Dec 11 2013 2:30pm
Cliff-Hanging Without a Cliff. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “The Bridge”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 1, episode 10: The Bridge

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s “The Bridge” brought us the show’s very first cliffhanger and possibly its worst episode since Echo became a back-up dancer so far. Did anyone else feel like they were being put on hold? Listening to the same jingles over and over, perking up when they stopped, only to hear the same disappointing pre-recorded update?

The plot here is all set-up, and all telegraphed well in advance. Centipede has busted their (leader?) Edison “The Creeper” Po out of prison using three supersoldiers they’ve managed to stabilize. Our agents are all UH OH and recruit Mike Peterson (J. August Richards) from the pilot episode to be their own supersoldier, which is handy for everyone because he’s already training to be a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 1, episode 10: The Bridge

That’s about as far as the agents get in regards to sound, tactical planning. Next thing we know they’ve hunted down Centipede and The Creeper and also Raina The Girl In The Flower Dress to a warehouse, where they proceed to fight three supersoldiers with only one supersoldier and Agent May’s kicking. Coulson does the ONLY smart thing, which is to get a clean shot with their tranquilizer gun, but it doesn’t work. Centipede then stabs Peterson and leaves for no reason.

Or maybe it was because they were overpowered, because it turns out supersoldier punches don’t even give you a mild concussion. Ward nurses his not-bruises with a cold beer and Peterson gets better offscreen and now everyone’s feeling better, yay! Raina then kidnaps Peterson’s adorable little boy ostensibly so they can convince Peterson to come outside and let them know how he’s so stabilized when their own supersoldiers are exhausted after every fight. (The solution, the episode tells us, is to get shot in the head while everyone is looking.)

The agents make the exchange with Raina but in a twist that everyone saw coming it turns out they actually want Coulson. Peterson gets exploded. Ward gets defeated by a cement mixer and then shot. And everyone else literally waits in the car.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 1, episode 10: The Bridge

The episode ends with Raina telling Coulson they’re going to find out how he survived his own death and the team calls S.H.I.E.L.D. to let them know that Centipede has finally done something noteworthy and kidnapped Coulson. In a thrilling cameo, Robert Downey, Jr. says into his phone “Phil needs me. I understand.” turns around and says, “Jarvis. Time to suit up” except he doesn’t because that would be exciting and it would also make more sense than this show does. Because, seriously? I mean, I understand that Coulson’s team is the B-squad and Centipede is a very low-rent threat but Coulson is one of maybe five people on the entire planet who has intimate knowledge of how the Avengers work. If you are S.H.I.E.L.D. you don’t let Centipede-Is-The-Best-Name-We-Could-Come-Up-With kidnap him. You send in Barton, Romanov, Cap, Tony, Thor, anyone else and you sweep the leg, you understand? The knowledge Coulson has just from working with the Avengers is a world-class asset and therefore a world-class threat, so he needs to be kept safe.

Even from Centipede, whose leader isn’t actually called The Creeper I know, but I’m at a loss as to how else he should be defined. He’s ex-Marines and provides tactical strategy and connections to willing supersoldier trial participants, but that doesn’t explain why Centipede takes their orders from him. Did he form the group? If so, why? The only other reason he might be in charge is that he seems to be the only one who can talk to “The Clairvoyant.” But that’s like saying that you’re the only one to whom The Wizard of Oz grants an audience. Watch, I’ll put my socks on my hands and talk to The Clairvoyant right now.

My right hand sock puppet: “Hey Clairvoyant whatcha wanna do today?”

My left hand sock puppet: “I dunno Chris what do you wanna do today?”

Boom. Done. Let’s go kidnap Coulson!

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 1, episode 10: The Bridge

Wouldn’t it have been nice to have been given more information about Centipede’s motives? They’re such a marginal threat that even with Coulson in their clutches and a trio of supersoldiers I’m not all that worried about his fate. Or their fate, for that matter. What if they’re actually trying to accomplish something important? Or something that we viewers might even agree with from a moral standpoint?

Combine this with the wheel-spinning on the show’s other mysteries—Skye’s parents, Coulson’s resurrection—and you understand why this episode was so frustrating. Later, we’ll find things out later, “The Bridge” tells us, but that’s been the show’s mantra from the very start. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s more satisfying episodes at least gave us some tantalizing hints, or some forward progress, about those mysteries. All “The Bridge” gave us is “We want you to tell us about the day after you died.”

