After stretching my legs by recapping How I Met Your Mother yesterday, I turn my sights on a much more difficult target: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (from here on out simply referred to as SHIELD). This, again, is the first post in ongoing coverage of the show, but once in a while I may let Big Papa Bri-Bri take the reigns to give a different perspective.
SHIELD is a difficult show to analyze for a number of reasons, some of which I will touch on in this post and others that I will hopefully be able to explore as I move forward. Mostly I’m going to be looking at how the show is developing and how well it tells a story each week. If I knew more about comics, or had a DVR to replay every scene and pick apart every pice of dialogue, I might be able to give more insight into the numerous Easter Eggs littered through each episode. Since, I don’t, I won’t. That being said, let me take you through “Girl in the Flower Dress.”
There is an old saying by Ghandi that goes, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” (*Citation needed) The meaning is evident—if you try and be all things to all people, you often end up failing. Sadly, this is more often than not the case on SHIELD. The show is overstuffed with characters, plots and references to allow any one of those things to leave a lasting impression.
Because of this, tonight’s episode feels uninspired, especially when it falls back on lazy story telling tropes. For example, this week’s case involves Chan Ho Yin, a Hong Kong street magician, with “pyro-kinetic abilities.” In laymen’s terms that means he shoots fire out of his hands. Poor Chan gets suckered by a pretty girl, in—that’s right—a flower dress, and finds himself being experimented on. However, after only the briefest hesitation, Flower Dress Girl (real name Raina) is able to convince him that all she is trying to do is make him stronger and help him show the world what he can do. As per usual, this involves injecting him with a mysterious serum, which, surprise, is the same one that sets in motion the events of the first episode, with a notable exception. Turns out Chan’s abilities include fire resistant blood platelets that can be used to stop the Extremis serum from making its host go kaboom!
It’s all highly technical jargon that for me, as someone who has followed the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and this show, closely, was hard to follow. I can only imagine what the casual viewer was thinking while Raina and other lady scientist spouted off lines about blood platelets.
I was disappointed the show didn’t do more with Chan’s character, who actually seemed interesting when we first meet him. Instead, the writer’s make him out to be another predictable villain, one obsessed with power. In a number of ways this felt like a retread of the pilot. We have the return of Skye’s connection to Rising Tide, the return of the Centipede (CENTIPEDE? I can’t believe this is actually what the show is calling it) group and another mention of Extremis. (Sidenote – I do kind of like that they keep including Extremis because it somehow makes the weirdness of Iron Man 3 easier to swallow.)
So how did Centipede find Chan in the first place? Turns out Skye has been leaking her S.H.I.E.L.D. info to a man on the outside (who turns out to be her secret lover or something. Really it was a bit of a snoozefest, although Secret Boyfriend did seem to have a little more personality than Agent Chin, I mean Ward) who in turn sold it to what he thought was a harmless environmental group (“something with centipedes”). It’s while trying to take down Secret Boyfriend that Skye’s betrayal is revealed, as she tips him off right as the team is about to close in on him. However, Agent May (and for the love of God, please give Ming-Na Wen more to do on this show, she and Clark Gregg have an untapped chemistry that could really help this show) follows her and exposes her to the rest of the team.
While I applaud the show for not dragging that plot over the course of the first season, it still means we are in store for some tedious episodes where she needs to regain the trust of her fellow teammates. Again, a little predictable, and a bit of a bore. I want this show to have some real conflict and tap into what makes these characters tick. I want real emotion not superficial or worn issues like “I don’t know who my parents are.” And I want them to face real threats and challenges with consequences that make sense, instead of ones that simply seem to be making sure the plot moves forward. I think the show is going to work towards that, and when it does, it will really start winning me over.
- My “Really?!” Moment of the Week: Really? You expect me to believe that a man who stood toe to toe with a god was foiled by some punk who could cause a traffic jam with his phone? I mean really.
- Coulson Hints of the Week: Coulson feels good and gets up early in the morning because he has “extra energy to burn.” OH MY GOD HE’S A ROBOT! I really wish the show would stop making it so obvious when they are giving the audience a clue about what happened to him (except Tahiti—Gregg sells that line like it is nobody’s business). Also, did anyone notice how he knocked out that scientist with a single punch to the face?
- The dialogue on this show continues to work out the kinks, but I thought this episode in particular hit a new low. I have a hard time telling whether its the writing itself, or the actors who are struggling to make the beats work, but nothing feels natural. Every little quip throws off the rhythm and seems only to be inserted because someone thought it would be a good idea to be clever, rather than give the dialogue anywhere to progress.
- This episode included a number of glances into how S.H.I.E.L.D. (the agency not the show) regulates the super powered population. The first was “The Index,” a list of items and people with powers. The seond was something called “the powers protocols,” which indicates a set of guidelines S.H.I.E.L.D. expects gifted humans to live by if they don’t want to be detained. Expect both of these to be explored more in future episodes.
- One of the items I wrote in my notes is imagine Chan Ho Yin is Will Arnett, by which or course I mean Gob Bluth. Makes this episode ten times funnier.
- Lingering questions: Who are Skye’s parents? Who is the man in the jail cell? And who is the Clairvoyant?
- Impressed, Unimpressed or Satisfied? Unimpressed