Well, this is a little late, I know. There’s been a lot of hate going around for this last episode, and the show in general, so I wanted to really think this one over. I read the Artsy Core’s response to the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot. I can say that I learned a few things.
First of all, Artsy Core is a male robo-sphere. Go ahead and insert
your own “ball” joke there. Good to know; I always have trouble
figuring out which pronouns to use to describe robots that lack
Second of all, we apparently disagreed on more than a few points
regarding the show. AC called Fitz/Simmons annoying, thought Ward was
bland, and though that Skye barely had a personality beyond being the
sassy foil. Do I see where he’s coming from? Yes. Do I agree? Well, I agree that Ming-Na Wen as Melinda May was underused. As of yet, her role as Ellen Yin in the WB’s The Batman
was better developed. I will concede that some of the
characterization, wit, and humor is not where it should be for the level
of quality that Whedon is known for, and the episode was a little
However, Artsy Core, yes. Scientists have to be quirky. Or evil. Or
both. Dr. Hank Pym has kinky, shrunken sex with Janet Van Dyne
(seriously, it’s in an issue of Avengers), Dr. Reed Richards is an
absent-minded professor who uses his stretching powers in bed (noticing a
pattern…), Dr. Will Magnus chews on a pipe that he doesn’t smoke and
gives his robots souls, Tony Stark’s a womanizing alcoholic, Dr. Arnim
Zola walks around in a robot body with his face on a chest-screen, Dr.
T.O. Morrow makes death rays out of junk because he’s bored, Dr. Sivana
and his half-evil-and-ugly-half-beautiful-and-good family…. Quirky
scientists are as much a part of super hero universes as colorful
costumes and alien invaders.
Although, I can see where Fitz/Simmons
got on your nerves, Artsy Core. In fact, I would say that the weakest part
of the pilot was the characterization, shockingly enough. Not that the
characterization was bad, just clumsy. The characters’ archetypes are all well and good, but they need to have more than archetypical behavior.
But I liked the pilot. I did. Now, many shows are going to need some breathing room before they become what they’re remembered for. Star Trek: TNG wasn’t good until Riker grew his beard, after all. As of the end of the first episode, I liked the show and was ready to
give it a chance. Now that we’ve reached the end of the second
episode? Well, I’ll get there.
The episode is a by-the-numbers one. There’s a code
0-8-4 in Peru (which means “weird stuff that shouldn’t be there”), so
the team goes ahead to investigate. They find a thing. Rebels happen,
so they team up with the local law enforcement and the 0-8-4 (an old
Nazi energy weapon) is being shipped back to the states, when the
Peruvian guys (led by on of Coulson’s exes) hijack the plane. The team
learns to work together as a team, defeat the bad guys, and shoot the
weapon into the sun, like you do.
Not a really complex, intricate plot. The way to make this episode good
is to excel at the characterization. Make us care about these characters here and now, despite the situation. But
we don’t. Oh, sure, we learn that Fitz/Simmons aren’t really ready to
be in the field, we learn that Melinda May’s secretly a S.H.I.E.L.D. legend
among the likes of Fury himself, we learn about Ward’s real issues with
Skye, and we learn that Skye seems to be perfectly willing, if
reluctant, to end up betraying the team.
But the characters all default into generic “Agent” mode, and that can
be very… un-engaging. I get that they’re trying to show these
characters as being professional… I just want the characters to be
portrayed as INTERESTING.
Whedon, despite what I said last time, has failed at characterizing these characters. Am I flip-flopping on what I said last time? …yeah, kind of. But hear me out. When I evaluated the characters last time, I only took into account the times that they had
characterization. The seeds are there for great characters, and their
potential as entertaining characters shines through in a few brief but
glorious moments, but you need more than potential and a few funny lines.
Seriously, this episode was just not interesting. It did nothing badly, but it did nothing well. The episode came, occupied an hour, then it was over. I… I find it very hard to actually talk about the episode. I had no
reaction to it. None. Well, that’s not true. The episode opened with
the plane depressurizing due to some problem, and after the title card,
they went the “16 hours earlier” route. Right when they started
analyzing the strange device embedded within an old temple, my enjoyment
petered out for the aforementioned reasons.
There’s really only so much I can say about this hour of meh.
Now let’s talk about the end. At the end of the episode, S.H.I.E.L.D. tech guys begin to fix the groups
plane, due to the damage in the episode. Then, Nick Fury comes along. Yeah, Samuel L. Jackson. He comes along and yells at Coulson in his
usual hilarious manner. I laughed the whole time, but I felt a little
depressed immediately after. When Clark Gregg left the hashtag #willblowminds, I assumed that there would be something truly spectacular. What did we get? The three-minute Nick Fury scene. Almost like an apology.
I want this show to be good… but it’s not. Not yet. The show has potential. I just… I don’t know if we’ll get there before they cancel another one of Whedon’s shows. We’ll see how it goes next week.
Until then, #fishtanklives
(Originally posted on 10/3/13)