You and us both, Centipede. Though if the previous episodes are any indication then Coulson doesn’t actually know. I can’t wait to come back in January for tedious interrogation scenes where Clark Gregg yells that repeatedly!


Other tidbits:

  • “A whole class...on women?” I know, right? It’s only the early 21st century! (Seriously, what the hell was that scene doing in a Whedon show?)
  • Poor Mike Peterson. Only 10 episodes in and he’s already been shot in the head and exploded. Someone in that writing room really must hate him.
  • Agent May is extra baffling in this episode and outwardly antagonistic towards her teammates. That would have made sense in the beginning of the show but after the events of the preceding episode it’s now just weird. Not that I expect her to be effusively joyous or anything, but we know she at least tolerates Skye by this point.
  • Hey Ward, maybe don’t position yourself where the drop-off point is blocked from view? Also, for future reference, when the bad guys start hauling your boss away and walk straight through your crosshairs, you can feel free to take the shot.
  • Yes, even if May says they’ll kill Coulson if you do. A big hunky Fizzlebeef like yourself could probably shoot down two people before they even realized what was happening.
  • I’m starting to really dislike Fitz. It feels like every time we see him he’s just being needlessly critical of Simmons. Let her be happy about nerd things!
  • The preview for the next episode looks really exciting, actually. It looks like the agents do in fact try to bring in some heavier hitters to save Coulson, and it also looks like the team will be without him for a little while. Watching the agents try to cohere without their leader should be interesting.

  • We’re also promised the answer to Coulson’s death. Centipede’s “Clairvoyant” must actually be an off the radar psychic then. Time to plunge into Coulson’s mindscape! I bet it’s full of vintage toys.
  • See you in January!

Chris Lough really needs this break from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. He hasn’t felt this let down since Torchwood: Miracle Day.

1. cheem
Yes, I think the series will sink or swim in the episodes without Coulson. It's going to be a pretty heavy lift because, aside from May, the characters are flat and boring (and I'm being generous to Lunge Squatthrust by giving him two dimensions to work with).
2. Michael Ezell
Yeah... I keep watching, but it just keeps frustrating me. Ward is a bad-ass field agent, and apparently, a sniper. Yet, he chooses the world's worst vantage point for his shot.

Then he doesn't take a peek in the helicopter with his night scope so he can see the machinegunner getting ready to take him out?

And... no one puts a watch on Mike's kid now that he's a valuable SHIELD agent/asset? Seriously? At the very least, he should get Witness Protection type security for his family, since that's the easiest way to get to him.

Take writers who usually write Buffy the Vampre Slayer type shows and ask them to take into account real-world tactics... and you get a cement truck between the sniper and the meeting place.

Nate the great
3. thDigitalReader
I might not be the first to say this, but I bet that May was difficult with Skye becasue she is skye's mother. May feels guilty over abandoning her child.

@2 It's not just that Perterson is a SHield agent; he's on the Index. That alone is a reason to protect the child just because we don't want a villian to grab the kid and control the superpowered dad.

Ideally SHIELD should have pulled strings to get the kid into a boarding school for high risk targets where he could be surrounded by the school's (AKA SHIELD's) security.
Rich Bennett
4. Neuralnet
I really want to like this show, but so far it hasnt become something I NEED to see each week. Heres hoping that it will stay on the air long enough to get better.
5. wandering-dreamer
Thank goodness I wasn't the only one who felt like May was a bit off, especially with Skye visiting her/her pranking one of the sciene people (still can't keep their names straight), she was just a bit too angry to me.

Also, I feel like this show is setting things up so that one of the group (Ward, May, or Skye) becomes "the next Coulson" and that's the only reason why SHIELD revived him because you're right, he does get the Avengers so much, and seems to adjust weirdly well to this strange new world, that he's now too valuable to risk losing again. Yet this theory doesn't seem to hold water since I can't see any of those three, except maybe May, growing into that kind of role ATM.
Sky Thibedeau
5. SkylarkThibedeau
I too have a weird May is Skye's Mother and Coulson is Dad vibe.
6. CraigMoynes
I actually enjoyed this episode, I guess I am in the minority.

I thought May's reaction to Coulson essentially throwing her under the bus with Skye was interesting. Coulson knows May is a 'by-the-book/need to know' kind-a-gal, but perhaps he thought this might help open her up a little. If that was his reasoning it really backfired. May is just trying to protect Skye in her own way. Let the past stay in the past - no good can come from it, seems to be her M.O.

The reveal that these soldiers have more than one device was interesting, but their power didn't seem to be any greater than Petersons.

