Recap / Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S1 E4 "Eye Spy"
The Malevolent Masked Men—who aren't really that malevolent—go to work.

A mysterious thief is pulling off impossible diamond thefts all over the world. And she does it all with her eyes closed.

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


  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Giant rage monsters, Norse gods, and aliens, okay but ESP? That's crazy talk! Skye lamphades this at one or two points.
  • The Atoner: Akela laments not following Coulson's orders during the mission that resulted in her entire team dying.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Akela's implant is removed and she's no longer under the control of her malevolent mystery abductors...but still must stand trial for her crimes (although Coulson vows he will testify in her favor) and is now permanently missing an eye. The last shot we see of her is as she falls asleep with a contented smile on her face in her prison cell, having given up one type of freedom for another. Also, whoever did this (and killed her handler, who was just as much a prisoner as she was) is still out there.
  • Blessed with Suck: Akela's eye gives her x-ray vision and restored her binocular vision, but has a "failsafe" that forces her to do what its implanters want her to or she could be killed instantly.
  • Brick Joke: Before the mission starts, Ward and Coulson discuss Skye's weapons training, mentioning that she mixes up the safety and the magazine release, and also that she says "Bang!" when she pulls the trigger. Midway through the episode, while Akela is attacking their van, Skye tries to shoot Akela... and accidentally releases the magazine, then lamely says "Bang?"
  • By-the-Book Cop: May, fed up with Coulson's softer approach due to his personal connection to Akela, goes behind his back to try and apprehend her herself. She promises the latter a painless apprehension and a fair trial if she comes quietly.
    Akela: Did Coulson send you?
    May: No. He feels sorry for you. I don't.
  • Call-Back: The "Night-Night gun" finds use once again, modified this time into a more practical multi-shot pistol — and again, Fitz is told not to call it that. Fitz also brings up how his and Simmons' last trip into the field in "0-8-4" was a bad one.
  • Came Back Wrong: Yet another hint. Akela asks May at the end, "What did they do to [Coulson]?", implying that she saw something with her X-ray vision.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • At the start of the episode, it is shown that Fitz has made a pistol-sized version of the Night-Night Gun. Coulson later uses it to apprehend Akela. After suggesting Ward could use it if he misses, Fitz-Simmons backtrack and suggest he could use it against multiple assailants; he does exactly that after escaping from the aftermath of the "mission" he did in Akela's place.
    • Akela's objective, the formulas on the walls — what were they? The question isn't answered for another 25 episodes.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Coulson politely requests Skye address him as Coulson (with or without the preceeding 'Agent') after she casually calls him 'Phil' one too many times. However, it's more of a chain of command thing rather than hatred of his first name. Skye settles for "A.C." instead, deeming it cooler.
  • Enhance Button: While Coulson doesn't ask for an "enhance," Fitz zooming in on a paused video stream without producing blur is quite something. The stream is from a camera beyond SHIELD's tech and meant to perfectly match human vision. The range of its pixel density isn't mentioned.
  • Explosive Leash: Akela's implant, as well as that of her handler, will kill them if they don't obey.
  • Eye Scream: There's more than a fair share of shots of needles about to go into Akela's bionic eye; FitzSimmons perform surgery on her to remove it and must keep her awake during it.
  • Femme Fatale Spy: Mentioned by Ward.
  • Foreshadowing: When Akela asks if she can sleep, the fact that she gets "STAND BY" as an answer instead of a straight yes or no is the first indication that her handler isn't the one calling the shots.
  • Gilded Cage: Akela's controllers put her up in an upscale hotel suite.
  • Giver of Lame Names: Twice. First, Fitz's "Night-Night" gun returns and Ward (like Simmons in the pilot) insists that "We are not calling it that." Second, when out in a van Ward gives it the callsign the "Short Bus", which has Coulson rule against Ward selecting callsigns in the future.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: Ward is given a pair of X-ray specs that are outfitted with the same transmission signal and backscatter as Akela's implant in order to fool her controllers into thinking she's still working for them.
