Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Man Behind the Shield

Though plenty of stuff happened in this week's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it still seemed like a less aggressively plotted episode than the ones we've had of late.

For me, the strongest element was the series of flashbacks to Coulson and May on an early mission together. There were just so many little details contributing to make it fun. We saw a Coulson trying to project his trademark swagger, but without all the chops to completely pull it off. We saw a less severe May, in another of this season's great, nuanced performance from Ming-Na Wen. Subtle changes to hair and makeup actually made them look younger too. And each scene (especially the final one) really played up the relationship between them that might have been.

On the opposite side of things were all the repetitive scenes between "the Superior" and a captive Mace. It was just lots of villanous mustache twirling set opposite desperate stoicism. Side note: there is something truly strange about the Superior's facial expressions, and not having really seen actor Zach McGowan elsewhere (that I can recall), I'm not sure if it's him or this character. I feel like close-up shots on him, in the dimly lit interiors his character routinely inhabits, somehow make me think of the creepy CG Tarkin of Rogue One, and consider that it maybe wasn't so unrealistic after all.

The final twist of the episode is not where I thought things were going. After an hour in which we saw inside the "Framework," had Mack rant about the creepiness of the "Framework," learned that Radcliffe has found a way to power the "Framework" globally like a SETI screen saver, and had Simmons give Fitz a pep talk about how he's not responsible for any evil fallout from the existence of the "Framework,"can you blame me for thinking "Framework, Framework, Framework?" As Simmons struggled at the end to piece together a plausible timeline of the mission, I was sure her conclusion was going to be that she had been captured and as was now struck inside Radcliffe's Matrix. Instead, we seem to be teed up for Fitz and Simmons versus the rest of the team, which has been traded out for LMDs. Well, I love me some Fitz and Simmons, so sure, bring it on!

I give this week's installment a B. It was a bit of a backslide for me, but it did set up for a great final few chapters in the LMD story.

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