Week of June 5, 2022:

SNAFU (Agent Carter s1 e7) released February 17, 2015 (where to watch)
Valediction (Agent Carter s1 e8) released February 24, 2015
Aftershocks (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. s2 e11) released March 3, 2015 (where to watch)
Erik Bates | June 7, 2022

SNAFU

I'm glad we all seem to be on Team Carter now. And it's nice to see Stark catching some shit for his inventions being uncontrollable disasters. I feel like SNAFU is a clever downplaying of how most of his inventions turn out lately. Calling the disasters of his inventions a "SNAFU" is like the Black Knight calling his missing arms and legs a "flesh wound." Like his son after him, Howard Stark is reckless until he stumbles upon genius.

I appreciated the attempt at a redeeming send-off of the Chief, though it doesn't make up for the complete stubborn ass he had been up to that point.

What is Leviathan up to? The gas (likely another Stark invention gone wrong) clearly works by making people quicker to anger and more likely to be violent. Wasn't that the plot of a Batman movie? It seems incredibly familiar. For once, though, I can see why the bad guys would want the weapon, though I don't know for sure where they're taking this storyline. Clearly, having a weapon that could make your enemy turn on itself would be very beneficial. You could wipe out your enemy without having to fire a shot.

Again, I ask, if SSR is supposed to be the "premier intelligence agency" they claim to be in the intro voice-over you'd think that, even in the 1940's, they'd have more secure facilities than a casual office building. Use the building, but maybe fortify it a bit. I just can't get over the window casually being opened on more than one occasion.


Erik Bates | June 7, 2022
This comment contains spoilers for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Black Widow. Reveal it.

Erik Bates | June 7, 2022

Aftershocks

Opening scene, I thought I was watching an X-Men series, because dude had some serious Nightcrawler vibes going on.

The most interesting parts of this episode were the bookends with Gordon, actually.


Scott Hardie | June 21, 2022

SNAFU: Not bad, but not exactly thrilling either, since we were several steps ahead of the characters. Carter was weirdly missing from her own show this time, while the men of the SSR got all of the action, but at least she got to call them out for their sexism to their faces. I liked that after Dooley spent the series saying that Stark was dangerous and responsible for their predicament, he ultimately died at the hands of another doomed Stark invention. Erik, great points about the downsides of Stark technology, which the TV shows have time to explore in ways that the movies don't. I liked the direction of the chaos in the movie theater, such as the screaming woman being dragged into the shadows; nice touch. (5/10)

Valediction: As Carter poured Rogers's blood in the river, I thought, "Do you want Hydro-Man? Because this is how you get Hydro-Man." This was a mostly satisfying season finale, finally explaining Leviathan's plan and the Battle of Finow, and giving each character a moment to be a hero. I was leery of Carter being stuck at a radio console while the men did the heroism again, but it was the right choice, giving her closure on her relationship with Rogers. I don't buy for a second that she wasn't bothered by Thompson taking the credit for her work at the end, but I also appreciated that the show didn't try to pretend that the sexism was gone either; even the round of applause felt like more than Carter would have gotten from her male colleagues.

The Zola cameo at the end was a surprise and a nice bit of continuity between First Avenger and Winter Soldier, and implied that Ivchenko/Fennhoff's hypnosis contributed to the brainwashing of Bucky Barnes, but boy do I hope we've seen the last of Fennhoff on screen; if I have to hear him do the "focus" bit one more time, I'll be the one going psychotic. Jarvis giving "Cartinelli" indefinite use of the house was a nice touch that probably sparked countless more fanfic stories, but his moment of integrity in returning Rogers's blood was even better and maybe my favorite moment of the episode. I can't wait for season two. (7/10)

Erik, great points about the SSR's Burnsian office security. How did a senator and his entourage just walk in? And I agree about Stark's overconfidence. If he had secured the SSR office, it probably would have burned down by now or teleported itself into a hellscape dimension or something. Stark definitely didn't get anywhere near the comeuppance he deserved; he should be in prison but instead merely had to feel bad about himself for a few minutes.

My understanding is that Leviathan isn't a large organization like Hydra, more just Fennhoff and the handful of people working for him. The mute assassins did so because they wanted revenge for Finow, and I don't think that the show definitely explained why Underwood (shame we never got her real name) was loyal to Fennhoff, but I assume that he was in charge of the Red Room program and she was thus subservient and/or devoted to him.

As for Carter being smarter than her colleagues, I agree, but the men of the SSR got much further in their own investigation than I expected. Shows like this often portray the fellow investigators as wrong-headed fools who actively impede the hero's progress just to manufacture an obstacle, and there was a bit of that here, but the men of the SSR eventually caught up to Carter and figured out the right culprits, so they're not completely useless. But yeah, Carter's hyper-competent and I'd rather watch her any day.

season average: 6.5 (It ruled.)
best of season: "Bridge and Tunnel"
worst of season: "A Sin to Err"

Aftershocks: I didn't care for the first scene, in which a grieving Daisy took responsibility for going into the underground city against orders and causing what happened, and Coulson said it's not her fault (yes it is, Phil), but otherwise this was a pretty good episode. The big events of the last episode really gave the writers a chance to re-calibrate, with some characters showing promising developments. I like Simmons showing more backbone now, even if I don't fully buy her anti-superhuman stance given its awfully convenient timing. (It's rare for a Marvel production to say it out loud, but nobody in that world should trust superhumans, being that power corrupts and all. Ask Alan Moore.)

The SUV ambush tricked me. I could tell that something was up due to Coulson and May talking openly in front of Bakshi, but post-crash I was too distracted thinking about why their SUV didn't have all of the fancy security features of Nick Fury's in Winter Soldier to catch on until the ruse was revealed. It's such a big dumb cliché in action shows when a car is ambushed mid-intersection by a larger vehicle traveling in a perpendicular direction (it felt like Person of Interest's lazy writers leaned on that trope in every other episode), and what especially irks me about it is its improbability: It's extremely hard to know where a car will be at that exact moment and to work out the timing just right. AOS revealing that the interception was all a ruse makes so much more sense.

I really liked the joke that every Radio Shack was secretly a Hydra outpost, which would explain so much. And seeing Hydra's high council wiped out was nice, though it would be nicer if I could trust that this truly was the end of Hydra and their endless self-branding. (I don't think the Nazis had conference tables with giant swastikas on them.) Hydra is too useful to the MCU and to AOS to be completely gone, right? But even better than that sequence was my favorite part of this episode, Fitz covering for Daisy and her fully accepting responsibility for what happened. Fitz badly needs improvement, and assuming he's not helping Daisy because he wants to get into her pants, I'm relieved to see him behaving decently. And Daisy has been so badly written since the show started, with her frequent disobeying of orders and common sense just to further the plot, that this scene feels like the writers acknowledging how problematic she's been and hopefully laying that bad habit to rest. (8/10)


Scott Hardie | June 21, 2022
This comment contains spoilers for Avengers: Age of Ultron. Reveal it.

Scott Hardie | June 23, 2022

I just want to back up for a second to "Aftershocks," and specifically the Hydra high council turning on itself. That was a violent sequence, culminating in a moment where Hunter shot Fred Dwyer (TV's other Hunter, ha) in the head. We saw the sudden bullet wound, the jerk of the head, the blood spray, everything. And yet this episode was rated TV-PG, and aired in a family-friendly time slot. Are we this desensitized to violence? I guess we are. :-(


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