|Episode no. Season 1
Cinematography by Feliks Parnell
|Directed by David Straiton|
Editing by Paul Trejo
|Written by Maurissa Tancharoen
Produced by Jed Whedon Maurissa Tancharoen Jeffrey Bell
"0-8-4" is the second episode of the first season of the American television series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., based on the Marvel Comics organization S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division), revolving around the character of Phil Coulson and his team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents as they travel to Peru to investigate an object of unknown origins. It is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films of the franchise. The episode was written by Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon, and Jeffrey Bell, and directed by David Straiton.
- Development and casting
- Marvel Cinematic Universe tie ins
- Home media
- Critical response
Clark Gregg reprises his role as Coulson from the film series, and is joined by series regulars Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker, and Elizabeth Henstridge. The episode is set in Peru, featuring guest star Leonor Varela as a member of the Peruvian military involved with the ongoing conflict between the Peruvian government and rebel forces. Ethnic instruments were used in the score to support this setting, while Tesseract technology is carried over from the films to tie-in with the conflict. Special guest star Samuel L. Jackson also reprises his role from the film series in a cameo appearance.
"0-8-4" originally aired on ABC on October 1, 2013, and according to Nielsen Media Research was watched by 13.17 million viewers within a week of its release. The episode received a mostly positive critical response, with Jackson's appearance considered a highlight by many, but also seen as unearned by the episode.
Beginning immediately after "Pilot", "0-8-4" sees Skye accept Agent Phil Coulson's offer to join his S.H.I.E.L.D. team as a consultant. Though agents Melinda May and Grant Ward oppose this due to her hacktivist background and lack of S.H.I.E.L.D. training, Coulson believes that Skye can be an asset.
The team travels to Peru to investigate a reported 0-8-4 (the 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 and Jemma Simmons determine that it is Hydra made: powered by the Tesseract and extremely volatile. The national military arrives to claim the weapon for the Peruvian government, led by Camilla Reyes, a former colleague of Coulson's. When they are all attacked by local rebels, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and soldiers escape with the weapon to the plane that serves as the agents' mobile base.
En route to 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 secure the 0-8-4 for her government. Together, the agents devise a plan to activate the weapon, blowing a hole in the Bus. The drop in pressure opens the interior doors, allowing the agents to subdue the soldiers. At the facility, Reyes and her men are incarcerated and the 0-8-4 is launched into the sun in a rocket. The team watch the launch together, celebrating their combined efforts, while Ward agrees to supervise Skye's S.H.I.E.L.D. training. Skye secretly confirms her allegiance to the hacktivist group the Rising Tide.
In an end tag, S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury scolds Coulson for the damage caused to the plane during the fight, and expresses his doubts over Skye's loyalty.
Development and casting
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 MCU films, which led 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." It was a challenge for the showrunners to keep Jackson's cameo a surprise due to "this age of tweets and spoilers".
In October, Marvel revealed that the episode would be titled "0-8-4", and would be written by executive producers Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon, and Jeffrey Bell, with David Straiton directing. The release confirmed that main cast members Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker, and Elizabeth Henstridge would star as Phil Coulson, Melinda May, Grant Ward, Skye, Leo Fitz, and Jemma Simmons, respectively, and that the guest cast would include Leonor Varela and Carlos Leal as Camilla Reyes and an archaeologist, respectively.
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.
Marvel Cinematic Universe tie-ins
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 Mjölnir, 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.
"0-8-4" was first aired in the United States on ABC on October 1, 2013. It was aired alongside the US broadcast in Canada on CTV, while it was first aired in the United Kingdom on Channel 4 on October 4, 2013. It premiered on the Seven Network in Australia on October 2, 2013.
The episode, along with the rest of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s first season, was released on Blu-ray and DVD on September 9, 2014. Bonus features include behind-the-scenes featurettes, audio commentary, deleted scenes, and a blooper reel. On November 20, 2014, the episode became available for streaming on Netflix.
In the United States the episode 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 gained 1.83 million viewers, the fourth highest for that day and the twelfth highest for the week. The United Kingdom premiere had 3.08 million viewers, and in Australia, the premiere had 2.8 million viewers, including 1.3 million timeshifted viewers. Within a week of its release, the episode was watched by 13.17 million U.S. viewers, above the season average of 8.31.
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 The 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". He criticized the plot and characters, but praised Jackson's cameo as "an electrifying reminder of what the series could and should be."