Dr. Franklin Hall, Graviton, Marvel's Agents of SHIELD

TV Review: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Episode 1.03 “The Asset” *SPOILERS*; Preview of Next Week’s Episode

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD

“If we had a small monkey, he could slip through the sensors and disable them with his adorable little hats!”

Episode 1.03 “The Asset”
Directed by: Milan Cheylov
Written by : Maurissa Tarcharoen and Jed Whedon

NO!  You do not get an apology for the lateness of the review because the concept of the talkback, seems to be getting lost on people.  We watch the episode (as a group), then we ….wait for it….talk back with one another about it and what we think is coming next.  We’re 0/3 on that.  I feel like you people are the French Guiana of participatory activities (that joke was for me).

Following the epic awesome spectaculartude that was Nick Fury showing up at the end of 1.02 to ream Coulson about getting a big hole in one of his expensive toys, we catch up with Team Coulson right back up their on the Bus.  The hole, sadly, was not patched by a fish tank.

The team’s third episode focuses on Chloe Bennet‘s Skye and establishes her, if she wasn’t clearly already, as the co-lead on the show alongside Coulson.  Skye’s an interesting character with extremely shifty loyalties (which she demonstrates more than once this go-round) and I think Benet is growing more comfortable in the role.

“The Asset” is a scientist by the name of Dr. Franklin Hall (Ian Hart), a former mentor for Fitz and Simmons, who has been kidnapped by nefarious Ian Quinn (David Conrad), whose Quinn Industries seems to be the kind of corporation Juilian Assange would run if that’s the sort of thing he did.  Quinn and Hall are old colleagues and Quinn has the last piece to create a massive energy generator fueled by the incredibly classic Marvel-sounding element “Gravitonium” that would be able to generate incredible power.

Dr. Franklin Hall, Graviton, Marvel's Agents of SHIELD

Hall begins working on completing the machine while Team Coulson races to Malta where Hall is being held.  Malta is mentioned so many times as a haven for people who do no good that either they’re setting it up to be a kind of Madripoor of the real world or Joss Whedon had a very poor vacation there.

The team’s planning is going nowhere and all seems lost (this is when Fitz’s plan for the trained monkey with sensor disarming hats is raised), Skye hacks into Quinn’s network and generates a backdoor invite for herself.  Skye will go alone into the party and try to lower the compound’s defenses for the rest of the team.  It’s a Trojan Horse plan, but with a fairly short woman.

It’s here we must diverge for a second to talk about Skye’s supervising officer and male action lead Agent Grant Ward (Brett Dalton).  While the rest of the cast is good and is starting to gel, Dalton is a problem.  He’s cardboard.  He has no charisma or likability factor.  He sticks out and by the third episode, it’s painfully clear he’s got one acting note and he’s just plunking it over and over.  Whedon had a similar problem with a character that just wasn’t working on Angel and, in typical Whedon style, killed him in nine episodes.  WHEDONKILL.  I’m not calling for a WHEDONKILL yet….but I’m close.

Benet let’s Ward and Coulson into the compound where they try to rescue Dr. Hall only to find he’s not exactly planning on leaving.  He thinks Quinn is nuts (he’s correct) and that this power is WAY too much for any one person to wield (also sounding correct) so he’s going to overload it and blow up a large chunk of the surrounding bit of Malta rather than risk the world’s population as a whole (corr…whoa, what now?).  Coulson is not down with this and it leads to the best action piece in the series thus far: a gravity shifting fight with Hall that only ends when Coulson is forced to shoot Hall into the Graviton generator, seemingly rendering it inert.

Graviton, Marvel's Agents of SHIELD

I say “seemingly” because in a very post-credits of a MCU movie sort of way, the gravity machine is being loaded into a secure SHIELD storage facility known as The Fridge when a hand desperately lunges out from the gravity-defying goo.  Coulson has created GRAVITON!  Yes, the first super-villain in SHIELD is none other than Dr. Franklin Hall a.k.a. GRAVITON!  Ok.  It’s not Dr. Doom.  SHIELD is never going to get Doom-level villains.  What they’ll need to do is take D-List villains like Graviton and give them character and a cool origin.  They really do give him a good origin story here and they’re already way ahead of his cool factor in the comics as demonstrated by what he looks like there:
Thunderbolts 17, GravitonIt’s safe to say we’ll be hearing from Dr. Hall again sometime soon.

On the Agent Coulson resurrection mystery front, Coulson takes to the field for the first time since The Battle of New York and finds himself  a little rusty.  Actually, it’s more than that, and several teammates notice things that should just be a matter of muscle memory aren’t clicking.  A Life Model Decoy would probably not have muscle memory issues so is he a clone?  Coulson, you enigma.

Points of Geekery/Quick Thoughts

  • *Gadget of the Week award goes to the tiny gravity generator that opens that fantastic Dr. Hall abduction scene.  it’s the size of a thimble and flips cars!  I want one!
  • LOL at Coulson’s Charlie Brown-esque wardrobe of identical suits.
  • We learn the greatest casualty of the Battle of New York was Coulson’s collection of vintage Captain America collector’s cards. DAMN YOU, LOKI!!!!!!
  • I’m glad Melinda May has had enough of sitting on the sidelines and wants back into combat duty.  We need a lot more Ming-Na and a lot less Agent Ward.
  • There were some stellar F/X pieces in this episode.  I didn’t know if Marvel would give them the budget to pull off stuff as big as the opening scene, for example, and it’s cool to see.
  • ABC officially gave SHIELD a full-season order (like they shouldn’t just go ahead and renew it for the next five years).

This episode had the best action pieces of the show so far, but Agent Cardward has a lot of screen time and he’s sticking in my craw.  If there’s not some dramatic improvement soon, he’s going to become an anchor on the show’s growth.  Tomorrow’s episode is “Eye Spy” and perhaps we’ll TALK BACK about it soon!
Lola Mentions/Cameos – NO LOLA WHATSOEVER!?!
Avengers Mentioned – Nick Fury, Chitauri Invasion
Episode Score 7.5/10
Season Score So Far 8.42/10

NEXT WEEK: Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD 1.04  “Eye Spy”


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