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

Published 8 months 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.

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95 Comments

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  1. This is the best episode yet?

    I thought this episode was just okay. I just hope they cover the dimension hopping thing more.

  2. Can’t wait to watch it on Friday in the U.K. And thanks Anthony for a very non-spoilery review. I’ve been enjoying the show anyway for what it is, but I’m glad that this episode is finally upping the game and adding some weight to proceedings. I hope the ratings go up with the quality of the show.

  3. I really liked it comparatively. The story was interesting, it was to the point, and above all, it REALLY fleshed out these characters. What they did felt kind of forced to me in the last episode, but this continuation really surprised me and made me like them a bit more.

    Why didn’t they write more episodes on this show? It seems like the Whedons are the only ones who know what the hell they’re doing here.

  4. a lot better

  5. If this was the best episode this series may not last as long as hoped. If this is the best this show can do than they are in really big trouble. What makes it worse is watching Person of Interest right after, now that’s a well written and acted show with chemistry and weight!

    • +1

    • It’s not even fair. That opening montage sequence in Person of Interest was killer.

      Shield was ok tonight, I didn’t groan too many times.

      B

    • +! If that was the best episode then this show is an absolute failure.

      Seems to me Screenrant were just getting tired of fanboys getting mad with them every time they gave this show a deserved poor review.

  6. I’ve enjoyed every episode so far and this was the best yet.

    Sadly, there seems to be a tendency for DC fan boys to bash all things Marvel. Must be tough to finally admit the genra doesn’t just belong to Superman.

    • DC Fanboys? Sh*t man I am Marvel pretty solidly and this show is idiotic. I stopped watching it basically because :
      A. the writing is horrible
      B. the acting is horrible
      C. Clark Gregg even though is a good support is no lead

      I didn’t stop watching cause of lack of superheroes or anything other than above.

      If screenrant says this weeks show was decent I will probably check it out. But damn I have better sh*t to do for an hour than watch a train wreck.

    • Sorry but no the show isn’t good and deserves to be bashed on how bad it is. The only people defending this hot mess are the fanbois.

  7. I don’t see how in any way shape or form this episode was “best yet”. 7/10.

  8. Show needs to take more risks, and needs to be more unpredictable.

  9. They should get darker, weirder and take more risks with the narrative… If they can confidently present episodes that push the envelope a bit more maybe it will become more popular.

  10. They said they wouldn’t drag out Coulson’s “death” but that’s exactly what they’re doing. They’ll probably give the reveal in the season (maybe series) finale, “Coulson survived! How? He had a great surgeon.” I knew they’d do this, it’s so predictable.

  11. In a related news, Marvel’s Kevin Feige confesses that Agents of Shield is actually a reboot of the saga Police Academy.

    • +9000

  12. Better episode. I had missed many of them in favor of NCIS, which wasn’t on last night. It wasn’t without it’s flaws, particularly the many negative references to God.
    However it wasn’t that bad.

    Fitz/Simmons was at their best?!? Gag!! They have got to go!!

  13. A baby step in the right direction but I said that after the Chiaturi episode and then we went right back to garbage on the next one.

    They’re going to have to string a few more wins together before I change them from the “pretenders” list to contenders.

    • Agreed. They need to hit on at least the next 3-4 episodes to keep me interested in the rest of the season

  14. Like some I agree this episode was ok. Did ABC nudge SR for this? Most shows this poor would have already been canceled. I’m a MCU fan. I’m a Whedon fan. But this is not good.

  15. I’m three weeks behind on this show. Maybe I’ll catch up over T-Giving break.

  16. The fact that this show is 9 episodes in and we are still wondering if they’ve had their best episodes yet, or if this show has finally gained some momentum should tell you a lot about Agents of SHIELD.

    I agree with an above poster (Alpine), I feel a lot of other shows would have been cancelled by this point. I feel like the only thing keeping this show on is the ratings, which are doing ok because of the name of the show and its connection to the Marvel movies, not because of the quality of the show.

