Wednesday, November 13, 2013

'Agents of SHIELD' - Keep The Faith!

I do not AT ALL envy the crew of "Agents of SHIELD."

The show had incredibly crazy, unrealistic expectations placed on it. Not only is it part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one of the biggest phenomena currently making the pop culture rounds, but it also bears the name of Joss Whedon, the deserving king of a cult of slavishly devoted fans.

Between the awesomeness of the Marvel movies (especially last summer's "The Avengers") and the name of the man behind cult favorites "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and the short-lived "Firefly" attached to it, "Agents of SHIELD" premiered under a microscope, and it seems like every week there are more blog entries and articles about whether the show can make it, or if it's disappointing fans too much.

But don't fear, fellow nerds - keep the faith, and I think "Agents of SHIELD" will pay off for us.

*Spoilers ahead! If you're not caught up on "Agents of SHIELD," proceed with extreme caution!*

Actually, it's already begun to pay off. While the show has been on a bit of shaky ground after its solid premiere, November 5's episode, "FZZT," was just downright good. I've seen glimmers of greatness from all of the characters as we've moved through the first season, but in "FZZT," I really started to feel the beginnings of real, deep connections to the characters.

Now, I've loved Coulson since day one - he is, in many ways, the center of the show, and between the intriguing mysteries surrounding him (How did he really live after being impaled by Loki in "The Avengers?" What does Tahiti really mean? How can he be so darn adorable all the time?) and the charisma of actor Clark Gregg, it's not hard to fall in love with his character. I am also an unrepentant Melinda May fangirl, because of her total and utter badassery in all things.

It's the other characters who the audience really needs to connect with. Skye & Ward seem like the logical leads - the cute, battle-hardened agent and the sassy hacker - but, let's be honest, the real stars of "Agents of SHIELD" are quickly becoming FitzSimmons, the team's science nerds. "FZZT" really brought that to the forefront, too, because the interaction between Fitz & Simmons while Simmons was in mortal danger really hit me. Right in the feels. Add in the fact that anybody who has watched a Joss Whedon show before can totally see him killing Simmons in episode 6 of the first season, and I was on the edge of my seat and a little bit emotionally overwrought watching the episode. (My husband, who does not get as emotionally invested in characters as I do, thought I had gone a little nuts.) "FZZT" and last night's episode "The Hub" also both showed that Fitz & Simmons have a lot more toughness and grit than they appear. They might even be the actual stars of the show.

But even Skye & Douchey McBlanderson (my somewhat affectionate nickname for Ward), the more obvious but less likeable stars, are growing on me. I loved Skye in last night's episode, "The Hub" - her teary hugging of Coulson after he told her a few details about the redacted file containing information about her parents humanized her in a way that, so far, she hasn't quite been humanized yet. It's taken me a surprisingly long time to warm up to Skye, I think because she's so emotionally shut off from her teammates because of her background. But there have been several moments where that tough exterior has cracked (not only with Coulson last night, but also with how worried she was about Fitz & Ward on their mission, not to mention her helplessness when Simmons was in danger the week before), and those show real potential to get connected with Skye. Ward is still a big of an enigma to me, but, again "FZZT" really showed off both his lighter side and his sweet protective instincts, and his mission with Fitz in "The Hub" had some great little moments, too. Honestly, I get a feeling that they're going for the long game with Skye & Ward - making them a little inaccessible at first, but very slowly ramping up the emotional connection so that when they're finally in a really awful situation, it dawns on the audience just how much they don't want them to die.

Besides, we also have to remember that it's only the first season of the show! We've only seen 7 episodes. If we're going to go with a Whedon show that was very successful, let's look at the first seven episodes of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." They're nothing special and, in fact, the whole first season is a little bit "blah." We didn't really care that much about Buffy or Xander or Willow or Giles - characters who, 10 years after the show ended, people still feel emotionally attached to.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it, because I really want "Agents of SHIELD" to work and be on TV for, at minimum, 12,000 seasons, because I love seeing something that nerdy on TV every week, but I think that there are enough glimmers of the glory that has made other shows wonderful that we should stick around. Give it time, and I really think there's a good chance that we'll love Coulson and May and Skye and Ward and Fitz and Simmons just as much as we love some of our other favorite characters.

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