Categories
Comics TV

Help Me Fix Agents of SHIELD

This is mostly in response to the article over at Heroic Hollywood, Is Marvel’s ‘Agents of SHIELD’ Really Any Good? so maybe check that first.

There was no one more excited by the concept of Agents of SHIELD than me, when it was first announced.  A Whedon-adjacent look at the more mundane aspects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, led by everyone’s favorite dead SHIELD agent?  Let’s roll!  The reality of the show has been, at times, middling however.  As Jon Negroni points out in the article above, rather than the show being must-see TV for Marvel movie fans, it’s mostly an afterthought.  The episode that tied in to Thor: The Dark World is the perfect metaphor for AoS, as the team were literally picking up the scraps left behind by one of the MCU’s movies.

Not that there hasn’t been some great stuff to enjoy along the way, but beyond the direct link to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, all that’s great about Agents of SHIELD is of their own making.  Brett Dalton’s Grant Ward bored us all to tears as generic SHIELD agent guy…until the HYDRA twist turned our understanding of him on it’s head.  The action directing has been a highlight also.  Really, the only thing that holds AoS back from being spoken of in the same breath as The Flash is the MCU.  The focus (more from the fans than anyone at ABC/Disney/Marvel) is on just how the show will tie-in to the upcoming movies.  “Hey look, Inhumans!” which is particularly rough since the Inhumans movie is now off the schedule, or Lorelei/Sif which is fun but not exactly something that’s going to grab the attention of the movie-goers or the casual TV viewer who sees the promos.

No, the biggest thing Agents of SHIELD could do to increase its quality is…stop worrying about the MCU!  There are signs of that this year, with the Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider being a focus, but they need to really lean in to it.  There are plenty of characters that will never get a movie or a TV show, and you already HAVE a show that needs to fill 20+ hours a year.  And has a tendency to have some filler episodes of questionable quality.  Wouldn’t it be great if, instead of sifting through the rubble of the next MCU movie, Coulson and May went on an adventure with Jimmy Woo and Ken Hale?  Or, instead of holding out hope we see another Kree, we see Fitz and Simmons have to figure out how to help defeat the Wrecking Crew?  The Hood.  Shang-Chi.  Moon Knight.  Tombstone.  The Grim Reaper.  Taskmaster.  Most of these characters wouldn’t carry a series on their own (okay, maaaybe Moon Knight) but would work great as a 3-8 episode arc on AoS.

There are signs that AoS may be going down this path this year, with Ghost Rider and some of the other mystical stuff.  The real trick is getting the audience back that may have lost interest.  Is there anyone you’d like to see on the show, or any TV-friendly storylines you’d like them to tackle?

Categories
Review TV

New Amazon Pilot: The Tick

The Tick is both blessed and cursed by TV.  Blessed because very few comics from such an obscure source would get not one, not two, but three tries at a series.  Cursed, because the first two attempts were both on Fox and had plenty of network interference/mismanagment.  The third try may just be the charm, though, as as Amazon has produced a new pilot for The Tick as part of their current ‘Pilot Season’.

The specifics behind The Tick vary from the various comic books and shows, but in general he is a dimwitted but nigh invulnerable superhero who ends up protecting a city named “The City” from various silly supervillains from a Man-Eating Cow, a million-billion ninjas, to the Terror – an elderly villain most famous for punching out Teddy Roosevelt.

thumbsupforevil

The new Amazon pilot focuses, at least to start, on Arthur.  Arthur is usually portrayed as the sidekick/straight man to The Tick but he’s the driving force here.  He’s had a terrible childhood – the non-Quinjet of the not-the-Avengers superteam the ‘Flag Five’ crashes on and kills Arthur’s dad, and young Arthur comes face to face with The Terror, who eats his ice cream (seriously).  An iconic, Time Magazine-ish photo is taken of the moment.  Fast forward to adult Arthur, and he’s obviously still suffering from that moment.  He’s obsessed with The Terror, who everyone else thinks is dead, but Arthur is convinced is still running the criminal underworld.  His investigations are what brings him into contact with The Tick.  They try to set up a “is The Tick even real?” question, but I think it’s pretty clear he is – but Arthur, with his mental illness isn’t sure he’s not imagining the whole thing while off his meds.

