous Shields? Is their possession of a plane important or special and I am just not getting it? We’re on the plane now and congenitally boring slab of man Grant Ward is talking with FitzSimmons about what types of bullets he likes best and of course FitzSimmons have developed a giant bigger better neurotoxin sort of bullet that will probably come in handy later in this episode I bet.

Coulson is going to have Skye investigate how people are hacking into banks and armored cars and casinos to steal…DIAMONDS! Skye is going to figure this out with her cell phone or her laptop because of her supergenius hacking skills.

Remember last week, when everything was all Rube Goldberg? I’m sorry I said that. I’m sorry I said that because I wish I’d saved that joke for this week because good lord this is complicated. So, each red man was a military man, and only one of their briefcases had the diamonds, and they were sent from 25 separate routes through the city (but all to the same train???) in order to avoid the thieving, but the thieving happened anyway. Probably on account of how this plan makes no sense. Witnesses on the train saw what happened – young-ish, female, black, athletic build, eyes closed, destroys everything.

Skye is pretty solid on the fact that the woman must have ESP because she closed her eyes, and that is either significant or totally random. (Yes, she says exactly that.) Coulson and May look at her like she is stone cold crazy train. Dear god, please don’t let her be right about this down the line.

You will not be surprised to learn that SHIELD can face match and search pretty much everything in the world

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…which they do by just standing around all looking at the same screen, super casual, until something pops up in like 20 seconds because crime solving on this show will never ever be real-life tedious.

Couslon knows the girl – Akela – as soon as she shows up in the quickmatch database because…wait for it…he trained her. She’s former SHIELD and mebbe sorta faked her own death and is now superthief. And Coulson’s not going to bring HQ in to help investigate because we need that to be a really difficult and boring part of the plot later.

Akela is meeting a contact to hand over the diamonds, which she’s conveniently turned into golf balls. The cool 30mil worth of diamonds she stoled has bought her a keycard to a mystery something.

So now the New Not Improved Scooby Gang has to go to Belarus to look for Akela, and Skye and the FitzSimmons are forced to hang out in the van, which makes them all squirrelly like the giant children they are. Coulson and Ward get to go actually look for the girl and they meet a very nice Russian-type woman who eagerly explains how Akela does have the gift of ESP. DO NOT DO THIS TO ME SHIELD.

Scoobies have cracked some sort of encrypted video to watch some surveillance footage of a white van with three people inside.

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Is it them? Are they watching themselves get watched? Oh of course they are. Like you ever thought otherwise. Is it Akela driving the truck that has been watching them and is now going to ram them? Oh, of course it is. She rams the van and knocks it over, but there’s no real harm done because it is far too early in this series for Whedon to start killing people off. Back at the plane everybody’s got to try to sort out how Akela’s watching them while they’re watching her, which leads Skye to do some hacking that works right away, which leads us to learn that Akela’s eye is a camera:

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So she’s basically Google Glass without the pesky hardware. The FitzSimmons are very sadcited that this is not tech they yet have, because it is about a decade away. Some other mystery source is controlling Akela, so now we’re just going to watch her around the clock until they figure out where she is. And huzzah! It does not seem that she is evil, so Coulson can rest easy. She’s just a really high-tech puppet, apparently.

May – who is thus far my favorite character on the show because of her utter unyielding refusal to ever engage in any banter whatsoever, figures out where Robot Girl is at and goes off to see her alone. May’s going to thwart Coulson’s attempt to save Robot Girl and instead tell HQ what the hell is going on and bring her in for a trial, but Akela is not down for that and explains that she has a kill switch in her eye – either she has to kill May, or her handlers kill her. All of this is really just a setup for an awesome May-Akela cage match that ends when Coulson comes roaring to the rescue. When Akela comes to, Coulson explains that they’ve hijacked her feed blah blah blah disabling kill switch blah, and basically everything is cool, except there’s like 20 minutes of this episode left, so of course it is not cool.

