‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Finds Its Voice & Delivers Its Best Episode Yet – Is it Enough?

Published 1 year ago by , Updated December 6th, 2013 at 5:46 am,

Melinda May in Agents of Shield Best Episode Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Finds Its Voice & Delivers Its Best Episode Yet   Is it Enough?

[This is a review for Agents of Shield season 1, episode 9. It contains SPOILERS.]

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. finally flexed its strongest muscle – Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) – and through it, ABC and Marvel’s new experimental series finally found its voice, while also delivering its best episode to date. However, what occurred off-screen, in the creation of this episode, is much more important to the future of the series than whatever occurred onscreen.

In this week’s episode, “Repairs,” series creators Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen toss Coulson (Clark Gregg) and co. into a weighty tale of unrequited love wrapped in mysterious case of mistaken telekinesis.

This time, though, it’s the sum of its parts (or people) which is greater than the whole, meaning that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has, once and for all, figured out how to rely on its actors and its writing – not Marvel’s vast catalog of characters – to help fuel an episode that any fan would be happy to admit they watched live, with commercials. No more justifications needed – not now and (hopefully) never again.

If you have been waiting for the tide to turn on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., your time has now come, as this episode allows fans to choose anyone from its ensemble to highlight.

Ward (Brett Dalton), now with salacious, clandestine “operations” to help drive his charisma, is finally able to stand true as an earnest agent; Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons’ (Elizabeth Henstridge) cheekiness has been sanded down and buffed to playful perfection; Skye (Chloe Bennet) finally reveals the humanity behind the “hacker” and helps bring some much-needed heart to the mechanical workings of Marvel’s secret agency; Coulson taps into the cinematic energy that made fans fall in love with him in first place; and the real Melinda May finally gets unleashed, backstory and all.

agents of shield season 1 episode 9 570x294 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Finds Its Voice & Delivers Its Best Episode Yet   Is it Enough?

Since the very beginning, it has largely been May’s calculated silence that has helped fans justify giving Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “one more chance” when the series was, at first, looking grim. Now 9 episodes in, the producers brilliantly chose to combine the reveal of May’s mysterious character – which has always been the series’ strongest – with an episode that services her as much as it does the series and its other characters.

Still, May is not who shines the most in this episode. For that, it’s time to turn to the creators, Whedon & Maurissa.

Joss Whedon may have created much of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen, but it’s certainly the married duo who are around for the day-to-day operations of the series – a duo that, up until now, has been the series’ biggest question mark. Whedon and Tancharoen already proved that they’re able to deliver quality work with Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog; however, as writers on Dollhouse, like much of the series itself, they proved that it takes them a bit of time before they’re running at full power. As it turns out, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is no different.

agents of shield season 1 episode 9 coulson 570x294 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Finds Its Voice & Delivers Its Best Episode Yet   Is it Enough?

Both Whedon & Tancharoen have not written an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. since week 3, so it’s only appropriate that they helm this episode, which rights this upended experiment and has the potential to change many opinions about what this series is or could be. As co-creators of the show, it’s a proverbial poetic nod; as co-creators of show that has faced far more obstacles than anyone could have imagined, it’s extremely important that this occurred in their episode, no matter how long it took to get to it.

Before tonight, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was a series that seemingly had no leader, and all the terrific episodes from Day Break creator Paul Zbyszewski and Chuck producers Rafe Judkins & Lauren LeFranc did little to change the fact that those who are in charge wrote some of the series’ weakest episodes.

But now – with an exceptionally crafted, no holds barred-approach to this episode – everyone can confidentially point to Whedon & Tancharoen as the duo who will help take this series into season 2 and beyond, and not just because Marvel or ABC would like them to.


Agents of Shield returns next Tuesday with “The Bridge” @8pm on ABC.

Follow Anthony Ocasio on Twitter @anthonyocasio
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  1. One thing they mentioned for the second time this season was that the index S.H.I.E.L.D. had did not have that many super-powered individuals on it. They also played up the fact that in this stories “universe” they had never encountered telekinesis. So it can be assumed that this show and the Marvel films universe is not as populated with super humans as the comic books are, which means there was never any chance of there being a large and varied amount of known characters in this show.

    • They already said from the beginning that there will be no “well known” super powered characters in the show. There will be some variations of some of those characters but that the show would solely focus on the SHIELD aspect of those agents(meaning no superheroes or super villians).

      • I still think there are some people who are bent over the fact this isn’t a super hero show rather than a show about the Agents.

        • No problem that its not a superhero show but why make it a show about the band of misfits agents that shield keeps on the extreme down low for the shame of it

          • Because it allows for conflict on the edge. Plus comic book nerds = misfits.

            • I wish it was that kind of misfits, these misfits are so boring its probably why they sent them on a plane, for boring everyone at HQ to tears. I keep tuning in wishing each week they will deliver a plot-line with some originality but every week is derivative as all hell – no its not telekinesis its a ghost, no wait its someone between dimensions, and he loves her ! – come on, give me a break. This has so much potential for being a great spy show that uses its marvel geniology to make innovative stories, and thats what they come up with ?!

