ABC, Disney and Marvel Studios debuted the second episode of Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. last night with "0-8-4," which was an improvement upon the first; however, not by all that much.
The team is essentially made up of goof balls, has-beens and wannabes as the characters range from a retired Ming-Na Wen, who can somehow break her wrist and break it back, to a couple of boring techies (do we really need two?) to the loner Agent Ward, who isn't used to working with people, to some Twitter hacker named Chloe Bennet who has as much of an idea why she is part of the team as the viewers do (do the show's writers even know?).
The problem is: These characters don't exactly seem to be elitey trained espionage agents i.e. agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is at least what I expect a secret convert organization to consist of.
This episode saw the team head out to Peru where they discovered a weapon powered by the tesseract and Hydra (referencing Captain America: The First Avenger) emitting gamma radiation. Coulson runs into an old flame where they battle it out against rebels with everyone eventually getting on board "The Bus." They all have a merry time until it's realized Coulson's old flame is the enemy as they want the device for themselves. The SHIELD agents all get captured, but they band together at the last moment to escape their captors and save the day.
Problems I found with the episode included poorly choreographed fight sequences and camera work, sub-par writing and acting, and the characters being generic.
This episode also included a special cameo by Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, which to be honest, didn't exactly blow me away. It felt forced, and Jackson's dialogue contrived. Not sure why they didn't go for the cameo in the pilot episode, which would have made more sense as it came off here as a desperate attempt to rein in the viewers ("Nick Fury from The Avengers movie is here, so it has to be great!").
Pluses for the show include Coulson and Ming-Na Wen, though the latter needs to be developed and hopefully isn't used as the deus ex machina all the time.
Grant Ward seems to not have much personality and complains way too much.
Chloe Bennet and the two other hackers are essentially the same character and feel unneeded. We saw this in the episode when they were in the cave. I get it that Bennet is supposed to be more relatable to the average viewer who isn't an agent of SHIELD, but again, the vast majority of the characters in the show don't come off as secret agents.
Things need to really pick up. Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. feels like a low budget cash grab and shoddy attempt at capitalizing on The Avengers.