Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Chaos Theory

This week's Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. focused on Lash, and consequently fell a bit short for me. It didn't inevitably have to be like that, but some lazy writing decisions steered the plot that way.

In a nutshell, my big problem with Lash turned out to be the total lack of internal logic in how his character was written. Sure, in general, there aren't a lot of consistent rules where Inhumans are concerned. Yet Lash still managed to break the handful that exist. Andrew's is apparently a slow decent into madness, rather than the instant transition of every other Inhuman we've ever met. His compulsion to kill other Inhumans has no explained higher purpose -- he just needs to do it. Except for Daisy, for no reason.

The big showdown with Lash felt a bit lackluster too, given the confrontations in previous episodes at the hospital and the armored car. It felt like more inconsistency, really. Lash was not as super-powerful as early episodes made him out to be. And his ability to hide in plain sight wasn't part of some clever plan after all; just dumb luck. The one element of the Lash story line that played half decently to me was the emotional bind it put May in... but even then, it's not like that yielded a lot of fireworks, given how stoic her character is. (By contrast, the backstory of Bahrain, unveiled slowly as it was, felt like it had more of an impact on her than this revelation involving her ex-maybe-not-ex-husband.)

But other elements of the episode did pick up the slack. The Fitz-Simmons story continued to be excellent, and once again in large part thanks to the excellent performances by Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge. The revelation of the "strange symbol" clue didn't mean a damn thing to me, but it also didn't matter to me that it didn't. Fitz's reaction to the videos recovered from Simmons' phone, their complicated emotions as they watched the sun rise together -- those moments resonated powerfully for me.

I continue to enjoy the rapport between Rosalind and Coulson, and I don't think the end of the episode tag with Ward and his new ally should be taken at face value. We just wrapped up one "enemy in our midst" story line in Lash (and far from the first such story line in this series), and I don't think the writers are out to instantly replace it with another one (even after the other missteps in this episode). My money's on "Rosalind doesn't know she's working for a bad guy." We'll see.

With the holes in the dominant plot of this episode, it couldn't help but be the weakest installment so far this season. I give it a B-.

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