Following on from the end of the pilot, this week the S.H.I.E.L.D. team is off to Peru to investigate a mysterious artifact discovered in some Incan ruins. Coleman runs into Camilla Reyes an old flame from a previous mission, now a commandante in the local armed forces. The artifact is determined to run on tesseract energy, and after an attack by rebels, both the artifact and the Commandte’s forces are taken aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D. Soul Plane. But is the Commandante as benevolent as she seems?
“084” is a decent little episode, the real focus of which is the younger agents and/or new recruits getting their first real taste of what business as usual is like as a Marvel’s Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.. As a result, the proceedings do feel a little routine, and not as engrossing as the pilot’s tale of putting the band together during a crisis. It’s a necessary tale to tell, and it’s told rather competently. We’ve established usual operating procedure for S.H.I.E.L.D., plus how our characters react in the face of it. It just lacks the interest of the previous entry.
It’s not all doldrums, though. There’s some pretty exciting action sequences, both on the ground and aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D. Soul Plane, as well as some amusing bickering amongst the crew. Said bickering is unfortunately not as sharply written as in the pilot. We’re also given some more backstory on both Agent Coulson and May. Neither one is particularly interesting. Coulson’s prior association with Camilla serves to add a little flavor to their interaction, but I can’t imagine it’ll really matter much in the grand scheme of things. With May, it’s just more hints that she was an omfg badass and something happened to make her stop doing field work. I’ll admit I’m a little curious.
So, there’s a lot of infighting and snark amongst the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, and “084” tries to address this by giving them a problem they all have to solve together while separated from Coulson. Again, it’s something that needs doing, but it feels a little like housekeeping when it shouldn’t. We are rather transparently learning a lesson from the Wheel of Morality this week, and the dialogue goes out of its way to hammer that point home. The script even goes so far as to have an extremely cornball golly-gee what-we-learned-tonight scene near the end of the episode. I could have gleaned with life lesson from watching Arthur instead. Shoot me, please.
The closing moments of “084” show some promise for next week’s installment. Skye appears to be up to some suspicious shit, and it remains to be seen where her loyalties really lie. We’ll see how this plotline continues to roll onwards. After remarking to my boyfriend on how Coulson’s had the S.H.I.E.L.D. Soul Plane for like a week and they’d already managed to blow a hole in it, I was very pleasantly surprised to see a neat little tag scene featuring a familiar face addressing their displeasure at just that. So stay all the way to the end, folks!
“084” proved to be a bit of a letdown, but is still a solid hour of television. It’s an episode where the seams show through a little too often for my liking, but it still lays some interesting pipe for the series going forward.