In the time since we last talked, there’s been lots of news about “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Whether we’re talking about Bill Paxton, Stan Lee, Lady Sif, or Steranko, or the same old ratings hubbub, people are talking about “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” This week, we have more fun with anagrams, the hunt for the Clairvoyant, and a guest appearance by the king of Marvel Comics, and the king of Marvel cameos, Stan Lee. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “T.R.A.C.K.S.”
“Get Your Own Show”
Before we get to the review of tonight’s show, since the beginning of this series there’s been one man, one very important man, who hasn’t been too happy with it. That would be comics creator Jim Steranko. If you’re wondering why that one man’s opinion should be more important than anyone else’s, you should. Back in the 1960s, Jim Steranko changed comics with a feature called “Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” He made the comics cool, brought a mature realistic quality to the stories and the characters. Stan Lee may have created S.H.I.E.L.D. but Steranko breathed life into it.
Since “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” began airing, Steranko has been writing his thoughts, episode by episode, much like I do here at Biff Bam Pop!, but over at The Hollywood Reporter. He hasn’t been happy, he’s been less than happy, and at best, he thinks that the series is not living up to its potential. I might agree with that last part, but I do like the show quite a bit. In defense of the series, lead actor Clark Gregg gave Steranko a shout out, “Hey, get your own show!”
Marvels to Come
With battle lines like that, I guess it’s a good thing that Bill Paxton won’t be the only new face from the comics on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” in coming weeks. At the end of the last episode we saw that Mike Peterson survived that explosion, just not all in one piece. The hero that we all thought would be Luke Cage before the series started has turned out to be the anti-hero, sometimes villain, Deathlok the Demolisher.
The boo-hoo-ers who keep ranting about ratings and bitching about how “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” isn’t Marvel’s The Avengers can feast on yet another bone. If Deathlok (along with Graviton and Blizzard waiting in the wings, as well as the tie-in to the new Captain America movie) isn’t enough for them, the beautiful Jaimie Alexander will reprise her role as the Lady Sif from the Thor films in an upcoming episode. Marvels are coming, we just had to be patient.
The Stan Lee Cameo
One of the selling points of this episode, at least in the teaser from last time, was the appearance of Stan Lee. The founding father of Marvel Comics has made a bit of a career in recent years making cameos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as those built by other studios in the Spider-Man and X-Men universes, and now here he is on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” The Man has written his share of Nick Fury adventures both during World War II with the Howling Commandos and with the Lee-created spy organization S.H.I.E.L.D., so it’s fitting.
Industrialist bad guy Ian Quinn has a high tech package coming to him via cross country Italian train, so our team goes undercover. Undercover allows for some fun play acting and faking accents. I like it, very “Man from U.N.C.L.E.” As I’ve been saying, this is one of the best spy TV shows in quite some time. Oh, and Stan Lee appears very briefly at the beginning of the episode as a passenger on the train, with a pretty young woman on each arm. Perhaps he’s meant to be Hugh Hefner again?
The bad guys with the tech on their way to Quinn are Cybertek, and if you know your Marvel Comics, you know that Cybertek made Deathlok the Demolisher, an unstoppable killing machine. Things may be getting very bad very soon for our heroes. It turns out that the tech is a new leg for Mike Peterson, making him into Deathlok, maybe not with all the effects of the comics, but he is still one scary dude.
While Quinn is putting Deathlok together, he also puts a couple bullets into Skye. The team barely manages to get to her in time, slipping her into a barometric chamber to save her temporarily at least. Folks who don’t like showrunner Joss Whedon make much of his habit of killing off characters too easily. I hope this isn’t one of those times. We have so much to learn about Skye yet, and hopefully we’ll get some of that in the next episode. Yeah, it sucks, but this is a cliffhanger.
The episode takes a rather interesting storytelling pattern. We see results of actions with no explanation, then they go to commercial break. When they return we’re seeing what happened to lead up to that. It’s intriguing, different, and maybe just a little but brilliant. My thought is however, considering this is a show very concerned with ratings and new viewers, is this really the time to be getting experimental?
That said, I love the way this episode was done. In between the patchwork sequencing, we get great action from Agents May and Ward, and great character interaction with the rest of the cast. Many of the characters at the start of the series were templates and cyphers but now, they’re growing, and they’re growing on me. I am really digging this show more and more each episode. “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” has graduated from comics-related show I’m enjoying to show I’m invested in and love.
Next time: to save Skye, more secrets, and Bill Paxton!