Which one looks like a super soldier?
I’m going to forego my usual prohibition on spoilers in the opening paragraph so stop reading if you’re looking to defer your inevitable disappointment is the Coulson question. Turns out that the secret of his resurrection was that he was… resurrected. I can understand why this might shock and disturb Coulson, but the audience figured that much out weeks ago and for the big reveal to be so thoroughly unimaginative is just an insult. I thought that I was beyond being disappointed in this show but “The Magical Place” managed to slither beneath the incredibly low bar I’d set. On a better series I’d be waiting for the other shoe to drop, but this is what passes for intrigue on SHIELD. Continue reading
No, I don’t know what they were thinking either
Well, that wasn’t bad. Actually, I’ll say that it was pretty good. Was it? “Fixing SHIELD” has become such a high bar that it’s impossible for any one episode to meet it, a fact which makes stories like this one hard to evaluate. While “The Bridge” still embraces many of the show’s flaws, it takes some steps to address others; should I criticize it because it can’t erase nine weeks of poor decisions in one fell swoop? No, but I also shouldn’t pretend that it exists in a vacuum. Much as this episode might work as a piece of entertainment, the show’s still underachieving. Continue reading
That’s right Skye, wait in the van
I had some hope than an episode written by Jed and Maurissa would help elevate proceedings on SHIELD; the direct involvement of showrunners almost always filters out the noise and clarifies a show’s voice. But the only thing clarified here is the fact that SHIELD doesn’t really have a voice. Mae’s background has been one of the few tantalizing bits of serialization on this show, a mystery that promised to make her something other than a stock character if only we gave it a little of patience. Well, after eight episodes of hearing hints about Mae’s background, “Repairs” lets us… hear about Mae’s background. Clunky exposition is not the way build character, particularly when its connection to current events is tenuous at best. Continue reading
The God of poor casting
“The Well” sees SHIELD return to playing strengths, which is a good thing even if it only raises the bar back up to “watchable.” We’ve got an interesting sci-fi/fantasy hook, some solid super power action, and more Marvel mythology than we’ve yet seen. There’s also the glimmer of greater potential here in the long overdue expansion of Ward’s character. I’m growing a bit cynical about the show’s ability to follow through on any of the good ideas that occasionally crop up but, to play devil’s advocate, this one does hit all the necessary beats by giving Ward some depth and damage. The twist isn’t exactly mind blowing, but it does push the show into some darker territory and finally asks the audience for something other than indifferent acceptance. Continue reading
Yes, it is shockingly stupid
Wow, that was terrible. Terr-ib-le. I was so disinterested I actually started writing before “The Hub” was even finished. Until now, SHIELD’s been mostly successful in achieving its unambitious goal of delivering generic entertainment to a crowded marketplace. Here it finally, finally takes some steps to complicate matters and suggest that not all is warm and fuzzy in a the world of super spy agencies. Secrecy, deception, suicide mission; it’s pretty much what I’d been asking for… except for all the sucking. Continue reading
Step back from that ledge my friend
While “F.Z.Z.T.” does little to address the problems at the heart of SHIELD, it does get the focus back onto the show’s strengths and maybe, just maybe, points to a path out of the mediocrity desert. It’s surprising that that path should involve Fitz/Simmons, two characters who’ve done even less to earn an emotional payoff than Skye had but, for reasons I’m still trying to figure out, the drama actually works this time. Questions about “how?” aside, I cared more about the characters at the end of this episode than I did at the beginning and that’s more than I can say about any of its predecessors. Continue reading
Wouldn’t it have been nice had the episode focused on this?
Well, that was a misstep. “Misstep” might be an understatement, “derailment” could actually be closer to the truth. That’s pretty harsh for an episode that has more than a few good moments, but the shallow characterisation and straightforward plotting that have plagued this series since the beginning aren’t just unfortunate voids here, they actually undermine what’s presented on screen. “The Girl in the Flower Dress” endeavours to be more that just popcorn and, in so doing, runs headfirst into the series’ limitations. I can respect the episode for aiming higher, it’s something I’ve wanted from SHIELD for weeks, but it aims for an emotional payoff without laying the requisite groundwork and the result is the series’ worst episode to date. Continue reading
Do we have your attention now?
“Eye Spy” improves on some of SHIELD’s stronger elements while ignoring its weaker ones. This isn’t a bad thing per se as an intriguing hook and stronger action sequences do make flat characters and straightforward storytelling easier to swallow but superior fluff is still fluff. This show needs to use its strengths to buy time to work on characterization and world building and there’s very little of that here. It’s odd that my patience should be begin to dwindle with the strongest episode since the pilot, but the flaws seem to stand out more when they’re surrounded by such slick production. Continue reading
Don’t try to stop me, I have dual touch screens
“The Asset” is a significantly better episode than “0-8-4” and (hopefully) points to the promising direction this series will take. Power or, more to the point, super power is emerging as SHIELD’s dominant theme; who should have it, what they’ll do with it, when it should be taken away. This episode succeeds by focusing on the human consequences of these questions. Again, it is (unfortunately) the guest star who delivers the dramatic punches, but there’s also some character-building among the main cast, the most important of which is to tie Skye’s twisted loyalties into the show’s main theme. Continue reading
Oh, and the show’s got that going for it too
The sophomore slump has become a virtual certainty of modern television as creators feel compelled to remind the audience of everything that was explained in the premiere. It’s actually not was dumb as it sounds, as even I haven’t learned everyone’s name yet, but it’s still a drag on the story and, as this one wasn’t all that brisk to begin with, it’s one I wish could just be dispensed with. Not that this episode is bad per se, just that the show’s more generic elements have been pushed to the foreground. That sounds worse than it actually is as I still found this an entertaining hour, but the characters aren’t yet developed enough to make me care about the proceedings as more than popcorn. Continue reading