Okay, what the BLEEEEP just happened?

Agents of Shield episode 117, which is not available online yet, ended just minutes ago here on the West Coast. It was heavily promoted as a tie-in with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and I guess it was, kinda–


I mean, the story mentions Hydra and everything, but it seemed to be more about the villain of the moment, called the Clairvoyant, whom the team has been chasing around for weeks. Something about the episode felt tacked on, as if someone were trying desperately to tie it all together, as if they had too many Christmas packages to wrap and not enough paper.

And, yeah, surprises are good, and doing the unexpected is really good, but I felt jerked around by the story, which kept us guessing about the true identity of the villain, and exactly who was Hydra and who wasn’t, all the way through. The final twist at the very end of the episode didn’t feel very right, either, although I can’t say I was upset by who turned out to be the traitor in the team– I never liked that guy much anyway.

I think my main problem is certain dissatisfaction with the concept of Hydra in the first place– evil that can lie in wait for decades before springing– aha!– and taking over everything. It’s a comic book version of evil that doesn’t much resemble real life– and, as much as I liked Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I have to admit it shared this problem (if you tell me that, hey, this is all from comic books, well, I want my comic books to be realistic. So there). Real evil almost always shows its hand– it is about selfishness and power and self-gratification, and generally doesn’t take the long view of anything. Most evil, in fact, is committed by people who are telling themselves they’re doing the right thing. Self-delusion is a major component of evil, so cold-blooded and rational villains often strike me as fake and unreal. This is, in fact, a problem I’ve had with S. M. Stirling’s Draka.

I’ve complained in comments on other folks’ blogs that Agents of Shield has felt too safe. It’s obvious that Joss is making a bid to turn that around. This once, though, I am not sure I am buying it.

There is one bright spot, though– the next episode has Amy Acker in it. Hallelujah.


7 thoughts on “Okay, what the BLEEEEP just happened?”

  1. That episode was also on last night here in Oz, but at a ridiculously late hour. I’ll watch later today on the network’s “if you missed it” channel.

  2. It wasn’t that bad, it just felt strained. Another part of the problem is that movies and TV are clean different animals, and I don’t think the attempt to synchronize the two is working that well.

  3. doug–we didn’t catch it live but saw it last night on the handy dvr. i haven’t seen the winter soldier yet because i’ve been busy but will catch it next week. i’m only, therefore, going on what i’ve seen in SHIELD. i don’t think all the plot twists are finished. the traitor gambit was a ruse.
    it seems this is where the whole thing has been headed–to create an ongoing SHIELD verses Hydra plot because the ‘villain’ of the week motif just is not enough.

    1. “the traitor gambit was a ruse”

      Hmm– in truth, I had not thought of that possibility. You’re probably right that more twists are coming– it is the Whedon way. I would be interested in hearing more of your thoughts once you’ve seen Winter Soldier.

  4. doug-finally saw the winter soldier. i really liked it. i see what you’re saying, though, about the tv show now. its connected, but weirdly. i still think something is amiss with the ward character going hydra. it does make the show more interesting. now to something else, though, if i don’t whiplash you too much. colson was always a cool character, but the tv show has significantly weakened him. for me, that has been a real downer. i can put with the hydra infiltrator, but they need to return colson to his super coolness. crisis is okay for him, but in the most recent episode he came unhinged. not very SHIELD like.

    1. Thanks for your perspective, Jamie– I appreciate it. I think you’re right about Coulson– he seems diluted (not deluded, but may be, too). I will be very interested in how Ward and the whole Hydra story-line finally resolve themselves.

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