          • there are talks that this show could be introducing taskmaster.

      • The perception among casual fans who saw this showed advertised as being from the production team behind the Avengers might have been that some type of super-powered characters would appear on this show. Even though that is the case, it is still kind of odd that the premise behind the show is that this unit was put together to investigate abnormal events that may be connected to super-humans and there are not a lot of those people around according to the information given in the show.

        The idea I am getting is that in this “universe” there has been almost no cases of superhuman activity before the Avengers story, which makes this team and S.H.I.E.L.D. as a whole not very effective or experienced in dealing with any of the crazy things that are happening.

  2. First off, I did not keep watching this show because of May. In fact I feel like she is the worst actor on the show. I enjoy her character but to say that her character is the saving grace is, in my opinion, not legit.

    • This brings up an interesting dilemma for the producers/writers for AoS. They are trying to have real world components mixed in with a “comic book” world. I.e. Coulson dealing with bureaucracy and regulations. Or how Fitz & Simmons are normal people learning to cope in an extraordinary environment.

      However, reviewers ignore those details. Instead, the one component they are interested in is the “kick-ass chick beating up men.” Every review I’ve seen for Agents of Shield specifically the showrunners are holding back Melinda May as a character. This episode has satisfied the reviewers, but I’d be curious to know if normal viewers actually want to May beat up men.

    • I agree, Clay. May is utter garbage as a character 90% of the time.

  3. I enjoyed this episode and the way it was presented. The guest actress did well with what she was given as did the gentleman who portrayed the freak of the week. One element that caught my attention was the female character’s belief that God was punishing her. A more thoughtfully written screenplay might have capitalized on how these new gods (super heroes) have challenged belief in a God. Either way, this was a good episode for the team and we finally got a little bit of empathy for Agent May. I’m not sure I’d agree that this was the strongest episode, though. The episode featuring Simmons might still hold that title.

  4. Honestly watching this show evolve has been enjoyable. I don’t argue the first 5-6 were pretty bland and I only watched them for the marvel name in front of it, but after these last 3 it’s really turned the corner. I think the show runners finally realized they need really strong characters to make this limited budget show work and they’ve started building great characters. Fitz-Simmons pranks were hilarious, wards finally loosing the bark to his wooden character, Skye is turning into a moral compass, and Couslon is the grisly vet guiding these people along. They’ve come this far with 9 episodes, I’m excited to see what this seasons final 13 have to offer.

    • I agree. Marvels’ team for AoS took awhile to find focus, but now it appears they are finding their way. However, they wouldn’t have had this “leeway time” without Marvel studios brand loyalty. If Marvel studios had tried this TV show in 2009, with only Iron Man to their name, I suspect ABC would have cancelled the show after the third or fourth show.

      Instead, Marvel’s well earned brand loyalty keeps the mediocre show on the air; hopefully long enough for the showrunners to improve the show.

      • here’s what should happen, the show isn’t about heroes but I believe that they should make cameos but they shouldn’t be battling villains and it could be as simple as the shield grunts watching hawkeye practice with his bow or watching black widow spar or even ward sparring with black widow and so on.

  5. At its best this episode was like a not so good episode of “Supernatural”, this was not that much better than previous episodes and truly the only reason people keep tuning in is the brand attached to it. Im very surprised by SR’s review, I have read each episodes review and they were bashing the mediocrity and blandness of the show as they should have, perhaps its wishful thinking that is the driving force behind this review because this episode was just as mediocre and bland as the rest of them. the quality and type of storytelling is more on par with early 90′s television, considering the quality of TV shows that are out there today this show is frankly crap, and not much has changed in this episode. the characters are archaic and cliched instead of being, as was said in previous reviews, a spy thriller revealing the inner workings of an epic organization, its a little group with not much charm or chemistry to drive these small timey plot lines. and that was apparent still this week even if the plot was a bit better and not totally junk as usual.

  6. I am kinda confused about the episode. The episode presented the “villain” in different ways. He was presented as a ghost who was stuck between our world and Hell. But then they say that he is stuck between our world and another dimension. Which is it? They never fully answered that question.

    1. if he were a ghost then the team shouldn’t be able to hit him.
    2. If he were a ghost then he should be called a poltergeist, not ghost, as he haunts the girl

    1. How can he just choose to leave “our world?”
    2. And if he does have the ability, why wouldn’t he just stay on earth and be brought to justice?

    Anyone have any thoughts

    • I think he was “in between dimensions” as its more “scientific” and more in line with their universe laws and i believe that was the last line of thought the kept after asserting he opened a portal (which somehow the holographic machine was able to reproduce and model of this world, cause its that good!)

      But yeah, the plot holes for this scenario are still there, I was also wondering how come he is just letting go, does that mean he is in the other dimension now ? and as you said why wont he choose to stay in this one ?