Gah. Apparently what is left is some long touching backstory explanation about how someone might still be alive but for her error when she was still an agent, and an explanation of how she ended up with CyberEye. She doesn’t know who is controlling her, so we’ll have to sort that out in the next…18 minutes. She and Coulson play 20 questions to narrow it down to a heavyset Englishman in his 30s or 40s, because Coulson is a genius.

Meanwhile Ward is off pretending to be Akela, but if Ward gets caught being Akela, Akela blows up, so the FitzSimmons have been tasked with yanking out Akela’s eye. Ward goes to great lengths to break into a classroom with some Beautiful Mind-level scribbling all over a chalkboard because his whole mission, courtesy of fat middle-aged Brit, is to take a photo of it.

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Squeamish eye surgery is happening and of course Ward’s cover is blown but also, too, of course, we’re not going to have that thing blow up in Robot Girl’s eye and blow gobbets of Robot Girl all over the place, so Ward gets out and eyeball blows up safely in a handy steel receptacle. Coulson tracks down Akela’s handler, but when he confronts him his eye blows up in not actually all that spectacular a way…which means no one knows who is installing robot eyes in people so they can control other people with robot eyes. Also, nobody knows that the game theory chalkboard scribble is either, so probably alien.

This week’s installment of IS COULSON A ROBOT NOW HMMMMMM? is brought to you by Akela, who asks May what they did to him” with some really pointed staring. Oh, just do the big reveal already.

Wacky end bit provides us with nothing new except that members of SHIELD get to continue to use insanely complicated and otherwise completely unavailable technology to play jokes upon one another, because that is totally how seekrit shadowy quasi-government agencies are run.

Until next week, when things will probably make even less sense, I bid you farewell.

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  • Jason Mozak

    I want this show to be good. I’m trying, here. I’m with you, and I’ll stick through it, but… it’s not so great. The format bugs me, the characters bug me, and the demands it makes that I be forever patient bugs me. Even if it were just 3/4 as good as Arrow I’d be satisfied. It’s not, though.

    There’s really nothing here that has much to do with The Avenger’s movie, or with Marvel Comics in general. Why would the ex-Shield chick having ESP be soooo crazy in a world that has Thor and the Hulk? Why must every episode be another wacky adventure that has nothing to do with the last? Why do FitzSimmons make me wanna Elvis my tv screen? I’m hanging in there, but I ain’t too happy about it.

    • http://happynicetimepeople.com/ Lisa Needham

      The only thing I can bear about FitzSimmons is that their outfits are consistently delightful. Otherwise, I just want to pitch them out the window.

  • edith prickly

    My eyes were aching by the end of this episode from all the rolling they did. I’ve already forgotten what the point of Coulson having the plane is, because now it just seems like they gave him a toy to keep him out of the way at SHIELD headquarters so nobody accidentally lets it slip to him that HE MIGHT BE A ROBOT….

    And was that ending bit about Skye ogling ManSlab with the x-ray google glasses supposed to be cute? I guess they cut the scene before she made the shocking discovery that he has a solid plastic bump where his genitals should be, like a SuperSpy Ken doll. That I’d believe.

  • voice o. reason

    I keep thinking that this group doesnt have a quarter of the charm of the Buffy Scooby Gang, but I kind of dont really think I know for sure why.
    Maybe I gave their silliness and immaturity a pass because they were teens trying to handle a grown up job. And maybe also because that show was many years ago when I wasnt much older than the characters and the same age as most of the actors, so the characters’ inherent difficulty dealing with each other and their emotions seemed like problems not too far off from where I was at the time. Also maybe because since Buffy was on, the Whedon banter style has been imitated and done into the fucking ground in the interim years, so what seemed cool in 1997 doesnt seem that cool anymore. Or maybe it’s just because all of these fuckers are obnoxious tools who need to grow up and get over themselves. Jesus Christ, act like fucking professional grownups with jobs too do instead of a bunch of high school kids stuck doing a school project together, for fuck’s sake.