This week on SHIELD, a rogue agent is the focus, and Skye’s training and potential treachery are put on the back Bunsen burner.
“You ever rob a bank?” Coulson asks Skye. He could use some extra expertise in the SHIELD team’s next case. Someone’s been stealing millions of dollars in diamonds — that “someone” opens the show when she takes out a subway car filled with masked gem carriers, figures out which briefcase holds the diamonds and steals it. Using Instagram photos taken by fellow passengers, Coulson recognizes an ex-SHIELD agent, Akeela Amadur, as the only one capable of accomplishing such a feat.
A year before, Amadur disappeared during a mission, and Coulson chose to investigate the diamond heist against headquarters’ wishes because he had an inking the rogue agent was part of it. Meanwhile, Amadur meets with potential buyers and displays her telepathic abilities (which only Skye believes exist). Her price doesn’t have a dollar sign in front of it, however, but an access card to what turns out to be a Russian science lab.
The team tracks her to Belarus and come face-to-face with her SHIELD training — only to be sent down the side of a mountain in a rolling van when she T-bones their ride with her truck. “It was like we were trapped in a fan-shaped piñata,” as Skye aptly describes later.
Fitz, Simmons and Skye somehow avoid broken bones (I think Skye’s snarkiness cast an invisible shield — get it? Shield? — around them). With the footage feed they’ve pirated after breaching Amadur’s territory, they discover that the ex-SHIELD agent is being given directions through a wireless feed sent directly to a camera installed into her eye. Mae tracks her down and promises her a fair trial if Amadur gives her controller up. Of course, it’s not that simple: Amadur’s monitored (and sometimes X-ray) vision comes with a kill switch that leaves her two options: kill or be killed by her boss.
Because this is an ABC show (therefore refuses to kill off a main character until a season finale or they need a ratings boost) Coulson comes in to save the day. SHIELD hijacks the feed to send her controllers fake footage of her mission so the agency can save one of their own. Amadur tells her story of being abducted and manipulated by an Englishman who used her for their heists. Coulson talks to Fitz and Simmons about removing the cameras and kill switch.
Ward continues the ex-agent’s mission by wearing a pair of glasses with the same capabilities as Amadur’s surgically advanced eyes. What seems a simple task turns awkward when Ward receives the command to seduce the male target. A little bromancing, a little punching, and Ward finds himself in a room of strange diagrams. The glasses cam takes a picture, and his mission (rather, Amadur’s mission) is complete. Queue a yawnable chase scene interjected by clips of Fitz and Simmons disconnecting the prosthetic eye just before the kill switch detonates.
Coulson catches a former MI-6 agent who’s been piloting Amadur. It doesn’t end that simply, however; the culprit’s own kill switch detonates as soon as he sees Coulson’s SHIELD badge — a sign that the real mastermind is still out there and now has the information Ward sent him from the lab. Amadur gets handed to the authorities for a fair trial, but before she leaves makes a comment that extends the Coulson mystery: she wants to know what “they” did to him after the Battle of New York to make him loosen up so much.
The fourth episode has a good amount of flair. Skye gets in more rookie cheekiness, antagonizing her SO in the field with questions of what to do when she needs to use the bathroom and using the glasses to see through Ward’s clothes (unfortunately for female viewers everywhere, the credits roll before we can see from her perspective). Coulson continues making astute observations that apply beyond the Avengers universe, such as: “This job gets easier every year. Between Facebook, Instagram and Flickr, people are surveilling themselves.”
People are surveilling SHIELD, too. ABC just ordered a full season of the series, and it will be interesting to see if May brings a second order of Marvel’s foray into TV. For now, the show has exhibited a wide variety of storylines that keep it fresh — but then again, we’re only on Episode Four.
Kate Everson is a Chicago journalist and University of Missouri alumna. By day she is an associate editor for four HR industry magazines. By night, she reviews films, outlines fiction novels with tough female leads and dreams of being the first person to win two Oscars in the same night for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay. When her fingers aren’t getting exercise bouncing across her keyboard, she’s reading Palahniuk and Vonnegut, practicing her Batgirl skills in the dojo or waiting by the mailbox for her Hogwarts letter. As Katharine Hepburn said: “Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting.”