With 0-8-4 we are given our first post-pilot view into how this series will really work. As we all know pilot episodes tend to have a different feel from the series in general and this series is no exception. Larger story arcs start to appear and the special effects budget and time available to place the effects in dramatically decreases. Even so, the episode plays with existing effects to good use - the cgi mock up of the "bus" (a.k.a. S.H.I.E.L.D. CXD-23) explosion and Fitz's little flying sensors. A few brief new cgi effects were brought in as well such as the 0-8-4 itself and the little stick-stun grenade that Ward uses in Peru. The characters are more normalized to how they will be presented every week and the episode pacing isn't as hectic.
Skye leaves her van behind and in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s care. Although it was a big part in the pilot I don't see it being a major part of the show in the future. We might see it once or twice more but like Luke Skywalker in A New Hope, Skye in now part of a larger world and will transition away from her somewhat humble beginnings rapidly.
I'm loving the continued witty, light dialog banter that kids can related to. Ward and Coulson's frown comments are fun and help frame the overall heavier plot concern that Skye is a Rising Tide wild card to have onboard the bus and onboard their team. Skye's "first day of school" comment helps frame how younger viewers can place her storyline in the episode while being funny for adults too. Coulson's comment to May about having to go check on the device fueled by evil that's sitting in the cargo hold helps break the tension with May while underscoring to younger audiences that there is tension about May not wanting to see combat following whatever happened in Bahrain.
The ongoing references to the movies are an obvious attempt at keeping the audience engaged in the same universe. Coulson reference's Thor's Hammer as being the last 0-8-4 S.H.I.E.L.D. encounter. The 0-8-4 turns out to be a piece of HYDRA technology powered by Tesseract energy - a reference to Captain America, Thor and The Avengers.
Fitz-Simmons continue to be the brainiacs onboard the bus that have little or no street smarts.
I do have an issue in general about the Peruvian Ministry and Reyes' team. Reyes obviously wanted to use the 0-8-4 to gain control of Peru in the midst of their revolution. However the Ministry were the ones to contact S.H.I.E.L.D. about the 0-8-4. So was Reyes' working independently from the ministry (perhaps in association with the same group that was running the lab from the Pilot) or did the Peruvian government do a 180 and wanted to keep the 0-8-4 all for itself AFTER they contacted S.H.I.E.L.D.? This is a plot point that has significantly confused me. Also Simmons points out that the 0-8-4 has been embedded in the temple for 1,500+ years but Fitz points out that the craftsmanship is German (a.k.a. Hydra). But Hydra was WWII, not 1,500+ years ago. Again, I'm confused.
Ward mentioned his S.O. or Supervising Officer when reading Matterhorn. Is it Coulson? If not Coulson, who is it?
Coulson's affinity for "classic" S.H.I.E.L.D. collectibles are an excellent way to include S.H.I.E.L.D.'s comic history into the show. Lola, the wrist walkie talkie, and everything else glued down. I'm sure we'll be seeing more of it as the series proceeds.
Coulson's shock when Reyes' team takes over the plane is some of Clark Gregg's best acting in the episode. In fact, it might be some of his best acting in his character period. He truly feels betrayed and wants answers from Camille.
Overall I enjoyed it. It's not the level of Whedon TV I'm used to but it's still early. I'll give it time. Whedon's certainly earned it.
I'm loving finding out about Agent May a.k.a "The Calvary" in little snippets. Bahrain, her action in front of Skye in the Pilot episode, the fact that she can dislocate her wrist at will. I'll admit I was biased against Ming-Na going into this series based on her Stargate Universe character but now I'm thoroughly enjoying her.
So Fitz uses his little flying sensor to trigger the 0-8-4 to blow a hole in the side of the bus, but the 0-8-4 and the flying sensor don't get sucked out the hole without being tied down? Fail. I don't buy that the 0-8-4 gets embedded into the plane's wall due to kickback. And the rubber raft plugging the hole in the side of the plane? Yea....... NOT.
Skye's reply to the secure text was interesting. You can tell that she is conflicted and that will only grow over time. But I also have to believe that S.H.I.E.L.D. is monitoring all of her communications as a way of getting intel on The Rising Tide. I just think that is incredibly risking to take a known enemy operative with you on dangerous missions.
Coulson's reaction to Fury at the end scene was interesting. I would think that Coulson would have been able to stand up to Fury better than he did. Was the fish tank a tip of the hat to Captain Picard's ready room in Star Trek The Next Generation?