Slimy, Yet Satisfying.

Here we have a classic S.H.I.E.L.D. situation…an episode coated with disappointing setups that still manages to pull through. There were some altogether off-putting components that, thankfully, didn’t bring down the episode as a whole. What do I mean by all this?

There were a few things going on here that sort of bugged me. First and foremost was the notion that Hydra recruits people via a fight club. Ignoring the logistical issues with organizing that form of audition, the notion is fraught with flaws. Do you really want your organization to be stocked with really strong, but completely disloyal, mercenaries? It seems likes like a rushed way to get a bunch of “bad guys” to work for you.

It also led to a slightly ham-fisted way to squeeze in some action. Every loves to see Agent May fight, so yeah, let’s throw her into a fight club with Hunter. It didn’t really fit with tone of the show and was sort of uncomfortable to watch. That’s not to say I like to shy away from violence, but it was just jarring to see Daredevil levels of violence show up in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I will say, however, that the preceding “subtitles during heavy British dialogue” gag was one of the funniest moments on the show. So kudos on that one.

Lincoln’s story was a bit of a let down as well, since the whole thing was set up, executed, and tied up in a fraction of the episode. With turn after turn after turn happening, we could barely catch our breath and appreciate the situation, as we kept moving from beat to beat to beat at a breakneck pace. Obviously I don’t know where the season is going, but this particular thread seems like something that could have gotten a bit more mileage.

Getting into the “satisfying” realm, I must say that Coulson dropped one line that made me appreciate this season’s efforts quite a bit. After striking a deal with the A.T.C.U., Coulson claims that he wants to work with them, rather than against them. This is great because it gives us a much needed change of pace. This show worked well in the second season when S.H.I.E.L.D. was always facing off against an equally matched organization, but to have this same dichotomy repeated over and over…well, it could get real stale real fast. It looks like the writers are trying to shake things up, and I’m interested to see just where they take this season.

Simmons, too, echoed Coulson’s sentiments (in a way). After Bobbi’s phone vibrated and Simmons found the noise to be painful and distracting, I was worried this would turn her into Fitz 2.0. I was worried she would be this season’s damaged character who needed to overcome some injury that keeps her from doing her job. This was all subverted when Simmons claimed she needed to return to the mystery planet, a statement that made me forget all about Simmons’s condition and focus on the intrigue of, again, where the heck she went.

All in all, this episode was ultimately effective, but it certainly wasn’t perfect. There was just a bit too much fat that needed to be trimmed and not enough focus on some of other concerns these characters are facing.

Odds and Ends

  • I feel like brass knuckles would be frowned upon in a fight club. Isn’t it all about natural, brute strength? I wouldn’t know, I’ve never been to a fight club and I wouldn’t tell you even if I had.
  • So far, Agent May hasn’t really done anything this season. I hope the writers find a use for her very soon.
  • Fitz managed to rent out a whole restaurant, which is really making me curious about how much S.H.I.E.L.D. pays.
  • Hydra, likewise, better find a purpose soon, because having them on retainer just because Ward is still alive could result in the show spinning its wheels.

    Alex Russo likes to talk about television. You can read more of his insane ramblings on Twitter.

Alex Russo

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