Coming off from a less than stellar installment last week, I was a wee bit anxious concerning what Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would throw at us this time. But I have to admit that every time my faith in Joss Whedon waivers even slightly, something good usually happens to restore truth to the fanboy pledge, “In Joss We Trust.” Now to be fair this week’s episode was not one of his episodes (having been written by V and X-Files veteran, Jeffrey Bell), nor was it that good of an installment. But after having been disappointed by “The Asset,” it was nice to see Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. return to solid footing with “Eye Spy.”
Kicking off with a sensational opening involving creepy masked thieves (whose masks remind one of The Red Skull from Captain America) being dispatched and robbed in the dark by a mysterious assailant, Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) puts his team on the case and discovers that the assailant is a rogue S.H.I.E.L.D. agent thought to be dead (played by Pascale Armand from GTA IV). Her name is Akela Amador, and besides exhibiting apparent psychic abilities (though Coulson and team clearly state for the viewer that ESP is impossible in this universe), she also happens to be Coulson’s ex-protege. Fueled by both curiosity and compassion concerning his former student, Coulson leads his team in tracking down Akela’s whereabouts and discovering the mystery behind her past disappearance and sudden return.
Right off the bat, I enjoyed much of the character that “Eye Spy” brought in the form of Akela Amador. Pascale Armand gives an engaging performance that shifts well between her initial icy coolness and the later despondent entrapment when we begin to learn more about her situation. This latter side especially shines in her scenes with Agent Coulson, wherein her almost fatalistic attitude plays well against Clark Gregg’s concerned and caring performance. It’s also worth mentioning her “powers,” revealed halfway through the episode to be technological in origin and endowing her with a form of X-ray vision in one eye. It was a pretty neat explanation and execution for her mysterious “precognition,” and lent itself to some great instances, particularly a short but sweet fight scene with Ming-Na Wen’s Melinda May (who has thankfully abandoned her BS qualms with combat from the previous episode).
Other aspects of the episode were a bit more hit-and-miss but there wasn’t really anything that annoyed me too much. The section of the episode immediately following the opening was quite lame by comparison, relying too much on some forced humor from Skye and Ward (Chloe Bennet and Brett Dalton) that made me roll my eyes a bit. There’s also a particularly stupid scene involving Skye and the Fitzsimmons duo (Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge) left defenseless in a van only to be attacked by Akela, who ultimately serves no purpose as she just cow-tips the van and exits stage left. Thankfully things picked up from there once we learned more about Akela, and there are some especially funny bits involving Ward towards the episode’s end that made him grow on me a bit more (since he’s my least favorite character of the show so far).
So yeah, “Eye Spy” isn’t a great episode. Hell, it’d be a stretch for me to even say that it’s really all that good. But after last week’s missteps, this week’s installment of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a much-appreciated breath of fresh air and a decent episode in its own right. If nothing else, it makes me glad that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. got its full season order and makes me that much more excited to see how good next week’s episode is.