The fight scene doesn't make a lot of sense. The supersoldiers can push around empty cargo containers, but they don't manage to do any real damage with their punches to our heroes. This should have been given a little more attention, showing our heroes much more busted up, getting some advanced medical attention. That could even have been used to explain how off the team was afterwards, particularly Wards piss-poor sniper placement.

That said they revealed that all the mysterious big bads they have been fighting are one enemy, and someone with a huge budget. They teased out a little more of the clairvoyant, and set up the pecking order.

I think they have not only set up the second half of the season, but also set up second season, if not beyond. Big Baddies that last more than that don't really work overall, you need to evolve the characters (ie. Buffy, or Fringe).
Brian R
7. Mayhem
To be honest I've almost given up on Agents of Shield in favour of Almost Human for my scifi hit each week.
The writing quality alone is far superior so far, let alone the acting abilities of the leads. I'm actually surprised there hasn't been any comment from Tor on it yet, I'm really enjoying the show and it has a nice future vibe without hitting the usual cliches too hard.
Liz J
8. Ellisande
They really should've had the entire writer's room sit down and watch the first season of Alias (or Covert Affairs, or Nikita, or Strike Back...). They're trying to do this international spy/action show (cuz let's be honest that's what it is, with a bit of a Marvel gloss), but I feel like they're still trying to write Buffy/Angel. That's why they occasionally forget these characters aren't inexperienced teens trying to defend Sunnydale alone, but actually highly trained operatives with the backing of a powerful international organization.

This is why, IMO, it's been a mistake to be so slow about dragging in HYDRA or AIM (assuming Centipede is connected to one of those, and if it's not I'm gonna want to know why), because they need a villain as powerful as they are, or they basically come off as either bullies with all their gear, or pathetically incompetent if some small time goon takes them out. Arrow put the Deathstroke mask in its pilot to tell fans that was coming - MAoS should have done the same with AIM, especially since they're using extremis from IM3 anyway. They're still playing so coy with the 'secrets' as if the secrets are the story, instead of the story being in the revelation and aftermath. So maddening.
Chris Nelly
10. Aeryl
May as Mom is a red herring, we know Skye's mother is dead, we saw the photos.

Don't forget, May's second encounter with Skye, the one that sent her crying, was RIGHT WHEN May thought she might be BUSTED in re Ward, so I can understand why she was snappish. She was vulnerable, and almost let out the truth.

Nice moment where Coulson went to go to Skye, and then decided it wasn't worth it. I almost expected Petersen to pop up and point out for a team so set on helping people, they really do a bad job of helping each other.

The show has done a good job of getting me on Skye's side, but then I've never had the irrational hatred a lot of people seem to have towards her. At this time, she's got Ward keeping her at a distance just as they were getting close, because he's worried about May. Coulson is just NOT DOWN with her touchy feely way of working through things that makes her such an asset(who was the first one out of the van and into danger? Wasn't May). May is terrified of her and her intuituve empathy, and FitzSimmons go out of their way to make sure she knows she's excluded.

Fitz is OBVS still pining for Simmons, so that's why the snark. He saw her getting all googly for Petersen. Simmons is OBVS still pining for Fitz and determined to hide it. But I think it's also her inexperience showing, she gets googly around all the guys, Coulson being the exception.

May's running around this episode like she might crack, because she's opening up again and it's scaring her.

As far as Coulson's TOO IMPORTANT TO RISK. Nick Fury trusts him AND knows that Coulson won't break. He ain't worried. Just an episode before this, they did the same scheme, allowing Coulson to be taken prisoner to get intel. He's been locked him in a room with Gravitron, he stood toe to toe with the Destroyer and faced down the God of Mischief. He's GOT THIS.

The bankroller of all this is OBVS that guy from Malta, and he's going to get another crack at turning Skye.

I get the comic fan desire to tie in greater to the comics, but for someone like me, who's only ever done the MCU, AIM is pretty obscure reference most people aren't going to connect with IM3, at least not without a face from that movie, and people like me are still the target audience for this, IMO. So I think the show has to make Centipede stand on it's own, seperate from the movie mythology. While the movie plots may affect the show, we all know the reverse will not be true. So if they plan on using AIM anymore in the MCU(and don't forget Tony plays into the creation of Ultron, so it could start with AIM tech left behind from IM3), they can't allow it to develop outside the theater. I am excited about the eye development though, hope it means more Akeela. I also don't think Mike died, he was blown clear and survived, calling it now.

