Tuesday, February 11, 2014

View Log: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D "0-8-4"

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 genitalia.

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 overly referential.

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)

1 comment:

  1. A male robo-sphere, huh? Was the Artsy Core created by Aperture Labs?

    - That One Anon