Sunday, December 8, 2013

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1.09: "Repairs"

“Pranking was your idea. And obviously, I rigged this little beauty before I knew there was a dimension-jumping psychopath in the mix.”

I think “Repairs” was a bit of a step back for “S.H.I.E.L.D.” It was trying to do too much and lost some potential emotional power for it. The case of the week was kind of confusing, and while it was used as a vehicle to give us some back story on Agent May, we only heard that backstory second-hand through other characters. I think May deserved some flashbacks. The episode suffered for putting too much emphasis on Skye. It was all about how she wanted to get involved in the case and Coulson and May wouldn’t let her. And then it was about how she’ll be good at this kind of work in the future. I kind of see the value of Skye as an audience entry character. She’s new to the S.H.I.E.L.D. way of life, so she’s asking many of the questions the audience has. She’s just so damn annoying, though.

Anyway, the episode opens at a gas station/convenience store in a small town named Batesville. The clerk had just been reading a newspaper article about an accident at a local particle accelerator when a woman named Hannah walks in. Apparently she was the supervisor of at least a few of the people who died in the accident. The clerk starts berating Hanna, and it’s clear that she’s been taking a lot of heat for the accident from her community. Pretty quickly, it starts to seem like the town might be wary of Hannah for good reason. Stuff starts flying around the convenience store as Hannah gets more nervous. Then gasoline starts spilling all over the place. It’s pretty clear that if something isn’t done quickly, the whole place is going to go up in flames. And go up in flames it does (after Hannah gets out of the convenience store building).

Obviously, this is going to be something that Coulson’s team is asked to investigate. Before the call comes in, though, we find out just what Ward and May were up to when Ward snuck into May’s room at the end of the previous episode. May’s getting ready for the day, and Ward emerges half-clothed from the shower. So yeah, they slept together. And they also make it clear that this isn’t the first time. Honesty, I don’t care. I’m not especially invested in either Ward or May. I want to be more invested in May, but I’m not there yet. If this episode had done more show than tell, maybe it would have happened. Anyway, the call about the mission comes in, and Ward and May do a staggered arrival at the briefing deal to keep from creating any suspicion.

S.H.I.E.L.D. thinks that Hannah may have telekinesis powers due to the particle accelerator accident, so they want Coulson’s team to do an “Index Asset Evaluation and Intake.” In other words, they want the team to evaluate Hannah’s potential powers. Skye, because she’s an insufferable brat, complains about how the name is stupid. And even though she doesn’t like the name, she also gets pissy about not being as involved in the mission as she’d like to be. She wants to delve into the psychology of everyone involved, and she wants to talk to Hannah. May, however, just wants her to stay out of everyone’s way. Skye may make a good S.H.I.E.L.D. agent someday (doubtful), but she needs to leave the sensitive situations to the professionals.

There’s a big showdown at the gas station, where the townsfolk have gathered to try and run Hannah out of town. This, of course, makes her nervous and fearful again, which is when bad things tend to happen. Coulson’s team arrives on the scene, and Coulson does his best to try and talk Hannah down peacefully. The crowd is still rowdy, though, and it’s stressing Hannah out. Before things get even more out of control, May says it’s time to go. She tranqs Hanna, and the team takes her to the Bus. Hannah comes to in an isolation room that is supposed to contain any telekinetic powers she may have. Skye is really pissed off about this (big surprise). She thinks that being contained is going to make Hannah more agitated, and she thinks she can talk Hannah down. May puts the kibosh on that, though, of course.

Meanwhile, FitzSimmons are reminiscing about their Academy days. They regret that since they graduated three years early, they had a lot of Freshman pranks played on them, but they never got to play any pranks themselves. They decide that Skye is enough like a Freshman on their team that they should be pranking her. They start by telling a whopper about how May got the nickname “The Calvary” that involves 100 assassins and riding one horseback. Ward later tells Skye that it was more like 25 assassins, and Coulson later corrects further. May didn’t go into a rescue situation with big weapons. She just went in with herself, and to this day, she won’t tell anybody what she had to do to get out of the situation alive and with the people she was supposed to rescue. Coulson says the incident changed her, and that much is obvious. I wish we could have actually seen a flashback instead of just hearing about it.

Anyway, things pretty quickly go the way of a more horror themed “Doctor Who” episode, with the team being terrorized by a mysterious “ghost” as they attempt to go about their business. Whoever on the creative team is responsible for the look of this episode has clearly been watching a lot of “Doctor Who.” The feeling evoked is right out of “Hide” or “The God Complex.” The team, after much imperilment, figures out that the team at the particle accelerator was trying to create portals like the portals that showed up in “Thor: The Dark World.” I appreciated the continuity, if nothing else. So Hannah doesn’t have powers. A coworker from the particle accelerator is traveling back and forth between dimensions. This coworker had a thing for Hannah, and he would create safety problems in his sector so that Hannah would come visit (she was a safety inspector). One of his fake safety issues went horribly wrong, leading to the accident.

May takes matters into her own hands and takes Hannah outside to be bait for the coworker. It works, and May tells the coworker that he needs to let go of Hannah. He may think he’s protecting her, but he’s just continuing to make things much, much worse. Eventually, he sees things her way, and he disappears for good. Hannah now has to rebuild her life (somewhere else, I presume). The episode wraps up with Coulson telling Skye that she handled the situation well (even though she disobeyed direct orders and spent some time talking to Hannah while Hannah was in the holding cell) and she might even be a good intake specialist someday. That’s also when Coulson tells the true story of “The Calvary.” The episode ends with the team realizing that Fitz has been pranked (shaving cream to the hand). They can’t figure out who the culprit is, but we viewers learn that it was May, suggesting she’s regaining a bit of her former humanity.

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