  • Hint Dropping: Coulson goes into The Bus' cockpit to try and strike up a polite conversation with Agent May. She curtly informs him her favorite aspect of working as the team's pilot is the solitude that it brings. Coulson leaves almost immediately.
  • Honey Trap: Akela's controllers give her the order to seduce a (male) guard in the Belarus research facility in order to get past him...not knowing Agent Ward is the one who receives it at the time.
  • Involuntary Suicide Mechanism:
    • Akela's ocular implant has been outfitted with an explosive failsafe should she decide to disobey her mysterious handlers.
    • Her controller (revealed to be a former MI6 agent, abducted much like Akela herself) has one as well, activated by persons unknown the moment he's caught by Agent Coulson.
  • It's Personal: Akela being Coulson's former protegee begins to affect how he handles this particular case. May calls him out on this.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Averted. The masked men in the opening (see the picture above) seem to fit this, but then it turns out that they are a bank's attempt at security.
  • My Greatest Failure:
    • Crosses over with It's Personal. Coulson mentions that he pushed Akela too hard during her training and it's implied he feels all that's happened to her in the intervening years may be in part his fault.
    • Akela herself feels this way about the mission in which she was first captured. She believes that her team was killed because she failed to listen to Coulson.
  • Nobody Poops: Averted humorously with Skye, Fitz, and Simmons wondering how they're supposed to pee while ordered not to leave their bathroom-less field van... and Ward directing them to a empty water bottle in the van.
    Skye: Did you never learn the part where girl parts and boy parts are different, and our parts aren't penises?
  • Nonchalant Dodge: During their fight, Akela tries to pitch a knife at Melinda. She barely moves her head to avoid it, then looks back with not even a hint of concern.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Ward realizes that he looked into a reflective surface while wearing the X-ray specs, he has this reaction. He quickly tells Fitz and Simmons, who were calling him for tips on disposing the eye implant, to cut the wire before the handler activated the kill switch.
  • Pet the Dog: Akela spotted a tumor with her implant and warned the woman she saw it in.
  • Power Perversion Potential: In the stinger, Fitz tries to get Skye to use the X-ray glasses to read Ward's cards during their blackjack game. Skye points out that doing so will allow her to see through his clothes, so he quickly excuses himself. She proceeds to use that feature on Ward, instead.
  • Revealing Reflection: Ward's taking Akela's place goes fine until he accidentally passes in front of a mirror and the handler looking at the camera feed sees a white man in spectacles instead of a black woman.
  • Ruritania: A strange example. All signs are written in a perfect Belarusian, people speak correct Russian, and the restaurant check has believable dishes and prices. Yet the city looks nothing like Belarus (due to California Doubling) and features unbelievable old Soviet cars. Also, all policemen use Russian uniforms.
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: Discussed by Coulson and Ward; Skye says "bang" when firing her gun.
  • Shout-Out:
    • A spy with an artificial eye that handlers can see through. Considering that this is a Joss Whedon production, the idea was likely taken from the backstory for Shepherd Book.
    • While wearing a suit and a pair of thick glasses, Ward looks a lot like Clark Kent and he has X-ray vision.
  • Spies in a Van: Hilariously given the call sign "[The] Short Bus" by Ward. It's ambiguous whether or not he caught the double entendre, although Coulson certainly did.
  • Team Dad and Team Mom: Coulson and May, according to Skye. She doesn't like seeing "Mom and Dad fighting".
  • Trapped in Villainy: Akela and her handler are goaded into evil with kill switches.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The dozens of red-masked, briefcase-carrying men who descend on the crowded subway station faze absolutely nobody. Then again, in today's world of flash mobs and viral marketing... It even spills over to Truth in Television when they were shooting the scene: the majority of people on the Square were real people going to work, not studio-hired extras.
  • Verbal Backspace: Fitz-Simmons quickly try to suggest other potential applications for having multiple shots when they suggest Ward might miss.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Skye assumes Akela must have psychic powers to do what she does, even though her teammates think it's still in the realm of science fiction. The real explanation is much more mundane, though still beyond the capabilities of S.H.I.E.L.D.