The main drawcards of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot were a charismatic lead performance from Clark Gregg and some appealing Joss Whedon banter. The sophomore episode pulls back considerably on both of these elements to its detriment, choosing instead to focus on a “the team pulls together” action-heavy storyline. The quality of the banter is a step down from last week (I didn’t laugh once), Gregg was confined to a storyline that felt like an excerpt from an NCIS episode and the action once again emphasised the show’s comparatively low budget. A number of shots reminded me of Xena, Warrior Princess, which isn’t a good thing in 2013.
The entirety of “0–8–4” felt unoriginal. This could’ve been okay, as “bickering colleagues overcome their mistrust of one another to defeat a shared enemy” is a story that works plenty well … with sufficient chemistry evident amongst the actors, which wasn’t the case here, and separating Gregg from the rest of the cast didn’t help. The episode’s attempts to jazz things up (references to Tesseract technology, an opening shot of someone hurtling out of a very-CGI-looking-plane, an entertaining Samuel L. Jackson cameo) don’t disguise that this is a pretty mediocre piece of television.