Friday, 18 October 2013

S1x4 - Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Eye Spy

Aired 15/10/13 on ABC

Before I talk about the show, I should probably start off by letting you know that I am a huge fan of Joss Whedon. Massive fan. Giganimous fan even. I grew up watching Buffy and subsequently Angel. I fell in love with Firefly and hated Fox for cancelling it. I even watched all of Dollhouse, which, let’s face it, wasn’t the best in the world but was still good (plus Eliza Dushku is kickass). His style of storytelling is on a level of its own and I could die happy if I got to work with him, even if it was just giving him a coffee and taking his rubbish out. So when I heard he was doing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I was excited to say the least.

His first foray into the Marvel world with The Avengers was highly successful and downright awesome, and this, coupled with his previous work, meant there was a set of high expectations for this show. We’re now into the fourth episode and my verdict so far is… it’s all right.

There’s a lot to like about this show but there’s also a lot to dislike, and I’m still trying to decide if it’s because I love Joss Whedon so much or if it is genuinely just an ok show. One of the problems I think is that Whedon is no longer a guilty pleasure; The Avengers put him on the mainstream map and is probably what allowed him to make this show in the first place. That, and the already highly popular Marvel world, meant that the show itself was going to be more mainstream than his previous work; the little in-jokes and narrative style of previous shows just won’t work with this audience. But that is arguably one of the qualities people love about him. I know that sounds slightly like being a Whedon hipster but it’s true. Firefly may have only lasted fourteen episodes but it has a cult following, and even had a panel at last year’s comic con, ten years after being cancelled. I still regularly quote it in day to day life but that’s not something I can see myself doing with S.H.I.E.L.D.

The pilot was awesome; both Amber and I said we felt like we had just watched a movie. The second and third episodes were all right, but they highlighted the fact that I don’t particularly like most of the characters. Skye is someone we’re meant to identify with and she has her moments, but mostly she’s just annoying. Ward is a bit like a military robot, although he’s loosening up. FitzSimmons are a couple of children who spend too much time in front of the computer and get grumpy when confronted with a situation they don’t know, something which was evident in this episode when they were left in the van.

Coulson already won me over in the Marvel superhero films and he’s kept it up in the series. May is badass and immediately won me over with her no bulls**t attitude. Plus she kicks ass like she’s flicking an annoying bug away. She was especially awesome in this episode when she confronted the antagonist Akila Amador in the hotel room.

This episode was an improvement on the last two, with the team working together and a mission that held my attention, but it was still a bit formulaic. An agent who Coulson had trained had gone rogue, so he felt guilty and set about trying to help. Turns out she was being controlled by a freaky camera-eye, and when they took it out and found her handler, he was also being controlled by someone. It has introduced a new threat that will probably be a season long enemy, something which Whedon has executed well in his previous shows.

The script was also an improvement. His shows are known for their quirkiness and quick witted one-liners, but it was feeling a little forced in the first few episodes and was bordering on cheesy. This episode managed to make them sound a bit more natural, something which I hope continues as the show gets into the swing of things.

I realise that I haven’t actually spoken much about this episode but quite honestly, my description above pretty much covers it. The only other things you need to know are that Skye was a little more bearable in this episode, there were more hints that something is off with Coulson since he supposedly came back from the dead, and Ward looks like Clark Kent when he wears a suit and hipster style glasses.

In all seriousness, the show is improving. We are only four episodes in after all; the first seasons of any show can be a bit hit or miss. If you go back and watch the first season of Buffy, you realise that you only like it because you like the show already; otherwise it’s just as cheesy as the cheddar in your sandwich. I promise next week will be a bit more about the episode and a bit less hero worshipping of Joss Whedon, but I might let it out occasionally; I am only human after all.