Also this:

"In a thrilling cameo, Robert Downey, Jr. says into his phone “Phil needs me. I understand.” turns around and says, “Jarvis. Time to suit up”except he doesn’t because that would be exciting"

No he doesn't because it would have been prohibitively expensive, and would have required recasting all the background agents in suits from The Hub with paper suits glued to popsicle sticks. I didn't jump on the "new reviewer" bandwagon last week, and I'm not say that now either, but this is an absolutely ridiculous piece of criticism. I know it's supposed to be a joke, but considering you spent less than three paragraphs talking about the actual action of the episode, SRSLY?

I completely agree with the complaints about Ward's sniper position, they should have found a better way to keep him out of play. Skye should totally have been using the Lip Reading thingy from the beginning of the episode, to discover Raina's plan when she SPELLED IT OUT WHILE FACING THE VAN.

The plot movement was a bit rote, but it moved forward fast, and it's promising resolution to Coulson's mystery, which I'm looking forward to. It's also promising a return of Victoria Hand which is always bonus, she'll come back and reverse psychology all of them into doing what she wants, using the techniques learned at the Nick Fury School of Clandestine Management.

Raina's promisingly creepy and still alive. The Clairvoyant had better be BIG though. I think it likely, it's an actual psychic, but it's someone Poe's got chained up somehow. But by being mysterious about it, he's got Centipede convinced it's a BAD SCARY DUDE, and the guy he killed found out the truth.
11. Bytowner
Now imagining an actual Nicholas Fury School of Clandestine Management. :-)

Also, these guys are not Loki and the Chitauri. They want to play in that league, sure, but they're not there yet. And whoever's leading the Big Bad maybe - if it's Ian Quinn - thinks he's got a chance at turning not only Skye, but Coulson with her. If it's not Quinn, then Coulson's loyalty might be a prize worth aiming for in its own right.

Helping Coulson get his full memory back might be the key to getting that prize.

Or it could backfire...
Jenny Thrash
12. Sihaya
Hey, when do we start comparing the Centipede serum to Mirakuru?
13. J Town
There is more and more of a disconnect between the show that I'm watching and the one being reviewed here. Because it really is getting to be less of a recap, since everything annoys the author. I like the show. Not all shows are for everyone, clearly, but it's gotten to the point where it's almost impossible to tell from this column what actually happened on the show versus what someone else wanted to happen.

The worst episode thus far? Really??? The show is young. It's not going to tell you everything immediately. We don't know who's in charge of Centipede, we don't know what Coulson's deal is, we don't know what's up with the Clairvoyant and THAT'S OK. If we knew everything, why watch the show? But if they do tell us something, it's always "I totally knew that already and so did everyone else." Which is it? Too obvious or too obscure? Because it surely isn't both.

The reviewer has no trust in this show, so everything is going to be filtered through a pessimistic lens. It may work for some, but to me it almost misrepresents the show that actually airs on Tuesdays. I'll keep watching the show, but not these reviews.
Tom Smith
14. phuzz
For some reason I thought htere was only ten episodes, and this ep was the end of season clifhanger.
Now I know there are two more, I feel happy, so I guess that means I'm enjoying AoS. It's not the best thing ever, but maybe it'll get better.
Chris Nelly
15. Aeryl
ABC ordered another back 9, so there will be a full season. They are just on midseason break until January.
John Adams
16. JohnArkansawyer
This review is so wrong-headed it makes my head spin.
Coulson does the ONLY smart thing, which is to get a clean shot with their tranquilizer gun, but it doesn’t work.
How did you miss a rather obvious flaw in a generally good episode? Another smart thing would have been for Coulson, Ward, and Maye to go in armed with lethal weapons. We know from this episode that Peterson needs armor, so the team knows it about their opponents, too.
The agents make the exchange with Raina but in a twist that everyone saw coming it turns out they actually want Coulson.
Oh, really? Perhaps I'm slow, but that part surprised me.
And everyone else literally waits in the car.
Funny, I seem to recall them getting out of the vehicle. Sorry to be so literal about your use of "literally".
I mean, I understand that Coulson’s team is the B-squad and Centipede is a very low-rent threat
Let's add this up. Authorized by Nick Fury, given all sorts of resources, allowed to violate all sorts of procedures. Yep, that's the B-squad.

