This was full of action-y goodness with just the right amount of character development and story to keep the season’s arc revolving around The Clairvoyant, moving forward. In short, it was a finely crafted 43 minutes of TV. And reminded me of good Joss in his heyday.
I have a confession to make: An episode like this week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is what I’ve been waiting for since the series started.
“The Magical Place” tried to do too much in forty-two minutes: rescue Coulson, wrap-up the mystery of his resurrection, reintroduce super-soldier Mike and further the mystique of The Clairvoyant. I would have been happy if the episode had managed to do one of those things adequately. Instead, it tried to accomplish them all poorly.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. left a little something under our Christmas trees this week and it wasn’t coal. ABC’s freshman drama instead delivered a worthy cliffhanger with a liberal number of callbacks to episodes throughout the season. And it further cemented itself as drama steeped in superhero mythology.
I don’t believe that May will ever revert to the girl she was, at least by Coulson’s description, but we do see a glimpse of hope at the end of the episode when it’s obvious she plays a prank on Fitz. It would be nice to see a little bit more fun from May, although it’s kind of fun to watch her kick butt every week as the show’s resident bad-ass.
Episode eight of S.H.I.E.L.D. brought us a common Joss Whedon trope, “the rage monster.” In every series that Joss has done, there has always been one relic, one enchanted object that turns our normally heroic characters into anger balls, normally to terrifying, sometimes humorous effect.
By pairing Fitz with Ward we as the audience got an Odd Couple episode combined with a Cold War mission behind Russian enemy lines. I love the fact that even now, so many decades removed from the Cold War, Russia is still our go-to villain. It’s just awesome.
I like Ruth Negga’s Raina much better as an ongoing antagonist. For the first time this season, I actually felt the show got the casting of a guest star right. In a single episode they were able to illustrate for us how manipulative, persuasive and downright cold-hearted she can be – a chilling combination that is really at the heart of all good villains.
The fact that this ep was written by producer, Jeffrey Bell, the man who ushered Angel through five seasons on the now-defunct WB and wrote that show’s finale, seems to have been a shot in the arm for this big show still trying to find its path.