I won’t say the pilot is perfect, as the tone shifts suddenly, but Peter Serafinowicz is actually really good at delivering The Tick’s weird monologues and quips.  Griffin Newman has some real depth as Arthur, too.  I’d complain about the strange over-textured suit but I’m fairly certain that’s a parody of every recent Superman suit where the filmmakers can’t stop themselves from putting some wacky design on it.  I guess the best thing I can say after 30 minutes of the new series is, I want to see more.  If you do too, go to this link and vote.

Categories
Books Comics Movies TV

Happy Birthday Star Trek

50 years ago today yesterday, the first episode of Star Trek (now known as ‘The Original Series’) aired.  Sci-fi fandom hasn’t been the same since.  Hundreds of episodes of TV across five decades, scores of books and comics, big budget movies, video games, copycats and parodies, Trek holds a special place in our pop culture.  Star Wars may have the cool laser swords and planet-exploding superweapons, Star Trek – for all the added fistfights – made you a better person.

The Original Series was the first show I ever watched that dealt with real social issues which despite the show’s 1960’s roots, were still relevant.  Star Trek made you think about the consequences of the action, even as they had to shoehorn in a ridiculous fight with papier-mâché rocks to try and stay on the air.  Sure, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” may have been heavy handed, but for ten year old me this was the first show that dealt with racism in a way I understood.  I came for the Frank Gorshin, but left asking my parents why those two men thought they were so different.

But the best part of Star Trek was how it brought my family together.  My dad, I think, was the driving force, he loved TOS due to the “Wagon Train to the stars” aspect.  I can still remember us gathering to watch Encounter at Farpoint together.  Looking back, it wasn’t the greatest premiere episode, but it still had a sense of wonder about it that captured my attention.  It didn’t hurt that it had John de Lancie mugging for the camera as Q.  Most likely I hit The Next Generation at exactly the right time – young enough to forgive the inconsistency of the first few seasons, but then maturing with the show as it truly hit its stride a few years in.  That led into Deep Space Nine, which remains one of my all-time favorite shows, and the one that best continued the Trek legacy of examining real-world issues through a sci-fi lens.

I am looking forward to the new Star Trek: Discovery show, as it looks like it may be a return to form for Star Trek after the uneven, action-oriented ‘Kelvin-verse’ movies.  And if it doesn’t, there’s always “The Squire of Gothos”, “The Trouble with Tribbles”, “Inner Light”, “The Visitor”, “In The Pale Moonlight”…

Categories
Review TV

TV Review – Voltron: Legendary Defender Season One

I know for a fact that I watched the original Lion Force Voltron when I was a kid.  I’m fairly certain I had the toys, too.  But I wasn’t a Voltron obsessive, and I’m hard-pressed to remember much more than the barest bits of the show now.  You know, five lion bots, “and I’ll form the head”, a few of the names, that’s about it.  So for a long time I wasn’t falling all over myself to watch this new Netflix series Voltron: Legendary Defender.  The initial trailer, though…

…that was enough for me to notice, and start doing a bit more digging.  Two things cemented my interest:  the animation studio, and the names of the folks work on this.  Lauren Montgomery, Joaquim Dos Santos, and Tim Hedrick were all deeply involved in Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra, and wrote or directed some of the best episodes (Hedrick with The Puppetmaster, for instance).  Studio Mir is animating Voltron, and their work on ATLA and especially Korra is amazing.  Their use of color and lighting are first-rate, and fits well here.