    • Um, ratings are basically the only thing that keeps shows on. How would you describe “Two and a Half Men” and other awful sitcoms. People tune in, so they stay on the air.

      See no reason, ratings or otherwise, why AOS would be cancelled. What one determines the best episode varies by viewer. I guess I don’t understand the point how that factors into the discussion.

    • Most shows don’t begin to hit their stride until half way through the first season… 9 is a very fair sample size. I think that despite what these boards would lead you to believe the show is doing just fine and continues to improve. Claiming it would have been cancelled if it were any other show or not related to Marvel is a ludicrous assertation. That would be like saying Game of Thrones would be cancelled if it wasn’t on HBO and wasn’t based off George R. R. Martin’s books.

      • I would argue that it’s not a ludicrous assumption. What they are saying is just that AoS can coast on its Marvel association and thus it can draw viewers without needing to actually be good, thus is quite possibly would not be drawing viewers without the Marvel connection. Granted though, cancellation is harder to predict, as lots of good shows get canceled and bad ones don’t.

        Game of Throne is not even close to being the same situation. Much more niche and specialized in its origin. Also, that conversation would only come up if Game of Thrones was not considered very watchable on its own merits. Not really the case.

        • But it IS connected to Marvel. What I was saying was that you can’t change everything about a show, including its source material, and make some wild conclusion of the quality of the show.

      • The difference is that Game Of Thrones in its first season never really had any issues when it came to the writing, plots, or overall picture. Also, GOT never had any issues when it came to ratings. AOS has the ratings but like many articles online have stated several times, if this show was called Agents of CSI or some other name with no relation to Marvel, the show would have been cancelled because the show doesn’t present enough compelling material to survive. The only thing going for them is the Marvel brand. Yes, the show has had some good episodes but not enough to warrant it a success thus far. Until it can prove that it can survive without the Marvel brand then this show will be considered okay but among the top tier programming series out there.

      • You must live in a dream land to think that without the title and connection to marvel that this show would’ve seen episode 5. That’s ludicrous.

        • Well you don’t KNOW that for certain.

          • Yes I do.

          • Yes I do. And it’s not ludicrous.

    • “Most shows hit their stride halfway into the season”

      This would have been true a couple of years ago but let’s all be real here, if this didn’t have the Marvel name attached to this show it wouldn’t have made it past the 2nd episode. With shows like Sleepy Hollow and Almost Human starting strong right out of the gate, it has now set the bar pretty high as far as expectations when it comes to TV series.

      • Yeah. Sleepy Hollow really got me interested from the first few moments of the first episode. I would even go back to something like Firefly, which also started strong IMO.

        A show that cannot sell itself from the start…does not necessarily deserve to survive, IMO. But granted, we do like to be hopeful and give ones that we like a chance.

  17. Of course they would like the must liberal episode. Thought the episode had too much God hating

  18. This episode was NOT the best so far. Last week’s episode with Peter MacNicol was much better than this episode. But overall, the series is still just ok. I still watch it because it’s a comic book show and I can’t resist. But the Skye character is a joke. She whines about EVERYTHING. Her character is so annoying and all she does is nag and complain. I hate every second of screen time she gets. But I am loving everyone else. Hopefully this show can start to get a lot less campy.

  19. Anthony, thank you for being the first article I’ve read on this site acknowledging the limited involvement of Joss Whedon. Misinformation has been rampant when it comes to this show, and this is a legitimate assessment of it so far up to this point.

    Ever since I bashed your review after episode 5, you have made a complete 180 and are now giving accurate and detailed breakdowns of each episode, including the writing and directing credits that are often overlooked yet are probably the most important factor in determining the quality of the episode, rather than the hate mongering early in the season and I appreciate it greatly. I can admit when I’m wrong, and I fully admit I was wrong about your ability as an objective and unbiased reviewer.

    • You sure are full of yourself. Thinking someone would change their stance on a sub par show because some nobody on a comment board bashed their opinion. This show is only in because of its name.

