Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 16: End Of The Beginning

Hey, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is finally back, after yet another ong hiatus. I don't know what's causing all these pre-emptions, but it'sa shame because the show is finally starting to hit its stride. These constant breaks aren't doing any favors for the show's momentum. Or for the ratings.

Supposedly there will be no more breaks from now until the end of the season, so that's good.


The Plot:

After Deathlok attacks a S.H.I.E.L.D. safe house, the Team gears up to capture his boss, the Clairvoyant. They track him to an abandoned building, and find that he's really Thomas Nash, an immobile man on life support who can only speak through a computer. Nash taunts Grant, who reflexively kills him. Coulson deduces that Nash was a decoy, and that not only is the real Clairvoyant still out there, but he or she doesn't have super powers and is a rogue S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. 

Oh, and Coulson discovers May's might be a traitor. 

• Deathlok's back, and getting more Deathlokier all the time.

It's cool to see Mike Peterson's evolve into a character from the comics, but I'm not a fan of his current look. As many have already pointed out, he looks like he's wearing some kind of Laser Tag gear. I get that this is a TV show and they don't have as big a budget as the Marvel films, but good lord… Star Trek: The Next Generation was regularly featuring the Borg twenty years ago, and their costumes were miles better than what Deathlok's modeling here.

What's interesting that when Skye saw an x-ray image of Deathlok, he looked pretty much identical to the comic version, complete with a half-metal skull. Hopefully his metamorphosis isn't done, and this is just an interim look for him.

• Nice line by May to Agent Blake: "So you don't believe in the Clairvoyant, but you believe in astrology?"

• Welp, Skye is now officially a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Never mind that she sidestepped the academy and has had little or no field training. She's a valuable member of the team! She got shot in the line of duty! She deserves this and much, much more!

All the massive amounts of love and accolades being heaped onto her just feels unearned. We're constantly told how amazing she is, but so far we've seen little evidence of it. As I said last time, Skye is Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker and Bilbo Baggins all rolled into one. The hero who has everything handed to them and never has to work for or earn anything, falling ass-backwards into success.

What's odd is that all the other characters seem very pleased with her promotion. Even FitzSimmons, who are two of the most gung-ho, by-the-book agents that could possibly exist. One would think they'd be more than a bit put out by the fact that they had to spend years at the academy and go through all the proper channels to unlock their achievements, while some self-taught hacker gets an agentship handed to her on a silver platter.

I'm starting to think Skye really does have a super power, one that makes everyone around her bend over backwards to reward her for doing nothing.

• Good to see Brad Dourif on TV! Too bad he won't be back next week.

• So suddenly Ward's a traitor, maybe. And May as well. Or not. We're not sure.

I'm generally not a fan of these paranoid "You can't trust anyone" and "Everything you thought you knew is wrong" plot lines. Why? Because they never make much sense. We've seen Ward and May acting very untraitory all season. Even when they were alone and could drop the pretense, they acted normal. Then out of the blue we're told they're not what they seem.

These plots also tend to undermine the characters. If none of our favorite agents can be trusted and can turn on us at any time, then why should we care about them?

• Coulson deduces that the Clairvoyant isn't really a super powered entity, but a rogue S.H.I.E.L.D. agent with access to all their records.

I have to say I was a little disappointed by this. For weeks now everyone and their dog has been telling Coulson there's no such thing as psychic powers (despite the fact that they live in a world of superheroes and alien gods), and I was sure that this whole Clairvoyant storyline existed for the sole purpose of proving them wrong. Nope! He or she is just a plain old double agent. Boring!

So who is the Clairvoyant? The obvious choice would be Agent Victoria Hand, since she seems to be gunning for Coulson and the Team at the end of the episode. I honestly hope it's not her though, as she's a bit too obvious.

My money's on Agent Garrett. Bill Paxton's folksy charm would be a perfect, er, shield for a secret evil identity like the Clairvoyant. Plus he's only contracted for four episodes, so it's not like he's going to be series regular... Yep, I vote for Garrett.

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