This is the episode I've been most impatiently waiting for, not the pilot. The first episode, directed by Joss Whedon, is a big-budget (Actual Paris! Actual jumbo jet!) introduction to the series. This episode is the real test to how the show will hold up on its own. Is it really going to be "blue skies from here on out?" Let's dig deep and find out.
Nineteen hours before a sure-to-be-exciting hull breach abroad the Bus, Skye officially accepts Coulson's offer to work with his team as a consultant. Agent
Generic Grant Ward is not happy about Skye joining the team. He sees her as a risk that could leave S.H.I.E.L.D. vulnerable to The Rising Tide — or worse. It's clarified that Skye is not the sole contributor to The Rising Tide as it seemed in the pilot, but a talented member of the shadowy organization. (Who wants to bet The Rising Tide is a HYDRA front? Although, to me, it resembles T.I.D.O. Wave, which no one cares about except for Cloverfield obsessives.) With Ward's frown noted, Coulson moves onto the mission at hand, the investigation and containment of an 0-8-4, or "an object of unknown origin," found in Peru.
After an awkward welcome abroad from FitzSimmons, Skye gets up to speed on the 0-8-4. Coulson also tells her that he was able to set up this mobile command unit as a favor after taking a hit from a certain Asgardian. (Do people not know about Loki? He did attempt to take over the world a few times.) At Skye's mention of his rest in Tahiti, he once again states, "It's a magical place." Is that his conditioned response whenever anyone mentions Tahiti? Was Coulson healed by medicine or magic? Or is he something more...mechanical? The mystery continues.
In a cute, fanservice-y — and timely — Thor reference, Coulson quips that the last 0-8-4 he encountered turned out to be a hammer. Once in Peru, the team encounters the 0-8-4, a vaguely German/alien (a.k.a. HYDRA) device stuck among newly discovered ancient artifacts.
As FitzSimmons analyzes the device and Skye (and the audience) wonder exactly what her usefulness is in this situation, Ward and May stand guard in front of the ancient temple . We learn she used to be known as "The Cavalry" or you will suffer her fierce wrath — or dirty look. Plus, something "went down" in Bahrain that caused her to leave the field in favor of administrative work. Before we get anymore answers, vaguely military heavys attack!
The heavys turn out to be part of Coulson's old friend National Police Comandante Camilla Reyes' troupe. Coulson and Reyes warmly greet each other, as they used to work — and not work — together years ago. Reyes is a strong, confident leader, who just so happens to be a woman. But does she really have to be styled like one of the Real Housewives on a jungle adventure?
The greetings and 0-8-4 analyses are cut short when rebels attack. I get that the series is a fun, action show set in a comic book world, but the cartoonish depiction of Peruvian officers and rebels is a bit offensive. Ward neutralizes the rebels with a really cool spear energy bomb thing (more of those, please!) long enough to rally Skye and FitzSimmons out of the temple. With impeccable timing, May picks up the team and heads for the Bus. Coulson and Reyes are close behind in one of her team's vehicles; the rebels follow in hot pursuit. The agents along with Reyes and the remaining members of her team make it safely onto the Bus as May takes off, eluding the rebels in the nick of time.
That's when Fitz drops the biggest bomb — the device is "fueled by Tesseract Technology, HYDRA, World War II, Captain America," which is confusing way to say "this is dangerous and related to the dangerous stuff from the movie Captain American: The First Avenger," although that description would definitely have broken the Fourth Wall. (Plus, I'm pretty sure the film rights to Deadpool are still owned by Fox.)
NEXT: Eep Opp Ork Ah Ah!