Friday, May 9, 2014

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 21: Ragtag

Good news, everyone! ABC just announced that they've renewed Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. for a second season! Woohoo! I was hoping that now that it's finally become watchable that they'd keep it on the air. 

I'm glad I stuck with the show from the beginning. I'll be the first to admit that the first half of the season was pretty "meh," and my attitude was pretty much, "Well, this show ain't gonna watch itself, so I might as well look at it." But for the past couple of months I've actually been looking forward to it. Let's hope they keep up the good work.

The Plot:
In a series of flashbacks we see how Garrett recruited Ward into S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA. In the present, Coulson and the remnants of the Team learn that Centipede, Garrett, and pretty much everything on the show all stem from a common source: Cybertek. Oh, and Garrett was the first Deathlok, his cybernetic organs are failing, and he's desperate to use the GH 325 formula on himself in order to survive.

• This episode was directed by Roxann Dawson, who, as all good genre fans know, played B'elanna Torres on Star Trek: Voyager. She directed several Voyager episode back in the day as well.

• Thanks, local election coverage, for obscuring the bottom third of the screen for the entire episode. Jesus, didn't we just have an election around here?

• When Garrett meets young Ward in the flashback, he says, "I work for a secret organization called S.H.I.E.L.D. Ever hear of it?" 

Um… no, Garrett, he's never heard of it. It's a secret organization, remember?

• Garrett's "mentoring" of Ward deserves some scrutiny. He drops Ward (and Buddy the dog) off in the middle of nowhere with no supplies and pretty much says, "Survive or don't, I don't care." And then he leaves him there for six months.

The show's been kind of hinting that some momentous event in Ward's past put him forever in Garrett's debt. Was this it? Yeah, Garrett saved Ward from juvie and possibly being tried as an adult for arson, but... I was thinking of something a bit more momentous.

And why the hell would Ward actually stay out there in the wilderness all that time? Garrett said he'd be back for him in two months, but was actually gone for six. After two months a normal person would have 
said "Screw this" and hiked back to civilization. It should have been easy enough; Garrett didn't blindfold Ward in the truck, so all he'd have had to do would be follow the road. 

Or how about this: Ward also says he survived for six months by robbing nearby cabins. Why not just stay in the cabins then?

And how exactly does leaving someone to survive alone in the wilderness train them to be a super spy? I'm assuming this must have been some kind of pre-training "toughening up" routine, and the spy and assassin training came later. At least I hope that's what happened.

• So what happened to Buddy? Garrett ordered Ward to kill him, but he fired in the air and let him go. A few minutes later we see Buddy running, centered through someone's crosshairs. Did Ward change his mind and shoot his dog after all? Or was that Garrett's point of view? It was all pretty vague, which tells me we won't know the answer until next week.

• Humorous line by Garrett: Speak up boy, I'm not a mind reader. Wakka wakka!

• So Garrett is a Deathlok. Interesting. In fact he was the very first Deathlok. His implants are starting to fail though, and we find out that just about everything on the show-- Centipede, Raina's super powered formula, maybe even the GH 325-- was all orchestrated by Garrett to help keep him alive.

• Loved the suitcase of old school S.H.I.E.L.D. gadgets, courtesy of Tripp's grandpaw.

• Coulson and May posing as Cybertek applicants was a hoot, especially when they started inadvertently aping FitzSimmons' accents. And it was refreshing to see Ming Na Wen actually smile for a change.

All that said, this comedy relief moment felt a bit out of place in an episode full of fairly serious events.

• I sincerely doubt that FitzSimmons is (are?) really dead. Especially since Fitz still had his old school secret S.H.I.E.L.D. coin radio/tracker in his pocket. They're the comedy relief in most episodes, and two angles of the Fitz/Simmons/Tripp love triangle, so I'd be very surprised if they're killed off.

• Raina tells a story about "monsters in China that had a baby girl" or something, obviously referring to Skye. I can't think of anyone from the comics that this could be. Must be some new plot line.

• I'm honestly curious as to where the whole "S.H.I.E.L.D. Is No More" storyline's going to go.  S.H.I.E.L.D. was once a huge spy organization that employed thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of agents all over the world. Now they're down to about six. 

Are the writers planning to rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D. in Season Two? If so Coulson's got a hell of a recruiting drive ahead of him. Realistically it would take years to rebuild it to its former state. They don't have years though, so I'm betting it'll be miraculously back to normal in just a handful of episodes.

• Hey, ABC-- your surprise cameos would be more of a surprise if you didn't spoil them in the previews.

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