Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire

I found a lot to like in this week's episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which managed to nudge forward every ongoing story line while still carving out a lot of time for character.

My favorite thread of the hour was the pairing of Daisy and Simmons. Not only did it demonstrate what the show has been missing this season by forcing Daisy out on her own, it was a real showcase for how great Simmons has become over the run of the show. The interplay between the two was constantly great: Daisy "threatening" Simmons for her assistance, Simmons undercutting Daisy's elaborate heist plan with a simple and effective alternative, and the two both ready to stand together and go down swinging at the end. I don't recall past episodes pairing these two characters, but this made me want more of that.

Coulson and Mack were a fun pair too this week, in large part because Coulson cranked his wry humor dial up to 11. Constant quips, clever investigative work, and an actual car chase of reasonable length made their story breezy fun. And it seems that through their adventures, they've now brought Ghost Rider onto the team in some measure, taking some of the "sub" out of the "subplot" in a way I welcome.

The introduction of a Macguffin (Darkhold) into the "ghosts" storyline did nothing for me, but there will be plenty of time to make that feel important. This episode was more about exploring the Watchdogs. Bringing back a past Inhuman to be the betrayer was a nice development, and I appreciated that it was James, a character who was already a jerk. No hand-wringing over "how could you betray us?!" Just straight to "you've been had."

Compared to all that activity, the thread about May, and whether she'd discover that Ada was a robot, was on low heat. Still, I loved where that story ended this week, with Simmons instantly recognizing Ada for what she was. And through some combination of professional curiosity, protective instinct toward Fitz, and a full day of other secrets she'd have to keep, she was also just as instantly committed to keeping this a secret from the new director. More demonstration of how far she's come as a character.

In truth, this episode was still very much setup for things to come. But it felt like one of the stronger setup episodes the series has had. I grade it a B+.

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