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Agents of SHIELD 1.04 "Eye Spy" Review: Second Chances

     This week’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “Eye Spy,” was written by Jeffrey Ball and directed by Roxann Dawson. Dawson may be better known by many as the actor who played B’Elanna Torres on Star Trek: Voyager, but her directing credits include Under the Dome, Heroes, Lost and Star Trek: Enterprise. This episode required some intricate camera work and Dawson does a terrific job with the episode – which also has one of the best titles ever... assuming you like puns.

    The episode begins with a diamond heist as the thief cases 26 men in grey suits and red masks with briefcases chained to their wrists. I really liked how this sequence was shot with shallow focus and distortion to disorient the viewer. All is not as it seems and we can’t trust our own eyes to give us a reliable picture of the events. The idea that things may not be as they appear and the theme of second chances are threaded throughout the episode.

    Akela Amadour (Pascale Armand) is not a jewel thief but a former SHIELD agent whom everyone thought was dead. She’s not working for someone else or being watched; she’s being controlled by the mechanical eye. The eye has a fail-safe bomb to kill her should she try to break free. In the end, her handler is being controlled by a similar device, and he was a former MI6 agent. The mystery, double-blind elements of the story were handled really well and helped to ramp up the tension.

    There are a number of great interactions between the characters as the team grows closer. It seems likely that they will generally pair up as they did in this episode: May (Min-Na Wen) with Coulson (Clark Gregg), Skye (Chloe Bennet) with Ward (Brett Dalton), and Fitz (Iain De Caestecker with Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). I loved the scene in which Coulson muses that he’d like to learn how to fly and asks May if she likes it because of the freedom or the view. When May bluntly replies she likes driving the bus for the solitude, Coulson takes the hint and leaves the cockpit, but we see May finally crack a tiny smile as he does so.
     Coulson also continues to take Skye under his wing. He seems to know instinctively what will interest each team member and how to put their unique talents to work. Skye proves herself to be an astute judge of character in her own right. She tells Coulson, who she is determined not to call Agent Coulson, trying out Phil and settling on AC as a kind of nickname, that he values really old stuff... “and me.” She is ready to give Akela a second chance because she trust Coulson’s judgment and he thinks she deserves that second chance. Coulson clearly blames himself for thinking he could change Akela from someone who didn’t play well with others into a team player. Which is, of course, what he’s trying to do with Ward and to some extent with Skye. Skye reassures Coulson that the failure is on Akela.

    Coulson’s relationship with Akela gives us – and the rest of the team – some insight into how he feels about his team. He’s determined to give Akela a second chance, in part because he got one himself, but also because “we protect our own.” May is watching when Akela tells Coulson, “I should have trusted my team the way you insisted. If I had they’d still be alive.” Akela also gives May – and the audience – some insight into Coulson. She asks May at the end of the episode, “What did they do to him?” She keeps insisting that Coulson is not the same as when she knew him, and it’s clear she means there is more changed about him than the fact that he doesn’t tell her “I told you so.” That mystery keeps simmering!

    I loved the sequence of Ward and Skye in the field as she provides technical back up for him as he takes over the live stream of Akela’s eye while Fitz and Simmons attempt to remove and disarm it. In fact, Skye’s special skill set comes in handy a few times in the episode. I also loved the shout out to how social media makes S.H.I.E.L.D.’s job so much easier. Ward does begin to trust his team and rely on them, already proving he is different from Akela.

    As always, there were lots of funny moments interspersed with some great action sequences. May and Akela’s fight was great. Ward being told to seduce the guard was hilarious – as were Skye’s suggestions to bro-mance the guard – which Ward fails at miserably – he’s still learning to be socially adept! Fitz and Simmons performing surgery was hysterical even as they worked to save the day.

    All in all, this was another fun, solid episode. I’m beginning to like the characters even more as we get a bit more depth to them. I’m a little worried about what the mystery surrounding Coulson is going to turn out to be. What did you think of the episode? Let me know in the comments below!

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