There may be an “I” in S.H.I.E.L.D. — as well as a whole bunch of other letters followed by periods that are annoying to repeatedly type — but everyone learns in second grade soccer that there isn’t one in team. Well, we all learned it, but it took a gamma-radiation fueled laser and a plane explosion for the brilliant minds (and egos) on the S.H.I.E.L.D. team to pick it up.
S.H.I.E.L.D.’s second episode, “0-8-4”, may have been a bit on the nose with the ragtag gang of brilliant misfits team-building stuff, but it was still very enjoyable. It also mirrored The Avengers in a sense, since much of the humor in the first film derived from a room full of people (and, again, egos) who normally would have absolutely no reason to be together, being together. It worked very well in Avengers, but that’s to be expected when you have charming, inherently likable dudes like Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Hemsworth (swoon) leading the way.
Obviously, none of these people are a Downey or a Hemsworth. Not many of us are. But watching the growing chemistry between Ward and Skye — chemistry that will certainly be challenged when he discovers that she’s a freaking double agent — as well as Fitzsimmons’ understandable reverence for Agent May was a lot of fun. (Heck, I’ll just come out and say it — I’m already shipping Sward.)
Also, Samuel L. Jackson was there! Let's dig in.
As we heard in the final moments of last week’s pilot, this week was all about an 0-8-4. An 0-8-4, according to Coulson, “means we don’t know what that means.” Helpful!
Basically, when an object is found that is super cool, a S.H.I.E.L.D. team goes in to determine whether or not said object poses a threat. Coulson pointed out that Skye herself was metaphorically an 0-8-4, since she has proven herself to be a very talented hacker with ambiguous motives and annoying truther tendencies (I may have added that last part). He also pointed out that their last major 0-8-4 find was the Hammer of Thor. (This was a very Avengers reference heavy episode. Coulson also compared Skye to Tony Stark, as both were technically S.H.I.E.L.D. consultants.)
So The Avengers Coulson’s controversial new S.H.I.E.L.D. team assembled, and we got a much closer look at what I’m guessing will become S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Serenity/Dollhouse/Sunnydale High School Library — or in non Whedon fan terms, their Scooby-Van.
In an upgrade from everything else I just mentioned but a serious downgrade from the crazy, invisible mega-jet from Avengers, the S.H.I.E.L.D. Scooby-Van is a hella-sleek private plane — a gift from Nick Fury after Coulson allowed himself to be stabbed with a Chitauri Scepter as an Avenger team-building exercise. Agent Fitz calls it “The Bus.” Most of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s action tonight revolved around saving The Bus (and each other), but we’ll get to that in a second. First, we must venture to Peru.
Down in Peru, Coulson and co. found two objects of note. The first, in yet another Avengers tie-in, was the 0-8-4 itself — a weapon fueled by the same tesseract technology that the HYDRA baddies used in Captain America. Super serious, majorly explosive stuff, and definitely not something you’d want to carry on an airplane without further examination.
But this is exactly what the S.H.I.E.L.D. guys did, since their peaceful journey to Peru was quickly interrupted by object of note number two, Camilla Reyes. Camilla is a captain in the Peruvian army — as well an ex-flame of Coulson’s — and right after she and her team arrived, a band of rebels opened fire. This led to some explosive bickering between Ward, Fitz, and Simmons, until Ward made the gametime decision to bring the 0-8-4 back on The Bus.
After this “failed” mission, most of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team was fuming. Ward, for his part, had already stated loud and clear that he was a one-man show, and didn’t want to work with non-combat trained nerds like Fitzsimmons and Skye. (ASIDE: The Whedon-esque quote of the week goes to Ward, with his “That’s exactly what I’m imagining during this frown” bit.) The still oh-so-mysterious Agent May was also pissed, because Coulson had promised her a combat-free mission, and he clearly did not deliver.
