Category Archives: Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD

TV Round-Up: Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD — The Bridge

shield_thebridgeOn paper, there is a lot I should have liked about the winter finale of Agents of SHIELD.

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.

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TV Round-Up: Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD: The Hub

agents-0f-shield-the-hubWith “The Hub”, I find myself far more intrigued by the coda of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD than I did the forty-one or so minutes leading up to it.

It’s kind of a shame because there were some interesting pieces to the episode, but they didn’t all come together.  If anything, “The Hub” suffered from a lack of focus.

When SHIELD intel reveals that a new weapon nicknamed the Overkill Device has been built and fallen into the wrong hands, agents Ward and Fitz are sent in to sabotage it.  It’s a covert mission and one whose details are only known to agents with a level eight clearance or higher — a clearance level Coulson has when we start the episode, but one that he may not necessarily still have when the episode is over (looks like we’ll have to wait and see on that one).

Of course, being kept out of the loop doesn’t sit well with Skye, who immediately begins plotting to find a way into the top secret files to determine the truth of the mission.  She’s helped out by Simmons, who proves to not be so deft on her feet in coming up with a convincing cover story.  There’s probably a reason she’s not in the field that often.   I will say that the scene with Simmons coming up with excuses for why she’s at a panel with a flash drive was one of the more amusing on the program.  It also shows that Elizabeth Hendridge does well with humor and that she could be more capable of delivering Whedon-esque dialogue than I’d originally given her credit.

I also liked the continued plot threat of Skye’s growing loyalty to the team and her friends.   Presented with the chance to try and find out more about the mystery surrounding her parents, Skye goes for the data on Ward and Fitz’s mission, only to uncover an uncomfortable truth — it’s actually a suicide mission since SHIELD has no extraction plan in place for the two.

On the one hand, I can see how Ward might be expendable, but it’s hard to believe that SHIELD would want or allow someone as technologically savvy as Fitz to be killed in the field or worse yet, captured and allowed/forced to develop tech for the enemy.  Sure, it worked out that Tony Stark’s tech helped him to escape from his captors and eventually became an asset for the good guys, but we can’t forget that Starks initial mandate was to develop and replicate his work on weapons systems for terrorists.

The mantra of this episode was “Trust the system.”  And it really felt like the series was trying to remind me that I needed to have faith that all these pieces would come together and that the series will eventually find its footing and become the show we’re all hoping it’s capable of being.  And yet, it’s another week where I feel like the pieces were all there for a home run of an episode and instead we only got a run-it-out double.

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TV Round-Up: Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD — F.Z.Z.T.”

IAIN DE CAESTECKER, ELIZABETH HENSTRIDGE

My first thought after viewing this week’s Agents of SHIELD was that I’ve really got to stop watching the “coming next week” trailers for this show.    What the trailer promised and what the episode actually was were two very different things.

But even beyond the disappointment that the episode wasn’t necessarily what was advertised, I still came away from the latest installment feeling an overall feeling of disappointment.

For those of you who missed the trailer, it made this episode appear to be our crew facing a truly scary, horrifying threat that would test the team to their limits.  And going in with that kind of bias and the way the early portions of the episode were playing out, I found myself expected something along the lines of “The Naked Time” from classic Star Trek or “Ice” from The X-Files.  Namely that you’ve got some kind of catalyst (virus, alien parasite, etc) that makes our regular characters act in ways they normally can’t or won’t  but yet reveal something about the character that we may or may not have known previously.   And I have to admit I was really looking forward to seeing that and hoping it might lead to some interesting insights about who these characters are and why we should have a greater investment in them — even after just six episodes.

I also have to admit part of me was intrigued by the notion that SHIELD would kill off a main character in the sixth episode and for the potential that decision could have on the series going forward.  Certainly, there is precedence for a Joss Whedon show killing off a regular in the first half of the first season (Angel).  And while I didn’t necessarily want to see Simmons be the one who had to be sacrificed,  for a commercial break I was pondering just how the show could and would explore her death and its impact on everyone on the team.

Then, a magic cure is found and Ward is able to save the day in the span of two minutes and I come away feeling like this one was a missed opportunity.

Again, part of that could be my own bias and expectations.  And I think part of it is that SHIELD is maybe a bit too willing to play it safe.

