Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Finds its Place in the Marvel Universe

3/12/2014 Unknown 0 Comments

Last week, I questioned Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D's ability to put two quality episodes back to back.  They might have finally done that.  There were still issues, mind you, but the story was pushed in a more singular direction, the show feels more a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe than it ever has, and the stakes were raised.  Being 15 episodes in, it's about time.

In this week's episode, Yes Men, my biggest complaint is also one of my favorite parts.  It should have been the episode to follow the release of Thor: The Dark World.  There were more direct tie-in references in the first 10 minutes of this episode were more than the entirety of episode 8: The Well.  The events of episode 15 were also a direct consequence of Thor: The Dark World, whereas episode 8 was just loosely related.

Acting is still lacking Jamie Alexander was solid and Coulson was good as usual, but I've already had to lower my expectations on the acting.  It's serviceable and I'm ok with that.  The action is also still not up to snuff.  There was one particular close combat situation that looks sad when compared to what we've seen of Captain America's elevator fight.

The plot itself wasn't anything extraordinary.  Lorelei was basically a "monster of the week," but fortunately served as an effective vehicle to move the entire plot forward.  Although it was simplistic, it progressed the central story arcs of the show while simultaneously making the story feel closer to the main MCU, something many other episodes have failed to do simultaneously.

All in all, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is the best the series has seen ever since returning from its month long hiatus.  The show has been given an "Uprising" subtitle and the show's promo plugs are hinting at strong ties to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, so hopefully we can see a strong run up through Cap's release on April 4th.

[From here on out I will be spoiling Agent's of S.H.I.E.L.D, Thor: The Dark World, Avengers, and all sorts of other Marvel properties you should have already seen if you are reading this article.]

As I said above, they did a brilliant job tying the episode to the events of Thor: The Dark World.  Lorelei escaping when the Dark Elves destroyed the prison was an excellent tie-in.  That acknowledgment actually improves the whole universe in my mind, because there is no way Algrim was the only person to escape during the Asgard prison riot.

 The diverse plot elements are starting to come together in a more cohesive way.  Centipede, Ian Quinn, and Deathlok have all fallen under the "Clairvoyant" umbrella plot.  Coulson's mystery is still unraveling, but has now been linked to Skye's 0-8-4 plot with the addition of the "what the hell is the blue alien!" plot.  Coulson's search for answers and new disregard for S.H.I.E.L.D. protocol is starting to appear to be a lead in to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, especially now that Fury being off the grid is an actual plot point (also alleviating the "why isn't Fury a bigger part of the show?" question for now).

Considering the Clairvoyant and Coulson also have an identical mission now (finding out how/why he's alive), I'd say that brings every known plot point under a single larger umbrella.  There was also the WTF moment in the closing bit where we find out May has been spying on them the whole time (quite possibly reporting directly to Nick Fury).  There are so many threads, but they are being grouped under larger plot elements that we can now hopefully better follow through the remainder of the season.

There were some good  Coulson moments this episode as well.  He asked Lady Sif about blue aliens, to which she replied with a long list of aliens, including Kree and Frost giant references.  Those are both front runner/fan favorites, so it was cool to see that thrown in.

Coulson is searching for Fury and meets with Agent Sitwell, which was another brilliant bit of MCU cohesion.  Sitwell explains that "Fury is a high-level agent off the grid, you don’t find him unless he wants to find you."  Agent Sitwell asks Coulson how Tahiti was, to which Coulson replies "It Sucked!" before driving off.  One of the only jokes the entire series that has made me laugh out loud.

Sif says she is on a mission, but doesn't provide any details on the state of things in Asgard, suggesting Loki is truly impersonating Odin and causing minimal (apparent mischief).  It was only slightly awkward not seeing Thor.  There was no gaping plot element that suggested he was missing, which was another improvement.

All in all, this episode seemed to serve mostly as a reorganization of plot point, which it accomplished effectively.  Some elements such as the Clairvoyant, Deathlok, Centipede, and etc were only hinted at, but they definitely are still felt looming in the background.

The show is gaining steam.  Can they put 3 good episodes together?  I have more faith in that question than I did last week.  We shall see.

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