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It's Dusty In Here! What We Learned From Last Night's Surprisingly Emotional 'Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.'

By Joanna Robinson | TV Reviews | November 6, 2013 | Comments ()


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Yes, Tell Us More About How Agent Coulson Sweats: I know I objected strenuously when they dunked Skye in a pool and had her do the classically damp Baywatch sprint. So it might sound contradictory to say I’m not opposed to a little light objectification. But I’m not, if it’s earned. No one could argue that Coulson’s sole purpose is to stand there and look pretty, but boy does he. I liked this little B plot that ran through the episode of Coulson secretly ordering tests on himself. What did he say? Something about feeling “rusty?” LIKE A ROBOT, COULSON? I even liked the pay-off conversation between Coulson and May. The concepts weren’t new or revelatory, but Gregg and Wen played the scene so beautifully with just the tiniest frisson of sexual tension. So if Coulson wants to glisten and May wants to fondle his, ah, scar? I’m for it.
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Agent May Should Always Be In Charge Of Interrogations: Beats Agents Ward sort of squint-pouting at a suspect. This little junior troop leader, by the way, has got to be one of the worst. Strip him of every merit badge. The adult goes missing under mysterious circumstances and there are scary sounds in the woods? “Come on, guys. Let’s go look for him!” Christ, at least strip him of his Horror Movie merit badge.
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Fine, Agent May Should Be In Charge Of Everything: If they don’t let Ming-Na Wen kick something every episode, they’re doing it wrong.
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Oh Hey, It’s The Man Of Blue Steel: There’s been some debate over what the true purpose of this show is. Some folks have complained that you can’t have a Marvel property without a superhero. Others like the idea of everyday (albeit extraordinarily equipped) people trying to take on the supernatural. (Aliens, mad scientists, mutants, oh my!) Well we got sort of an awkward middle ground in this episode when Agent Blue Steel hurled himself out of the cargo bay to go after a suicidal Simmons. Ward scanning the clouds for her while in free fall was textbook Superman stuff. Once again, the show suffered by trying for effects they just can’t afford. Grant looked okay, but Gemma in free fall looked ridiculous. The bad CG sapped most of the earned emotion out of the scene. Also, one couldn’t help but compare it to the much better-looking scene from Iron Man 3. So what do we think of this superhero role for Ward?
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At the very least, the show’s in on the joke.
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Our Favorite Man In Black: If you missed the Marvel One Shot Item 47 then Titus Welliver as Agent Blake will have been a complete surprise. How fun! Shouldn’t Welliver pop up on every show to menace and sneer? He practically does.
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And This Is Where I Cried: Despite its flaws, this episode gave me so much hope for this show. The thing those of us who are trying to love the show have been complaining about the most is our inability to care about the characters not named Coulson and May. Thankfully, the problematic Skye was sidelined in this episode and we spent the better part of the hour with Fitz and Simmons, in all their accented glory. And it worked. I cared. If the show can get us on board with every member of that crew, then, oh, watch how it soars. I’ve bounced around in my assessment of FitzSimmons. Sometimes the technobabble can grate and the dorky helplessness in the field can wear. But this episode worked through and through and, after this, they’ll have to work awfully hard to make me stop caring about these two. Was it manipulative? Maybe. But this is what supernatural shows do best. Take an external threat and make it internal. We learned a lot about what makes these two tick and I’m not talking about Fitz’s fondness for animals and snacks or Simmons’ snappy wardrobe. Those are quirks. In this episode we learned about their depths. I was very impressed.
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The Moroccan Office Is The Worst: All in all, a great effort, thanks in large part to the time we didn’t spend with Skye. I couldn’t even get on board with the hug she shared with Gemma at the end. Even Gemma seemed skeptical. I liked the integration of the Chitauri and the temporary resolution of Coulson’s problem. He and May might believe her explanation, but the rest of us aren’t fooled. Finally, they might be jamming three different ships down our throats (with the added triangular complication of Fitz fancying Skye), but for now I’ll take this little moment of sweetness. They earned it.
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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • DarthBrookes

    Oh my God!

    I just finished watching this. I live in Australia and missed the airing last night so I had to watch it online.

    But, before it even aired here, I had been scrolling through Pajiba and I saw THAT header pic and my heart sank.

    I didn't read the article at that time, not wanting to have even more spoilers, but I knew (and I hated Pajiba for ruining it for me and I hated Agents of Shield for doing it)... Simmons, was dead.

    I watched the epsiode, seething at how Joss was killing off one of... actually no, not "one of"... my favourite character. I choked up as they gave the last rat the anti-serum, only to have that little blue flash, so subtle, so utterly devastating. They had failed. I knew they had to fail. Failure is a part of life. I knew it was a lesson, but oh God! No! Not her!

    And the sacrifice. Inevitable. Because of course she would.

    Then the rat recovered and I thought, no, not this. Please. Don't let her jump. For the love of God, don't let her sacrifice herself when she doesn't need to. But I knew, I'd seen that fucking picture, it had already happened. It's like watching the supernova of some long dead star. She was already dead.

    And then... The rescue.

