Week of April 3, 2022:

The Magical Place (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. s1 e11) released January 7, 2014 (where to watch)
Seeds (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. s1 e12) released January 14, 2014
All Hail the King released February 4, 2014 (where to watch)
Erik Bates | March 21, 2022

The Magical Place
Speaking of casting known actors, I primarily know Rob Huebel from his role as a scam business man on The Goldbergs, so when I hear him say, "I'm a legitimate businessman" I just can't take him seriously.

I'm glad that Skye is suffering the repercussions of her actions... kinda.

Erik Bates | March 23, 2022
This comment contains spoilers for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Reveal it.

Scott Hardie | March 30, 2022

The Magical Place: The revelation about Coulson's procedure was freakier on screen than I was expecting -- how this episode got rated TV-PG, I cannot guess -- and it's a good payoff. I complained before about the show's refusal to advance the Tahiti storyline, but the earlier wheel-spinning turned out to be necessary, as motivation for Coulson to get to the point that he does here, desperate for an answer and willing at last to stop trusting the system. Also good was Skye's subplot; it's a lot of fun to see her improvise clever solutions to one obstacle after another, and Rob Huebel is a good comic foil. The death of Po was yet another predictable scene -- has this show ever found a genre cliché that it doesn't like? -- but Raina is growing on me, mostly by being honest with Coulson for once. I'll never understand villains who lie and cheat and obfuscate when they could get better results simply by telling the truth; it never feels real. You can sense the show getting steadier with each passing episode. Unfortunately, Ward's "enhanced interrogation" doesn't play nearly as well in 2022, especially when the subject appears to be a mere broker and not a violent criminal.

I knew about Peterson surviving; he's a version of a character from the comics and it's part of his storyline. I don't know who the Clairvoyant is, but I'm hoping that his "telepathic" power is in fact based on a combination of the aforementioned ocular technology (watching operatives through their own eyes) and spies within S.H.I.E.L.D. leaking intel to him. If it's genuine telepathy, and he can see everything that we in the audience can and more, I'll be disappointed, because that kind of omniscient enemy ruined the later seasons of Person of Interest. Heroes tend to be powerless against such a foe, and battles against his operatives tend to become repetitive and pointless because the outcome is inevitable. Here's hoping that AOS has better ideas for how to handle such an enemy. (6/10)

Seeds: Not good. The Academy mystery is neither challenging nor compelling. Ian Quinn volunteers that he's working with the Clairvoyant, which is part of the show's ongoing miscalculation that the Clairvoyant's identity has us on the edge of our seats, as if the very mention of him in an unrelated story must blow our minds. Also, the taunting of Operations vs. Sci-Tech got tiresome fast. As for the Skye B-plot, it revealed very little that we couldn't guess, and worse, it told us what happened in a critical moment instead of showing us. We should have witnessed Skye's reaction to the news if that's what the emotional hook was. (3/10)

All Hail the King: Utterly inessential but fairly amusing. The best parts were the "Caged Heat" intro (complete with a theme song by 80s action-TV icon Mike Post!) and the two brief Justin Hammer scenes that were clearly not filmed at the same time as everything else. I couldn't stop laughing during "Caged Heat" because what in the hell am I watching? This is a VHS-era TV spoof nestled within a short film made as a DVD extra that's also a sequel to a completely different superhero movie, and it also happens to star Oscar-winning actor Ben Kingsley and a vodka-chugging monkey. (You might recognize that monkey, by the way, from Community or The Hangover: Part II. She has almost twice as many acting credits in her IMDb profile as Chloe Bennet, Skye from AOS.) Kelly didn't like what she considered the gay-panic jokes, but I don't know; maybe I'm insensitive, but the fact that these characters were "gay for the stay" does not seem to me to constitute gay-panic jokes by itself. Am I wrong? (6/10)

Scott Hardie | March 30, 2022
This comment contains spoilers for Luke Cage and The Punisher. Reveal it.

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