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Ohh! A Supervillain! What We Learned From Last Night's 'Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.'

By Joanna Robinson | TV Reviews | October 9, 2013 | Comments ()


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I Think I Figured Out The Pretty, Bland Girl’s Super Power: It dawned on me as she was running, boobs first, at the camera after having emerged from the pool. I don’t know why it took me so long to see it. In case you missed it…
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…her super power is being a really brilliant hacker who only needs gumption and a cell phone to get the job done.
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Spoiler Alert? I Guess?: It’s a little disorienting for those of us who haven’t read the comics to know we’re only getting part of the story. I mean, sure, we could read the comics. Or, as is more likely to happen, we could hop on to Wikipedia to get the full significance of Dr. Franklin Hall. Suffice it to say that scientists who fall into a vat/spinning wheel of their own unstable experimental goo, well, their story never ends well, does it?
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Seriously, You Guys Aren’t Feeling The Adorable Accented Techs?
I like that the boy one (Fitz? Simmons?) has obviously been raiding Topher’s drawer of inappropriate starches. Go ahead and tell me you wouldn’t appreciate a salty snack whilst saving the world one incomprehensible garble of tech talk at a time?
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And the monkey bit while they were planning that op? That was classic Scoobie gang banter. I like this kid. In small doses.
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This Is The Wrong Kind Of Cinematic I Keep Talking About: What purpose does this shot serve? The shots of the SUVs were fine and gave us a glimpse into what we could expect/fear from Graviton. But the semi in the air? Oh it just looked cheap and dreadful and unnecessary. No thank you.
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How To Fix What’s Wrong: Okay, we can be honest here. The show isn’t exactly blowing your cape back on a weekly basis, is it? With expectations so high, how could it possibly live up? And we’re only three episodes in, so I’m not ready to write the show off. Not by a long shot. The great is still great enough. But if the show is going to be “An Op Of The Week With Larger Connection To Marvel Mythology,” well, that’s fine. I liked Chuck and Alias as much as the next geek. But the show should not, cannot rest on the shoulders of Skye and Ward. They are two of the blandest leads of all time. They are shiny-haired porridge. Heck, I don’t even mind if Skye’s weekly job is to dress cute and flirt her way through an op. But in order for that kind of premise to be remotely interesting, you need to have charisma. You need to be Sarah Walker or Sydney Bristow. Sydney Bristow she ain’t. And don’t even get me started on that swirling vortex of anti-charisma that is Agent Ward. But the show has strengths. These are two of them right here.
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I don’t know if the Powers That Be are afraid of focusing the show entirely on two characters who are (gasp!) over 40. But I could watch these two smolder all day. I am curious why Coulson’s muscle memory doesn’t work. (Bot! Clone! Doll!) Sure, I understand the show is meant to be an ensemble. An assembled ensemble. But thus far the focus seems to be on the pretty shiny haired ones and I’m telling you, that’s a big mistake. Huge.

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Comments Are Welcome, Douches Are Not


  • Green Lantern

    Okay, I had pretty mild expectations for SHIELD, and have actually been enjoying the show. Still, I can't really argue much with this article.

    It's important to remember, folks, that both ABC and Marvel Comics are owned by Disney, so noone should be shocked by the heaping helpings of "pretty" and "bland".

  • Fabius_Maximus

    I think the show gets better. The writing was more focused this time, the actors were doing a better job (except for Wen and Clegg, who are always good) and they dialed back the whimsy to a digestible level.

    And while I did appreciate the view, dipping the mouthy one in water and let her run made me roll my eyes, as well.

  • Helo

    It's finding its footing. Give it time. Joss and co. have some breathing room since ABC and Marvel are all reporting back to Disney. BTVS, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse all took a while to get a head of steam.

  • Harvey Jerkwater

    The series could be made super-awesome with the addition of the right Big Bad. C'mon, my nerds, you know who it's gotta be. You even know the title of the episode where he brings the pain.

    M.O.D.O.K., Mo' Problems

  • Jack London

    Voiced by Guy Pearce.

  • Zoe1078

    Re: "But thus far the focus seems to be on the pretty shiny haired ones and I’m telling you, that’s a big mistake." But Ming Na is really pretty, pushing 50 or not (want to take bets on whether pretty bland girl looks that good when she's 49?), and her hair is every bit as shiny, too.

  • TheAggroCraig

    Did anybody give one solid shit about Ward's back story? So your brother beat up on you when you were younger, that is the way of older brothers. And this show really loves that "English, please" joke. Three in two episodes, though the latest one was phrased different ("high school dropout here").

    As for the villain, Graviton is a really good choice but I will continue to hope for a Paste-Pot Pete appearance.

