Agents of SHIELD …

So, I’ve been watching “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” on Tuesdays, mostly because I’m a huge Marvel fan and did really like “The Avengers” and, surprisingly, the “Thor” movie (I’m still a bit lukewarm to the “Iron Man” movies). Unfortunately, so far I’ve seen 4 out of the 5 episodes — I caught this week’s episode, but missed last week’s — and have been disappointed. I joked that, similar to Battlestar Galactica and Farscape, if it wasn’t for Ming-Na Wen … and that’s actually because not only do I like the actress, I actually really like the character and wish she had a more prominent role, especially since the main focus characters seem to be Wade and Skye, and I don’t find either of them interesting.

I’m going to talk about the series and especially the latest episode in more detail, which will contain spoilers, and so for the first time ever I’m going to try to introduce a fold! Let’s see how that works …

So, in the latest episode — remember, it’s the fifth (and I never refuse a Fifth!) — we’ve settled Skye’s whole “Hidden agenda working from the inside” plot … or, at least, we’d better have. In the episode, due to someone who was an associate of Skye’s breaking into S.H.I.E.L.D.’s computers and Skye setting out to warn him and having Melinda May follow her — and it was nice of Melinda to let them have sex before interrupting them, although maybe that was only a couple of minutes — Skye gets “caught”, and is considered to be working against the agents. Which, to be fair, was hinted at in pretty much every episode so far. And we find out why: she’s looking for her parents and the only link she has to them is a redacted document of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s. She tells Coulson, he believes her, and gives her a restrictive bracelet to put her on probation. Arc finished. Sure, they could have her be hiding something else as well, but this would make Coulson look like an idiot, and since he’s one of the few interesting characters that’s, really, just a bad idea. So, best case for me, anyway, is that this is over.

Now, here’s my big problem with this. This was hinted at as being a big underlying plot point and arc in the season, but it ended in the fifth episode. From the set-up, we expected this to be a big conflict both for Skye and for everyone else when they found out about it. But “You’re the only lead to my parents!” is not that sort of big conflict. It’s Skye infiltrating for a personal reason, and one that’s understandable. So not only does this seemingly big plot point get resolved way too quickly, it’s not a very interesting one when it is revealed. The set-up seems wasted, as they spent time building suspense only to seemingly get tired of it and decide to just move on, and on top of that the reveal warrants a reaction of “You mean that’s it?”. It’s not worth the games they played to get us thinking and wondering about her hidden agenda. It’d be like the reveal of Coulson’s “Tahiti” secret is that he was really in Cuba and since he’s so lawful he wouldn’t want to go somewhere on a U.S. restricted list. Well, uh, sure … but why make such a big deal out of it for so long?

Given the reveal, I would have done this earlier. Surely the agents would have wondered why she was so interested in joining them, and so have Coulson call her out on it, either in the 1st or at the latest the second episode. Have him threaten to kick her out if she didn’t tell them the real reason she wanted to be there. Sure, she might not want to trust them with that so early in the relationship, but remember that she’s desperate for information on her parents. Coulson playing hardball and her giving in to stay is fairly reasonable at that point, and we could even have hints of that come from, say, Melinda May remembering something about her name, or about her, but not remembering all of it … or, at least, only having heard rumours. Heck, have Melinda see her and say that she reminds her of someone. This ties it all in and might actually have Melinda be involved in that plot, instead of just having the rather insipid training/romantic interest line with Ward. Giving her a link to someone else — and, perhaps, having it be to someone Melinda worked with who was involved in the incident that made Melinda not want to work in the field — integrates it better and makes it more of a team game, not just two uninteresting characters.

Now, the thing is that right now I like Melinda May because when she interacts with the agents, she seems to have good chemistry with them. She worked well as someone for Ward to talk to, and in this episode worked well with Coulson as well. Her character works well with experienced agents, and it wouldn’t be hard to slide in a character trait of her not really working well with those who aren’t really traditional agents. And to that end, I think she would be better in Coulson’s role than Coulson is, at least to some extent. Why couldn’t she have been the commander of the team? Coulson could have pulled her out of the desk job to run the show by claiming that she would just fly the plane and make the plans. So, you could make her a tactician or field commander or something like that. Coulson handles the administration, she handles the agents and the mission planning, and the agents go out into the field and deal with it. It would also tie in nicely with her getting drawn back into field work, which also seems to have been overcome far too quickly for my tastes. Putting her into an actual and official role with authority would have her interact more, showing off more of her character, introduce both personal and interpersonal conflicts, and would take some of the burden off of the other characters to try to carry the show.

Can’t imagine why they wouldn’t do it.

Anyway, I think the Skye and Melinda May stories highlight my problem with the show: everything seems rushed, and the payoff isn’t worth it. This is a show in the same vein as Buffy or Angel, and both of those started with the focus being on individual incidents and the characterization and the arcs forming out of that starting focus, while Agents seems more focused on the characterization and at least having some sort of arc rather than on just making individual shows that you want to watch. That this episode seemed both rushed and plodding — with a lot of padding and a lot of talking — doesn’t help.

I like Marvel, but I found myself saying, at times, that I hated this show. It’s getting harder and harder to turn off Buffy to watch this show, since I don’t normally watch TV in the evenings (instead watching DVDs. Yeah, yeah, not much of a difference, but you get the idea [grin]). That being said, maybe I just need to ignore the TV, per se, and look into timeshifting. We’ll see about that.

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