Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. takes another step forward this week as the team begins to solidify and the first of (hopefully) many supervillains emerges. The nods to the MCU feel less like blows to the head and more like passing references, loyalties come into focus, and trust begins to permeate the Bus in this week’s episode, The Asset.
What Goes Up…
Last week we saw Skye beginning to develop a rapport with Agent Ward, the resident boy scout. To further both their relationship and Skye’s training as an agent, Ward puts her to work on the heavy bag and teaches some basic self-defense. These, of course, turn into therapy sessions as the pair opens up ever so slightly to each other. Ward may not trust Skye because of her ties to The Rising Tide, but that doesn’t stop him from sharing a story from his past to help focus her.
While Skye is looking to be the main player in this episode, we still have to check in with the team. Coulson gathers the troops to discuss the kidnapping of a scientist who was taken from his escort convoy in an attack that looked like it was perpetrated by Marvel’s own Master of Magnetism. Not the case, of course, but the name of the scientist in question begins to shed light on the occurrence. Any Marvel fans will recognize Dr. Franklin Hall as the villain Graviton, so that right there should give you an idea about where we’re headed.
Upon investigating the scene of Hall’s abduction, Fitz-Simmons discover a tiny gravity distortion device, the cause of the wacky vehicle levitation that befell the convoy. Through some expert detective work by Ward, Coulson, and FitzSimmons, they identify the perpetrator as Ian Quinn, an absurdly rich entrepreneur who has safely sequestered himself in Malta, a place where S.H.I.E.L.D. agents can’t touch him. Good thing Skye’s not an agent…
Meanwhile, we meet the infamous Mr. Quinn, who has brought Dr. Hall to his lair home in order to allow the good doctor to complete his research on the element gravitonium. Still paying attention, fans? When the agents found the clue that led them to Quinn, it was only a tiny globe that launched two SUVs and a tractor trailer into the air. Quinn has now constructed a full-sized generator for Hall to play with, a device of UNSPEAKABLE POWER!!!
With a rescue plan in place, Skye hacks her way onto the guest list of Quinn’s latest shindig, hoping to infiltrate and find a way to get the team inside to rescue Dr. Hall. The extraction team will only consist of Ward and Coulson, though, as we are once again reminded that Agent May was brought onboard with the intention of avoiding combat, so she gets to stay behind with Fitz-Simmons. Once inside, Skye charms Quinn, using her (apparently public) reputation as a Rising Tide “Hacktisvist” to peak his curiosity and land a job offer. The plan appears to go belly up, however, when she is caught snooping and gets out of it by revealing to Quinn that S.H.I.E.L.D. has her wired. This is the moment where Skye’s loyalty once again comes into question. After her brief text message exchange at the end of last week’s episode, we were left wondering if she was a mole or a convert.
…Must Come Down
Quinn, who is one public fart away from being a Bond villain, accepts the young hacker into his circle in order to learn more about S.H.I.E.L.D.’s agenda. Thankfully, we learn that Skye’s apparent betrayal was yet another ruse to help her complete her part of the mission. After doing her part to help Fitz-Simmons get Coulson and Ward inside, Skye’s growing loyalty to the team begins to come out as she defies Quinn, going so far as to reference the heart-to-heart she shared with Ward.
Speak of the devil, Ward arrives just in time to save Skye and arrest Quinn, but the real threat, however, is down below in Dr. Hall’s lab where Coulson is headed. Expecting to find the scientist eager to be rescused, Coulson is thrown a curve ball when Hall reveals that he leaked his own whereabouts so that Quinn would abduct him and bring him to the supply of gravitonium. While Quinn hopes to exploit the gravity-manipulating element, Hall aims to destroy it, sacrificing himself to prevent the hazardous substance from ever harming anyone. Coulson winds up in a difficult place, not only in a debate with Dr. Hall, but also on the ceiling as Quinn’s generator begins to play with gravity. Hall is ready to lay down his own life and the lives of everyone on Quinn’s island to save millions, but Coulson makes the tough choice and drops Hall into his own creation, destabilizing the generator and killing the doctor in the process. The day is saved.
Rise of a Supervillain
Back on the Bus, the team regroups after another successful mission. Coulson has the gravitonium locked away (not much better than shooting it into space…), May agrees to stop running from her past and volunteers for future combat assignments, and Ward and Skye pick up their conversation where they left off earlier. This time it’s Skye who opens up, revealing that she is a highschool dropout and foster kid, among other things. It’s here that we truly see a bond of trust forming between the pair of unlikely friends, strengthening her dedication to the the team and to S.H.I.E.L.D. Will it last? We’ll find out.
Per Coulson’s orders, the gravitonium is sealed away, but a last second glimpse of the undulating blob sees a hand desperately reaching out from inside, confirming that Dr. Hall will become the villain Graviton. Now we wait and see how long it takes for him to show up again.
The Asset is definitely a step up from the previous episode. Skye is still fairly irritating, but we are learning that there is more to her than just a fast-talking hacker with authority issues. The possibility still exists that everything about her is a lie, but we’ll just have to see what path she chooses. We also get another not-so-subtle indication that something is off about Coulson when he can remember how to work the slide on a gun. The term “rusty” was used more than once, so interpret that however you choose. Lots brewing on the horizon.
Check back next week for our next recap for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!