After a disappointing dud last week when the plot tumbled into seriously tedious territory, Agents of SHIELD managed to redeem itself by shifting the focus back to Phil Coulson and his past – something that’s intriguing in its sheer mystery. Coulson has been at the centre of the series since the pilot, so it was fitting to have an episode that focused on something so close to his own heart. This week’s mission, as they say, was personal.
In Eye Spy the team investigated a series of premeditated thefts, which turned out to be the handy work of Coulson’s former presumed dead protégé, Akela Amadour. Whilst his team believed Amadour had simply gone rogue, Coulson couldn’t shake the feeling that something bigger was at play. He was right of course. Isn’t he always? Despite May’s wary protestations, Coulson managed to keep the mission under wraps in order to work out what was really going on, which he did in swift AC fashion – thanks Skye for the catchy new nickname.
Upon realising that Akela was being controlled via a camera in her eye, which was forcing her to undergo missions with the threat of a kill switch if she failed, Coulson captured Akela and had Skye hijack the camera feed so Ward could take over the latest mission. It was an exciting step up from last week, which provided more than enough thrills and witty one liners to make up for what The Asset lacked.
This episode felt different from the start though; the bizarre flash mob feel, the men with red masks carrying metal briefcases, the thumping drumbeat, it all contributed to giving the first few minutes an eerily uneasy feel and it worked wonders. The SHIELD team clock up some serious air miles and this week saw them in Stockholm and Belarus, providing scenic settings for the action. The storyline also had a realistic edge to it – as realistic as SHIELD can ever be – making it easy to buy into the team’s mission.
Aside from the very spy-ish name, Akela Amadour posed a bigger threat than smartly dressed Ian Quinn last week, even though she was merely a puppet for the real threat. She successfully shook up the weaker members of the team – Skye and Fitz/Simmons – and made a worthy opponent for May, who was able to show off her kick-ass fighting skills once again. With Ward pulling a Clark Kent, donning nerdy glasses and actually cracking a couple of jokes, he almost revealed a personality behind the tough exterior. We’ve had Skye’s episode, we’ve had Coulson’s, now we need to see Ward’s – he could be a great character if only they’d inject some life into him, a bit of light and shade rather than the current blank canvas.
The team dynamic is slowly getting there though, as they all learn more about each other. Whilst Fitz and Simmons already have that firm, finish-each-other’s-sentences bond, the relationship that’s most interesting is Skye and Coulson’s. There’s something very natural in their camaraderie and Skye somehow softens AC. Her status as his new protégé is certainly one to keep an eye on.
What Eye Spy exposed was just how unprepared the team are for unexpected encounters. Without Ward and Coulson there to protect them, the behind-the-scenes trio (Skye, Fitz/Simmons) are walking targets. It’s all very well being the brains behind everything but at some stage you have to add in some brawn too, even if it’s just being able to fire a gun in approximately the right direction.
Coulson’s post-Avengers resurrection still has that massive question mark hanging over it, but Akela’s suggestion to May that Coulson isn’t just changed in personality but altered in some other way has set the series up for a much bigger revelation. Watch this space!