      • I said “since,” not “because” I commented in week 5.

  20. My theory on Coulson’s death is this: (Potential Spoiler Warning.)

    Coulson never died. AND the Coulson in the show is an LMD. In the finale, “Coulson” will meet Coulson.

    I can definitely see them doing that.

    • Hmmm. I don’t know…for me, Coulson was a fun character when he was just a ‘regular’ agent. I do not find any of this ‘mystery origin’ stuff compelling or interesting.

      • Right. I find it more annoying considering they’ve said they wouldn’t drag out what really happened but yet they continue to give us filler episodes. There is no continuation of plots or subplots or if there is, it is done rather sloppy.

  21. so…..did anybody else geek out at the multiple references to Muspelheim (or possibly Hel) in this episode? Or am I just reading too much into the “hellish alternate dimension” that sounded and looked an awful lot like Surtur’s planet of fire-demons that we glimpsed in “Thor: The Dark World” when Simmons pulled up the reactor explosion on the holographic screen…..food for thought lol

    • the entire time i was watching i was like its definitely the world with the fire demons and i was hoping this article would have said something about it considering how many posts sr wrote about that potential plot thread

  22. i agree totally on the “its taken them 9 episodes to get to this” topic..the issue i have is i feel i’m watching a DC comicbook show with Marvel’s name on top…i appreciate the fact that they try to reference the movies and all but that can only go for so long..this episode and the earlier one with Graviton were probably the best ones-only because of their originality to the show and to the marvel universe..however a girl who gets telekinisis and another guy who phases all because of a lab accident-thats a DC origin story,not A MARVEL one..makes for great tv however its annoying to the average Marvel fan who expected at this point to at least have more connections to the Marvel Universe…Tobias Ford? who the hell is that? I realize yes-this is the “marvel film universe” but still this episode could’ve been an even better episode had it been an “origin” story of a Marvel character and not some made for tv character..Yes- Marvel does have characters who have gained powers from an accident or by accident-Daredevil,Spiderman,to name a few so its not totally unoriginal by Marvel to have those type of characters and I’m sure there are other characters in the Marvel Universe who have had similar origins so why couldn’t they have used any of them? Its also not an issue for me or any other fan at this point if they changed origins for certain characters from the comics to the show or films..my thoughts initially that this episode could’ve been an origin episode(had they actually wanted it) for the Ultimate versions of Cloak and Dagger whose powers derived from a lab related incident.. But of course no-they didnt embrace that or even attempt to try to bring in a character from the Marvel universe and seem fairly content in coming up with their own characters outside of the Marvel Universe much to the continual dismay of fans of the comics..If they continue to do this, I do not see this show lasting much more-not even a second season.. in order to survive at all, they will need to embrace more characters from the Marvel universe-popular or not-to keep the ship going otherwise this will be a stain on Marvel’s film universe and may affect their plans for future films and tv shows..

    • How is any comic book origin distinguishable between DC or marvel. This origin could’ve been either or.

    • No. Shoving in pre-existing characters and half-assing them is what killed Arrow for me. They’re doing the right thing by creating new material… they just need to step up the quality of said material.

    • This show is about agents not super heroes. Originality to the show? The show is its own new story, away from the comic-verse. “however a girl who gets telekinisis and another guy who phases all because of a lab accident-thats a DC origin story,not A MARVEL one..”Are you kidding?! She didn’t have telekinesis. The guy was torn between dimensions, not wanting to leave the girl’s side. He was protecting her.”Tobias Ford? who the hell is that? I realize yes-this is the “marvel film universe” but still this episode could’ve been an even better episode had it been an “origin” story of a Marvel character and not some made for tv character..”….Im speechless by that. It’s not super hero SHOW!They don’t need to embrace origin stories to survive. They need to create a origin story throughout the show. This wont ruin future plans or shows. It will only make them better.

  23. Can anyone explain if this series is made a few weeks ahead of airing – I don’t understand how after just a few episodes – the makers are responding to critics so fast.