Basically, no one but the all-knowing Coulson wanted to be there with anyone else, and poor Skye was (understandably) beginning to question the validity of this S.H.I.E.L.D. organization as a whole. The whole group was in shambles, until they encountered the one thing that could bring them all together: a common enemy.
See, Camilla and her militiamen had made it safely on the plane as well, only they weren’t super great at hiding the fact that they were there on a mission. (Who doesn’t drink free booze on a private plane?! Hell, like I would know.)
After a brief conversation with Skye that contained more chemistry than Sunday’s finale of Breaking Bad, Ward noticed that none of the men had touched their drinks. Meanwhile, Coulson realized that Camilla was coming on to him pretty strong, and the Camilla he had known back in the day was a demure young thing with values. In a moment of sheer badassery, Coulson sneered: “I think Ward already knows you’ll have to eliminate May from the equation to have a chance, which gives him about 20 seconds to get to her first.”
Camilla’s men did successfully knock out pilot May and seize control of The Bus, but after several minutes of nail-biting action they were defeated in their plot to steal the weapon by the sheer power of teamwork. (ASIDE: The dialogue during the whole thing bordered on cheesy — a lot of Aristotelian “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” stuff was really hammered in. Like, we get it. You all have your individual strengths and you’re going to need to rely on each other despite your differences if you want to succeed. That’s great. We just didn’t really need to see all of you having your personal hallelujah moments with this information, at least not so damn tritely. I mean, you literally tied yourselves together at one point. I half expected you to put all hands in.)
Anyway, I’m done complaining, mostly because May was freaking awesome during this sequence. While the rest of the chuckleheads being held captive (Ward, Fitzsimmons, and Skye) figured out how to best organize the sum of their parts for the greater good, May dislocated her own wrist, un-cuffed herself, took out their captors, then popped the thing back in. Radical!
We (and Fitzsimmons) learned from Ward that May was a bit of a legend back in her active duty days, and had even earned herself a Heisenberg-esque nickname, “The Cavalry.” She now claims to hate the nickname (and, presumably, her reputation), but that’s about all that we learned about her tonight. (Besides the fact that she won’t carry a gun, but that sort of goes hand in hand with what we already knew.)
Despite May’s stellar performance, the MVP of the night was probably Skye. She proved her worth when she used the evil alien laser gun to blow a hole through the plane, then covered it up with an inflatable lifeboat once the bad guys had been sucked through. (“I read the safety pamphlet!”) Coulson was proud of her, Ward was ready to be her Supervising Officer in and out of the bedroom, and the rest of the gang seemed happy to enjoy a celebratory beer with her after all was said and done.
There was only one problem: Skye is still working for Rising Tide! Now, we don’t exactly know who the Rising Tide folks are, or even what they do. But we do know that Skye shouldn’t be texting them whilst enjoying a Heinekin on The Bus with her new best friends. Rude.
This being the Marvel universe, we knew it was only a matter of time before the King of the Epilogues himself, Nick Fury, showed up to yell about things. “It had a bar!” he said to Coulson, referring to the mutilated Bus. “A really nice one!” (ASIDE: This was undoubtedly another attempt to draw in some of The Avengers’ big-screen audience, but who cares? Samuel L. Jackson and his eye-patch are welcome on my TV any time they fancy.)
Fury ultimately gave Coulson the budget to fix The Bus, which was basically his way of telling Coulson that he approved of his judgment, and therefore his ragtag team of misfits. (Just not the fish tank. Sorry, Agent Fitz. Kanye you are not.)
And there you have it. The small-screen S.H.I.E.L.D. team is coming together nicely, even if one of them just so happens to be a dirty, manipulative traitor. I’m going to mark this episode in the “win” column, since it’s only week two and I already have four characters — Coulson, the mysterious May, the likable Skye, and the extremely sexy Ward — that I’m rooting for. I’d bet on a few more “team-building via case-of-the-week” episodes in the near future, but now that the awkward introductions are all out of the way, hopefully the growing pains will be far less painful.
What did you think of the episode, S.H.I.E.L.D fans? Sound off in the comments!