As for the story, I don’t want to spoil it, but it does involve a group of misfits discovering the Voltron lions, and having to learn to work together to fight back against the evil empire that is conquering the universe.  It sounds basic, but what elevates it is the relationships between the characters.  The season one story focuses mostly on Shiro (Sven in the 80s Americanized Voltron), who had been captured by Zarkon and the Galra (the bad guys) and escaped, Pidge, whose father and brother were with Shiro when he was captured, and who will do anything to find out what happened to them, and Princess Allura, who along with her right-hand man Coran are the last surviving Alteans.  Her father built Voltron but then hid it away, which is one mystery explored this season.  The other is how Shiro escaped captivity – he doesn’t remember despite being gone for a year.  Some of the others (Keith, Lance, Hunk, even Coran himself) can shade into comic relief territory – but much like Sokka developed from a dope to an effective fighter and teammate, you get the feeling there’s depth to everyone that’s going to be revealed in time.  The main villains (Zarkon, the witch Haggar, and Commander Sendak) are suitably scary, and Zarkon in particular has secrets of his own sure to be explored in future seasons.

The voice cast is very solid, I’m especially attached to Kimberly Brooks as Allura.  Steven Yeun, Tyler Labine, Josh Keaton, Jeremy Shada and Bex Taylor-Klaus voice the Voltron Paladins, while Rhys Darby performs as Coran.  Neil Kaplan, Cree Summer and Jake Eberle are your villains.

All in all I enjoyed the heck out of the first season (all on Netflix as of June 10) a ton, and am dying to know what’s coming next.  Worth watching even if you don’t have kids who are interested.

Categories
Comics Movies TV

Stop making Batman v Superman about Marvel versus DC

If there’s a thing in comics fandom I hate right now it’s this adversarial tone a lot of the chatter takes on nowadays.  A spirited debate is fun, no doubt, but this isn’t that, it’s just angry people shouting at each other.  It’s there in sports now, video games, even politics.  There are certain groups who cling desperately to their ‘thing’, and that other ‘thing’?  You’re the most vile piece of trash not fit for life for liking it!  UGH.  And some of the media outlets support this sort of binary thinking – they encourage it, basking in the clicks and not caring that they make discourse demonstrably worse.  Take this article in the NY Post that made the rounds yesterday, provocatively titled ‘Batman v Superman’ is too smart for Marvel fans.  In it, Kyle “Women are not capable of understanding Goodfellas” Smith posits that Marvel fans’ intelligence levels are low:

This dimension lends the film a gravity and level of interest that places it at the opposite end of the spectrum from such sophomoric Marvel movies as “The Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Deadpool.” All three feature brainless, low-stakes action that’s as interesting as watching a waiter fall down the stairs while carrying a tray of dishes;

While I love a good pratfall (Pratt-fall?) as much as the next guy, you’ll notice he singles out a couple of things from the Marvel canon, as if only Guardians and AoU represent the MCU.  As I read that, I pictured Mr. Smith as Anton Ego in Ratatouille, sitting in his coffin-shaped room, ready to eviscerate Marvel for releasing a movie that has the audacity to be ‘fun’.  Where is The Winter Soldier on his ‘spectrum’?  TWS may be the perfect comic book movie in that it isn’t really a comic book movie.  It’s a spy thriller that just happens to star Cap, Natasha and Nick Fury.  The first Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Jessica Jones, Daredevil…none of those represent Marvel, because it doesn’t fit Smith’s ‘us versus them’ narrative.

Ratatouille coffin

We need to stop letting the media gleefully hammer on the wedges that are splitting us apart.  There’s no reason we can’t like BOTH The Avengers and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  But even if you don’t like a thing, it doesn’t make the people who DO like it stupid.  Let’s be better than that.  Comic book fans were marginalized, looked down upon for so long, now that we are finally getting our day in the pop culture spotlight we shouldn’t turn on each other, we should be celebrating.  DC fans, you are FINALLY getting your Justice League movie!  Marvel fans, you get the freaking Infinity Gauntlet!  Don’t stomp on something just because it’s too dark/gritty/goofy/noisy or whatever.  We can be better than this.  Build, don’t tear down.