  • bastich

    I see a supervillain team-up happenin':

  • Nope. I didn't think it was possible, but it was an even worse episode than the previous two. Just awful in just about every way imaginable.

  • Ben

    Anyone that watched Avengers: Earths Mightiest Heroes should be hype as hell for MOTHER FUCKING GRAVITRON! Dude is hardcore like a mother fucker.

    Yeah sorry but I'm still on the hype train for this show. Enjoying the fuck out of it. I don't even really mind Blue Steel and Agent Boobs.

    Also I'm wondering of Quinn is going to come back and build the Quinn Jets for the Avengers?

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    Quinjets are Wakandan.

  • Ben

    Fair point. Still wouldn't be the first thing they've changed.

  • B84

    In agreement---MORE OF THE ELDERLY, OVER 40 CROWD! But the preview for next week--it had a Doctor Who vibe, no? Those red-face guys? It made me kind of excited for the next episode, which--so far--I've not been.

  • Ben

    Wait what red face guys? Did I miss something watching it on Aus TV? Fuck i'm going to have to torrent it anyway aren't I?

  • Guest

    I am okay with fantasy procedurals, as long as there are some people i
    find moderately compelling. But even the bland cast of Alphas outshines
    Dude, Tits, the Brits and other two.

    At least it wont last very long unless they get somewhat interesting and hire a charismatic lead.

  • lowercase_ryan

    serious spy skills... :/

    http://24.media.tumblr.com/c2d...

  • bastich

    Now that's a superpower!

  • Marc Greene

    If Joanna hadn't pointed these out, I would have missed them. I guess I was out of the room or asleep the first time around.

  • JoannaRobinson

    Oh thank you. I looked for so long to find this but was grossed out by every search term I typed.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Don't thank me, thank Warming Glow commenters :)

  • linnyloo

    least she had the sense to take off her high heels.

  • Dutch

    It's more impressive when the GIF loads and it's in slo-mo

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    They are formidable. Firmly so.

  • Miss Jane

    After spending all summer waiting for this, talking it up to everyone I knew and then choosing it in the office pool...I completely forgot it was on last night. If that's not a forgettable show, I don't know what is...

  • grr arrgh

    Thought I'd chip in with this: Dr. Hall was played by Professor Quirrell from the first Harry Potter movie. Took me half the episode to finally recognize him. His American accent was pretty solid.

  • Bodhi

    So THAT'S why he looked familiar! Thank you

  • grr arrgh

    Yes it is! You're welcome. The American accent is what threw me off.
    "Wait...he looks like someone...who?"
    *Half hour later*
    "OH!"

  • stella

    Hey parks and Rec took a whole season. Different genres I know, but still...

  • Three things that bugged me:

    At least two SHIELD agents were clearly killed in the cold open. Nobody even mentions that fact.

    You're already flying a billion dollar airplane with no copilot. Now you're going to send your only pilot on combat ops?

    Ward grabs a double barreled shotgun. It makes the chik chak noise of a pump action shotgun. I mean, how else would we the stupid audience members know it was a shotgun?

  • Marc Greene

    Ha! I caught that shotgun thing too! I thought for a second I heard it wrong.

    But then again, I missed the Skye-boobs the first time around, so maybe I was drifting in and out of sleep.

  • Dutch

    I've had fun with the show so far, but I knew there was going to have to be a lot of world-building in the first handful of episodes. As I said last week, this show is really screaming for a B-plot. All six characters aren't needed to solve a single problem every week. A secondary plot would give the characters more do to and give the twisty elements that folks are asking for.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    This. I'm pretty sure Pajiba outlawed, "This." as a thing we should say awhile ago, but fuck you guys, because---

    THIS. B plots, motherfuckers. And maybe a C.

  • jennp421

    I think the reason I'm not enjoying the scientists more is because their screen time has been rather limited so they still don't seem like characters as much as just stock figures ... they just seem forgettable at the moment still.

  • Michelle

    Siiiiigh. I'm gonna have to catch up on this show at some point. But I'm uh.. too busy powering through season 4 of The Vampire Diaries on Netflix. DON'T YOU JUDGE.

  • Guest

    I haven't read the comics and so have no expectations in that sense. But I do have expectations from Whedon, and so far, I'm underwhelmed. I'll keep watching (I watched all of season 1 of Dollhouse), but I'm not optimistic.