And what exactly makes Centipede a low-rent threat? They've been succeeding at most of what they do and they're getting better. Note also that their knowledge of Coulson's death and revival means they've got a mole inside SHIELD.
He’s ex-Marines and provides tactical strategy and connections to willing supersoldier trial participants, but that doesn’t explain why Centipede takes their orders from him.
Perhaps I'm just using common sense here, but I'd say it's because their boss hired him and put him in charge.
“A whole class...on women?” I know, right? It’s only the early 21st century! (Seriously, what the hell was that scene doing in a Whedon show?)
Here's what: It was telling us that the macho guy and the old guy have some backwards attitudes. (And advancing a plot point.)
Agent May is extra baffling in this episode and outwardly antagonistic towards her teammates. That would have made sense in the beginning of the show but after the events of the preceding episode it’s now just weird.
Aeryl covers this nicely up there in comment ten.
Hey Ward, maybe don’t position yourself where the drop-off point is blocked from view? Also, for future reference, when the bad guys start hauling your boss away and walk straight through your crosshairs, you can feel free to take the shot.
Dear Agent Ward: Next time, be sure to have the fight on your own turf. That way, you can't be forced into a sniper position that isn't useful.

Oh, and also remember to ignore the orders of the people directing your fire. After all, if you'd only done that in the pilot episode and killed Peterson, we wouldn't be having this discussion now, would we? Case closed.
I’m starting to really dislike Fitz. It feels like every time we see him he’s just being needlessly critical of Simmons.
He's not critical, he's young and inexperienced and jealous. Aeryl hits this spot on, too.

You need to elevate your critical game. You're mistaking virtues for flaws and missing actual flaws. For instance: Why bring a machine gun when two small air-to-ground missles would have taken out the whole team? There are other flaws in this very good episode.

Fewer, I think, than in your not very good review.
Bridget McGovern
18. BMcGovern
Stepping in as moderator for a moment: as always, feel free to disagree with the post and the opinions expressed therein, but personal attacks on the reviewer will not be tolerated, here or anywhere else on the site. Let's keep the discussion of the show calm, civil, and polite.
Jack Flynn
19. JackofMidworld
I haven't actually read any of the other reviews (will rectify that shortly, I promise) but I enjoyed this episode more than others. I tend to fill logic gaps myself, (maybe those super suits - and yeah, I kept hearing 'Woman, where is my super suit?!?' in my head when they were showing it to Mike - have kinetic energy dampeners and they all wear them under their suits?), which makes it a easier to deal with some issues, but even if Phil had known he was getting 'betrayed' there's no way he wouldn't have done it, anyway, right?

And other opinions regarding other random points, in no specific order:

I got the impression that the Creeper was more of a tool than an actual leader, a way to reach the Clairvoyant. Gives him plenty of power but not necessarily being used for his tactics or leadership abilities.

I thought May was being more antagonistic than normal because she had become more emotionally attached to Ward and didn't like it, so she was taking it out on the people who are always more emotional.

I also took Fitz's attitude as based on jealousy more than anything else. He's spent the last several episodes getting more confident around Ward (and himself, for that matter) and now here's some other guy that Simmons is paying attention to and he has to start from scratch again (he never really struck me as a 'social' character, much more 'intelligence').
Jenny Thrash
20. Sihaya
I have to admit that I'm kind of going the way of some other commenters - I like the show, and I liked this episode. Ward and Coulson made sense in the car, as men with the sorts of backgrounds that they have. Peterson makes sense as an agent, because there's not much else that SHIELD can get him to be, and he's a potential asset for sure. Not imprisoning/protecting his son in a "boarding school" is probably the best way to get him to cooperate. The crew stayed in the van because they were under 1) Coulson's orders and 2) the impression that they'd need to follow in a hurry. Ward's position was amazingly terrible. May's attitude towards Skye was disasterous, but in character. It was a reactionary response rather than a reasoned one, and she realized it even as it flew out of her mouth. Fitz makes sense, too, as he and Simmons are the two least worldly of the bunch.

Everybody at Centipede answers to the Creeper because that's what they've been told to do. But I agree that he probably is the Clairvoyant, or his alter ego. He doesn't like to be touched, after all.

Taking bets on how soon Peterson comes back from the dead ...
21. Louise Stubblefield
I think Skye is the child whose hand May was holding when she became the cavalry. I think May killed both of Shye's parents.
Chris Nelly
22. Aeryl
Jack Flynn
23. JackofMidworld
21 may be on to something. Would explain quite a little bit...
24. Colin R
Sooo, I know that this is a television show with a television budget, but if they want this to be a successful tie-in to the movie franchise they kind of have to try harder to make this all look good. I don't hate this show, but it doesn't feel like it has anything to do with the movies.

