The second episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. takes a different approach to the first, swapping the city locations and ticking time-bomb threat and instead opting to move the action to the jungles of South America, with tense shoot-outs and high altitude action.
One of the main criticisms about the first episode was that it was a little slow paced and didn’t have enough action (not something that I’d agree with myself, but can see why some people would come away thinking that), and it would appear that the show runners were aware that the first episode wasn’t the most action-packed, and intentionally made ‘0-8-4’ different.
This shift is apparent in the very first scene, where the events jump forward several hours to show a dramatic explosion on the Bus, before then going back and showing the events that led up to this point. Personally, I always find it annoying whenever a episode opens with something dramatic before showing a ‘XX hours earlier’ title, but I can understand the decision to do it here. The last episode was good, but slow, so ‘0-8-4’ needed something big to open on.
‘0-8-4’ focuses on a mystery artefact discovered by S.H.I.E.L.D., and Coulson’s team are sent to investigate. The mystery of the episode centres around what the 0-8-4 actually is, with Coulson (Clark Gregg) dropping MCU connections by pointing out that the last 0-8-4 they found was a hammer. It turns out that the object this time is an old Hydra device (more movie connections) lodged into the wall of some old ruins.
Things get complicated for the team with the arrival of Peruvian authorities, who also wants the device, led by Camilla Reyes (Leonor Varela), a former girlfriend of Coulson’s. Despite some rebels causing a stir, it’s Reyes and her men that are the real threat to the team, taking control of the Bus and locking everyone but Coulson in the cargo hold.
This is where the episode tries to bring the team together, with the help of Skye (Chloe Bennet) who is still trying to find where she fits in. Despite the message that each of the team has their own strengths and that by working together they can overcome their challenges Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) remain underdeveloped, and still come across as interchangeable. Whilst the two of them will develop over the rest of the season they feel more like the same character at this point, and would probably be a singular science/tech character in another show.
Fortunately, the episode does give Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) the opportunity to shine as the lone bad-ass hero breaking her way out of her bonds and freeing the rest of the team. She’s still very underdeveloped at the point, with stern silence being her main character trait, but she plays it so well that she manages to remain entertaining.
The episode also takes a moment to address the youth of half of the cast, something that some people complained about before the first episode even aired, by having both Reyes and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) pointing out that half the team are young and inexperienced. I can’t help but feel that these moments are specifically aimed at those people who complained about the cast before filming had even begun.
The scene with Samuel L. Jackson is also important because it’s further grounding the show within the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the inclusion of one of the most iconic characters (though not the biggest). It makes sense that he’d be the actor that they’d bring onto the series, not just because he’s the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., but because as soon as Jackson puts on that eye-patch he’s instantly his Marvel character.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has definitely improved with its second episode, but still hasn’t managed to meet its potential. It’s nice to see the show moving forward, but hopefully it will be able to improve it’s character development fairly soon.
Are you a fan of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D? Let us know what you think of this episode.