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Agents of SHIELD S1E02: "0-8-4"

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#1 BklnScott

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 06:42 PM

Written by Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen & Jeff Bell.  

Rumor has it there might be an unexpected cameo at the very end - perhaps continuing into the third ep.  Is it just my bad memory, or did it used to be pretty standard for third issues of Marvel/DC superhero comics to feature a crossover (thereby leveraging the appeal of a hit book to induce people to sample the new one)?

Edited by BklnScott, 01 October 2013 - 06:43 PM.

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#2 Lord of the Sword

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 08:10 PM

Alright, the two scientists geeks are really, really, really annoying. And they damn sure have no business being out in the field, they are nothing but a liability. And there is no way in HELL a inflateable raft would've worked like that. It would've been suck right through that hole. And was I the only one wondering why they were trying to save the attackers? And not eliminate them ASAP?
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#3 Christopher

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 08:34 PM

Not bad. It's a good idea to do a bottle show as the second episode -- it saves money after the expense of the pilot, it allows a focus on the characters and their interplay, and it lets us get to know the primary setting better. We did get to know the characters a bit better, and there was more conflict and potential for conflict explored.

Having the McGuffin be leftover HYDRA tech was a nice use of MCU backstory. Although I'd still like to see mentions of Marvel continuity that hasn't been mined by the films yet. I'm hoping that antimatter meteorite that almost devoured Miami is from a real comic-book story. (It would be neat if they occasionally referenced plotlines from classic Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD comics as past SHIELD missions.)

It also took a moment to sink in for me that the display tech Fitz-Simmons were using, with 3D graphics floating in space and manipulated by hand, was the same as Tony Stark's interfaces. It makes perfect sense that the government or SHIELD would use Stark Industries technology.

Leonor Varela seemed a bit young for the character she was playing (well, she's 40, so not impossibly young), but she was awfully hot, so I'm willing to forgive it.

Once more we get Coulson reflexively saying "It's a magical place" any time Tahiti is mentioned. I think that confirms that this is more than an in-joke -- it's some kind of Pavlovian conditioned response, part of whatever was done to falsify his memories.

The Samuel L. Jackson cameo in the tag scene (I can't really call it post-credits since it was pre-credits) was fun, but unfortunately it was nothing more than that. The scene didn't add anything of note to the story of the episode itself and didn't set anything up for future episodes. It didn't even seem that plausible -- would Fury really get that upset about the repairable damage to a single aircraft? It was just there for the sake of being there. I feel that cheapens the idea of the post-credits scene, makes it more a matter of formula than something with purpose. The tag scenes in the MCU movies have all been about setting up future films -- except for the shawarma gag, but that served the purpose of hilariously subverting our expectations about post-credits scenes, as well as being a great brick joke and a meaningful character moment in its own way. This one just felt forced. I hope later ones get better.
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#4 DWF

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 09:06 PM

I doubt if the post credits scene in Iron Man 3 set up much of anyhing for future movies,
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#5 BklnScott

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Posted 01 October 2013 - 10:53 PM

Very strong, I thought.  No problems with any of the regular cast this time.  (I was totally OK with Chloe Bennett... Still not completely sold on Brett Dalton.)  The guest actress was not too strong, IMO, and had little chemistry with Clark Gregg.  Maybe the problem there is not with her, but with him.  It's weird that they're playing mystery with him.  He seems a little off, and he's meant to ("Tahiti is magic," as Chris noted).  He doesn't know his own true status, which is kind of an unfortunate, passive note to be saddled with at the start of a show designed for a strong lead.  

The cast dynamics are agreeable.  I liked what they did with Melinda May at the end, especially.  That hint of a smile.  Liked the Ward subplot where he starts to come to terms with being Coulson's lieutenant and takes responsibility for the kids.  The "I work alone" stuff was already getting old at the top of this episode so it was good that they moved forward from there right off the bat.  

The plot turn from a rescue mission to a hijack situation was handled pretty well - in that I didn't mind that I saw it coming.  It was reminiscent of, if not quite in the same league as, some of the more memorable hinges from Firefly.  And the format really is very much Firefly - it's a crew on a ship.  It's set up to tell the same kinds of stories - Die Hard on "the bus" this week, helping a family in need last week.  Surely, a heist episode in the near future.  Etc.  It's different in some particulars, but only a few - e.g., this crew has unlimited resources and support where the Firefly crew was poor and on its own.  (And that circumstance could change.)  These guys don't do crime - or do they?  They're not outlaws, but they are above the law.  They "protect us from the truth" - why is that not just propaganda?  That's what Coulson has to prove to Skye - that SHIELD is both necessary and comparatively benign - and what Sky has to prove him wrong about.  (At the end, she texts her hacker buddies, "I'm in.")  What if she's right?  (The pilot hints that she is.)  What do they do then?  Do they go rogue?

