Be warned – there are a couple of quite intense fire effects in this episode, one of which I won’t be in the least surprised to find gets edited for the pre-watershed transmission in the UK.
There’s a lot going on this week within the team, as well as outside: Skye’s agenda and past are revealed, although there’s plenty of reason to think that she’s becoming like a Russian doll. The moment Coulson and the others see through one layer, she comes up with another story. Is this Skye’s real motivation? Somehow I doubt it.
The episode is rather more what people anticipated SHIELD being like: investigating and dealing with people with superpowers. After all, that’s what was set up in the post-credits portions of the original Marvel Universe movies. Obviously a television budget won’t allow a level of effects to match the films, but if they confine themselves to this sort of thing, it works okay.
Coulson’s world-weary moan of “Oh no, they gave him a name” was probably the best line, but the difference between a Joss Whedon-scripted episode and the rest is becoming ever clearer as the show progresses. There are some good ideas on display: SHIELD’s tactics are starting to veer towards the ‘might is right’ end of the spectrum, and regular reminders that this might not sit well with the public are no bad thing.
Verdict: It’s starting to gel, and the guarantee of a complete season means that arcs can be played out – but at the moment it still feels as if each episode could do with one more polish before going in front of the cameras. 7/10