  • puppetDoug

    You guys are all buzzkills. This is an ABC show. I've been watching Castle for years despite it clearly thinking I'm an idiot. Why? Nathan Fillion. That's literally THE ONLY THING. Agent Ward is the male Stana Katic. Would i be better if he turns out to be the LMD instead of Coulson, or become a villain? Of course. I was actually not expecting him to make it out of pilot. But I think the episodes have gotten increasingly better. Skye is growing on me, the nerds are the nerds, and Coulson and May just keep getting better.

  • The only way to salvage Agent Whogivesadamn is to take him in a very dark direction, mess up his hair, add an interesting scar, and have him develop a social tic that doesn't involve whining about how much better he is than this job. So, you know, make him a totally different character.

    For about 2.5 seconds, hack up girl was interesting, but then it turned out she isn't really playing both sides to further her own ig/noble agenda, so I'm fairly sure she has no convictions at all, simply abandonment issues and a desire for a home - though one might suggest she stop living in vehicles as a start to resolving her issues.

  • It's nice to see we've already gotten prepared for a death. It's pretty rote, but a killing may ignite the rest in interesting ways. Well, not Ward, pretty sure he literally is a robot.

    They decided to bring out the boobs in a big way this episode, so I'm sure there's a focus group that needs to be retroactively killed.

  • IgorsMistress

    Last night I felt like I was back in the '80's watching "The A-Team". The action shots at the beginning were pure cheese and cheap. Please kill off Hacker Girl Agent Looks Just Like That Dude On Revenge, get rid of the techies, and leave Ming Na and Agent C. Although please let Agent C know he wasn't actually an Avenger. This show is a snoozefest.

  • rio

    Buffy wasn't that great in his first season, true, but that also Joss Whedon first show so Im sorry but Im going to expect some more from this. And I know the show it's actually his brother and his sister in law's creature but damn they freaking wrote "Epitaph 1", so I know they have it in them! Ill just stop watching and ill get back on board when (and if) it gets better. I dont even have to feel guilty about potential cancellation since they beat NCIS last night (though frankly I dont know if I would take that as a compliment).
    See ya in season 2 S.H.I.E.L.D!

  • Tracer Bullet

    Curiously, Graviton in the comics looks a lot more like . . . Quinn? The bland handsome "villain" of the episode. The guy playing Hall looks a lot more like Molecule Man, even if the back don't match. http://marvel.com/universe/Mol...

  • jon29

    I'm pretty nerdy, but not "fully versed on the Marvel comics universe" nerdy. So I didn't recognize Dr. Hall by name or anything, but yeah. Dropping a dude into a spinning blob of gravity goo is how you *make* super-villains, dummy.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    Step 1. Have a dude with an ego and a doctorate.

    Step 2. Drop him into his latest experiment.

    Step 3. ???

    Step 4. Profit (rob a bank).

  • Bert_McGurt

    That sexy British tech girl (Simmons, I think) is going to cause ME to need a SHIELD - for my pants.

    Otherwise though, I think it's getting better even though it's got a ways to go. Did I miss it, or did NOBODY reference the events of last episode AT ALL? Clearly there wasn't a lot of downtime, because Agent Blue Steel is JUST starting to train Skye after agreeing last week, but nobody remarks on how quickly the plane got fixed?

  • Texas

    1. I believe they were in the process of fixing it at the end of last weeks episode.
    2. They have rockets they routinely fire into the sun in order to get rid of things, so we just have to assume they are awesome.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Yeah, I'll buy that it's plausible in-universe. I just expected them to reference SOMETHING. I don't recall them talking at all about the thingamabob they found in Peru either.

  • Texas

    Fair point. I could see many threads will come together later or (more likely) most things will be locked in a basement and/or shot into the Sun only to be forgotten.

  • bastich

    I can improve this show in seven words:

    The. Big. Bad. Is. Howard. The. Duck.

  • Adam Borden

    ummmm, yes please? Related question: Who owns the TV rights to Spider-Ham?

  • Sean

    Actually...imagine how great a Howard appearance would. Coulson and a talking, cigar smoking foul mouthed duck. The internet would explode!

  • Marc Greene

    At this point, I'm willing to let it play out for a season. Fringe and Buffy didn't really get my undivided attention until they revealed the level of twisty-ness they could muster with their respective season 1 finales.

  • Pentadactyl

    This. Weak looking beginnings (even when they aren't actually) and MotW are pretty much Whedon trade marks. I don't know why people are surprised to see them whenever there's a new show.

  • Pentadactyl

    Damn it! I made that post before I'd seen the third episode. Then I saw it, kind of hated it and regretted this post. That was like Inca Mummy Girl levels of 'I never want to watch this again'. Still, I stand by what I said. Guess I just fall into that 'people who are surprised' category now.

    Will continue to watch till the end of the first season.