    It took a while for me accept it. I had to watch 'til the end of the credits, just to make sure her head didn't explode, alone in her lab, in some cruel Marvel teaser tag at the end. But then I felt it. That elation. That joy. That triumph over death and glorious second chance that I never would have felt had it not been for that, THAT, that picture, at the top of this page. And I came back here to finally read this article, you know, just to be triple sure.

    So thank you, Pajiba. Thank you, Joanna. Because if I had not have seen that photo and read that block of text before I could stop my brain from jumping to the conclusion that it did, I probably wouldn't have thought Simmon's was in any real danger. And I would never have had this experience, nor felt this exquisite sense of relief, that I do now.

    You liars.

    I love you.

  • $6950553

    Simmons is the only appealing character on the show other than Coulson and long-gone HIMYM girl.

  • crispin

    Please make this show go away. It's terrible and anyone who thinks it's not is blinded by their love of the House of Wheadon.

  • $6950553

    I'm just holding out for Agent Carter.

  • foolsage

    a) You can stop watching it if you don't like it. No, really, you can.

    b) It's nice that you're keeping an open mind about other people's tastes, and aren't openly saying that only your viewpoint is valid. That would be ridiculous, after all. :)

  • Fabius_Maximus

    I almost jumped up and cheered when they revealed Simmons was infected, followed by the incantation "Please kill her off. Please kill her off. Please kill her off."

    Well, shit.

    I agree that the writing got better later in the episode, but she still annoys the hell out of me.

  • jennp421

    Was I the only one thinking 1st and 2nd season Xander when they showed that Fitz was interested in Skye. I mean, it's not a perfect comparison because Simmons doesn't have a crush like Willow, but he was certainly in a hurry to point out that they aren't like that.

  • JenVegas

    Super sexy Coulson moment? "I'd like to see them try." Awwww yeah.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    Seriously. My man-crush is growing immensely.

  • Yocean

    I think I have a mutual friend with the actress who plays Simmons, who was god damn fantastic in this episode. And now she has added a stalker..... Control yourself, me!

  • This has been a redemptive episode for sure. And was pointed out due in no small part that Skye, the hacker girl who is never on a computer, was largely benched in this episode. Very nice character development and did a great job of building the drama and tension. After this week's episode I say we leave Skye in the undisclosed location and bring in Darcy from the Thor movies so she can sit around the plane, be sassy and sexually harass Agent Blue Steel. All in favor?

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    She'll have to say, "Mew-mew?" at least once every episode before I'd be fully on board.

  • That could be her nickname for Agent Blue Steel.

  • Yocean

    Kat Dennings in everything I love.

  • JenVegas

    Aye.

  • NotCausingAFight

    I've been saying since the pilot that Simmons was going to die at some point this season, so I was pretty sure this was it for her. And oh, my heart. Somehow, despite the cute technobabble quirks, this episode really worked for me. Probably just the lack of Skye. They should have cast Skye as Dushku, that would have sorted everything.

    (kidding)

  • Danny

    Definitely the best episode so far. And thanks to Doyle on Angel, I wasn't actually sure if Simmons would survive. That actually made things kind of tense unlike other shows that tease main character deaths when it's obvious nothing will happen to them.

    I understand a lot of people knowing Nick Fury from the movies, but how many people know Agent Blake from a short film? It seemed weird to bring in Welliver for such a short part when it isn't really a big draw. Hopefully, this episode sets him up as a recurring character who is the go-between for the team and SHIELD higher ups.

    Is FitzSimmons a ship? I kind of see them as an awesome older sister/younger brother relationship with the way Fitz is so dependent on Simmons. I suppose romantic feelings could develop there, but I'd prefer it remain platonic and sibling-like.

  • emmalita

    Titus Welliver is always a draw (for me).

  • Ian Fay

    Watch the new Captain America trailer. My bet is we'll be seeing Blake again.

  • Marc Greene

    I think the Whedon-esque twist by the end of the season should be that ALL of the characters are gay except Coulson. He did show a dislike for being poked from behind in Avengers.

  • Erin S

    I'm glad I wasn't the only one who was thinking, "Gosh. Clark Gregg looks so...pretty today!" Also, Simmons is the cutest. Peter Pan collars for life. And I'm not sure which possible tactic for May I like best: was she giving him a cookie to make him feel more comfortable, intimidate him or was she genuinely trying to be nice to him since he looks terrified. I kind of like the last one, because it reminds me of the Ron Swanson shoulder pat in terms of not knowing how to make people feel better but trying.

  • I'm going with the Coulson-as-robot theory now after getting a second look at the episode, robo-dude glistened everywhere but his face

  • Bert_McGurt

    Man, I WISH they had Agent Burt Ward instead of this guy.

    "For f*ck's sake Ward, it's not a sparrow with a machine gun! Where do you keep getting these dumb ideas? It's like you trained with the World's WORST Detective or something!"

    Edit: I actually liked this episode too. Maybe this time they can get rid of the useless characters and keep the ones we like for at least a couple seasons?

  • JoannaRobinson

    Ha! Oh, brain.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Well, I WOULD be the one to notice. For a couple of reasons, actually.

    Besides, I thought it was intentional! Kind of goes along with the "fun nicknames for the dumb character" vibe.

  • Ian Fay

    I'm really hoping this is an indicator of things going forward.

    I remember Arrow took about half a season to get its shit together and now it's going pretty damn well. SHIELD may have just turned the corner.

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