Categories
Review TV

Agent Carter – A Missed Opportunity

note: spoilers abound for Agent Carter season 2

Agent Carter’s second season just ended, and I’m sad.  There was a lot of fun to be had – Howard’s always good for a laugh, Jarvis is perfect, and their take on Whitney Frost as a villainous Hedy Lamarr was interesting.  One thing that didn’t help was the finale just being one hour, especially after following a two-hour episode the week before.  The ending felt rushed.  Also, in general you never got a sense that the stakes were super-high.  It may have been a TV budget restriction but the fix for some of the various hurdles (Dr. Wilkes disappearing, getting the ‘zero matter’ back into the Darkforce dimension) seemed fairly pat.  Whitney just…walks into the trap?  She has power, right, so why not have her show it?

Even with those complaints, I enjoyed this season.  I love Peggy Carter, Sousa, Jarvis and Anna Jarvis (adorable!).  No, the missed opportunity actually involves Jack Thompson.  HE was the one Peggy really needed to win over to her side, to come around and view her as an equal.  I honestly thought they were building to something like that, a moment where Jack would be truly humbled by Peggy, and start to view her and other women in a new light.  I come back to Sokka getting schooled by the Kyoshi warriors, and learning that the way he was treating them (and his sister) was not okay.  Imagine Thompson going to Peggy, apologizing for the shit he’s put her through, and them partnering up.  But we won’t get to see that growth, after he gets shot and killed for the redacted file.  It’s a shame we won’t get to him become Carter’s ally.

Speaking of that redacted file…I thought it had been faked up by Vernon’s people, buuuuuut someone (maybe at IO9) pointed out “M. Carter” could’ve been her brother.

Unfortunately, Agent Carter’s ratings were not exactly explosive, so these dangling threads (which also include Dottie Underwood) may never be resolved.  If they DO get another season, I wouldn’t mind them shifting away from the 40s.  We see Peg still active with SHIELD all the way to the 80s in Ant-Man, so why not some swingin’ 60s missions?  Maybe even snag Michael Douglas for an Ant-Man cameo for a ratings boost?  Just a thought, but I want more Peggy Carter and hey, more Jarvis too.  Give ’em one more season, Marvel

Categories
TV

Things I Want from the New Bryan Fuller Star Trek Series

The news dropped today that Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies, Hannibal) will be the showrunner for the new Star Trek series set to premiere on CBS next year, before moving to the CBS All Access paid subscription.  My enthusiasm for the new show had been stifled by the mostly mediocre movies and the fact that I’d need yet another subscription to see it, but they just got my full attention.  My wife and I both enjoyed Pushing Daisies a ton, and Fuller has a previous Trek pedigree, credited for story or writing on two dozen Deep Space Nine and Voyager episodes.  I’m not sure where he’s going to find the time (he’s also running the adaptation of Gaiman’s American Gods and is attached to the Amazing Stories reboot) but they’ve got my eyeballs for the pilot at least.

Fuller’s been talking about Trek for years – the EW article here has some details – and I like what I’m hearing.  Here’s my wish list for what I want from the new series:

