Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 7: The Hub

Last week Simmons got a chance to shine, so naturally this week we focus on Fitz, as he goes on his first ever big boy pants mission.

There were lots of nice little character bits strewn throughout the episode, but the overall plot was kind of a mess.

• I liked the opening scene in which Coulson was being held and interrogated by a squad of goons, even if it was very reminiscent of a similar scene in The Avengers.

• The scenes with the mismatched boys on their own were kind of fun, but the threat they faced was vague at best. Who was the enemy here? They waltzed right into the factory in which the Overkill Device (!) was stored with little or no resistance. Could they not afford extras?

Only at the very end do we finally see a few soldiers appear to stop them.

• Hmm, this week we visit S.H.I.E.L.D.'s headquarters, otherwise known as The Hub. Wouldn't this have been a perfect time for another cameo by Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury? You know, the guy who runs the place?

I get that the show's budget (and Jackson's schedule) doesn't allow him to star in every episode but there is a way around that.

When Danny DeVito joined the cast of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia in Season 2, they could only afford to hire him for twenty days. They maximized his limited availability though by writing every episode beforehand, then filming every scene containing him for the entire season in those twenty days. This meant they might very well film scenes from three or four different episodes all in one day. Once he was gone, they went back and filmed the rest of the episodes.*

They could do something like this with Samuel L. Jackson. Hire him for a week, film a ton of short scenes between Fury and Coulson, then splice one or two into every episode. That way you'd get Fury starring in the entire season for a minimum of time and money.
Get on this right away, would you ABC?

• This week we get the introduction of Victoria Hand, one of Coulson's superiors. Hand's apparently a big deal in the comics these days, even though I've never heard of her (I stopped buying comics long ago, after they passed the $3 apiece mark).

Saffron Burrows plays Hand, and looks pretty much like she stepped right out of the comic. One thing I don't get about her though-- she's supposed to be this cold, efficient and ruthless administrator, but she's got a magenta streak in her hair. Seems more like something you'd see on a cashier at Target than on the head of a secret spy organization. Just sayin.'

• Jasper Sitwell's in this episode too. Long-time Marvel nerds will know he's been in the comics for decades. This live action version of him was in Thor and The Avengers, as well as some short online S.H.I.E.L.D. films.

I guess they decided the supporting cast needed some more color here, because the TV/movie Sitwell is about as far from the comic version as you can get.

• There's a nice little bit of acting by Clark Gregg in this episode. When Hand mentions Tahiti to Coulson, he automatically responds with a rote "It's a magical… place" before catching himself. He obviously has no idea why he keeps saying this and is beginning to realize it's almost as if he were programmed to say it.

Also, did you catch Skye's line to Simmons when she says Coulson is "acting like a robot version of himself right now?" Obviously this is another reference to the idea of him being a Life Model Decoy.

• After several weeks of buildup we finally see Fitz's ridiculously named Night Night Gun in action. I was under the impression that it just knocked a person unconscious, but after Simmons shoots Sitwell with it, it's mentioned that he's in the infirmary!

• Skye and Simmons have an allegedly "cute" moment as they work together to hack the S.H.I.E.L.D. computer system. Setting aside the fact that this ought to be impossible, wouldn't it be considered kind of treasony?

Later on the entire incident's brushed aside like they used the last of the paper without refilling the copier. Somehow if this happened in real life I'm betting Skye and Simmons would disappear from the face of the Earth without a trace.

• So Hand doesn't make an extraction plans for Fitz and Ward because she knows Coulson and the rest of his team will defy orders and go in and rescue them. What the hell kind of bone-headed plan is that? And how did this woman get to be in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D.?

• Fitz and Ward disable the Overkill Device (!) and exit the building. They're immediately surrounded by enemy soldiers. Luckily for them the entire army was polite enough to not shoot at them until May arrived to rescue them.

• So in this episode we learn that Skye's mother was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who dropped her off at an orphanage. No mention of her father. Geez, every week Coulson keeps her on the team despite all logic-- are they setting up a big reveal that he's really her father? Cheezus, I hope not.

• Next week, we may actually get close to some superhero action on our superhero show.

*They did the exact same thing on two different sitcoms in the 1960s: My Three Sons starring Fred Macmurray and Family Affair starring Brian Keith. In both cases neither actor wanted to spend nine months out of the year filming a TV series, so the producer did the same trick-- he filmed all their scenes in just two months and once they were gone went back and filmed the remainder of the episodes. 

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