Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 4: “Eye-Spy” Recap

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In “Eye-Spy”, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. tracks down a mysterious woman who has single-handedly committed numerous high-stakes heists.

Continue reading for a spoiler filled discussion of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 4.

“Eye-Spy” marks the first episode written by executive producer Jeffrey Bell (Angel, Alias) without co-writing credits to Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen. While this episode is an improvement over “The Asset”, the show is still working to find the right balance between the humor, espionage drama, and comic-inspired stories.

The concept of “Eye-Spy”, an all-seeing camera implanted into a spy’s eye, could be told in many other science fiction television shows. It’s plot, other than the spy being a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, does not directly tie into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is not necessarily a bad thing for a show that wants to attract a broader base audience and tell its own stories without dropping Avengers references to the disdain of some fans. 

For an 8 o’clock ABC network family friendly drama, “Eye-Spy” added some unexpected gruesome moments. The severed hands and eyeball snipping gives the show an edgier vibe, something that could balance out the hit and miss humour. More often than not, I found myself laughing; however, comedy is subjective and I can envision other fans wincing or rolling their eyes at times.

The cold open starts off with an intriguing, mysterious hook. The imagery of faceless, masked men in corporate suits with a briefcase handcuffed to their wrist while walking amongst everyday people in a busy plaza has a layered context. The twist, if you can call it that, is that the masked men are not the perpetrators of a crime, rather they are the victims; there is a far more menacing unseen threat out there.

Enter Akela Amador, a thief and one-time S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Like Commandant Reyes from episode 2, her history with Agent Coulson gives insight on the man he used to be. Her presence in the story also explains why he is using a different approach in training Skye. Skye tells A.C., “you’re cool” but from what we learn the old Coulson was uncompromising on his agents-in-training. The way Coulson goes out of way to protect Amador from S.H.I.E.L.D.’s headquarters might foreshadow what he does when Skye, a possible mole for Rising Tide, betrays them.

When Amador asks Mays “what did they do to Coulson?” it suggests that he is altered or manipulated in a way that serves an ulterior agenda of S.H.I.E.L.D. This is similar to how Amador, as well has her handler, are forced to do something against their will due to an organization pulling their strings.

Skye’s comment, “it would be terrible to be watched all the time” is ironic considering real life concerns regarding NSA. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how the writers contextualize S.H.I.E.L.D. , an all-seeing espionage and surveillance agency, in a time when personal privacy is encroached upon and people have a strong distrust of their governments.

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The immediate popularity of Melinda Mays is a surprise to me. Usually the strong silent types that don’t play well with others take some time to warm up to. But fans love a woman who can kick-ass.

May’s stone-cold, unflinching demeanour is wicked to see in the all-too-brief confrontation with Amador. It could have been the show’s first epic fight. I hope the show doesn’t continue to shy away from more complicated, extended fight scenes.

One of the highlights of the episode is Agent Ward bromancing the security guard in Russian. The comedic touch is attributed more to the writing than acting, but Brett Dalton is noticeably less stiff than previous episodes.

Skye’s meta line “You’re a robot, can you do that?” is a tip of the hat that the show is aware how Agent Ward is perceived by many fans. Shooting the hapless guards while using the enhanced vision glasses was not necessary for Ward’s escape. It’s not bothersome to me but isn’t S.H.I.E.L.D. supposed to be the “good guys”?

Between the high-tech wizardry of Fitz and Simmons’ double PhDs, there’s no one on the team with life saving medical training. Coulson hand-picked each agent to assemble the most elite S.H.I.E.L.D. team. However, there are some obvious holes in the squad and aside from Mays, the others still need to prove their worth.

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Parts of this episode that are played for comedy or suspense unfortunately undermine the intelligence of the brainy half of the team. It took too long for super genius Fitz to realize the large white van he was looking it on the screen was the one he was sitting in.

We get that Fitz is not a field agent but the writers should still give him a moment where he can demonstrate his intelligence and therefore value to the team. For instance, Fitz the geeky gadget guy, should be the first one to figure out Amador’s camera is in her eyes long before anyone else.

“Eye-Spy” is a story which for the most part lives outside of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. However there are some intriguing threads such as who is responsible for coercing Amador and what is the weird alien glyphs/schematics that Agent Ward saw. Hopefully, these elements can be fleshed out as the season progresses and tie into a major nemesis or overarching mythology that this series desperately needs to raise the stakes.

What is did you like or dislike about “Eye-Spy”? What are your theories on Coulson?

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Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 Episode 1 “Pilot” Recap

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About Eddie@Jaccendo

Movies, TV shows, comics, and video game news & review.

Posted on October 16, 2013, in Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., Television and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I enjoyed this episode. I feel the show is really, really close to clicking and really finding its voice. Looking forward to tuning in next week! 🙂

  2. Living the Geek Life

    I agree with the above commenter. I found the chemistry much better this week and characters annoyed me less. I liked that it wasn’t as tied to the MCU and comics as much as earlier epis, too. I guess I found it a better balanced episode than you did. Still less than perfect, but an improvement!

    I liked your comment re: the NSA and spying programs. That was a clever connection you made!

    • This episode is an improvement and I liked the use of Mays and Ward. Some fans like that it wasn’t tied to MCU at the same time others fans are wanting more comic-inspired stories. Us fans are so hard to please ;). At the end when Skye is looking at Ward playing poker with the special glasses, it’s like having to walk through an airport security scanner haha. 🙂

  3. One of the better ones, of this so far lackluster series 😦

    This had an interesting story and the events seemed to play with more fun. However this seems way too early for this kind of story. Seems like a story that would play out in season 2 or 3 of a series like this but okay whatever.

