Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Beginning of the End

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. finished off its first season in style last night. (And hooray! It's been confirmed we'll get a second season in the fall.) I might have a quibble or two here and there, but it was amid an episode that generally did everything right.

My favorite material of the episode was between Fitz and Simmons, trapped together on the ocean floor. The "only one of us can survive" conceit is well-traveled story ground, but it's rarely done any better than it was here. The way the two characters -- and the two actors -- played off each other was wonderful. From their very scientific talk of the nature of life and death, to Fitz confessing his feelings, every moment rang true and was moving. Some might say that the fact Fitz actually survived may have undermined some of the emotion of this, but I'm not so sure. Multiple times, we were told that Fitz was in bad shape after the rescue. And very pointedly, we never saw him again for the rest of the episode. Who knows how the character may be affected come fall.

But back to that rescue. It was great to have Samuel L. Jackson on as Nick Fury. And for real this time, not it a mere schticky epilogue cameo. Both character and actor injected the proceedings with sky high bad-assery and quips. Fury was just plain fun in every scene he was in. (With one exception; he was instead touching in the moment where he told Coulson he considered him an Avenger.) Fury was definitely a presence that wouldn't work on the show all the time, but I do hope we haven't truly seen the last of him.

Garrett unraveled a bit too quickly for my tastes. Perhaps he should have received his injection an episode or two earlier, if only to make Ward seem less fickle for only now starting to question him. But since only Garrett was killed (fantastically) and not Ward, perhaps season two will delve further into what was going in his head. And bring some more abuse/justice from May.

We have a few other unresolved threads, some more compelling than others. On the dull end of the spectrum, gravitonium showed up again, but again for no apparent reason other than to make us wonder if the scientist living inside it might emerge at some point,you know, ever. In the middle of the spectrum, we saw that apparently the alien healing drug instills its subjects with crazy wall-doodling compulsion. This could become interesting in season two, but I do feel like we'll need some explanation about why Garrett started up immediately when Coulson didn't indulge for a year (was it the memory block? a smaller dose?) and Skye hasn't yet shown symptoms at all (because she's a "monster?").

Of course, the Skye mystery is still in play too, with the late revelation that her father is still alive. This whole arc, along with Raina's fixation with "evolution," all seems like it could lead somewhere interesting. If not just for the story itself, but for the evident gymnastics the show is going to perform to avoid using the word "mutants" when that aspect of the Marvel universe is controlled by another studio.

But for my money, the best late episode revelation might just be that Koenig is alive! Well, sort of. His twin? His clone? His... what were the comic fans thinking Coulson was early on in the series, his "Life Model something-or-other?" I wrote about being sad that Patton Oswalt's run on the show was too brief, and apparently the folks involved agree! We get more Patton Oswalt next season.

I'd say season one ended on an A-. Certainly, this run of post-Winter Soldier episodes has been excellent overall. I'll be eagerly awaiting the fall to see what they do next.

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