Thursday, April 07, 2016


This week's installment of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was a solid episode, though I think it would have been better if not for decisions made in earlier episodes of the show.

The episode did a great job in presenting Charles Hinton, an Inhuman cursed with visions of awful, deadly futures. I felt sympathy for the poor guy, and for his efforts to try to withdraw from other people. I was intrigued by Fitz's fatalistic interpretation of the science, that the future was absolutely fixed once glimpsed -- yet also entertained by the rest of the team's efforts to try.

The problem was, this wasn't the first time that the show presented us a future-seeing Inhuman. Season two concluded with long-running adversary Raina developing prescient abilities. Actually, despite the fact that there it happened to a recurring character, I actually found the development less compelling than what happened this week. Raina's visions of the future didn't seem to generate as much emotional resonance, provoke the same fatalism from Fitz, stir the same determination in Daisy, and so on down the list. This week was more effective overall, but that effectiveness was taken down a notch by the fact that we'd sort of seen all this before.

Something else we saw before was the glimpse of some future disaster in an orbiting spacecraft. The first episode back after the mid-season break teased that event happening "four months from now," and now that I know Daisy herself got to glimpse that future, I wish that we the audience hadn't seen it beforehand. A nice bit of mystery that could have been introduced here via character was instead used free of context last month, as if to tell the audience, "hang with us, everyone, we promise it'll get cool."

But despite those missteps, there was a lot to like in the episode. Whatever "Ward" now is, he moved into much more menacing territory this week (even as his fashion sense slid into The Matrix). It was satisfying to watch him corrupt Malick with temptations of power, toying with him rather than simply killing him. In my view, it makes "Ward" more dangerous that he knows Malick is not a threat to be dealt with or concerned about at all. And the team's reaction to learning that "Ward" is alive was note perfect.

The fight choreographers poured it on strong to show us that even though Adrianne Palicki is no longer on the show, they can still do a lot with Ming-Na Wen and Chloe Bennet. The "prepping for the future" story element was a perfect gimmick to watch both performers go through the same fight. Both handled it excellently, particularly Bennet -- in another long, single take (that made perfect sense in the moment, as this was keenly set up as a situation where "you have one chance only to get it right").

The one-off character elements landed well too, from Coulson "firing" Lincoln for not having seen The Terminator, to "Ward's" gruesome execution of the company executives, to Coulson once again accidentally calling Daisy "Skye" -- the details felt right.

Though "Spacetime" did suddenly bench the "Civil War run-up" plot from last week, I was caught up in the ride. I give it a B+.

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