  • Adam Borden

    Indeed... I went back and re-watched the first season of Buffy, and compared to what it became? it was fairly awful.

  • JoannaRobinson

    Season 1 of Buffy is, uh, not good. That reminds me of a thing I need to write.

  • Guest

    Yeah, it was not good, but SMG was much more interesting that Skye no-last-name. And Angel far surpasses Ward (?). And Coulson is cool, but not as great as Giles.

  • Tinkerville

    I like where this is (potentially) going.

  • PerpetualIntern

    More Buffy writing. Yes please.

  • Ian Fay

    Re: Agent Coulson:

    My money's on this option:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L...

  • Ben

    I doubt he's a LMD, LMD's aren't unaware of what they are cause the real person is piloting it. Coulson is apparently unaware of the fact that anything is going on, wich wouldn't make sense if real coulson was sitting in tahiti piloting the LMD.

  • foolsage

    Correct. Coulson is almost certainly clone or cyborg.

    1) We have confirmation from Agent May in this episode that Coulson died, instead of nearly dying. We've already seen that Coulson does not know what really happened to him. The Tahiti memory is implanted, and he "can never know" about what happened.

    2) Coulson has lost his muscle memory. If he were controlling an LMD from long distance, it'd be using his real muscle memory. Had Coulson been resurrected via some means, whether magical or scientific, he'd presumably still have his old muscle memory, so the same problem applies there. A clone or a cyborg would not have the old muscle memory.

  • Michelle

    Right? He HAS to be an LMD, I can't imagine it going any other way.

    Which of course means we'll be wrong. *sigh*

  • Ian Fay

    Apart from Bastich's theory, the only other option is an ACTUAL magic thing, like some sort of resurrection or magic or something.

    Which given the show's mostly-science themes so far would be a little odd.

    But hey, could pave the way for a Dr Strange show or something.

  • Adam Borden

    Well Scarlet Witch is going to be in Avengers 2, and she potentially has that power. Also, Doctor Strange is planned for phase 3, so if the money keeps rolling in, he'll get his own movie. Which scares me a bit, to introduce ACTUAL magic into the universe they're creating...

  • Misomaniac

    Tahiti. It's a MAGICAL place.

  • Ian Fay

    Yeah, definitely, except they've gone out of their way to give all the "magic" a science explanation so far (see Thor, all the Cosmic Cube shit in Avengers) so outright magic would kind of feel like out of genre for all the non-nerds, I'd think.

  • bastich

    I'm in the "Coulson = Vision" camp, myself.

    (No real reason to be in this camp besides high hopes...but still....)

  • Dutch

    Fury did call him "my one good eye"

  • Bodhi

    I yelled at the TV when Boring Bland Girl was working out with her hair down. I know that she was there under duress & maybe that's why that decision was made, but holy shit does that piss me off. (I'm certain I mention this every time it happens but I don't care).

    Pull.Your.Fucking.Hair.Back.

  • Dutch

    And if you are such a wonder hacker open up a laptop on screen from time to time.

  • And follow through when you hit the bag. It matters later. Also, stand up straight, for crying out loud. /mean mom

  • And keep your wrist flat when you punch! And drive off your back foot!

  • Conor

    Is it just me, or did this episode really come across like a Malta tourism commercial aimed at enterprising supervillains?

  • Adam Borden

    Graviton is one of those characters that isn't often used in the comics... For one, he looks ridiculous, he's mentally disturbed, and for the Marvel universe, FAR too powerful. I'm intrigued that THIS is the first villain they choose to introduce in a show about a team with no superpowers. My guess is they'll exploit his mental failings, as that's how the Avengers tend to beat him, because, again, dude is WAY overpowered.

  • Marc Greene

    They actually used him early in the first season of the Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes cartoon too. Thor, Hulk, and Iron Man combined couldn't take him down. Maybe it could be working to them introducing the Raft, the prison for supervillains, which Graviton was a very notable resident of.

  • Adam Borden

    The raft would be great! But as of now, I think the only occupant would be Abomination? As most of the villains of the film universe are either deceased, in far away galaxies, or perceived as dead. Maybe he's the one that gets them to finally build it! (we now have TWO inmates!)

  • Kate at June

    My husband had high hopes for this.
    I had 0 hopes and only happened to catch the episodes when he watched them.
    We have both been extremely bored so far....I don't think its the expectations.

  • Texas

    I'm actually really enjoying SHIELD, but I think that is because it's exactly what I expected it to be thus far. So far it's fine and fun. If it never changes, then my feelings towards the show will likely change. Hopefully narrative arc's will grow, but as we've seen with Dr. Who, there is a tension in quality between long arcs and monsters of the week.

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