    This series needs a big boot of originality, am talking steel toe to the ass!

    • I also did enjoy this one better, not that the previous episodes set a benchmark for quality.

      The red masked men is an idea that they could have developed into an interesting foe for S.H.I.E.L.D. The eye-spy idea is alright too, mainly in how the characters where used and like you said the writers had fun with it. But it lacked originality. I hope the writers are listening and taking notes :).

  4. Hello there, cool recap yo. I thought this episode was the best one yet, I feel like the darker tone was a much needed shift from the stuff we got before. There was actually good air of mystery, an actual sense of danger and everyone was involved in some way or another.

    Seeing more of Agent Ward and Skye using their skills was awesome as well has having the team going on little trips together and being in danger themselves. Also Akela was an interesting, again having someone related to Coulson’s past just makes is former life more interesting and makes you wanna know more and she seems like a cool and capable person I’d like to see return later on in the series perhaps?

    Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. still doesn’t have a solid foundation yet and that bugs me, but I guess its till early days. But then I can remember Fringe had a questionable first season and only found its feet towards the end of first season and after season 2 things just got better from there. I just hope AoS finds its feet a while while sooner than that.

    Oh and by the way if you’re not busy I’d appreciate your thoughts on my review of this episode. Cheers. 🙂

    • This is a stronger episode for me, better than the rest. All the characters were better utilized, put into more dangerous situations and the jokes were quite funny. There’s still a lot of room for growth and improvement.

      I’d also like to see Akela return. She wasn’t a bad person but is forced to do terrible things. I like her relationship with Coulson. It seems like the mistakes Coulson made with Akela, he’s trying not to make them again with Skye. He’s carefully grooming Skye, building their trust. I think more of Coulson’s plan for Skye will be revealed throughout the season.

      In Fringe’s first season, especially the first half, I was desperate for more mythology episodes rather than freak of the week. They did explain the freaks were part of a “pattern” which helped to connect everything but it left me wanting more. But Fringe’s early episodes were more original than S.H.I.E.L.D.’s. Each episode would start off with something really bizarre and freaky which gave Fringe it’s identity. Once the “other side” story got going it gave Fringe it’s foundation and focus. I hope S.H.I.E.L.D. develops it’s own mythology, something that’ll give the show it’s foundation and keep loyal viewers coming back – other than the mystery of Coulson’s resurrection.

      I’d love to check out your review! Cheers and thanks for discussing the show with me! 🙂

  5. Thought this episode was so much better then the last two. The eye stuff was disgusting and had to look away. I liked the actor who played Amador. Her character could have been played somewhat stiff but she gave it a depth that made her relatable. Agree about Ward and the bromance scence – the writing was funnier then the acting but it was pulled off well.
    I too thought it took too long for Fitz to realize it was their van they were seeing. This part of the team so needs much better development.
    Still not sure how I feel about Skye – she’s got some good, witty comments but am on the fence. Hopefully she won’t do anything too bad to S.H.I.E.L.D. in future.
    Hoping the show will continue improving on episodes. Liked how the start of this one was real location shots, but after it was studio stuff. Lends a little more enjoyment and doesn’t seem as claustophobic as the other past two episodes have.

  6. I had to look away too! It reminded me of a scene from the Hostel. The actor who played Amador has a strong likeability factor even after ramming the van with some of the agents inside. Or maybe that’s why people like her? Just kidding. 😉

    Ward is most interesting when he has to do things that are out of character, forcing him out of his comfort zone. Plus it was a funny scene which helps him to be more likeable.

    I knew from the pilot that Skye could rubs fans the wrong way: both in her personality/dialogue and her function on the team. I like her though. Yeah, I think her connection to Rising Tide will play out over the season.

    That’s a great point that the opening is shot on location. It helps sell the idea that these are global agents. It also adds to the production value, scope and feel of the show.

    I also believe this is a better episode. Let’s hope the show continues to improve!

  7. This was an amazing episode to watch. The vibe and storyline were great, the opening was compelling and the suspense was held up well through the episode. I was surprised too the men in masks were the victims.

    I never thought of it, but yes I think you’re right, how Akela turned out is an indication why Coulson is gentle on Skye. Also, May making a misstep in undermining Coulson’s decision of not going after Akela also serves as another interesting character development, and I guess makes audiences (at least me) become more fond of May as it shows she’s human enough to make mistakes, not just the perfect supercool ‘big sis’ the younger characters can look up to for protection and to learn from.

    • The opening did a great job of creating immediate suspense and hooking me into the story. I didn’t see the previews so I was surprised by the masked men who I thought were going to be the nemesis for the episode. As you may know, the opening is filmed in Sweden. I hope we get more on-location shooting in the future but I understand how expensive it can be.

      If I recall, Coulson regretted pushing Akela too hard during her training, so I guess he doesn’t want to make the same mistake with Skye. I also like that they are showing different sides to May including her less than perfect side. She’s very independent thinking which I like. Very true how the younger characters look up to May. I hope to see her interact with them more in the future. The good news is that the show will continue to focus on the character development. I look forward to hearing what you think of the next episodes.

  1. Pingback: TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “Eye Spy” (S1,E4) – The Best Episode Yet | We Minored In Film

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