Recap: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S1 E3 "The Asset"

Yes, the camera is sitting upright. note 

The third episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Coulson and his team are called to investigate the abduction of Dr. Franklin Hall, renowned scientist and former mentor to FitzSimmons, from a S.H.I.E.L.D. convoy. His captor is Ian Quinn, a charismatic billionaire (and Rising Tide ally) who not only used one of Hall's own inventions to assist in his abduction, but has provided Hall with the means to finish his life's work; a machine that can manipulate gravity itself.

Meanwhile, Skye's training as a field agent by Ward is well underway, although he still has his reservations about it due to her lack of taking it seriously. However, the pair bond over similar histories and come to understand each other a little more.


Tropes:

  • Analogy Backfire: When arguing with Melinda over him going on the infiltration mission, Coulson cites his experience with the Avengers as proof that he can handle himself. Though she doesn't say it to his face, Melinda quips that he died during those events.
  • Artistic License Geography: The episode's depiction of Malta is so bizarre and insulting that it's hard to see why they didn't create a Ruritania. For a start, Malta is a full member of the European Union.
  • Artistic License Physics: When the Gravitonium field activates (i.e., is consistently pulling everything nearby towards itself), there's no reason that it should negate the Earth's gravitationnote . In other words, even if everything in the room would be pulled sideways towards the gravity device, the Earth would still be pulling them down as well, andnote  most of the big stuff in the room (including people) would end up against both the wall and the ground. On the other hand Rule of Cool dictates that standing up sideways looks way more interesting. Also, Gravitonium doesn't obey known physics.
  • Bowdlerize: A strange case. In the episode promo, when they show the clip of Skye jumping off the balcony, and into a pool, the clip showed her skirt hike up, revealing her panties. In the actual episode though, the camera cuts away, just before her skirt goes up. Odd that they would censor a Panty Shot, even though it was shown countless times elsewhere whenever the promo aired, and online. Then Skye is shown in her underwear two episodes later. And we do get a shot of her landing in the pool with the dress nearly at her armpits.
  • Came Back Wrong: Once again subtly implied with Coulson, who can't manage to remove the slide on a handgun even though it should be muscle memory.
  • Chekhov's Skill: The swift disarming move Ward teaches Skye and the "Level 1 Overshare," though more obliquely.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Agent Coulson, meet Graviton.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Coulson outright admits to Dr. Hall that none of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s contingency plans to rescue Dr. Hall involved him not being on their side.
  • Due to the Dead: At the end of the episode, the gravitonium is put on ice:
    Coulson: And no recorded entry. I don't want it listed, I don't want it flagged for the Slingshot. Anyone finds out, you're responsible. And suffering. Understood? It's what Hall would have wanted.
  • The End... Or Is It?: Hall's hand reaches out from the Gravitonium in the end.
  • Fanservice: Skye running around in a wet dress, and her bare feet.
  • Foreshadowing: A hand attempts to escape the machine at the end, before being pulled back in. Enter: Graviton.
  • Funny Background Event: While Ward and Skye are doing drills, Fitz-Simmons can be seen in the lab behind them working with a laser pointer. After Ward calls them over to talk to Skye about the training their own SO gave them, they return to the lab, where Fitz can be seen in the background annoying Simmons with the same laser pointer for the rest of the scene.
  • Gravity Screw: Coulson and Dr. Hall square off on the walls and ceiling of the latter's underground laboratory.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: What Hall's plans would have entailed if S.H.I.E.L.D. hadn't shown up. He was willing to die to destroy the device he invented, but never thought possible.
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Discussed by Fitz-Simmons, as seen in Last-Second Word Swap. The former suggests it and the latter is offended by the idea that the only way Skye must have gotten Quinn's trust is with sex appeal.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Dr. Hall finds a 12 year Glenlivet once his plans are revealed to Coulson.