It's not like Joss Whedon doesn't know how to be creative--he made sure in Firefly that there were no aliens, everyone dressed like cowboys, and the planetary sets looked like leftovers from old Westerns, so that he could spend the budget on the spaceship and other special effects rather than on costuming. People have been doing science fictiony shows for decades, but it feels like the people running this show are still figuring it all out for the first time.
Steven Halter
25. stevenhalter
I enjoyed this episode. It had action. It brought back a character from the first episode. I thought it deepened Skye and May's characters and left us with a cliff hanger. Seemed like an improvement to me.
26. Bytowner
Doubting that Peterson's dead. Healing factor, probably slower than a pure-Extremis user, but it still works as established earlier in the episode.
Chris Nelly
27. Aeryl
@26, Yes, in IM3 you saw that woman survive an explosion and walk away. Hell the explosion probably helped, having watched how the healing works.
James Nicoll
28. James Davis Nicoll
It's not like Joss Whedon doesn't know how to be creative--

I don't get the impression he has much to do with this show, though. Not writing, not directing.

he made sure in Firefly that there were no aliens, everyone dressed like cowboys, and the planetary sets looked like leftovers from old Westerns, so that he could spend the budget on the spaceship and other special effects rather than on costuming.

Yeah, about that:

October 1950, for anyone not up on their SF magazines.
29. Kateran
"If you are S.H.I.E.L.D. you don’t let Centipede-Is-The-Best-Name-We-Could-Come-Up-With kidnap him. You send in Barton, Romanov, Cap, Tony, Thor, anyone else and you sweep the leg, you understand?"

I think that, combined with what Colin R. says above, is my major issue so far. The reason anyone feels the joking need for RDJ to make a cameo is that SHIELD doesn't often FEEL like the real SHIELD on this show. It's not budget, it's writing. I couldn't believe that Ward let something block his shot, and that he didn't shoot as they were dragging Coulson away. It's lazy writing; the obstacle needs to be more unexpected.

I keep enjoying the show, on a certain level, and I keep watching. But it could be much better.

Loving Chris Lough's recaps; you always make me laugh!
Chris Nelly
30. Aeryl
Have you seen the movies?

These are the people who LET THOR GO, after he ripped through one of their facilities.

Pepper Potts went to SHIELD with Coulson, told them, "My boss has built the deadliest weapon ever and his partner knows and is trying to steal it" and SHIELD sent three people with them.

They did not even bother to make sure the ballgame on the radio took place AFTER Rogers' crash.

They let Banner go after he BROKE HARLEM.

SHIELD has ALWAYS played fast and loose with the possible consequences of their actions. Why would the show be ANY different?
31. Colin R
When I said 'creative' I meant creative in the logistical sense of making a teleivision show--obviously cowboys in space isn't that novel an idea. But running a television show, particularly a fantasy or science fiction show, is always about managing time and money. They have limited budgets to work with and only so much time to crank out 20+ hours of television. So, you have to pick your battles.

I have no doubt in my mind that while Joss Whedon thought that cowboys in space was a fun idea to work with, he was also savvy enough to know that by raiding a bunch of western sets and wardrobes, and by vetoing aliens, he could save a ton of money and time spent on makeup and weird sets, and spend it elsewhere. More time to spent finessing dialogue and scenes, more budget to spend making spaceships that look good and stuff.

Somehow it feels like they haven't really figured out what they want this show to look like. The comment about Peterson's super-suit looking like a garbage bag is cruel but fair--what, they didn't have some leftover concepts for Hawkeye that they could have raided? It's like no one is putting any thought into this, and I don't know why--this should be a big deal to everyone making it. They don't have to have superheroes flying all over the place, but they have to have something that makes it feel like it's in the same universe as Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America.
Chris Nelly
32. Aeryl
To an extent I can agree. SRSLY, I just watched some Stargate Ark of Truth last week, and the costuming looked better on that.

At the same time, while Jed & Mo have worked on shows like Dollhouse and Spartacus, this is their first foray into showrunning, where this ultimate responsibility rests, and I have faith for the moment that they will get there, aesthetically speaking.

I also wanted to say that I do enjoy Chris' reviews, they are funny, and offer me a different perspective. I was just making the point that humor can detract from criticism as well as add to it.

