For the last ten weeks, S.H.I.E.L.D. Dossiers has been a different sort of look back at Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., one that focuses on the teases and Marvel Easter Eggs found in each episode. If you've been following the column, you know that Easter Eggs and callbacks to the comics have been...scarce.
Going into the show, I knew that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would be a different sort of beast from Arrow, the CW show jammed full of little nods to the comics in every single episode (this week's Arrow Annotations column will probably the longest one yet). Joss Whedon himself warned us not to expect many nods to the comics as he tried to build an audience that hadn't necessarily read the comics, or really had any knowledge of the Marvel Universe outside of the Marvel movies.
While I understand Whedon's decision, writing a weekly article about the show's connections to the comics is hard to do when there's often no connections to the comics whatsoever. This week's episode, for instance, didn't scratch the comic universe's surface at all. Seriously, there's not a single comic-related Easter egg to discuss.
That leaves S.H.I.E.L.D. Dossiers at a crossroads. I'd like to keep the column going. It's popular enough, and it's not like I don't enjoy the show. However, I really don't know if people want to listen to me give random thoughts about the show. I'm not a TV writer, and frankly, I'm not sure if I could craft a column enjoyable enough to read that solely focuses on the show. That doesn't mean I won't try though. So here's the first installment of S.H.I.E.L.D. Dossiers 1.5. I hope you enjoy.
Havensworth Prison - We get our first real look at Edison Po, a Centipede operative and their link to the mysterious Clairvoyant. Po's an interesting character. He's certainly bought into the Centipede organization, and I don't think for an instance that he isn't 'evil'. However, there's a sympathetic edge to him too. He warns the prisoner about to sit at his table to move right before Centipede drops in through the ceiling, and it's hinted that he might not have had a choice about the steak knife murder that resulted in his incarceration. It looks like he'll be a recurring character, so I bet we'll see a bit more into his motivations in future episdoes.
Agent Katherine Shane - Skye continues to search for her parents, and is researching Agent Katherine Shane at the beginning of the episode. Like just about everything else in this show, Shane has no connection with the comics, although there's a hint that she might play a larger role in upcoming episodes. We know that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is casting two recurring roles, one of which is a weapons expert. Agent Shane is also a weapons' expert. Coincidence?
Centipede - It's pretty clear that Centipede is more than a dinky criminal organization. Not only did Coulson shut down two of their operations (in "Pilot" and "Girl in the Flower Dress"), but they also seem to be responsible for Akela Amador's kidnapping in "Eye Spy". The real question is who's running the organization. It isn't Raina, it isn't Po, so who could it be? Let's just hope they call themselves something besides Centipede...
Mike Peterson - Mike Peterson is once again at the center of this episode. I like how, despite following similar paths, how much Skye and Peterson contrast with each other. Peterson is trying desperately to atone for his actions in the pilot episode, and seems to have gained S.H.I.E.L.D.'s trust, but not Coulson's team. Meanwhile, Skye has the trust of (most) of the team, but doesn't seem to have progressed nearly as far as Peterson has through the S.H.I.E.L.D. program.
Of course, Peterson also betrays Coulson's team at the end of the episode, just like Skye did in "Girl in the Flower Dress".
Skye - Speaking of Skye, I still feel she's the weak link on the team. Everyone else has pretty defined roles. Ward and May are the muscle, Fitz and Simmons are the tech, but Skye...Skye is really neither. She's got tech abilities, but nothing that Fitz appears to be incapable of, and her Rising Tide resources have been rarely used over the last few weeks.
I'm guessing that Coulson feels bad about Skye's parents, and is using Skye as a way to get May to open up (since it's pretty obvious at this point that she's the agent who dropped Skye off at the orphanage all those years ago). Her secret past is intriguing, but I think it really hampers the plot of other episodes. May seems to agree with me, judging from how she yelled at her this episode.
University of Ohio - There is no University of Ohio, in Cleveland or anywhere else. I guess they didn't want to pay rights to Cleveland State, Ohio University or Ohio State University.
I liked Ward and Coulson's conversation on the way to the university, and we got another mention of Coulson's lady cellist friend. The Ward/May relationship was one of the more unpredictable twists in the show, thus far, and made for a nice bit of drama this episode. Ward has no idea how to handle May, and his attempts to play it cool just pissed her off more this episode, which led to her lashing out at Skye. Ward really is terrible with people, even if he's got a knack for chatting up coeds.
Also, Craig's response to his driving skills (in which he kept turning the wheel while the car was going straight) was pretty funny:
Brian Hayward - Brian Hayward (the Centipede goon who got his eye kill switch blown) was played by Paul Lacovara, a stunt man with a pretty impressive resume. He was Tom Hiddleston's stunt double in Thor and The Avengers, Tom Mison's stunt double on Sleepy Hollow, and Eric Bana's stunt double in Star Trek.
The Clairvoyant - Still no clue who the Clairvoyant is, but we at least know that he's a he. It also seems likely that he orchestrated the Bridge counterattack, which led to Peterson getting blown up, Coulson captured and Ward shot up. Po also seems to have a...unique relationship with the Clairvoyant, one that Raina is trying to exploit.
The Bridge - I was pretty happy with the way the episode ended, to be honest. While I was expecting a big reveal as to who was behind Centipede, I liked seeing the team taking one on the chin. Peterson got blown to smithereens (he probably survived), Ward got shot (we know he survived) and Coulson's about to find out exactly how he came back to life. Coulson's resurrection has been one of the central mysteries of the show, and I think it could open the door to an area of the Marvel Universe we haven't seen explored.
So do you think the show's gotten better since the pilot? Where do you want to see the show go to the future? Will S.H.I.E.L.D. Dossiers ever get to talk about an easter egg ever again? Answer all these questions below, and we'll see you in January....maybe.