      And as long as were at it, if he isnt a ghost with that ghost like typical behavior of being mad and latching on to this side, Why was he so stupid ? I mean why be that aggressive towards every little thing and practically try to murder everyone in that girls way ?
      that isnt really trying make amends and only make sense if he was a psycho to begin with.

      • Yea I agree that the “other dimension” not hell, is more plausible as it relates to their conversation about Thor 2. But it still boggles me why he has the ability to choose whice plane of existence to stay in. And why he wouldn’t stay here. Wish they had explained better.

        Either way this episode started off decent then when we found out that she was being “haunted” it got really interesting. But the way it ended left more to be desired

  7. Not sure if accurate, but from Wikipedia, ratings shot up to 9.30 million which is the highest excluding the pilot. Regardless if this was the best episode or not is all down to opinion. But the show has clearly turned a corner – the next episode titled “the bridge” is supposed to be a cliffhanger-type episode before the Christmas break.

  8. It was the lead in to DWTS so it probably had that tune in and wait it out audience watching.

  9. actually, the last 3 weeks were better.

  10. i thought T.A.P.S. was gonna show up for a second

  11. By the way, the previews for next episode have that black guy (sorry but Not being racist) back from episode 1. Looks like they are going to enlist his help. With the announcement of a Luke Cage t.v. show, do we assume that his character is going to become Luke Cage? Or will the Luke Cage series do its own character and origins.

    If that is the case, that the black character from episode 1 IS NOT Cage, then I feel it was a mistake for Marvel to have AoS have had a character so similar to Luke Cage personality, origin and powers, then to make an entire series about Cage. I feel like that would be like making a AoS character who invents a suit to wear that can shoot lasers beams, rockets, and can fly. People would compare that to Iron Man.

  12. Bravo!

  13. Series has been OK (not great, but I am enjoying it) so far, hope it gets a second season. Along with Arrow and Sleepy Hollow, probably the est series on right now. Yes, there is room for improvement, but it does not deserve quite the level of venom I am seeing spit in it’s direction.

  14. Just saw episode 9, I like paranormal TV shows/movies, so this episode was rather good IMHO. I also liked the scenes where Coulson and Skye interacted with the Perp while she was in lockup. This is the first AoS episode where the writers attempted to develop the Prep.

    The villain in episode 9 was the most memorable villain I have seen on the show this season. I’d rather he never took a physical form, and it took more than one episode to ‘break the curse’ because I believe the mentally challenged ghost concept is quite original and deserves a multi-episode arc.

  15. Probably the best episode yet for me
    However it still feels like this show is hovering at the lower end of mediocrity (even with this slight step up)

    Personally it will take more than one or two ‘ok’ episodes out of 9 to make this a good show in my book, I would like it if the show became a show the almost demanded viewers tune in based on its quality (like blacklist, almost human and sleepy hollow have been able to do in much less than 9 episodes) – for me each episode of AoS has been kind of forgettable, or at least its harder to remember what happened in the previous episode compared to other shows I watch

  16. Personally I enjoyed the episode certainly a step in the right direction. However something with this show doesn’t sit right. For starters S.H.I.E.L.D is supposed to be an elite military/tactical agency right. Then how in the 9 hells did the high ups give the go ahead to this rag tag group of misfits. The series needs to get dark real quick. Lose some of its goofyness and tone down the humor. Get real. Maybe even kill off someone, pick one I’m not fussed.

    For such an elite organisation this group just seem like a comedic experiment.

  17. Honestly each episode is opening up more possibilities of coulson’s return. Each thing(person),object they find has to do with death and life no? I know how Coulson’s survived and clearly no one is paying attention to the load of Easter eggs and give aways the show is showing. Pun not intended. The best way to hide something is to put it in your face and call it something else….

  18. Melinda May is bad ass my favorite character. That ghost reminds me of an Micheal Myers teleport

  19. I’ve enjoyed this series from the very first episode. Mainly because of the cheeky sharp dialogue. I am completely happy with a show that explores the very human dimension in a world now with added ‘super-power’ aliens in it. I loved the bit where they were dumped with cleaning up Greenwich – very true to life!

    This episode didn’t feel that wonderful to me, because it was basically a ghost story redone to fit the scenario. As always, what made it watchable for me was the characters’ interactions. Love the way May is slowly easing up and getting back in touch with herself again, too.

  20. “Coulson taps into the cinematic energy that made fans fall in love with him” –
    They did ? When was this ? Don’t ya just love it when others speak for you ? Attribute things to you ?
    Coulson is one of the weakest links. And pardon me ,but one of the Weakest Actors in the Marvel Universe. His “Blank Agent” persona is getting old.

  21. can Skye please die? i mean i hate her more than i’ve ever hated any character on a tv show. I see her and i just roll my eyes. I keep wishing someone would pull out a gun and blow her away.