I found myself casting my mind back to Iron Man 3 and the chances it was willing to take with Tony Stark and the Marvel movie universe.  It would have been easy to find a reset button that kept Tony in the suit, but instead the movie took a different turn with Stark deciding to walk away and leaving me wondering what was next for the universe and the character.   So far, SHIELD has offered some hints about this, but it’s always pulled back a bit and left me curious, but not hungering for more in the same way that Iron Man 3 or The Avengers did.

The biggest culprit in this is Coulson.   I may need to dust off the Blu-Rays of the first set of Marvel movies and watch the Coulson scenes again because, right now, I’m not really feeling how the character is significantly different than the one we saw in the movies.   I find myself getting frustrated at various characters telling us that Coulson has changed but we’re not being shown how he’s changed.  I really feel like a flashback episode of Coulson leading a team or being an agent pre-Avengers might help at this point.  Or maybe if we had some kind of indication of where the writing staff may be going with how he’s come back after dying in The Avengers.  We’ve had a lot of vague hints, but nothing really concrete.

I will say that I do like the fact that Coulson feels something is up and is beginning to look into things himself.   The idea that he “feels” different but can’t put his finger on why or how is a good starting point.  If and when the explanation arrives, hopefully we’ll look back and see seeds being sewn in this episode.  I still have faith in Whedon to put things out there that don’t seem important on first glance but which pay dividends down the line.  (Best example is the way in which “When She Was Bad” foreshadows every single dramatic beat of season two of Buffy…if you’ve seen season two and know what to watch for).

I also like the fact that Ward realizes he’s the butt of a lot of joke and that he’s willing to go along with it.  The impressions of Ward by Fitz and Simmons were great as was Ward’s own impression of himself.  I still feel like this character has a long way to go, but they’re making some positive steps in the right direction.

What I’m also unsure about is the depth of the relationship between Fitz and Simmons and between Coulson and Mae.   And, I’m not necessarily referring to something romantic (though some scenes this week did hint at sexual tension between each “couple”).  Again, this is something the series can and should explore….maybe a flashback episode would be in order.

So while this wasn’t my favorite episode of SHIELD, it certainly wasn’t the strongest.  I feel like it was a bit of a stumble as the series attempts to find its stride.  I hope it gets back on track next week.

I can’t say what it’s about though…because I’ve decided to try and avoid the previews.  (Odds are, the preview will find its way to me though since the Tennessee football game is on ESPN Saturday…)

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TV Round-Up: Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD — Girl With The Flower Dress

girlinflowerdressAfter a couple of weeks of finding its stride, SHIELD takes a minor step back with the latest installment, “Girl in the Flower Dress.”

It’s not a major stumble, but I couldn’t help feeling like this one should have been better than the sum of its parts.

First of all, let’s get out of the way that I’m glad that Skye’s agenda is fully out there on the table now and we don’t have to keep playing the “is she or isn’t she a double agent” game anymore.   Of course, finding out that Skye’s main interest in serving is to have access to the databases from inside to find out what happened to her parents isn’t exactly the most groundbreaking or interesting twist that the show could have done.  But it could have a greater impact on the overall global mythology that the show is going for.  Or it could lead to a point where Skye actually begins to develop powers of her own, leading to a conflict on if she should hide them and if and how SHIELD might react to having a person with certain abilities on the team.

The plot line also benefitted from the fact that it gave Coulson (in the form of Clark Gregg) a lot of angst and scenery to chew on.  The scene with Coulson ripping into Skye because of her betrayal of his trust and telling her that she had one chance to tell him the truth was superbly done.  And in a lot of ways, it really overshadowed my interest and investment in the power of the week plotline with Scorch.

Ah, Scorch.

Terrible name, potentially interesting plot.   I have a feeling we’ll look back on Sorch as a stepping stone toward something larger when the entire first season arc comes into focus.  At least, that’s what I’m hoping for.   Part of my lack of interest here was that I wasn’t really all that interested or invested in Scorch himself.   I realize that we can’t build up every person who is developing an ability in great detail each week, but I found the naive nature of Scorch and his desire to be famous a bit dull and tedious.   Seeing how Raina took advantage of this desire and his vulnerability worked well and I think that plotline has potential to develop into something greater.  But overall, Scorch seemed to hit some fairly obvious and easy to see coming notes.

