Agents of SHIELD Reviews
Episode 6 – F.Z.Z.T.
The Good Nerd
I swear I didn’t cry last night, it was just something in my eye. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD really let their characters shine and, in doing so, finally got me to connect and care about everyone on the team. The character development, in Episode 6, was grouped three ways: Ward and Skye, Coulson and May, and Fitz and Simmons.
Ward and Skye are still dealing with the previous episode’s betrayal. Ward is clearly hurt, and this isn’t just his professional pride; Skye hurt him personally. Ward was beginning to trust her as a part of the team, which was not easy for Mr. ‘I Work Alone’. She betrayed the team and potentially put them in a position where Ward could not do his job. Ward is not used to feeling helpless, and when he finally gives in to his fear of loosing a team member we get to see just how damaged he actually is. In the climax, we get a clear an understanding of why Ward does what he does. As a man of action, he felt useless when all of it came down to lab work, but as soon as someone needed to jump out of a plane, there was no question. Ward knew what needed to be done and acted. The fact that he was needed and could once again protect his team clearly restored his composure and sense of self/belonging/identity.
Coulson and May had an interesting dance this week. Coulson feels like something is off while May has felt that way for a while, but this week it took a strange turn. Coulson is trying to figure out what has changed within him since New York, and May seemed to be trying to stop him from looking too hard. I get the strangest feeling that May is now keeping an eye on Coulson on behalf of the higher ups, making sure he doesn’t figure too much out about what he really is or what really happened. In order to confirm Coulson’s feelings that he has changed, May hints that she also received a serious injury at some time in the field, but we get nothing more than a hint.
Once again, Agents of SHIELD showed us that the team always has three ways to handle a situation: the stealth way, the full assault way, or the Melinda May way. In a nicely humorous moment, Coulson and Ward debate how to enter a barn, and in what are now becoming regular moments of May’s badassery, she makes up her own third option and chooses it for the team. No discussion, no wasting time, May knows all the details and she makes a decision and acts on it. This is what I have always loved about the character: she is resolute. Her actions always feel like hers, never like something the writers have forced onto her, and it is why she is still the strongest character of the show.
That brings us to Fitz and Simmons. I have said before that these two kids would be the heart of the show and tonight I was proved right. In this world of secret Agents and high tech gadgets it is sometimes easy to forget that Fitz and Simmons are just a couple of kids, they are a super genius brilliant kids, but kids all the same. When Simmons gets infected and literally has hours left, the weight of her potential demise is heartbreaking and unthinkable. When a last ditch plan is decided upon, Fitz throws caution to the wind as he realizes that they are a team in more ways than one. He has spent the majority of his life by her side and the idea of her not being there drives him to risk contaminating himself in order to save her. His desperation in this episode becomes our own and is nearly too much to bear.
Maybe I am being a little dramatic, but for the first real time in the show I was connecting with the entire team and they were all connecting with each other. This episode was exactly what Agents of SHIELD needed and the majority of thanks go to Elizabeth Henstridge and Iain De Caestecker.
Good Nerd: Thumbs Up
On the one hand, I thought this was the best episode to-date. On the other, I’m like every other Californian out there just waiting for the big one. The show needs a formula. I know, it sounds evil. Studio-inspired villainy, if you will. But a good formula is like slipping into cool sheets on a hot summer’s night. Without it, this show will wallow deeper into the murky waters of obscurity. I think that’s enough metaphor for now. That being said, episode 106 had a very X-Files-esque opening (though admittedly tamer). Start with the weird and strange, bring in the team to investigate, and then watch as things go from bad to worse.
And while this episode seemed drawn to this familiar formula, I don’t see them sticking to it. But they should. This team’s objective should be to seek out anomalies like this and hunt down solutions. I want them to pin down, even if just for this season, what this team is good at. What’s their specialty? Is it apprehending super criminals? No. They did a terrible job of bringing in Scorch. Is it uncovering conspiracies threatening world peace? No. Remember how Skye was undermining them from the beginning and they didn’t even know it? Yeah, so do I. Terrible. But! They could be great at investigating the weird and strange cases that lead them closer to these secret organizations and power-fueled villains without necessarily having to take them down directly. I mean they are a PART of S.H.I.E.L.D., not the whole damn thing. Call in some back up, for Thor’s sake!
But what really chaps my hide (the metaphors are back!) is the lack of forward thinking storylines coming out of this show. This was supposed to be a show that could showcase the Marvel Universe in a way that you couldn’t achieve in the theaters. But all we’ve gotten so far are piss-poor slices of previous Marvel blockbusters plotlines. First, it was Extremis. Then it was…well, Extremis again! And now, it’s Chitauri-infected helmets from The Avengers. When do we move forward?! Either give us original plotlines unique to these agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or unique to the Marvel Universe. I don’t care which. I only care that it be done! Or there will be nerd rage. Why not start with a Skrull invasion? Or something less intense and deal with the Pulse? You’ve got a lot to work with. No excuses!
All that being said, I found this episode’s treatment of the “sidekicks” admirable and moving. This one had heart. It’s clear that there are concentric circles of love-triangles emerging on the team, but this one was heart breaking and rewarding all in the same breath. Kudos to Elizabeth Henstridge (aka Jemma Simmons) for a powerful, debilitating, and emotional piece of work. You saved this episode from obscurity.
I believe in this show. I believe it can get better. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a long road ahead. It means I will be watching. One of these days, they’re going to get it right for good on both hands!
Bad Nerd: Thumbs Up