Monday, April 14, 2014

Agents of SHIELD, Arrow and Random Thoughts

I haven't said much about Marvel Agent's of SHIELD, at least I don't remember saying much.  After kind of a slow start things started to pick up with the episode TRACKS but mostly I want to talk about last weeks episode Turn, Turn, Turn which tied into the Captain America sequel.

First off I've enjoyed MAOS for the most part but good god it felt slow, Hulu, which is where I watch all my TV now, only has the last few episodes so I'm unable to go back and revisit the earlier episodes to see how my memory holds up but I don't remember most of the episodes.  I remember the pilot because that was a really solid episode.  Then there was something in South America, Peter MacNicol had a good cameo as a refugee Asgardian in a pretty solid episode following the Thor sequel.  There was a rogue agent at some point... what I'm getting at is that there have been 13 episodes, up to TRACKS, and I remember maybe 6 of those.  Graviton and Blizzard also come to mind and the big Coulson reveal.  After TRACKS the pace picked up and there were some great stories that built on each other and made you want to come back.  Since TRACKS I've been anticipating MAOS more than any other show (those shows being Arrow, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Community and Parks and Rec).  We've gotten the reveal and evolution of Deathlok, more follow up about Coulson, Lorelei and Sif cameo and some expansion of the characters.

  However Turn, Turn, Turn has been the best episode by far but also shows one of the programs great weaknesses: it has to be in sync with the Marvel movies.  It seems that, knowing what Cap 2 would do they had to put in a lot of filler while still keeping the show on the air so that interest wouldn't disappear but would be able to change with the movie.  One of the criticism's I read was that it messed with the time line of Cap 2 but I didn't really see that since Cap 2 takes clearly takes place over several days that we only catch moments of.  All the events of Turn, Turn, Turn could easily fit in at any point in Cap 2 knowing that the episode concludes simultaneously with the movie.  The episode had a great lead up in trying to figure out who the traitor was, who the Clairvoyant was, what May was doing, etc but what really made the episode was that it was probably the first time I've seen real emotion from anyone who wasn't Skye.

  Skye has, up until this point, been the only one allowed to emote like a normal human being, since she is the audience surrogate, so seeing her be emotional wasn't anything new but we got to see Coulson get angry and, by extension, scary.  Watching him it's clear why he's earned a reputation as being the badass that his status as a high level agent implies because he is downright cold blooded when he's angry.  Grant finally gets to step out of the "boring" role and show some actual emotional range as well as beating up 12 armed and armored agents.  The real tour de force though was Iain De Caestecker as Fitz.  He goes from scared and angry, displaying paranoia and shouting to brave stoicism to finally picking up a gun and helping.  When his life gets threatened the single tears he sheds as he calmly returns a threat of his own was just amazing, there was so much emotion in that scene I got goosebumps.  The way the episode ended I can't wait for Wednesday when I can watch the new one and see where this whole thing is going, if it's going to take an A-Team vibe or if the rest of the season is going to be Coulson and a new team taking everything back one facility at a time.  I'm really looking forward to it.

After being so very vocal about Arrow season one I haven't said much about the new season of Arrow.  It's been good.  I don't know if I've been inured to the novelty of the show but this season doesn't feel as good as last season.  Last season it felt like every episode ended with a cliff hanger that made you salivate for the next episode.  Hiatus' were brutal and I needed that Arrow fix every week.  All the cameo's and twists and turns and solid storytelling accentuated by fantastic acting... I just don't get that same feeling this season.

  This season is alright.  There are much fewer cliffhangers this season but when they do them there is this glimmer of "Yeah, that's why they used to be the master of the end of episode stinger." but for the most part they just end like a normal show, mostly self contained.  At one point in the most recent episode a character says to Ollie "I know about your other life." or something like that and I literally said out loud "Who doesn't at this point?".  His secret identity is a joke, granted more people don't know who he is than know who he is if you account for the global population but in the show more people know he's Arrow then don't and when either later in that episode or in a different one when someone tells Laurel I thought she already knew and when she reacts in shock I was confused for a moment.  That's not really a good sign.

  They kind of squandered Thea and Roy.  Roy is now hopped on on Mirakuro, which gives him super powers, but it just seems like it's the constant "Learn to control your powers!" "You learn to control your mouth!" nonsense that doesn't progress anything.  I was really hoping that this season Roy would become Red Arrow or Arsenal, Thea would become his sidekick Speedy and we would get maybe the first appearance of Question or Laural becoming Black Canary.  Those were my big hopes for this season and really none of that happened.  Laurel's sister came back from the dead as Black Canary but her character isn't even interesting enough for me to look up her name as they have made Laurel more interesting in inverse proportion to her sister.  That is to say Laurel has become more interesting and her sister has taken her place as the least interesting character in the show.  My last hope is where they're going with Quentin Lance there's still potential that he might end up as The Question which is exactly what I want to see.  I'll stick with it until the season finale because it has set up enough and has been good enough that I want to know how it will end but I really hope the next season picks things up a bit.

  That's really about it, there are already Netflix rumors about who will play Daredevil (Michael C. Hall is out, thank god) and Terry Crews wants to be Luke Cage.  I've always seen Michael Jai White as Cage but I think Crews might be able to do something interesting with it.  Also rumors about an Agent Carter series, if the Marvel Cinematic Universe is truly as connected as they claim it will be interesting to see if Agent Carter plants the seeds in one episode and we get to see those seeds bare fruit 70 years later in an episode of MAOS.  That could provide some really interesting television because you can explore two era's and how the decisions of one impact the other.  I really want that to happen and I'm looking forward to it.  It's a good time to be into Marvel or DC and also watching television.

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