Plot: When a classified S.H.I.E.L.D. transport containing very valuable cargo is ambushed, Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team set out immediately to recover it. However, when international law prevents a classified operation on foreign soil, it is up to Skye (Chloe Bennet) to infiltrate the enemy compound.
Over the past two episodes, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has proven that it can bring all the excitement of a Marvel film to the small screen. It had all the humor and action that we have come to love when seeing films like Iron Man or The Avengers. One thing it was missing though was a true villain for the team to rally against. Sure we had Camilla Reyes (Leonor Varela) last week but that looks like a one time thing (for now). Tonight’s episode “The Asset” filled this void in due time by not only bringing in a regular human as a villain but opening the door for a new super villain as well. Combine that with a better focus on Skye and really awesome special effects and you have quite a great third episode.
One of the definite high points for me tonight was how Skye was more or less redeemed in my eyes following her lack luster portrayal last week. She didn’t bumble around not knowing what to do despite having expert hacking abilities. She was able to use those very same abilities to invite herself to a top secret, exclusive party, and then was able to think on her toes to get out of the situation alive. This was the super useful Skye we saw in the premiere which I definitely enjoyed more. I’ll admit, I honestly thought she was betraying the team too considering her supposed double agent status to Red Tide last week, but it was cool watching her use her connections to better the team. It’s obvious that Skye is the more in focus character on the show too so I’d rather like her more than not.
Then we have the introduction of two characters that are clearly set up to be overarching villains against the agents. First off, we have Ian Quinn (David Conrad), a multi-millionaire who uses philanthropy has a cover for his own personal means. His real goal is to find a rare element called Gravitonium that can control the gravitational fields around a specific area. Sure enough, he found some and he uses a small piece of Gravitonium to ambush the S.H.I.E.L.D. transport and kidnap Dr. Franklin Hall (Ian Hart). It’s amazing how dangerous a corrupt person with money can be. Hall has studied Gravitonium extensively in the past too which Quinn needs to create a giant Gravitonium generator. His plan ultimately fails, but his escape and sheer hatred of S.H.I.E.L.D. and national unions makes his return a guarantee.
The second future villain was the big twist tonight when it was revealed that Hall himself was behind the kidnapping. He leaked the transport route to Quinn so he could get access to the Gravitonium generator and destroy it. This ended up being one of those classic “end the lives of some to save the lives of many” scenarios that we see all the time in entertainment now. Hall believed he had to destroy the generator to prevent Quinn from using it on the world, but the process would kill everyone attending Quinn’s party at his mansion. To prevent either of these scenarios from happening, Coulson shoots the glass under Hall and he gets sucked into the bubbling gravitational vortex. Surely this would mean he was dead, but this is a Marvel TV show and seemingly life threatening scenarios can only lead to one thing: superpowers. Nothing specific was revealed in the post credits sequence, but the final shot of the episode was a silver hand thrusting out of the vortex. So not only is he alive, but he’s definitely permanently changed. How remains to be seen, but I absolutely cannot wait to see what he does.
The actual ambush on Quinn’s compound was both a hit and a miss. Watching Skye improvise her way through the party and get close to Quinn was awesome as it did a great job showcasing her resourcefulness. She also was able to use her training from Agent Ward (Brett Dalton) to get herself way from Quinn alive. Ward and Coulson snuck into the base during this moment too which was also exciting to watch. For some reason though, once Coulson actually reached Hall and tried to get him out of the base, it stopped being as exciting. The big twist that Hall wanted to get kidnapped was great, and so was his gravity defying fight against Coulson, but so much of it felt like senseless talking. It started off tense too but that intensity was diminished when you quickly realize that Hall was never going to stop what he was doing. It was a lot of extension for a stand off that ended in a way that could have been done without all the discussion.
All the agents tonight were in top form as always and Skye went back to her useful status by successfully infiltrating a highly guarded compound. The set up of two future villains was perfect as well especially the introduction of a possible new super villain who I can only assume will control gravity. Hall getting sucked into the void was movie quality special effects too. I can’t help but wonder if Coulson’s inability to successful prepare an enemy pistol is related to his “survival” following The Avengers. Did he forget because he’s a clone and the muscle memory didn’t carry over like his personal memories did? As far as I’m concerned, that’s a very possible option and I could see these seemingly inconsequential few seconds be part of something bigger in the future. Regardless, “The Asset” was a fun episode despite having a final sequence stretched on a bit longer than it should have.