    • They are not responding to any criticism, these shows were already done. The perception there has been a huge swing in the tone and quality of the shows might just be in the eyes of some viewers.

  24. This episode was alright and I do agree that it’s the best so far but that’s not saying much. The comedy still feels forced and corny, the action along with the special effects is something I would expect out of the Syfy channel. Then you have the May/Ward thing going on and even with that it feels forced. This show really needs to take some risks and think outside the box in order to really gain my interest. I’ve rewatched S1 of Arrow and I would say, for myself, I got “hooked” into the series by episode 10 in which it was the first episode that I’ve said, I cannot wait until the next episode. So far with AOS, I haven’t gotten that “cannot wait until the next episode” feeling. What made it worse was seeing Person of Interest after. Now I am sure I will hear the constant arguement about how a show needs at least 10-12 episodes to hit their stride but with Sleepy Hollow and now Almost Human, they have set the bar when it comes to TV network series. Dracula, a show that I didn’t even think would be interesting, has become a “can’t wait until the next episode” series now within the first 4 episodes.
    I know it’s Marvel, but for myself, once I step back and look at the overall picture, I see AOS as just another show. Arrow, Almost Human, Sleepy Hollow, Dracula, Person of Interest are shows that are in the top tier of network TV series. AOS needs to step up their game if they want to join those shows and they need to do it quick

    • Actually Defiance on the SYFY channel has better acting, action choreorgraphy, and special effects, and writing. Generally most SYFY shows like Continuum ( which is awesome) Haven, and WArehouse 13 far exceed AOS in every facet of production.

  25. This series showed a lot of promise, I thought – from seeing the first two or three chapters – but it rapidly descended into the depressing muck of Standard Predictably-Lame Television with the “need” to highlight the Human Dimension (i.e. turn it into a soap opera). All of those longing glances between Skye and Pretty Boy in the initial episodes were annoying enough, but I knew that the fun was over when she turned up naked in her old friend’s motel bed. These characters, for the most part, supposedly possess a superior intellectual and physical discipline – so it seems more than just a little bit incongruous to have them endlessly getting drunk, lusting for and copulating amongst each other. (Of course, I understand the desire to rope in as many viewers as possible, and that there are millions out there whose mental focus rarely strays above their waist, but one can still hope!) The writers also overdid the weekly glaring “hints” about Coulson actually having died (and been cloned?), and Agent May’s terminal scowl quickly grew tiresome. I realize that it is (supposedly) the sign of “a strong woman” to have PMS every single day of the year, but hers must even be annoying the female viewers by this point. And now we are expected to embrace the idea that she is a practical jokester, as well? Puh-leeze. Stick a fork in me, I’m done with this pathetic yawn-fest!

  26. This is show is like a C-list Marvel comic. It starts out strong and promising as an idea in the hype interviews with Marvel writers and editors and then deteriorates quickly in weeks as consumers quickly stop consuming it.

    They don’t care, just send them your money and your Nielsens.

  27. The best thing about this episode was the relationship of the man and woman SHIELD was investigating. Good emotion, good special effects. The story written for the agents themselves was so so.

    • I also did not know Whedon was so little involved. This show needs more Whedon.

  28. No, The a Hub was their best episode yet. This was essentially a bottle episode as they *keep* doing and that little money saving trick is getting exhausting!

    In two weeks thought they will FINALLY be bringing back the character they never should have been without. That ship always needed it’s own “Hulk”.

    • They need to stop using their plane as a “commercial flight that crashes” and start utilizing it as Firefly did–a fully utilized tool and weapon for their missions. And hell, let it get in a firefight and fight back, dammit.

  29. I really want to like this show, but I can’t get past the second episode.

    Its… just… so… bad…

    • But is does have you hooked. You are still posting about it. Think of all the tv shows you are not watching and how many of them are you on forums posting about. If I don’t like a show, I don’t spend a second of my time posting about it.

      • i know, right?

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