Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Eye Spy

"Girl parts and boy parts are different. And our parts aren't penises."

We're a few episodes into the first season and, not that I mean to set alarm bells ringing (Buffy and Angel both started out as somewhat meh: I have faith in the Whedon), it has still to really take off. This episode, yes, is a good bit of television, but it's a story of the week. It's time to declare that I don't feel overly attached to any of the characters, and that is starting to worry me.

Still, as I said, this is a damn good story of the week. The pre-titles teaser, with a load of identically besuited men in the Stockholm underground in their eerie V for Vendetta masks being offed by Akila Anadour, a mysterious yet tragic female assassin straight out of the Whedon playbook. The episode intrigues by developing her tragic story: a former protege of Agent Coulson (and thus a salutary glimpse into Skye's future if it all goes tits up), she went off the rails and is now controlled by some mysterious organisation which has replaced her eye with a bionic camera through which they can a) give her instructions to off people, and b) blow her up if she refuses.

It's a winning conceit, made more compelling by the jaded nobility of the character and her existential indifference to whatever law enforcement hell awaits her at the end, as she is now free in the existential sense. Parallels to The Outsider here, methinks.

We end, rather wonderfully, with the revelation that Akila's handler is himself being controlled in exactly the same way. Perhaps the same is true of his controller, like Russian dolls. Creepily, our ultimate antagonist here must remain faceless. 

Thing is, great though all this stuff is, it's about a guest character, and our main cast desperately needs work to make us care about them more. Yes, Akila is a signifier of Coulson's mysterious past and yes, she is a cautionary tale, of sorts, to Skye. But otherwise we establish little else about our regulars aside from Ward's fluency in Russian and more hints about what happened to Coulson.

What about that alien script, though? I'm sure we will hear of it again...

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