|Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode|
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||David Straiton|
|Original air date||October 1, 2013|
|Running time||42 minutes|
|List of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes|
"0-8-4" is the second episode of the American television series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It originally aired on ABC on October 1, 2013. The episode was written by Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon, and Jeffrey Bell, and directed by David Straiton. According to Nielsen Media Research, "0-8-4" was watched by 8.66 million viewers in its original airing.
Set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), the episode features Clark Gregg as protagonist Phil Coulson, an agent of the fictional intelligence agency S.H.I.E.L.D., and his team of agents, played by regular cast members Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker, and Elizabeth Henstridge, as they travel to Peru to investigate an object of unknown origins.
Picking up immediately after "Pilot", "0-8-4" sees Skye (Chloe Bennet) accept Agent Phil Coulson's (Clark Gregg) offer to join his S.H.I.E.L.D. team as a consultant. Though Agents Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) and Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) advise against her recruitment, citing her hacktivist background and lack of S.H.I.E.L.D. training, Coulson realizes that Skye can be beneficial to them because she does not think like an agent.
The team goes to Peru to investigate a reported 0-8-4, which is a S.H.I.E.L.D. designation for "an object of unknown origin". They find the object within an ancient Incan temple, and Agents Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) determine that it is Hydra made, and is powered by the Tesseract, making it extremely volatile. The national military arrives at the temple - lead by Camilla Reyes (Leonor Varela), a former colleague of Coulson's - to claim the weapon for the Peruvian government. When they are all attacked by local rebels, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and soldiers fight them off together, before escaping with the weapon to the Bus (the plane that serves as the agents' mobile base).
En route to the Slingshot, a classified S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, tensions among the agents are high due to poor communication during the fight. This concerns Reyes, who decides to double-cross Coulson and his team and secure the 0-8-4 for her government. The soldiers keep the rest of his team in the cargo hold while Coulson is needed to assure S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters when Reyes changes course. Together, the other agents develop a plan to take down the soldiers, and proceed to activate the weapon, blowing a hole in the side of the Bus. The drop in pressure releases the doors, allowing them to get to Coulson and subdue the soldiers. When they finally arrive at the Slingshot, Reyes and her men are incarcerated, and the 0-8-4 is loaded onto a rocket, which is sent to the sun, therefore insuring that it will not fall into ill-intending hands.1 The team watch the launch together, celebrating their combined efforts, while Ward agrees to supervise Skye's S.H.I.E.L.D. training, and Skye secretly confirms her allegiance to the hacktivist group the Rising Tide via text.
Samuel L. Jackson reprises his role of Nick Fury from the Marvel Cinematic Universe films Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Marvel's The Avengers. The episode reveals that the titular weapon is powered by the Tesseract, the macguffin of Captain America: The First Avenger and Marvel's The Avengers, and was made by Hydra, a fictional organization that also appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger. It is stated in the episode that the last object of unknown origin that S.H.I.E.L.D. encountered was "a hammer", referring to the weapon Mjolnir, which Coulson discovered during the events of Thor. Also, Coulson refers to Skye as a consultant, which S.H.I.E.L.D. classified Tony Stark as during Iron Man 2, Marvel's The Avengers, and the Marvel One-Shot The Consultant.
Talking about the series' writing process in the wake of "0-8-4", executive producer and writer Jeffrey Bell stated, "To me, a showrunner is a writer who also takes care of the other stuff ... We have a really good writing staff. We break stories in a room together, and those people go off and write. We wrote [episodes two through four], and somebody else will write five, six, seven, eight, nine; and then we're back in rotation again. At some point [Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen] will write another one, I'll write another one – that's if we don't pass out." About Jackson's cameo he said, "The challenge was, in this age of tweets and spoilers, how to make anything secret happen and keep it [a surprise] for as long as we did. That's Marvel security, who are very efficient, plus everybody here in the cast and crew wanted to keep that secret."
Bell explained that most episodes following "0-8-4" would also include an end tag: "Part of our storytelling on this show is going to be a tag every week ... we're almost always going to have another minute, minute and a half of something, and those will be different from week to week ... Having a special one like [Samuel L. Jackson] early is also to tell you, 'Pay attention to that.' I know when Iron Man did that after all the credits, a lot of the people left and didn't know they should have stayed. Now you watch a Marvel movie, and everybody stays until the end. We're going to be doing that, and we want people to know. Sometimes it'll be funny, sometimes it'll be a mythology thing, sometimes it'll be a self-contained thing, or an extra little reveal about something that was in the episode."
