[This is a review of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Uprising season 1, episode 14. There will be SPOILERS.]
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns after a month break with a new name – Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Uprising – which hints at a possible shift in tone for the series. However, much like Coulson’s vacation in “Tahiti”, names are not always what they appear to be - as this episode reveals.
In ‘T.A.H.I.T.I.,’ written by executive producer Jeffrey Bell, Coulson and co. rush to find a way to save Skye’s (Chloe Bennet) life, which leads them to a room called T.A.H.I.T.I., in a place known only as the Guest House, in search of a way to replicate the procedure that saved Coulson’s life. When agents Garrett (Bill Paxton) and Triplett (B.J. Britt) attempt to bring Quinn (David Conrad) in for questioning themselves, the two realize the seriousness of the situation and, instead, offer their help. As Skye’s life is saved, T.A.H.I.T.I. is revealed, and Coulson finds out exactly where – and who – his newfound health comes from.
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” – is the situation Marvel’s television experiment currently finds itself in, and the much-touted rebranding of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Uprising does little to change that, as the episode never conveys what the new title proclaims. Convenience appears to be the name of the game now as the series has a “second go” at revelations which were previously promised, then technically sidestepped.
"Uprisings” aside, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will find a bevy of information in 'T.A.H.I.T.I.' which lends itself to over-speculation. Whether or not this is truly enough to pique the interest of those watching still remains to be seen – though the future of the series definitely depends on it.
Both Paxton and Britt make their inaugural appearance in this episode, and though their characters are not any stronger – or important, even – than Coulson’s ragtag team, the two breathe new life in to the series, helping to elevate the performances of those around them to a level which removes any need to qualify your viewing. Through them, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has revealed, ever so slightly, what the quality of the series could potentially be elevated to - if it were to make it to season 2 and 3. Based on their debut, there's little doubt that fans would appreciate seeing Garrett and Triplett return, in whatever capacity that’s required for them to do so.
Yes, it takes only but a few strokes of the keyboard for Garrett and Triplett to be written back in to the series; however, there needs to be a real reason for them to return. No matter how earnest producers intentions are at delivering a synergistic world, they’re still playing what can be called a season 3 game in season 1, where logic and reasoning have yet to push through endless mysteries and promises which, if we’re all being honest, rarely pay off – and if they do, it’s often by way of a proverbial loophole. Fans need to be able to define what a series is in order to justify their viewing - and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while thoroughly enjoyable, is not enough to carry the weight of what this series has become – at least not with the constraints that a billion-dollar movie franchise forces its television counterpart to work with.
Despite all that, answers have been provided and Coulson now knows the truth about what happened to him. With 7 episodes left, the series still has more than enough time to deliver a string of a episodes which prove a season 2 renewal is worthwhile based on quality and not necessity. Now that Lorelei has arrived from Asgard, next week we'll see Lady Sif (Jamie Alexander) crossover from the movie world in order to stop her. If there’s anything that will prove whether or not a shared universe can truly span both film and television, next week’s AoS episode is it.
Now, can we please get a Twister 2?
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns next Tuesday with “Yes Men” @8pm on ABC. You can check out a preview of next week's episode below: