The Ninjabot

Planting the “Seeds” of a Better Show? Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review

Posted on January 17, 2014 at 1:52 pm by Amanda Andonian

agents-of-shield-seeds

Because I have better things to do on Tuesday nights than watch Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., this review comes a few days late. Basic plot summary: an accident at the S.H.I.E.L.D. technical academy draws the team there to investigate and figure out whether it was an accident or a targeted attack. Meanwhile, Coulson and May go in search of answers about Skye’s origins. The result? A whole lot of snoozing broken up by a few mildly entertaining moments. Fitz-Simmons give an academic lecture for chrissakes (do they have to do everything together?), and it’s just as boring as it sounds.

The whole episode is basically about justifying Skye’s presence on the show, “revealing” where she came from and why a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent died because of her. Spoiler alert: The revelation is just more plot-convoluting bullshit. My least favorite (and coincidentally the most over-used) fiction trope is the “child with unknown special abilities who’s important because of said special abilities.” It’s not interesting, and it creates a false conflict because the story would not exist if not for that special child. Like the MacGuffin, it’s a writing crutch that’s too often used to trick us into caring about something without actually giving us a valid reason to care about it.

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Frozen guy is the coolest part of the episode (har har).

For that reason, stories about the One special child with secret abilities are rarely pulled off well. Having the safety of the entirety of the world hinge on the actions of a single person is a lot to put on one character; so if that character is badly written, the whole thing falls apart because why should we as an audience care about the One? J.K. Rowling succeed not only because she created an interesting and sympathetic character in Harry Potter, but she also turned the trope slightly on its head by implying that his classmate Neville Longbottom could just as easily have been the One if Voldemort wasn’t such a racist (I’m paraphrasing here).

In Skye’s case, however, there’s absolutely nothing interesting about her to make us care. She’s needlessly snarky, antagonistic, and constantly puts everyone else in danger in the selfish pursuit of answers regarding her past. For whatever reason, though, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is determined to tell us over and over again, “No, really, she’s super important.” Why? Because there has to be a big mystery looming around the bend, threatening the safety of the world (or at least S.H.I.E.L.D.’s world). The show now has three big “mysteries” afoot: Skye’s origins, Coulson’s death, and the Clairvoyant. Who wants to bet that somehow the writers will weave all three together into an ill thought out conspiracy, and only Skye can save them? Everything is linked!

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Having a little heart-to-heat, but it falls on deaf ears.

That’s not even the show’s biggest mistake, surprisingly enough. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s real mistake is not fully utilizing what does work. There’s not enough humor, the actors’ talents are wasted on bad writing, and the few good moments that they do set up are then ruined by terrible execution. For example, May and Ward’s illicit affair could have been great fodder for a comedic moment between Coulson and May when she confessed in this week’s episode. Instead, Coulson pretends he didn’t hear her, then later gives her a bland, “I trust your judgement,” at the end. Thus the most interesting thing about the show’s two most boring characters is reduced to an equally boring, throw-away line. Good grief!

Although this week wasn’t as terrible as last week in terms of entertainment value, I’m giving it a worse grade because it represents the culmination and subsequent waste of some perfectly good opportunities for crafting a better show. Just as I feared, the whole success of the thing is pinned upon Skye’s character; so if we didn’t think that Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was a disaster already, we certainly know it now.

Seeds – C-

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 1 Episode 12, “Seeds,” aired on ABC January 14th, 2014 at 8/9c.

You can follow Amanda on Twitter at @reiko516 for more geek news.

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