So! Let’s get off on the right foot here. I really enjoyed the Agents of Shield pilot. As a bridge between the longer format (and canon) of the movies and a weekly tv show, I think it did really well. It was fun and didn’t take itself too seriously and Coulson was exactly what a show like that needed to give it that twist that lifts things above the standard level of tv fare.
it did lose me at one point. Very close to the end, and no, it wasn’t the flying car (although I did suddenly get an urge to watch Kopps again.*)
There’s a kinda, sorta maxim in fantasy writing** that magic should be consequential. I’m paraphrasing a lot of other people here because generally the saying goes that magic should have rules, or magic needs to have limits. I don’t agree with either phrasing, because I’m kind of fond of the idea of magic being this wild and limitless thing, but I do agree with the concept that whatever you do with it, there needs to be something else going on.
The same thing applies (for me) to science-y woo in tv and movies. I am perfectly happy with credit cards that can open any lock, cameras that enhance beyond their resolutions, “computer hacking” as an essentially meaningless thing that can be done in seconds by rattling out a few lines of code. I am fine with all that because they are nothing more than window dressing.
Here’s an aside. I watched Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol the other day. You know what I love about that movie? The Renner stretch.
(This one’s for you, Lou!)
Okay. Renner aside, the movie is packed to the gills with science woo gadgets and – here’s the fun bit – most of them don’t work. The corridor gag dies when more than one guard is in Line Of Sight; the rubber mask machine dies on its arse; the contact lens camera irritates Brandt’s eyes and gives them away; the climbing gloves slowly fail as the sandstorm begins to pick up around the building. Nothing goes right for the disavowed IMF team and every time it happens the stakes are raised.***
Back to Agents of Shield. Near the end, Science Bod Leo Fitz informs Coulson that there is no way of stopping the reaction that is consuming Mike’s body. Either they kill him, or he will explode and cause a major incident. Coulson retorts that it’s unacceptable – that they need to find a third option and find it fast. This is all fine. We’re racing unstoppably towards two conclusions, both of which are – to achieve viewer satisfaction – just not on. Everyone has to live, and the team have to find a way to make that happen that (according to Fitz) defies their expertise.
But then we see Fitz and Simmons in the lab. Fitz is running a sim and panicking****, Simmons is telling him to calm down, and in the foreground a magic fucking bullet is being loaded in a press. That single shot lost me. Right there I knew there would be no difficulty in succumbing Mike. There would be no consequence, no price to be paid. Science woo would pull through – an impossible solution in an impossible deadline – and all that we had to do was wait.
Which was a shame, because I enjoyed the rest of it. Apart from Skye’s excessively perfect hair, of course. Did she park her van next to a salon? What the fuck was that all about?
*Swedish comedy from 2003. It’s hilarious. Trust me.
**I say kinda, sorta because if you’re REALLY, REALLY good then you can just do whatever the hell you like and still have it work.
***also the bit with Simon Pegg’s inflatable arm kills me. The simplest tricks are the best.
****side note – if they can run simulations of that complexity, how about Coulson being an artefact of a SHIELD training sim used to prep potential agents (Ward, Skye, Fitz, Simmons) for the field under the supervision of a desk-bound field agent (May)?