Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 20: Nothing Personal

Another good episode this week, as the season starts to wind down. Agent Maria Hill comes a' calling, Skye becomes a badass, the producers remember there's a flying car on the show and Coulson finally finds out who was behind his resurrection.

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
Agent Hill comes to Providence base to convince Coulson and the Team to turn themselves in. They politely decline. The Team discovers that Ward is a HYDRA agent, and that he has Skye with him. They risk everything to rescue Skye, because she's apparently the most important person in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. May gives Coulson a file that reveals who was in charge of the T.A.H.I.T.I. project that brought him back to life.

Thoughts:

• It was nice to see Agent Hill (from The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier) show up, I suppose. Unfortunately I thought she was dull as dishwater here. Whether that's due to the writing of the character or Cobie Smulders' acting ability, I can't say.

• Another Black Widow shout out! That's three in three weeks. Someone on the writing staff is really in love with Scarlett Johanssen.

• In addition to the Black Widow reference, we also get a mention of Man-Thing, of all characters! Now that I think about it, there was also kind of a convoluted Man-Thing reference in last year's Iron Man 3: Whoops! We Forgot To Put Iron Man In The Movie. Is it possible Marvel's laying the ground work for a Man-Thing film?*

• Agent Hill doesn't act surprised when she sees Coulson up and walking, so she must have known for quite some time that he's alive. She's working for Stark Enterprises now-- will she tell Tony Stark that he's alive? Or will she let him and the other Avengers find that out in The Avengers 2, as I suspect will happen?

• Melinda May must be the world's most efficient gravedigger. After she digs up Coulson's empty coffin, she's got a few strategically placed smudges of dirt on her face and a slight perspiration stain on her shirt.

I have a feeling if I ever dug up a coffin I'd look like I'd just been defeated at mud wrestling.

• A couple of things about that whole grave digging scene. May somehow knew that the file on the top secret Level 10 Clearance T.A.H.I.T.I. Project was buried in Coulson's empty coffin. I'm guessing Nick Fury didn't want Coulson to ever find out the truth, so he stuck the file in a coffin six feet under ground.

If the info was so sensitive, wouldn't it have made more sense and been easier to, oh, I don't know, just destroy the goddamned file? Why the hell would you bury it? Try as I might I can't think of a good reason, other than to provide a dramatic reveal on the show.

Secondly, the whole idea of Coulson having a grave in the first place doesn't make any sense either. I get that Fury was probably trying to sell the idea that Coulson really died in The Avengers, but he's been walking around the halls of S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters and calling up various agents all season. So how's Fury explaining the grave to curious agents?

• I know Coulson is a secret agent and probably trained in all kinds of hand to hand fighting. That said, I had a hard time believing he was able to kick Colonel Talbot's ass so easily. Talbot looks like a pretty capable soldier, while Coulson looks like, well, like a doughy middle management type.

I'm going to tell myself the alien blood in his veins gives him semi-super strength.

• Skye continued to win me over this week, playing Ward like a cheap violin and basically being a badass. Finally.

All season the writers have bent over backwards telling us how awesome she is and expecting us to automatically love her as much as they do. You can't force the audience to love a character, guys. They have to earn the audience's affection. It seems like they've finally realized that, and are taking pains to have Skye actually do something to justify her existence.

Show, don't tell, guys. See, it's not that hard.

• When Skye escaped from Ward at the diner, he ran after her shouting, "Let me explain!" For a horrifying minute I thought for sure they were going to reveal that he wasn't really a H.Y.D.R.A. agent after all, and was part of some extremely deep cover mission. Luckily that turned out not to be the case. 

I think they may be trying to show that Ward's becoming disillusioned with HYDRA (especially after Garrett ordered Deathlok to take him out just to make a point), and that he'll come to realize he's made a mistake. I don't see any way he could ever possibly rejoin the Team at this point though, given his high body count in the past few episodes.

My guess: the writers are setting up Ward for some kind of redemption in the season finale; most likely by having him sacrifice himself to save Skye or turn on Garrett before being killed. Or both.

• Hey, someone finally remembered that Coulson's car Lola can fly! Some of the flying scenes looked better than others, but overall I thought it was a pretty cool scene.

• So Coulson was the one keeping the secret about Project T.A.H.I.T.I. from himself! I gotta admit, I didn't see that one coming.

Also, after this jaw-dropping revelation, the only comment Coulson can summon is a flabbergasted "Huh." I don't know if Joss Whedon had anything to do with that scene, but that line seems a lot like something he would write (see just about any episode of Buffy TheVampire Slayer).

• I'm curious to see how the whole "S.H.I.E.L.D. Is No More" story arc is going to play out. S.H.I.E.L.D. has been a massive part ofthe Marvel Cinematic Universe so far, and I can't imagine them not reviving it at some point. But when? WIll they rebuild the agency on the series, or save that for one of the movies? 

I'm guessing they'll pretty much have to rebuild it on the show (if it gets another season). I don't see how they could have Coulson and the Team as fugitives until S.H.I.E.L.D. gets rebuilt in the next Captain America movie.


*There actually was a made-for-TV or direct-to-DVD or something Man Thing movie a few years ago, but I'm not counting it. Trust me, it's best forgotten. In fact it would be best if it was buried deep underground and the earth above it salted so nothing can ever grow there.

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