From familiar faces from the first nine episodes to the promise that certain threads might finally be coming together, I had high hopes for the episode as it unfolded. Even putting aside the rumors I’d read about the installment having a “huge cliffhanger” that would “leave us guessing,” I kept waiting for that moment when everything would come together, click and I could finally say — “At last, I’m really excited again about this show.”*
*Looking back, I only had to wait 24 hours for a show to do that with the mid-season finale of Arrow that not only delivered on its promise but also raised the game for the second half of the season.
Watching “The Bridge,” I felt that instead of seeing a culmination of some threads from the early part of the season, instead I was getting an episode that suffered from the same thing that many middle installments in a trilogy do — reminding us of what we liked about the original installment but not moving too many things too far forward so we can have something to pay off in the final installment. Instead of serving as a bridge to the second half of the season, I felt more like “The Bridge” was content to tread water and keep us in the same spot we’ve been the past few weeks.
I feel like a broken record for saying this, but I really, really hope that they do something about what happened to Coulson soon and stop teasing us with it. Having him kidnapped because of his death may finally force this plot line forward…but then again, I feel like I’ve been hoping for that for weeks now and the show is merely content to tease me on the answers may be coming and then deny them to me again and again. At some point, the full disclosure of what happened to Coulson will be so built up that no payoff or resolution can ever live up to it. Has the series reached that point yet? It’s possible. I will wait and see if the episode coming out of this hiatus in January offers any answers.
One thing I’m hoping the show won’t do is have Coulson rescued in the first installment back. The idea of seeing how the team functions without him to smooth over differences is an intriguing one and could be the kind of story arc that the series and these characters need.
And if the producers want to have J. August Richards be a recurring character for the show, please let’s get him back to the character we saw in the pilot and not the one we saw here. We’ve already got a team full of people willing to toe the company line. Having this outsider suddenly want to be the best SHIELD agent he can be was just a little too much to handle. I get that part of it was a ruse to get Coulson into the hands of CENTIPEDE. But it still felt very, very off just watching things unfold and I felt like someone (maybe May, should have been suspicious of his motives and his attitude based on their interactions last time we saw him).
There were also some other plot threads that were brought up but really went no where. The idea of an office romance between May and Grant has some potential, but I don’t really feel like the show is doing anything with it. Bey0nd having May’s characterization all over the map. Two weeks ago, she’s pulling a prank on the team and seems to be warming up to everyone a bit. This week, she’s back to dour and disapproving. Without a hint as to why this is happening.
There’s also the thread of Skye is looking for answers and the team is keeping certain details from her.
Honestly, I felt like the episode was building to a moment where we all discover that everyone is lying to each other and that truth comes out. Joss Whedon has done these episodes before and they’ve had a devastating impact on his characters. But in those shows, we had a bigger investment in the characters than we’ve had here so far. And I’m not necessarily sure singing about our inner doubts, feelings and fears is going to necessarily have the same impact this time around.
I keep wanting to love this show. But I find myself only liking it…and at times even just feeling tolerant of it.
Again, it might not be helped that I spent the last week or so catching up on Arrow and seeing that series really come into its own this year. Or it could be that SHIELD hasn’t quite developed yet into the show I want it to be. Either way, I’m still coming back in January, but I’m not necessarily counting down days until the next new installment.