On the Fury cameo - First of all, good for Sam Jackson for doing it.  He's a very good guy and clearly cares about rewarding the loyalty of the fans.  He did not have to do this - let alone in a way that suggests he'll be back should conditions warrant it.  You get the feeling he's jealous of Coulson.  Maybe it used to be HIS sexy plane...  (Intriguing notion for a flashback subplot!)  I like that they used Jackson for a relationship beat, not for anything plotty.  They didn't say he was there because the team recovered a Tesseract-device, though they could have.  That's Avengers-level stuff.  Instead, it was a nice moment between them, re-establishing the importance of that relationship for the TV audience - albeit in a way that lets them reveal down the road that Fury was there to keep tabs on Coulson.  Because "He Must Never Know the Truth."  Doesn't that make for an interesting opposition to the Coulson/Skye arc, by the way?  There, Coulson's justifying SHIELD's secrecy, but how will he react when he learns that HE's been "protected from the truth," too?  Presumably not well.  (Those two plots are likely not just thematically linked - whatever Skye is looking into may well reveal the truth about Coulson's ontological status, or at least point toward that reveal.)

Last note.  That was a location shoot in Mexico early on, right?  Those pyramids didn't seem to me to be CGI.  Heard they were in Stockholm recently, too.  And Paris for the pilot.  Will they really be doing complicated action set-ups - not just grabbing quick money shots - on location all over the world on a regular basis?  That would be super impressive in the spectacle department, particularly for a broadcast network.

Edited by BklnScott, 01 October 2013 - 11:26 PM.

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#6 Bad Wolf

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 01:00 AM

yeah this was much much much MUCH better.  Maybe they should get a cat instead of a fish tank?  ;)
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#7 NeuralClone

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 02:54 AM

I really love this show. There isn't really anything else to say because that pretty much says it all. :cool:
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#8 Christopher

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 07:23 AM

View PostBklnScott, on 01 October 2013 - 10:53 PM, said:

I like that they used Jackson for a relationship beat, not for anything plotty.  They didn't say he was there because the team recovered a Tesseract-device, though they could have.  That's Avengers-level stuff.

Not necessarily. It was tesseract-derived, but it was post-WWII HYDRA tech, the same kind that, as we saw in The Avengers, SHIELD has been stockpiling and researching for decades.

Although it's interesting that SHIELD's policy here was to shoot the weapon into the Sun rather than hoarding it. Maybe Fury made them give up the "Phase 2" research after TA? Or maybe Coulson's team was just led to think the weapon had been shot into the Sun.
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#9 BklnScott

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 07:56 AM

Ok, a couple more thoughts - on baddies.  The heavy this week was kind of limp.  When do we meet Coulson's TV nemesis?  The Dukat to his Sisko?  And who does he or she work for?  What about May and Ward - they must have made some enemies too.  

What was Hawkeye referring to in The Avengers when he said SHIELD has no shortage of enemies?  Are there counterpart groups SHIELD is obliged to tolerate?  (In the comics, yes, but how does that breakdown here?  The Ultimates comics did a brilliant arc where nations in the East and Mid-East strike an alliance and start building super soldiers of their own - aided by Loki.).

And what about Loki?  If they can get Sam Jackson, why not Tom Hiddleston?  The two of them are not likely to have another opportunity to face off in the feature arm of the franchise and once Coulson learns the full extent of what happened to him, and comes to terms with SHIELD's role, he will need to trounce Loki.  A season 2 ep?

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#10 Bad Wolf

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 10:34 AM

Coulson's automatic (ated?) response to the mention of Tahiti "it's a magical place" has me more convinced than ever that the real Coulson died in The Avengers and this is a reasonable facsimile of him.  Which explains the constant (and starting to wear a bit thin) slightly vapid smile and good cheer.  That is not the Coulson I remember from Iron Man and Thor...
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#11 Christopher

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 10:37 AM

One other thing that bugged me: How can a 500-year-old pyramid have pre-Inca artifacts when the Inca civilization arose 800 years ago and was conquered by the Spanish (and smallpox) 480 years ago? They could've done 30 seconds of research on Wikipedia and changed the "500" to "800" or "900" quite easily.
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#12 G-man

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 12:15 PM

We-e-ell, given the lack of fact-checking, one might argue that the MCU occurs in an alternate dimension where their facts about the Inca occurred.