  1. Get back to exploring – One disappointing thing about the most recent movies is they rarely deal with exploration.  I don’t totally fault them for that, as you can’t really do an ‘alien culture of the week’ as a blockbuster movie, but shifting back to TV should allow them the creativity and flexibility to go deeper than fist fights and phaser blasts.
  2. No wars – Anyone who has read my stuff before knows I LOVE Deep Space Nine.  It’s up there with my favorite shows of all time.  Having said that, it may be tempting to replicate the very excellent Dominion War arc that show had…but it would be a mistake.  Let’s base this one on a science vessel, do diplomatic missions, rescues.  Some of my favorite Trek episodes dealt with content that was not your usual weekly sci-fi show fare (The Measure of a Man, Far Beyond the Stars, The Visitor, The Inner Light), and many went straight into goofball humor (Doctor Bashir, I Presume?).  We need that introduced back into Trek.
  3. Cast some new people – Star Trek has always connected back to previous shows, and one of the ways that’s been done is by bringing on actors from the past to cameo.  While I love the actors of Trek past, I’d like them to not try this, at least at first.  Let the new show grow into it’s own and develop the new characters.  Since the show isn’t going to link directly to the movies or the older shows (at least based on what we know now), that will work the best.  We don’t need Brent Spiner popping up as another Soong to bring us in.
  4. Be positive – One of the things that’s shifted over the years is the idea that the Federation was this vision of what the future should be.  I thought DS9 masterfully deconstructed that with the Bajorans and Sisko as the Emissary.  The Federation wasn’t always right, and the conflict of interest there made for some good TV.  But it got taken too far at times, with Section 31 and Insurrection and the like.  Let’s have Starfleet/the Federation trying to be a force for good and running into the moral dilemmas and struggles they’ve encountered since the Original Series.
  5. Be diverse – Others can speak more eloquently than me on this, but whether it’s another female captain, an alien captain, LGBTQ captain (or some or all of the above) you can do better than the JJ Abrams movies have.  These shows are ensembles, and can represent ALL of Earth and hey, remember that it’s a Federation of Planets, plural.  Cast your net wide, jack up the alien makeup budget and represent some folks that aren’t often portrayed in a genre show.

So that’s what I want.  What else do YOU want?

Categories
Review TV

SyFy’s The Expanse

I’ve been a big booster of The Expanse books for a long time (note that I’ve been acquainted with one half of the author team that makes up James S. A. Corey since I’ve been on the internet), but I haven’t yet reviewed the TV show.  Hey, I’m a busy guy, and there’s a lot of media out there, but I need to get this out there:  you should be watching The Expanse.  It’s a big-budget science fiction TV show done about as right as you can do it.

First, the facts of the show/books in case you don’t know them.  It’s set 200 years in the future.  An efficient drive was invented to push ships around the solar system, so humanity has spread to the Moon, Mars and to the asteroid belt and beyond.  Mars broke away from Earth (now run by the UN) and has formed its own Republic.  Both rely on the materials mined out in the belt.  The people of the belt do the exceedingly hard and dangerous work but chafe under the leadership of the planets ‘down the well’ (as in, the gravity well of the sun).  The OPA, or Outer Planets Alliance, is akin to the Irish Republican Army.  There are political aspects, people who simply want to get the outer planets recognized as free, but a lot of terrorists as well.

Let’s break down the components of the show that are making it must-see TV.  First, space looks amazing and real.  The real sets mix seamlessly with the needed CGI to produce ships and stations with a real heft to them.  Whether it’s a run-down ice hauler or the latest Martian battleship, it all feels real – and like a natural progression of tech from now to then.

The-Expanse-MillerBut maybe spaceship battles aren’t your thing?  Let me introduce you to Thomas Jane’s Detective Miller.  He’s a classic noir detective.  He’s seen everything, and straddles the line of corruption, much to his Earther partner’s chagrin.  He gets an interesting side job from his boss – find a missing rich girl who’s gone native with the OPA, and kidnap her home to her parents.  How Julie Mao ties into the struggle between the inner and outer planets is core to the show.

On the other side of things, you get Jim Holden and the crew of the ice hauler Canterbury.  Holden is content to live out his days with little authority and a steady job until circumstances throw him and his crew into the middle of a conspiracy that threatens to take that UN/Mars cold war and make it a hot one.

If Firefly was your thing, Holden and the crew are what you need.  They are the exact sort of misfits that end up working on an ice hauler out past the belt.  Everyone is either hiding from something, leaving something behind, or looking for something.  The Expanse isn’t rushing the reveals either – everybody fit neatly into a role, Naomi the engineer, Alex the pilot, Amos as the muscle – but the hints and teases of their backgrounds (filled out over more than a half-dozen books, novellas and short stories) are working their way in slowly.

