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For The Love Of God, Show, I'm Trying To Like You: What We Learned From Last Night's 'Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.'

By Joanna Robinson | TV | October 23, 2013 |

By Joanna Robinson | TV | October 23, 2013 |

Oh, show, I am trying so hard. So very hard to like you. I am rooting for you with every beat of my Whedonite heart. But you make it hard sometimes. This week was particularly hard. Laughably hard. You get the Coulson Finger Of Shame, show. Here’s what we learned.

Oh My God The Dialogue: This episode was written by one Brent Fletcher who is an old Angel alum and though he has some fairly decent writing credits to his name (Friday Night Lights), he’s done most of his work on Spartacus. Not a show known for its crackling dialogue, eh? I really though last week was the show’s finest episode and I had hoped we were on an upward trajectory but after all the clunky dialogue from last night, I don’t know what to expect. More roller coaster quality, I guess. Leaving aside how much I despised both Hunky Hacker and Burn Flame Torch Sizzle Flicker Scorch as characters, can we discuss the clunkers they were forced to deliver? Like this one below from HH? Is that first statement one that needed clarifying? AT ALL?! Oh jesus.

We’ve Talked About This CGI Thing: I’ll keep after the show until it realizes its limitations. (This comes from love. This comes from me wanting this show to be great.) You are a network show, you are not a movie. You are not even HBO. You are a network show. Game Of Thrones has a $6 million per episode budget. S.H.I.E.L.D. has roughly half that. And even Game Of Thrones deploys the massive special effects in moderation (“Blackwater,” “Walk Of Punishment”). But this show keeps trying to be bigger than its britches and I would like it so much more if they could focus the story inward. It’s not the big space battles or yawning hell mouths that made us love Whedon’s storytelling, it was the people. Let’s bring it back down, shall we?

See, Show, People Can Be Pretty AND Be Good Actors: I was not a fan of Hunky Hacker and Burn Flame Torch Sizzle Flicker Scorch, but I was a fan of Ruth Negga who played Raina aka the titular Girl In The Flower Dress. First of all, let’s address the obvious, Negga is indescribably beautiful. If you’ve ever heard her native Irish accent, you’ve likely still not recovered. She was also fantastic in her role as a Biggish Bad. A Big Minion. She’s working on Extremis which is now in Phase 2 aka The Phase That No Longer Burns People Alive thanks to Burn Flame Torch Sizzle Flicker Scorch. As far as I’m concerned, Negga can come back every week, swan about in a dress that would make Zooey Deschanel drool and tease us by summoning Clairvoyants. She’s my new favorite thing. Gorgeous and talented, show, it can be done.

They Out-Nerded Me: Usually I can stay hip to the nerd jargon. I know a lot of insider Marvel info is going to fly by me, but usually I can cotton on to what young Fitz and Simmons are jawing about. But I don’t play Minecraft. Apparently this was a really good nerd joke. Given the writing level on the rest of the episode, I’m dubious.

We Can’t Know She’s Valuable If She Doesn’t Get To Be, Well, Valuable: Last week they did an excellent job convincing me that both Agents Ward and Skye were valuable members of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team. This week? Not so much. I think it was supposed to be impressive and funny that Skye did her hacker job in ten seconds or less, but given that she spent about ten minutes with her shirt off, I’m not really digging the “useful”/”boobs” ratio.

If All Else Fails, Ditch Everyone Else, Keep These Two: But no matter what else happens with this show I’ll keep watching if only for these two. I understand everyone else fleeing but everything I love about a Whedon endeavor comes shining through with Agents Coulson and May and I won’t leave them.

Between that disapproving finger wag, the insouciant “so we’re good?” in the face of a flaming mad man and the casual hunch of his shoulders when ducking from a blast, Coulson (and Gregg) remains the anchor of the show.

And he’s matched in every way by the Battlestar Galactica tank top wearing, tai-chi performing, double Scotch having Melinda May. Oh, join her on a mat for a round or two, Coulson, you won’t regret it. And, listen, if it turns out Melinda May is secretly Skye’s mother, I’m going to burn this whole place to the ground. Actress Chloe Bennett is half-Chinese though, so I’m worried.

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