In June 2013, Samuel L. Jackson expressed interest in appearing in the show as S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury, his role from the films, which lead to his cameo appearance at the end of this episode. Executive producer Jeph Loeb said "There were obviously a number of places that we thought Nick Fury would have a big impact on the show, but the more we talked about it, [the more we wanted] to get him in very early, so that it would kind of christen the show, legitimize it in its own way." In the week leading up to the episode airing, Marvel revealed that Leonor Varela and Carlos Leal would also guest star as Camilla Reyes and an archaeologist, respectively, while Anthony Dilio and Celestin Cornielle receive co-starring credit.
Composer Bear McCreary had a larger orchestra to work with on "0-8-4" than he did with "Pilot", allowing him to compose a much more "traditional and, at times, grandiose" score; however he also opted to expand his synthesizer use to be "beefier and more aggressive". The South American setting also allowed an ethnic component to enter the score, with frequent McCreary collaborators M.B. Gordy and Chris Bleth playing tribal-sounding drums and ethnic woodwinds, respectively. Guitarist Ed Trybek also recorded for the episode, playing multiple South American guitars, including timple and charango, as well as more traditional guitars.
For the titular Tesseract-powered weapon, McCreary opted not to reuse Alan Silvestri's Tesseract theme from the scores of Captain America: The First Avenger and Marvel's The Avengers, instead composing his own motif that consisted of an "ominous melodic line ... to suggest that this device is incredibly dangerous, and indeed, just one piece of a larger Tesseract puzzle." Additionally, he composed a new theme for the agents as a team, introduced at the end of the episode. "Our heroes have, momentarily, set aside their bickering and completed their first successful mission together ... This melody represents the emotional bond between the team. It has a different function than the Main Theme, which works best when underscoring triumph or tragedy. That really wouldn't work with a scene this intimate."
"0-8-4" was first aired in the United States on ABC on October 1, 2013. It received a 3.3/10 percent share among adults between the ages of 18 and 49, meaning that it was seen by 3.3 percent of all households, and 10 percent of all of those watching television at the time of the broadcast. It was watched by 8.66 million viewers. The Canadian broadcast on the same day gained 1.829 million viewers, the fourth highest for that day and the twelfth highest for the week. The United Kingdom premiere on October 4, 2013 had 3.08 million viewers and in Australia, the October 2, 2013 premiere had 2.8 million viewers, including 1.3 million timeshifted viewers.
MTV.com gave a positive review, saying "If tonight's installment is any indication, the cast will soon be able to support their own weight, make Coulson proud, and audiences sit up and pay attention", and comparing it positively to Tarzan, Beastmaster, and Mutant X. Terri Schwartz of Zap2it also gave a particularly positive review, praising both the connections to the films, including Jackson's cameo, and the internal development of the show, namely that of the character Skye and the team as a whole. Dan Casey of Nerdist called "0-8-4" "a strong second episode, [which] managed to course-correct from some of the missteps of the pilot". He praised the "solid mix of action, character development, and humor" and concluded that the episode was "genuinely enjoyable television". Eric Goldman of IGN scored the episode 7.5 out of 10, comparing it positively to The A-Team and Indiana Jones, praising its self-awareness, Jackson's cameo, and the development of Coulson's character, but criticizing the lack of development for the other characters, specifically Fitz and Simmons.
Oliver Sava of A.V. Club called the episode "an adequate hour of action-adventure television, but the first 59 minutes are missing the spark of the final post-credits scene", seeing room for improvement for all the cast members, and concluding that the show falls "somewhere between Firefly and Dollhouse on the spectrum of Whedon TV influences". Graeme Virtue, of The Guardian, called Gregg "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s greatest asset", finding the Jackson cameo to be a "thrill", but that "plot-wise, things perhaps still feel a little inconsequential". The Hollywood Reporter's Marc Bernardin praised the scale of the episode, describing it as coming "out of the gate like a blockbuster", but criticized its ambitions, asking "Shouldn't this show be, well, nuttier? ... Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. needs to unhinge itself, but good, and not just be a procedural." He also singled out Skye and May as being unfocused and underdeveloped, respectively, as characters, and he felt the Jackson cameo "gave the whole thing a charge that, in truth, it didn't really earn." Jim Steranko, known for his work on Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., found the episode to be "smoother [than "Pilot"], although more formulaic", criticizing the plot and characters, but praising Jackson's cameo as "an electrifying reminder of what the series could and should be."
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