  • Island Base: Malta, to be precise, because it doesn't like international forces telling it what to do.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Defied. As Melinda and FitzSimmons wonder how Skye turned things around and got into Quinn's office, Fitz suggests that "Maybe she used her..." with his hands up to his chest. He looks at Melinda. Then at Simmons. Then at Melinda. Then at Simmons. "... boobs".
    Simmons: Ugh, of course, that's the only explanation.
  • Meaningful Echo: Hilariously mangled when Skye tries to respond to Quinn referring to S.H.I.E.L.D. as "Big Brother" by paraphrasing a story Ward had told her about his family, only to lose track of what she's saying. Then played straight (but no less hilariously) a moment later when Quinn coincidentally says something Ward had said earlier.
    Quinn: [after Skye takes his gun] Do you have what it takes to pull the trigger?
    Skye: ...nope. [jumps out the window]
  • Metaphorgotten: Skye's attempt to justify her allegiance to SHIELD while insulting Quinn goes a little bit sideways.
    Quinn: SHIELD's against everything you stand for. They're Big Brother.
    Skye: Maybe... but they're the nice Big Brother who stands up for his helpless little brother who is getting beat up, because... he ate a piece of cake... that he was ... and... you know. You kidnapped a person!
  • The Mole:
    • Skye plays this up once again but this time against The Rising Tide. Which would technically make her a Reverse Mole.
    • Hall leaked clues about his location to Quinn thus giving Quinn just enough so he would think himself clever for figuring it out. Neither S.H.I.E.L.D. nor Quinn realize it until it's too late.
  • The Needs of the Many: Hall's justification for taking down Quinn's island base and killing everyone on it is that it'd save the world from the destruction gravitonium would cause.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: 10 bucks says Coulson's going to regret using Dr. Hall as the catalyst for shutting down the graviton machine. He's going to regret not sending the remains to the Slingshot even more.
  • Not Afraid to Die: After setting Quinn's island to sink, Hall pours himself a drink and calmly chats with Coulson. He doesn't care if he dies as long as the graviton is never misused.
  • Not Quite Dead: Dr. Franklin Hall is still alive inside the graviton machine.
  • Oh Crap!: "I take it that wasn't the off butto—" [GRAVITY SCREW]
  • Scylla and Charybdis: The death of dozens, or the death of just one to prevent worldwide destruction?
  • Shout-Out: The name of SHIELD's agent who works as a trucker in the beginning of the episode? Mack.
  • Some Kind of Force Field: Quinn has a neodymium laser forcefield surrounding his compound which vaporizes anything that touches it. It is invisible until something touches it; then it appears as as a bring gold/yellow grid pattern.
  • Spy Speak: Tried (and failed) by Skye.
    Skye: I see Top Dog. The Eagle is landing on it.
    Jemma: ... what are you doing?
  • The Stinger: The gravitonium, with Hall's hand reaching out before getting sucked back in.
  • Take That: Skye comments that the SHIELD comms system is "like Siri if it worked".
  • Trojan Prisoner: Hall does this by himself; enables his own kidnapping in order to get inside Quinn's lab and implode it.
  • Unobtainium: "Gravitonium," atomic number 128, atomic mass 302. It exists naturally as a liquid which screws with gravitational fields, causing its surface to fluctuate constantly. If exposed to a sufficiently strong electrical current it solidifies and the fluctuations radiate outward, distorting gravity all around the sample. A mere drop is enough to send SUVs and semi-trucks flying, while an amount about three feet in diameter is enough to sink an island.
  • Villain Has a Point: Coulson concedes that Dr. Hall has a point when he accuses S.H.I.E.L.D. of being just as irresponsible as the people they try to stop, since their attempts to turn the Tesseract into a power source led to Loki and the Chitauri invading Earth.
  • When Things Spin, Science Happens: Dr. Franklin Hall's giant graviton machine. Considering that the force of gravity is often artificially created or enhanced by things spinning, in this case it's justified.
  • You Got Guts: Played for Laughs.
    Mook: Kid's got balls.
    Skye: Thanks but... yuck.