Personally, I'd rather call the lack of fact-checking a lack of fact-checking.  Something that many TV dramas and comedies are guilty of, which makes the likes of Leverage so refreshing.

/s/

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#13 Cardie

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 12:23 PM

Points to Scott for using the word "ontological" in an EI review thread. ;)
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#14 Dex

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 12:34 PM

0-8-4

Moved a little bit better than the pilot, but it still needs something more for character development.  It seemed to be a bit jerky not moving smoothly.  I will still wait and see how they all develop.  It has just enough for me to watch again another week.  Ratings showed a drop though.
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#15 Bad Wolf

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 01:01 PM

I usually get very annoyed at exposition about "this is what makes me tick" but I thought the talk Skye had with.....the Jayne type, what's his name, was very very necessary and well handled. How often on a team on television do you have a new member who one team mate thinks doesn't belong but they never actually try and work it out by, you know, TALKING. I thought it was a really really good dramatic choice.
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#16 NeuralClone

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 01:09 PM

A drop in viewership after the crazy high ratings of the pilot was to be expected. And it looks like most shows were down on ABC this week. It's still doing well.
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#17 Bad Wolf

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 01:19 PM

I just wish the pilot had been this strong. First impressions are so important!
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#18 BklnScott

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 01:22 PM

View PostCardie, on 02 October 2013 - 12:23 PM, said:

Points to Scott for using the word "ontological" in an EI review thread. ;)

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#19 RJDiogenes

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 06:36 PM

Highly ontological, captain!

Well, this was another great episode. Coulson is still wonderful and the supporting cast is getting there.  Sky and Ward had some really great moments this week.  Their conflict is very realistic and reasonable, and viewpoints are equally valid; and it was indeed nice to see characters actually talking things through.  This is a perfect example of non-forced conflict, handled in an adult manner.  Sky broke the ice, Ward accepted that they saw things differently, and then he actually used her point of view to bring everybody together to solve the problem. Pretty grown-up stuff in this day and age.

The story itself was straightforward. None of the guest antagonists were very strong, including the commandant, unfortunately, but it had a couple of nice twists and that was enough-- its purpose was to give the characters a chance to shine and evolve.  The life raft made me a bit skeptical, but maybe it was a heavy-duty SHIELD life raft.

I wonder if Coulson keeps calling Tahiti a magical place because he subconsciously remembers a magical place. Maybe Thor took him to Asgard for some godly healing.  Or maybe he sprung him from Valhalla.  I don't think he will turn out to be an LMD. For one thing, it would be too unrealistic to expect that to go unnoticed for so long, and for another, it would be a really bad storytelling choice. Worse than cloned Spider-Man and Bobby Ewing in the shower put together.

Hopefully the next couple of episodes will focus on Fitz/Simmons and May. I'd like to see them get the same attention that Sky and Ward got this week.  But, all in all, this show is going strong out of the gate.  Lots of moments making me smile throughout. Nothing but blue skies ahead.
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#20 G-man

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Posted 03 October 2013 - 09:44 AM

At this stage, I'd expect the team to be dealing with the small-fry as opposed to immediately challenging a big-bad; thus allowing for any excalation of stakes and threats.

The Rising Tide is something of a question mark as well as Skye's purpose to gaining access to S.H.I.E.L.D. especially if the Rising Tide is cynically exploiting Skye's idealism for some darker purpose.  But as a hidden threat, I think it works best if they remain hidden and their goals unknown.

Fury and Coulson -- there I thought the operative phrase in Fury's complaint was "Six days in operation, and ..." IOW, Coulson managed to trash an expensive piece of hardware within the first week of pulling his team together; and if this was indicative of how his unit would be operating it might well be too expensive to maintain.  And you know what?  Fury is right.  Equipment that Coulson's team is using doesn't come cheap and can't simply be replaced.  I'm kinda hoping that the team ends up grounded (or taking an alternate form of transport) next week as a result of their plane still being in the shop.  That would lend the series an additional level of verisimilitude where damage to or loss of hardware is not ignored (unlike Voyager's shuttles).

/s/

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Let me strive every moment of my life to make myself better and better, to the best of my ability, so that all may profit by it.
Let me think of the right and lend my assistance to all who may need it, with no regard for anything but justice.
Let me take what comes with a smile, without loss of courage.
Let me be considerate of my country, of my fellow citizens, and my associates in everything I say and do.
Let me do right to all, and wrong no man.
-- Doc Savage

Few people want to be moderated, most people see the need for everyone else to be moderated. -- Orpheus



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