Why the dark before the dawn?
I’m a media studies major so I tend to come at things with a different perspective than my equally nerdy friends who are majoring in more “applicable” studies like nursing, engineering, and stuff. After watching “The Only Light in the Darkness” I went over some of my old reviews of Agents of SHIELD and more recently Game of Thrones. It left me unable to think about the clear limitations that episodic reviews have. Not to say that these are critically useless just that all forms of critical analysis has its strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps its greatest strength is the chance to see the evolution of the writers opinion of a show over the course of a seasons and of course provide a place to discuss the given content.
Over the past three weeks Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD has rebooted itself into something resembling a “good” television series. It actually functions like one for once! SHIELD is allowed to do things now and have some sense of narrative and character progression. The release of The Winter Soldier and subsequent progress has also let the writers openly reflect on the responses given to the seasons opening two-thirds. Bland Grant Ward was all an act by not quite bearded Evil Grant Ward. Audiences called Skye a Mary Sue from nearly the start and now she literally is one with the name Mary Sue Poots. These moments of referential humor in no way make up for said languid seasons pacing and poor writing, but these moments give the show a much needed verve.
The lie detector montage was a quick but not quite totally effective sequence. Mixing and matching shamless “d’awww” moments and filling in backstory of some of the more stoic characters. Fitz wants Simmons in the box. Simmons is the smartest of them all and wants the Tardis to be in the box. May was married once. Triplett is related to a Howling Commando. And then it came time for Ward to try and beat the machine. Episode scribe Monica Owusu-Breen gives Ward plenty of half truths, the best lies, to skirt around the intensive questioning. Koenig just seems to buy it to easily after cocking his pistol and reading to kill Ward. There’s no suspicion held after the test is over.
Speaking of Koenig we hardly knew yee. Patton Oswalt brought a nice energy to the sequestered secrete Agent of SHIELD and was a presence I wouldn’t have minded appearing again. Ward had other plans. At first I was ready to write off the fact Koenig is killed off screen as yet another half-measure taken by the show to get around showing actual violence, but the discovery his body and wet nature worked rather well. Chloe Bennet’s slow reaction to realizing Ward is EVIL (as if the stubble didn’t give it away) was over emphasized and took too long. As a tonal exercise it had the cat and mouse dynamic well enough.
So this is what a theoretically likely season 2 looks like: Coulson and his ragtag not quiet A-Team, taking on impossible missions because someone must be the shield. There is an air of desperation to every move that now has to be calculated with very binary resource management. Fitz manages to Frankenstein together some equipment to combat Blackout and like the show it looks a little chintzy. The show reflects typical talk of Marvel penny pinching against the necessity of VFX sequences.
“The Only Light in the Darkness” VFX necessity comes in the form of Marcus Daniels better known in the comics as Blackout….not the character from Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. The show rightly doesn’t get into the Daniels meta human origins. He worked on something called Dark Force, “because nothing bad comes from working on something called Dark Force”. His time on the job left him with the ability to suck the energy out of just about anything. Other than some bursts of “energy” there isn’t much to the “The Only Light in the Darkness”. It dose however, allow for the episode eventually devolving into a Ghostbusters reference which isn’t a bad thing.
Going in, the idea of exploring “the mystery of the cellist” seemed like an awful idea. It reeked of over explaining, prequelitist, of what was a nice little character beat from The Avengers. The Cellist isn’t overplayed and adds a bit more texture to Coulson, now he’s a man without a job AND someone he wants to go home to (very 70’s Hulk). It is however sad to see Amy freaking Acker reduced to essentially a plot mechanic.
O this show I want to belive.
The Bits At The End
Song of the Episode Yahweh by U2