Tony Stark isn’t the only one in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) who creates his own demons. In the third episode of AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Phil Coulson ends up accidentally creating his own super-villain.
But just like the narrative of IRON MAN 3, let’s track this from the beginning…
If the “Pilot” was an NCIS knock-off and “0-8-4” was a mini-Marvel action movie, then “The Asset” is basically Marvel’s version of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE.
Starting with the most impressive special effects I’ve seen on a network show (surely part of the budget is borrowed from the AVENGERS INITIATIVE: PHASE TWO films), this globe spanning episode involves infiltrating an incredibly secure compound and ends with a device that would make SPIDER-MAN 2’s Doc Ock jealous.
The beginning: a convoy carrying a secret S.H.I.E.L.D. package through Colorado (represent!) gets flipped, literally. SUVs are thrown through the sky like they are weightless, and a semi-truck is flipped for the first time since THE DARK KNIGHT. The ‘package’ turns out to be Dr. Franklin Hall (Ian Hart), a great scientist who is a former professor to Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge).
His capture leads to several questions; how did the attackers know the secret route the convoy was taking? And what was the device used to flip the cars around as though they were Hotwheels?
It turns out the device runs on another new Marvel element (no, not Vibranium… or Adamantium), Gravitonium. Said device, found by FitzSimmons is a fluctuating orb about the size of a marble.
Gravitonium, along with Hall’s device, can change the rules of Gravity around it. Sounds dangerous if it falls into the wrong hands, no?
And so, it falls into the greedy paws of Ian Quinn (David Conrad), a former partner of Hall’s, who runs yet another company with evil intentions: not HAMMER, HYDRA, or A.I.M. Of course, Quinn has a much larger version of the Gravitonium machine. Like the size of a room large. With the potential to take down Quinn’s entire oceanside estate… and more!
Skye, being the only official non-S.H.I.E.L.D. affiliated member of Coulson’s team is sent in to infiltrate Quinn’s compound in a nation with no S.H.I.E.L.D. jurisdiction. Skye uses her own questionable status as a mole to gain access to Quinn’s office where she uses a MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE type device, opening a radiation force shield that Agents Coulson and Ward (Brett Dalton) pass through to stop comic-book-style-evil-science.
Coulson reaches Dr. Hall, learning that Hall was the one who leaked the information about his transport, so that Quinn would grab him, bringing him to the giant Gravitonium machine. Hall intends to set it off, destroying the powerful machine and bringing down Quinn’s laboratories and mansion with it, as well as killing everyone at Quinn’s little party.
Coulson and Quinn scuffle as gravity twists and turns the pair from ceiling to wall to ceiling (in a manner similar, but not nearly as badass as INCEPTION’s hallway sequence). The battle ends with Coulson shooting out ‘the floor’ (actually the wall), dropping Dr. Hall into the Gravitonium. The End!
Or is it?
Right before the credit sequence, the Gravitonium machine is locked away in a secret S.H.I.E.L.D. vault. But… what’s this?… right before we cut to black, an arm forms and extends itself from the Gravitonium orb. Hence, Coulson has created his down Demon.
And AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. has set up the origin story for its first super-villain, as in the comics, Dr. Hall becomes…. GRAVITON!
“The Asset” is another great episode of AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D., not as good as “0-8-4,” but better than the “Pilot.” Because now, we’re talking super-villains!
The Coulson mystery continues in this episode, with Coulson admitting at the end of the episode that he has lost some of his muscle memory when it comes to shooting and fighting… perhaps more evidence that Coulson does not realize he is a robot… aka ‘The Vision?’
Again, the hints are still there, though we may not know until AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON.
Finally, I would like to point out the use of Colorado as a backdrop for the opening of this episode. My roommate and I, who read many DC and Marve comics used to joke that besides New York, Washington DC, and Los Angeles (and Gotham and Metropolis), the only ‘middle’ state the comics seem to use is Colorado. Batman skies in Colorado, Carnage terrorizes a town in Colorado (in ‘Carnage: USA’), etc, etc, etc.