TV discussion

TV Rewind… Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1×04 – ‘Eye Spy’

‘Eye Spy’ proves once again that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are really good at doing cool, intriguing opening sequences. Following the previous episode’s truck flipping gravity tech, this episode takes on a much less showy, but equally stand out, approach, with dozens of red masked suited men making their way through the streets of Stockholm. It instantly stands out, it’s slightly creepy, and the moment when one of them is killed in a dark subway, their hand ripped off, is genuinely shocking. It’s easy to see why this was one of the scenes that Marvel decided to show off at Comic Con before the series aired as it’s bold and different.

It also introduces the best mystery we’ve had on the show so far as the team have to track down Akela Amador (Pascale Armand), a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and protege of Coulson (Clark Gregg).

With Skye’s (Chloe Bennet) initial suggestion that Amador could have psychic powers pretty much laughed at (something which definitely wouldn’t happen in later seasons) we slowly learn that her seemingly supernatural abilities actually comes from technology, more specifically, a mechanical eye that allows her to have x-ray vision. Despite this being a universe where we’ve already experienced super soldiers and aliens, and will eventually meet super powered Inhumans, having Amador’s powers rooted in tech is a good choice.

It makes the extrarordinary feel more grounded, plus, it gives Skye, Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) the opportunity to get involved and actually do some stuff this week; which is good as Fitz and Simmons have felt much more like background characters up to now. The scenes with the tree of them in the ‘short bus’ (a silly name but it genuinely made me laugh at the rest of the team’s reaction to it) are all fun and very charming, although the moment Skye fails to use her gun right may have been a little too far.

The episode also gives Ward (Brett Dalton) a good opportunity to do something other than grumble. Sent in undercover posing as Amador for her handler is a really good story thread, and it shows how good an agent he can be, even if he is dodging reflective surfaces and avoiding looking at his hands the whole time. He feels more like the pilot episode Ward, the confident field agent that can go in on his own and get the mission done. That being said, the moment when he’s instructed to flirt with a guard right after vowing he’d do ‘whatever it takes’ just a moment before is ridiculous, yet works so well.

The combination of action, intrigue, and banter are pretty much perfect in this episode, and it appears that many of the slight missteps that the series has taken up to this point have finally been resolved.

By the conclusion of the episode every character has had the opportunity to show off what they can do, even the criminally underused agent May (Ming-Na Wen) who gets to have a brilliant fight scene this episode; as well as having set up an hugely intriguing ongoing mystery for the rest of the season. Who was controlling the man who was controlling Amador? What what that mysterious writing Ward found? What did Amador see in Coulson to ask ‘what’s been done to him’? The show has already left a few threads open so far with The Rising Tide and Centipede, but this feels like the most intriguing one, the one with the most potential.

I said that the previous episode, ‘The Asset’, was a good spy story, ‘Eye Spy’ in comparison is a great spy story. I struggle to think of anything in the episode that doesn’t work or fails to meet it’s mark, other than maybe one joke that it could have done without. If the first half of this season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. maintained this quality I think a lot more people would have stuck with it, unfortunately, due to some less than stellar writing over the next few episodes this is definitely the high point until the series lines up with Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Are you a fan of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Let us know what you think of this episode.

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