Monday, March 28, 2016

Parting Shot

Most critics heaped lavish praise upon the March 22nd episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., in which (SPOILERS!) the team was torn asunder as Hunter and Bobbi were disavowed and forced to leave the team. Much as I want to agree with the critical mass, I find I just can't do it -- my main thought, watching the episode, was how it all just didn't make any sense.

First of all, it's worth noting that removing these two characters from the team was not an internal creative decision made by the show's writers. Instead, a spinoff series is being setup for Bobbi and Lance, a "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" style globe-trotting adventure called Marvel's Most Wanted. Were it not for the spinoff, and the need to write the two characters off of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., this story line would never have come to pass.

And that's the problem. Hunter and Morse have been nothing but fantastic for the series. The play well both off each other and off the other characters. They are the most consistent and successful source of comic relief (particularly Hunter). They're best with the fight choreography (outside of Ming-Na Wen as May). Season 2 marked a sudden and sharp improvement over season 1 -- for several reasons, but in large part because of the addition of these two characters. Most Wanted may well be a great show (if it even gets picked up), but I can't help but feel like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is going to be worse for not having these two around.

But fine, let's just accept the scenario, that these two had to go. Even then, I just can't buy into the particular way it all went down, on any level. It feels like Bobbi and Hunter have gotten out of worse scrapes, and that Coulson has extracted his agents from tighter traps, than this one. This is what takes these two down? And even accepting that Coulson had no choice but to disavow the two as agents, how does that actually help them? Does it seem credible to you that the Russians would just let them go after everything that went down?

The nonsensical character behavior, the feeling that these stakes weren't high enough, and the lack of a clear A to B to C in the plot -- all proved too big an obstacle to me getting pulled into the episode. No question, everyone was acting their asses off, especially in the "Spies' Goodbye" scene near the end of the episode. But it felt like they were manufacturing emotion that hadn't been earned.

So I'm going to have to go against the crowd. In fact, I'd call this the least effective episode of the show this season. I give "Parting Shot" a C+.

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