ExpanseRociCrew

Maybe you are interested in the politics of a world like this, well, they’ve got you covered too.  Shohreh Aghdashloo plays Chrisjen Avarsala, a UN Deputy Undersecretary who is a master and the push-and-pull world of politics.  She uses her intelligence and cultivation of relationships to work over whoever gets in her way in protecting Earth’s interests.  She’s a fan favorite character from the books, and Shohreh and the writers have done an amazing job bringing Avarsala to life.

I feel like I could dedicate pages to every character, whether it’s Chad Coleman’s Fred Johnson (former military man now firmly on the OPA’s side), or Anderson Dawes, the OPA heavy that is the main thorn in Miller’s side on Ceres station.  The showrunners, casting director and writers (which includes the writers of the books by the way) have done a superb job of fleshing out the world.

Convinced?  Still on the fence?  The first five episodes can be streamed via SyFy.com which also has some cool interactive material to go with them.  After those five, you have to sign in with your TV provider’s account, or you can always purchase The Expanse‘s first season via Amazon.

Categories
Review TV

Agents of SHIELD Recap – S03E06 Among Us Hide…

This show, man.  It gets you turned around.  It became clear that Lash wasn’t just some random person – Andrew was a possibility to be the killer Inhuman, but I dismissed him.  But there you are.  And this reveal leaves me with a ton of questions.  Is he one of the recent Inhumans created by the fish oil?  It seems like they want us to think that but he sure does seem to have a handle on it better than the other newbs.  Does he remember everything he does as Lash?  The change appears voluntary so I imagine so.  Why wouldn’t he kill Daisy?  The best thing that came from this is seeing Agent May’s veneer crack – this discovery is devastating to her.

Coulson gets to see the ATCU facility, and it turns out that they are basically freezing Inhumans in carbonite until Rosalind can find a ‘cure’ for them.  It looks bad though, especially to Mack and Daisy who are seeing (but not hearing) what’s going on.  They found there way there thanks to Hunter, who everyone is freaking pissed at over the whole ‘almost got Andrew killed’ thing.  Just wait until he finds out Andrew is Lash!  Hunter is a delight, basically blundering his way through the episode and mucking things up in exactly the right way.  He manages to ice Rosalind’s second in command WHILE Coulson is with her, and may have planted seeds of doubt about Will in Fitz’s head.  Get this guy a costume.

The May/Mockingbird team-up is everything we hoped for from this show, and I can’t wait for next week.  Is Andrew/Lash truly evil?  Agents of SHIELD messes with those expectations a lot (see Hyde) so it’ll be interesting to see where that goes.

Categories
Review TV

Agents of SHIELD Recap – S03E05 4,722 Hours

This will be quick as I’m very late getting this out.  AoS wastes little time in showing us just what happened to Agent Simmons on the blue-tinged planet.  It starts out as you expect, with Simmons falling back on her training for survival – at first staying near the portal exit in case it can be reopened, then eventually setting off for food and water.  Jemma shows both her resourcefulness (“You’re dinner, biatch!”) and the stress from being stuck on a planet that seems to have near-permanent night.

The surprising twist comes when Simmons is captured…by another human!  “Will” seems nuts at first, not believing Jemma is even real, but turns out to be a decent sort.  Turns out he was the muscle on a NASA mission sent through the portal with hopes that they’d be able to return in a year…14 years ago.  Oops.  Simmons begins working with Will on a plan to get home, with her relentless positivity becoming infections.  It’s all for naught however, when they miss their window to get through the portal, and their message in a bottle backup plan fails as well.  Though it’s quite possible the near-miss may be what knocked the alien dust back through the portal that Fitz found.