I see the seeds of a good show here, the production and effects look good, it's formulaic, but surprising in that formula, like Ward and May hooking up after the "OBVS" telegraphing of Skye/Ward. I'm interested still in seeing where it can go.
Alan Brown
33. AlanBrown
I am glad that the show decided to pull some plot threads together, and make some dramatic moves. Because I am starting to fear that if it doesn't do something to shake things up, it will not last into a second season. And that would be too bad, because there is a lot I like about the show, even though it hasn't all gelled quite yet.
Things I would like to see:
1) A little more attention to real spycraft and special ops tactics. I don't need total realism, but a little more grittiness, and attention to detail, could go a long way.
2) A little more maturity in the characters. Things like Skye running to her room to cry, and the sibling-like relationship of FitzSimmons, feels a bit childish to me.
3) A little more motion in the story arc. I welcome the big developments that occurred in this episode, more like that would be welcome.
4) A few more characters. They show ground crew in some scenes, which is good, but I would like to see a few more folks on the team--it is a little too small to feel real. An air crew, including a pilot and copilot, and a few muscle guys, would be nice. They don't need to have big parts, or even a lot of lines, but some additional characters would be nice.
5) Better costumes. I don't need the splashiness and color that worked on the comic pages (and probably wouldn't work on TV), but the black on black blandness of the costumes on this show leave a LOT to be desired.
34. tigeraid
Far, far too much nitpicking for what was a decent episode.

I will say that Ward positioning himself in a horrible place was irrepairably dumb. But other than that, the episode was fine. As for him not taking the shot, these ARE super-humans who can take a bullet without dying, and there are TWO of them. Ward shoots one, he falls, the second guy immediately grabs Coulson's neck and snaps it like a twig. Yeah, I wouldn't have taken the shot either.

As for the fight in the warehouse, I recall hearing them say something about not taking heavy weapons because there were normal civilians in the facility they didn't want to hit. Which was kind of a vague excuse, for what it's worth.
John C. Bunnell
35. JohnCBunnell
A plot point that I don't think anyone's noted yet: the fight in the warehouse goes down the way it does because the three Centipede supersoldiers were ordered to throw it.

We know from the prior conversation between Rayna and Po that "stop running" was the new Centipede strategy. So Centipede laid its trail of breadcrumbs for Our Heroes to follow. They were ready for the approach Ward & Coulson made to their man's sister. They expected S.H.I.E.L.D. to trace the brother's cellphone to the California warehouse. They expected Coulson's team to show up at that warehouse, which was why they had moved out long beforehand and left goons in crates to spring out and ambush Our Heroes -- but the point of that fight was not to take down Coulson's team, it was to (a) assess Mike Peterson's powers and (b) lay the groundwork for the supposed father/son exchange designed to nab Coulson. (It seems likely to me that they also scored Peterson, since he's Po's "key to Stage 3", but we'll save that one for later.)

In fact, what this is more than anything else is an elaborate callback to the 1960s Batman series -- in particular, the warehouse fight is a nearly perfect recreation of a Batbrawl from that era. But this episode puts one key twist on the formula that keeps it from looking too much like Bat-shtick.

The twist is this: Coulson's team doesn't know that Centipede's intel is as good as it is. They don't realize that their team has been specifically "made" as the group responsible for blowing both of Rayna's prior operations. Which is why Our Heroes are (mostly, at least) not expecting the twist that the hostage exchange is going to involve Coulson personally.

I say "mostly" because I think Coulson knew exactly how the exchange was going to go down. His dialogue with Mike on the bridge is chock-full of undercurrent, in a way that strongly implies an offscreen conversation in which Mike told Coulson all about what Rayna's demands really were. In turn, that lays groundwork for Coulson's deliberate choice to run the exchange anyway -- it fits with the sacrifice plays Coulson's made earlier in the season, and with the promise he made to Mike about rescuing his son.

That scenario also offers an explanation for Ward's awful sniper positioning. If we assume that (a) Coulson was choreographing the whole setup on his end, and (b) he deliberately didn't tell his team he was running a sacrifice play, then he could easily have placed Ward where he did to prevent Ward from scotching the game by taking a shot too soon.

All of which is structurally about right for an episode specifically positioned as a cliffhanger. Which is, come to think of it, also a Batman touch....
Jack Flynn
36. JackofMidworld
JohnCBunnell - Wow...that puts one helluva different spin on things, don't it?
John C. Bunnell
37. JohnCBunnell
@36: Indeed it does. What it shows -- or rather, reinforces -- is that the Centipede operation is run by competent villains, who are a relatively rare species in this sort of action/adventure milieu.

