Wednesday, October 26, 2016


So, I know that all this season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been serving us ghosts and a flaming-skulled anti-hero who thinks he's been cursed literally by the devil. I also know the adage that "any sufficiently advanced technology looks like magic." I know that the big Marvel magic movie is just around the corner. And yet I couldn't help but feel this week as though Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has suddenly lurched into strange territory, away from its more traditionally sci-fi elements and into something that aspires to be more like Supernatural or Buffy the Vampire Slayer or something.

I'm not totally put off by this magic book Macguffin now front-and-center in the ongoing plot. But I think it was a little harder for me to take it all in stride when it felt like just one of many things happening this week that didn't quite sync up with what I know about this show. A lot of the characters this week were behaving in ways that just didn't quite track for me.

For example, we know Daisy has had this lone wolf thing going since Lincoln's death. But it manifested this week in a far more extreme death wish when, for no apparently justifiable reason, she decided to lock May and Coulson behind a door so she could go down swinging against 20 enemies. And yet her death wish wasn't severe enough to just use her powers, which we were told at this point might cripple or kill her, and be done with it.

Granted, we don't know much about Director Mace yet, but it seemed odd for him to pull Simmons in for interview coaching only do almost immediately go off book anyway. He doesn't seem that impulsive. And if his move was calculated, what was the point of bringing in Simmons to witness it?

Simmons resorting to blackmailing Mace in the end was a reach for me too. If I'm reading the chain of events right, she saw Mace react during the interview in a way that told her he was lying. But she doesn't know what the lie is, and it seems fairly certain that Mace must know she doesn't know any of the particulars either. So where's the leverage here? Was there no vetting of Mace before he was put in this position? Is his position really so precarious?

All that said, I wasn't disliking this episode so much as I was just a bit distracted from fully enjoying it. The prison infiltration sequences served up plenty of fun action and pithy quips. (It's really great to have Coulson out in the field on a regular basis this season and not riding a desk as director.) May had some great moments this week, both in the "Coulson wants to talk to her about death" runner and the "you don't get to choose who cares about you" confrontation with Daisy at the end. And even though the Simmons subplot had some holes for me, I love seeing her continue to toughen up. (She's really been through the mill over the years.)

I'd grade this episode a B. Not exceptional, but good enough to keep the momentum of this season going.

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