Fast-forward to the 4,722nd hour, and Jemma and Will are living a life together on the planet now, as a couple.  They are awaiting the once a generation sunrise…when Fitz’s flare is spotted.  They make a run for it, but the strange dust storms come and in it, Jemma spots a strange figure – one of the other astronaut suits, covered in strange vines or webbing…the ‘death’ that Will warned her about.  He tells her to go while he fights it off with his one remaining bullet.  You’ve seen the rest from the other side, with Simmons pulled through at the last moment, but now you know why she wants to go back so badly.

Poor Fitz is immediately supportive of the task, despite the heartbreak he must be feeling at the reveal about Will and Simmons and the relationship.  It seems likely that at some point in the season, we will be back on the planet, as the end scene showed Will still alive.  But will he still be sane after losing Jemma?

Random thoughts:

  • So NASA had the monolith and knew it was a portal.  Will said the information about how they knew a planet was on the other side was “classified…above my pay grade” but it’s an interesting question.  Did someone make it back?
  • The prevailing theories about what that planet is are fun.  Ego, the living planet?  I doubt it, but the fact that it is heated internally means I can’t immediately discount the idea.  Still, I think something Kree/Inhuman related makes more sense.
  • What the heck was the ‘Death’ on the planet?  Can’t be a coincidence that the word Death appeared frequently around the monolith in the places it was hidden.  Makes the idea that someone came back twisted by whatever it is on the planet a bit more likely.
Categories
Review TV

Agents of SHIELD Recap – S03E02 Purpose in the Machine

Episode 2, Purpose in the Machine kicks off right where the premiere left off, and keeps up the breakneck pace.  After an open that shows old English dudes sending some poor sap into a room…with our monolith.  Mostly so one of them can tell us “no one ever returns!”.  But we know our Simmons is still out there!  Back at SHIELD HQ, there’s some talk to get everyone up to date on the state of the Secret Warriors and team SHIELD itself which is to say numbers are down.  Amazing that these new Inhumans are all pretty freaked out.  Or dead.  That talk stops when they notice Fitz freaking out on the monolith.  They pull him away and slam the case shut just in time for the thing to go liquid again…reacting to Daisy.

We also see Ward rebuilding HYDRA, cutting away the weak and soft heads so stronger ones can take their places.  He hunts down a young man…who turns out to be Werner von Strucker!  I didn’t see that coming, and I’m interested to see what they do with it.  He gets placed in Dr. Garner’s Psych class by Ward.  Garner, for his part, is helping Daisy and Mack evaluate the Inhumans after May went to ground.  Garner gets Daisy to open up just a bit, about how she wants to build a home for her people.

Fitz discovers proof that the monolith is a portal through space, when it leaves behind alien sand after going liquid.  Coulson recruits “Professor Randolph”, the Asgardian the team encountered in Season one to help them open the portal.  Peter MacNicol is hilarious as the unassuming but powerful deserter, who studied portals like this as he’s afraid of getting snatched back through one.  He’s able to give the team a location where the monolith must’ve been, and they find a room designed to vibrate it open.  How convenient that they have a team member who can vibrate stuff when the machinery breaks, eh?  Daisy opens the portal, and Fitz dives through (of COURSE, did no one there see this coming, really??).  Simmons has thankfully headed towards the portal site thanks to a flare they shot through the first time, and Fitz spots her.  It gets intense as Fitz tries to reach her and hold her while they pull him back in.  The monolith shatters, we see Fitz under the shredded remains…and then Simmons!  I was shocked they got her back this early in the season, but it was a great moment.

The remaining plot (boy, they are spinning a lot of plates) involves the missing May joining Hunter on his mission to kill Ward.  Unremarkable except for the interplay between May and her dad, played by the always wonderful James Hong (Po’s dad in the Kung Fu Panda movies, pretty much everywhere else they need an older male Asian actor with humor chops).

The high entertainment value continued this week, but there are still plenty of questions left to answer despite Simmons’ return.