And it's not that Coulson's team is's that Centipede is controlling the flow of the action. If Our Heroes had had time to do a proper debrief on that warehouse Batbrawl, they'd have realized very quickly that Centipede was playing them. But they didn't get that time, because they were distracted by Rayna's abduction of Peterson's son. (Which is a significant plot point in itself, because it shows again how good the enemy's intel is -- strongly implying that Centipede does indeed have people inside S.H.I.E.L.D.)

All of which gives a pretty clear indication of how the back half of this arc should go down. Once Our Heroes are given just a bit of breathing space, they will almost certainly realize how thoroughly they've been played -- both by Centipede at the warehouse, and by Coulson at the exchange. They should also realize at that point that the S.H.I.E.L.D. infrastructure is compromised, such that they're likely to be pretty much on their own as far as mounting a recovery op is concerned. And mounting that op will be the catalyst that finally allows the characters to bond into a truly effective team.
Pernilla Leijonhufvud
38. Therru
@JohnCBunnell @37: This makes a lot of sense. I'm also thinking of how Coulson's team has been set up as sort of semi-rogue -- they don't always do things by the book, he doesn't always follow orders etc, which positions them as the only true opposition IF the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been compromised. I'm going to be disappointed if none of this turns out to be the case!

I do feel that too little is happening in this show. A number of recent shows have really broken the mold with how they do plotlines more or less at break-neck speed, regardless of what other flaws or virtues the shows might have. Like for instance The Vampire Diaries, in which a plotline that might have taken an entire season in another show is dealt with over the course of a few episodes, or even a single one, with unexpected twists at every turn. Sleepy Hollow is doing a bit of that too, on good days. I really want to like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. , but it's just not... catchy enough. The characters are too flat, the plots too slow and too thin, the season arc too vague. It ends up being mostly Adventure of the Week and not in a very engaging way -- certainly not in a way I would have expected from Whedon &Co.
John C. Bunnell
39. JohnCBunnell
A quick side comment on the general issues some readers have raised about the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. recap/review posts: I think there are legitimate grounds for concern.

Specifically, as I look back at this series of episode recap/reviews vs. others on the site, what I see in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. posts is that the recap element often gets short shrift by comparison to the commentary and review component -- sometimes to the point that it isn't possible to extract a clear recap of the episode from the post as a whole.

It may not be necessary or appropriate to recap these episodes as thoroughly as, say, KRAD does in his excellent Star Trek rewatch posts. But I think readers' perceptions of bias in the present material would be largely defused if the posts included somewhat more straightforward recapping than has been the case to this point.
Jack Flynn
40. JackofMidworld
The squad's already proven that they can run an op without SHIELD HQ support or authorization (when Ward and Fitz were left without an actual exit strategy). A couple of episodes where HQ refuses to let them look for Coulson and then them realizing they're being played and going rogue to rescue him is what I'm thinking.
41. King of Flames
Mostly what I'm getting from this is that the show's producers have been tasked with creating a shadowy organisation in a benevolent role, but can't really bring themselves to do it, so instead we're getting plots of 'oh, mainstream SHIELd is evil, but these specific six people are the ok branch.' Funny if this results in the team keeping secrets from SHIELD with all the complaining about kept secrets. I'll be disappointed if the gang does go rogue.

One thing I like about Centipede is that they have limited resources. Losing the lab Scorch was sent to hurt, and now the best they can do for lab facilities is random empty warehouses. They have exactly three supersoldiers, two now, and they are only useful short term, so they have to use limited resources well.

You send in Barton, Romanov, Cap, Tony, Thor, anyone else and you sweep the leg[/i], you understand?

Em, no. You don't. Thev Avengers think Phil is dead, and his death was used in a motivational speech by Nick Fury. That's the entire reason Phil had to abandon his cellist, if the avengers find out he's alive, they have no reason to believe anything SHIELD tells them ever again.
Chris Nelly
42. Aeryl
@JohnCBunnell, I considered that CENTIPEDE threw that warehouse fight, but at the time, they didn't know they needed Coulson, so I disregarded it.

If AT THE TIME they had no clue they needed Coulson(or Peterson, the "key to Phase 3 line comes AFTER the fight), why did they pull their team? It works out, cuz the writers KNEW they needed Coulson, but there isn't a conceivable way for the characters to know it, which is why I think it's bad writing.

Now, I do believe that going in Coulson knew what was down, that's why he has his team in the WORST POSSIBLE PLACES.
Rob Rater
43. Quasarmodo
I can't buy that Coulson put Ward in that awful sniper position on purpose, because Ward would've been railing about his position, and they would've specifically had a line from Coulson telling Ward to hold his position, to give a reason why Ward did not, in fact, try to find a better vantage point.

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