With the exception of how far Mae and Coulson were willing to go to contain him.  That’s interesting.  It also brings into question a few issues related to SHIELD and raised a bit by the Skye and her hacker boyfriend plotline.   For example, just how far-reaching is SHIELD’s sight and power and could that be abused or overextended?   Could the agency that is starting with good intentions actually become a bit corrupted by its own power or sense of self-righteousness?  And while we are inclined to see Centipede as an opposing force and philosophy to SHIELD, could it be that it and its followers have a point that perhaps SHIELD is too powerful?  Or could become too powerful.

With Whedon behind this show, I’m hoping that some of these issues will be explored in the season to come and seasons to come, should SHIELD stick around long term.

Of course, in order to do that, there are some issues that need to  be cleared up.  After last week’s episode showed the team becoming a competent, professional group of spies, this week’s installment took a major step backward.    I’m referring to the surveillance of  Skye’s hacker boyfriend and how easily Ward is made by said hacker.   Did he miss that day of basic undercover training?   And how could they lose track of not only hacker man but also Skye as well.  Or was May lurking outside the door while Skye and hacker man were having their hook-up?

I wonder if the data that hacker boy stole and set free will continue to haunt the team as the season continues.  Could it now be a race for the team to try and get to certain people developing powers before Raina and Centipede do?  If so, that could have some interesting potential for future development.

 

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TV Round-Up: Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD — Eye Spy

eye_spyAnother week, another step forward for Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.

Of course, it helps to have Whedon-verse alum Jeffrey Bell penning the script for what I think is the strongest outing the series has had so far and even more indications that the series looks ready to find its stride.

“Eye Spy” expands the universe of SHIELD just a bit, giving us hints about Coulson’s history as well as a few glimpses into his character and it also introduces the idea that there is a rival organization out there that may have a step or two up on SHIELD in certain areas (for example, the technology used to spy on Akela).    Consider me intrigued enough by these developments to be fully on-board for the rest of the season, though I do think that the series needs to start giving some substantial hints or answers to what happened to Coulson sooner rather than later. *

* Part of this is selfishly motivated since every time someone brings up something about Coulson’s past, my wife turns to me and goes, “What happened to him again?  Have they told us how he came back from the dead?”

Bell’s script is one that does well from mis-direction.   The previews last week (admit it, you watch them as well) gave us several scenes of the men in masks with briefcases handcuffed to them.   From that, it would be easy to assume that this is the new threat facing SHIELD this week but instead Bell turns the story on its head by making the men in masks the good guys and the targets of the rival organization for SHIELD.    This team is using a former operative under Coulson’s command, Akela.  Has she gone rogue or is there something else at work?

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TV Round-Up: Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD — The Asset

asset18All great TV shows have that one episode where after luring me in with some bait, they set the hook.   One of the easiest to recall in recent memory is Lost with the first Locke-centric episode that featured the big reveal that before the castaways crash landed on Island Hell, that Locke was confined to a wheelchair.  Or in the case of Battlestar Galactica, it was “32,” the first regular episode after the mini-series.

With Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, I feel like the writing staff has done a decent job of baiting the hook, but I’m still waiting for it to  be set and to reel me in.

If this week’s episode was any indication, I feel like the writing team is tugging on the line a bit and getting ready to possibly give us that one episode that completely blows us away and leaves us all hooked.*

* To go back to another Whedon show, it took them six or so (broadcast) episodes to get there with Firefly and the episode in question was “Out of Gas.”  

After last week’s installment felt a bit like a re-hash of the pilot and a bit too rushed to try and build the group of people into the team that Colson wants them to be, “The Asset” felt more like a story designed to begin bringing a bit of depth to some of these characters.   I don’t necessarily think the show is helped by the reliance on the procedural format it’s adopted because it requires giving over a certain amount of time to build up the threat of the week and attempt to have us care about that situation and/or the people involved.   But there were certainly enough character moments from the main cast to keep me interested, even when my connection to the “crisis of the week” plotline wasn’t necessarily always at it’s highest level.

That said, I think the show has definitely set the hook for some of the characters from this installment to return at a future point and time.  And if so, these are some adversaries who would have a legitimate reason to be very unhappy with certain members of our SHIELD team (namely, Coulson).

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