  • What planet was she on?  Hala?  It looked more like a moon to me, and her getting stranded there reminded me a bit of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes episode where the Avengers get stuck on Hala and are attacked by strange creatures.
  • Werner’s giant H belt buckle is just great.
  • As is the team noting the SHIELD logo being plastered on everything may have not been the best idea.  Heh.
  • In the comics, Strucker had other children, Andrea and Andreas the Fenris twins.  They had powers but I doubt they want to bring them in right now.  This episode seems to be bringing the team slowly back together, but they preview for next week seems to show a ‘betrayal’ as Daisy tries to help Lincoln, on the run after being outed as an ‘alien’ in last week’s episode.
  • With a manhunt episode and the return of the ATCU, I don’t see things slowing down.  On to Civil War!
Categories
Review TV

Agents of SHIELD Recap – S03E01 Laws of Nature

I’ve got a bit of free time on my hands, so I am going to try and write more – and I thought I’d start recapping some of my favorite shows.  First up, Agents of SHIELD!

AoS season two dealt with the Inhumans, and the fact that Skye (now known by her real name, Daisy Johnson), was one of them.  It ended with Jemma Simmons sucked into a Kree monolith, Coulson with his arm chopped off, Ward looking to take over HYDRA, and May taking off.  And oh yeah, Terrigen seeping into the oceans, potentially setting off Terrigenesis in every potential Inhuman.

In fact, Season 3 kicks off with a scene of a normal dude fresh from his Terrigenesis – Joey (gotta be a version of The Melter, right?) is turning metal to liquid all over the place, but he doesn’t mean to.  He’s terrified, and it doesn’t help when a black-ops team rolls up.  Daisy, Mack, and Hunter show up to extract Joey however, and we get to see the full power of ‘Quake’.  Though she isn’t yet called that.  This show needs Cisco from the Flash to pop by to give everybody their names.  Coulson is on hand (ha!) to snap a picture of the leader of the opposing team so they can identify her.

This leads to two separate scenes that dovetail together nicely – Mack and Daisy are sent to get Lincoln back to help deal with Joey’s transition (they kind of stink at it), while Coulson and Hunter attempt to capture the shadowy lady in charge of the black ops team.  Coulson and Hunter get the tables turned on them, but it’s okay as Rosalind (as she is calling herself this time around) is talking, not shooting.  As they flirt/banter, both Coulson and Rosalind figure out the the other is NOT, in fact, the one killing Inhumans…and Lincoln, Daisy and Mack meet who is:Lash

This is Lash, a fairly recent addition to the comics.  I chose this panel specifically as I am fairly certain Lash’s motivations in the comics will match up with his AoS version – that all of the new Inhumans popping up are not worthy of Terrigenesis.  The three heroes barely escape Lash after Daisy cleverly uses her powers to drop him through the floor, while Coulson and Hunter engineer their escape when Rosalind is distracted.

There’s also a running story with Fitz, travelling the world looking for clues on getting Jemma back from the monolith.  He’s got little to lose, and risks his life to get a scroll from arms dealers, only for it to turn out to be less than helpful.  When he finally gets back to SHIELD, he breaks down, busting in to the sealed room where the monolith is, and has an epic freakout.  For a lot of other guys, it would come off as corny or over the top, but Iain De Caestecker as Fitz pulls it off.  The show ends with Simmons running from her life on what appears to be an alien moon.  She’s cut, and she smears mud on it quickly which seems to indicate an animal is chasing her?  And is she in orbit of Hala, perhaps?

It was a great start to the season, and I’m dying to get more on what is happening with Simmons.  And May.  And Ward.  And the “ATCU” (HAMMER?  SWORD?).

Random thoughts:

  • A shotgun-axe sounds like the lamest Final Fantasy weapon
  • Lincoln shares a last name with one of the names Coulson and the team found ‘Rosalind’ under – her real name, and her son is Lincoln?  Or a red herring?
  • The laws of nature getting broken came up a lot, and all I could think of was this:

Darren Cross 2

Now, I don’t think Cross survived his trip to the microverse, so it’s mostly just coincidental, but it was fun to ponder.  On to next week!