Friday, October 23, 2015

Devils You Know

This week's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continued to follow and build the story lines that have defined the season so far, and to good effect. I did feel it was a bit awkward that Lincoln wasn't featured after the events of last week (and I guess that means they've done a sufficient job of making me care about the character), but I suppose there's only so much time in one hour minus commercials.

The Simmons story line did tread water a bit from a dramatic perspective, biding its time until the end of the episode, when she'd confess to Fitz the same thing she'd confessed to Bobbi last week. But at least in the mean time, we did get some good character moments between Simmons and Bobbi, commiserating over their not-quite-shared-but-not-dissimilar situations. It continues season three's theme of messing around with new pairings in the series' sprawling cast, and the scenes worked fairly well.

I was also pleased to see Daisy at odds a bit with Coulson. The parental-esque relationship there has been great, but it's high time we saw a "rebellious teenager" sort of phase to it, and Daisy's mistrust of the group Coulson has pledged to work with is the perfect vehicle. The repartee between Rosalind and Coulson continues to be great, this week giving us funny lines about classified information and laser fingers. Plus, of course, there was further development of the nemesis of Lash.

But the Hunter-May story was most interesting to me -- even though I'm not entirely sure how I feel about still having Ward around as the bad guy. On the one hand, it's certainly nice to have a villain in play with a strong connection to the heroes. And the Marvel MCU certainly has a dearth of developed villains. (There's pretty much just Loki and Ward.) But I'm not sure how much longer Ward can keep being a step ahead of our heroes without just making them look bad. We'll see how the show handles it; maybe having him get shot by Hunter on his way out the window helps with this?

What I definitely liked about the plot line was the relationship between May and her ex-husband Andrew, and how it apparently culminated with Andrew's death. Now granted, we didn't see the body (or the face of the body, anyway), but this feels like a narrative win-win. There's been a lot of commentary in recent months about how one of the most sexist of all narrative tropes is killing off "the woman" to motivate the male hero to action/vengeance. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is now effectively getting to subvert this trope either way this unfolds. Either Andrew is dead, and the trope has been satisfyingly gender-flipped, or he's still alive, and the trope has been used as a bait-and-switch. (Either option probably works for the new character of Von Strucker. Either he went through with the killing and upped his baddie quotient, or he chickened out and developed more personality through his hesitation.)

So, a fair amount of interesting stuff in play. Not much resolution, but it's quite early in the season to be expecting any. I give this episode a B+. Things are still continuing on an interesting path.

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