Wednesday, November 6, 2013

In Which I Review Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (1x6)

It is becoming increasingly apparent just how little Joss Whedon has to do with this show. He was obviously brought on to develop and launch but not actually see the show to fruition. Very JJ Abrams who launches show after show and then leaves before seeing it through. SHIELD is beginning to frustrate me. The characters, except for Coulson and to a lesser degree May, are cardboard cutouts who lack chemistry and charisma on screen. The writing is becoming stale and overly sentimental. And episodes like this weeks "FZZT" are less about developing myth and arc and more about promotion and fandom. This episode did little except set up the ships of the show and remind people that this show sprang from the greatness that was the Avengers movie and previous Marvel Universe movies. 

Did you catch the two Avengers references? Skye's completely unfunny Captain America is "The Dude" joke and Coulson's somewhat better Iron Man joke pretty much fell on deaf ears. Oh and then there is the whole exclusive sneak peek for Thor: The Dark World that came in the middle of the episode (and was literally a 15 second clip of Thor smashing things. Cause we've NEVER seen that before). Oh and then there was the whole plot of the episode which was nothing but a reminder of the Avengers. Do I sound bitter? I don't mean to. There was just so much potential for this show and it's not even close to living up to right now. The showrunners need to fire half the cast, make the show totally focused on Coulson (with a side of Melinda May) and get a fully developed villain to fight. Superhero of the week is fine every now and then but so far the shadowy Centipede enterprise isn't doing much for the show as a whole.

When we last left off, Skye was discovered as a faux-double agent (her allegiance to Rising Tide is still questionable because she claims that the events of the previous episode were done out of love for her boyfriend) and was punished. Wait. Did I say punished? I mean she was forgiven and let back on the team but tagged with a magic bracelet to monitor her computer activity. Something she resents. A lot. Because she complained about it nonstop this episode. We get it, Skye. You think this treatment is unfair? You know what I think is unfair? That you were even let back on to the team! You know, the one you betrayed and lied to? But she has read all the protocol books now and she is really sorry, guys! But still Ward is being a meany pants and won't play nice or make sweet eyes with her. Gag me. Even Coulson tells Ward that maybe he's being a smidge too hard on her. No! He's not! She lied to you people and almost handed over your secrets. Just because she gave you her sob story about her Agent parents doesn't mean she gets lollipops. Get over yourself, Skye.

Anyway. The episode. It begins with a camping trip of Boy Scouts who are telling each other ghost stories. The leader telling the story suddenly begins to hear a humming noise, as he goes to investigate some freak electrical storms being swarming around the camp site and suddenly a blue light of energy pulses out and the body of the scout leader is found hovering in the air. Meanwhile on the plane (no seriously. Why are they always on the plane? Do they literally just fly around airspace waiting for a mission from HQ? How does this work? How much fuel is SHIELD pumping into the atmosphere? How much damage is that plane doing to the biosphere?) Skye and the science duo of FitzSimmons (still can't remember which one is which) are joking and bonding! Oh look at the camaraderie with the traitor. Isn't it cute? The mission comes in and the teams heads off to investigate. The body of the boy scout leader (who was also a firefighter) is discovered to be altered in body density but the floating is still a mystery. Until another victim is found floating in his barn. Turns out that the first victim and the second victim were both firefighters at the same house! A coincidnece? I think not!

Not only do the two firefighters work at the same house, the entire firefighting team was one of those who responded when the Chitauri invaded New York. You know, in the Avengers. For those who don't know, the Chitauri are an alien race who came through a wormhole and invaded New York. And they wore helmets. The helmets are important. By the time the team gets to the firehouse, one more firefighter has come down with the symptoms of "about to go boom." Turns out the first two victims and this soon-to-be-pulling-a-Houdini firefighter spent the other night polishing a Chitauri helmet, one they kept as a souvenir. There was a virus on the helmet that turns humans who come in contact with it into floating lightening bolts. The only good part of this episode was Coulson talking to the dying firefighter. Coulson hasn't been the same since New York. He knows he died and while he can cover his feelings with smiles and jokes, he feels different. Coulson tells the firefighter that "I was there" and that "it was beautiful." (Meta joke: I honestly expected him to burst into song and sing a la Buffy "I think I was in heaven.") Gregg Clark really shines here and this show needs to be focused on him and him alone.

At some point the girl scientist (Simmons?) touched the body of a dead firefighter and was shocked and this spread the infection to her. She is quarantined in her lab and given two hours to figure out a cure. She tries unsuccessfully to come with an anti-serum, killing several rats in the process, while her male cohort (and obvious love interest) Fitz helps on the other side. You can tell that they work well together, despite competition and fussiness over needing their own space. And you can tell that Simmons is totally and wholly in love with him. And that he's an idiot who has no idea. Because this is unique and original. (Actually it reeks of Willow and Xander in early seasons of Buffy). The SHIELD HQ (so there is an HQ?) has ordered Coulson to "drop" his infected "cargo," something Coulson will ignore. Feeling the pressure of a ticking clock before BOOM of Simmons, Fitz breaks the quarantine and they come up with a brilliant plan to fix the problem. Only it doesn't work. The rat they test it on still dies. Simmons decides she must be brave and, after knocking out Fitz, decides to jump out of the plane. But wait! What's this?! The rat is alive! The anti-serum only knocked it out before fully curing it! Oh huzzah. But wait, Simmons is plunging to the watery abyss below. Not to fear! Ward can save her by breaking the laws of physics. (How did he catch up to her when she was in free fall and he was several moments behind her?) Anyway. Simmons is saved, Ward is going to ease up on Skye and the little happy ships of the show continue to sail on. Boringly.

The only really interesting aspect here was Coluson and May's final conversation. We still don't know much about May and her past as "The Calvary." But did she die at one point? When Coulson finally opens up to her about how he feels different since New York, May not only sympathizes but empathizes. She says, "do you know how long it took me.." before Coulson cuts her off with a word and a knowing look. I'm starting to think that May's decision to go behind the desk had a lot to do with a near death (possible DEATH) experience which left her shaken. Are May and Coulson going to be an item? They seem to have an understanding and a mutual respect for each other. So we have Sward, FitzSimmons, and now we need a new ship name! Coming up with ship names is my very favorite. Coulay, Mayson, Mellip, AsianGlasses.

Yeah that last one is clearly the best.

Miscellaneous Notes on "FZZT"

--I have no idea why this episode was titled this. None. Did they reference it? Does it make sense to anyone?

--May's idea of interrogation, "Have a cookie."

--Fitz flirting with Skye needs to stop. She's not going to go for you.

--Can we please get a real villain? Please?

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