Week of June 19, 2022:

One Door Closes (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. s2 e15) released March 31, 2015 (where to watch)
Afterlife (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. s2 e16) released April 7, 2015
Into the Ring (Daredevil s1 e1) released April 10, 2015 (where to watch)
Scott Hardie | June 30, 2022

One Door Closes: Another pretty good episode, almost as good as the similar "End of the Beginning" and "Turn, Turn, Turn" from season one. Apparently what this show needs once in a while is for everyone to turn against each other and get really paranoid and then pull off some surprise escapes. I appreciated the backstory on several characters, giving us necessary perspective to understand Mackenzie and Morse's position, and giving us a glimpse of the Hartley that everyone grieved so intensely. I also appreciated the acknowledgement by Gonzales that he knows Coulson is properly above him in the chain of command and that he doesn't give a damn; this isn't a case of mere confusion as I had wondered. I didn't even mind the nice moment between FitzSimmons when they each needed a friend to hold their hand. Now, where will the show go with this? Will Gonzales turn out to be Hydra, or just evil in his own way, or something else entirely? The fact that he lied about previously knowing Coulson, and the fact that Morse was the only one not using real bullets to "capture" Daisy, are pretty big hints toward the shape of things to come. I still hope for a proper debate about how S.H.I.E.L.D. should operate, but I don't have my hopes up. In lieu of that, perhaps the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo at the end of each episode could be replaced once or twice by Gonzales's alternate logo, like the show once did with the Hydra logo during season one?

Other thoughts: The May/Morse fight was a fun bit of fan service, in the "because you demanded it" Marvel tradition. Daisy being held in the same house that once held Bruce Banner was a nice suggestion toward her future potential, though it's unclear whether it's the same cabin from the end of The Incredible Hulk. (If so, I assume S.H.I.E.L.D. would have had to upgrade it.) Simmons pressuring Daisy to use the gloves while she's recovering from two broken forearms wasn't very thoughtful, but I'm glad that the gloves didn't turn out to be some kind of trap or twist; I was worried that the newly anti-superhuman Simmons would decide unilaterally that Daisy needed to be "neutralized" or whatever. The bar scene at the end with Hunter was fun; he continues to be great in small doses. (8/10)

Afterlife: Meh. After a few thrilling episodes, this one feels slower, like the show is back to dragging things out again. Lincoln lying to Skye was obvious (on a show like this, friendly people who refuse to answer direct questions are inevitably hiding something), and FitzSimmons smuggling out the Toolbox was obvious but also fun. I'm beyond tired of Daisy's hypocritical sanctimony at this point. ("Raina's a killer! We're nothing alike!" You just tried to kill her, Daisy.) Daisy's refusal to take responsibility for entering the alien city, and insistence that she didn't deserve what happened to her, shows that her character growth that I praised two weeks ago has been frustratingly forgotten. Even though Gonzales has now lied at least three times (this time to May, about the "peaceful" attempt to capture Daisy), I still liked the scene where he offers her a seat on the council, because I can see how her values would force her to make a difficult decision; the writers' character work on May is paying off. I also enjoyed Deathlok making short work of the S.H.I.E.L.D. squad, which is just fun to see. Why didn't Coulson wait for Deathlok's arrival before triggering the alarm? (5/10)

Into the Ring: I've seen the first two seasons of this show already, so I can only discuss it from that perspective. The budding friendship between the three appealing leads was the best material here, followed by Karen's murder mystery. The vigilante scenes and criminal underworld stuff was definitely less interesting, although I appreciated the well-done montage at the end hinting at the scope of the operation. The best scene might have been in Matt's apartment under the neon-purple glow of the billboard; what fantastic set design and cinematography.

I don't know what was up with the guy on the lawn chair eating a sandwich during the human trafficking scene, even after a vigilante started beating everyone and guns started going off. Put the sandwich down, man! Back when AOS premiered, there was a lot of promotional talk about how it would explore the margins of a world of superheroes, and this episode has the same vibe, from New Yorkers compartmentalizing the events of The Avengers as "The Incident" to Owlsley celebrating more heroic violence as being good for business. (Dumb comic-book criminals get beaten up by superheroes; smart ones figure out how to profit from it.) It's a little jarring to see such intense, bloody violence at this point in the MCU, but I don't think it's a spoiler to say that there's more to come. I'm so very curious to know, if this is your first time seeing this, what do you think of it, especially as a tonal shift for the MCU? (original opinion 7/10, today's opinion 7/10)


Scott Hardie | June 30, 2022
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Scott Hardie | June 30, 2022
This comment contains spoilers for Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders, and The Punisher. Reveal it.

Erik Bates | July 4, 2022

One Door Closes

A solid episode. I enjoyed seeing some backstory into how we got into this two-S.H.I.E.L.D. situation that we find ourselves in. With Hydra being what it is, though, and knowing that Coulson is pretty much. the *only* one I trust in this entire series due to his continuity in the larger MCU universe, I find myself skeptical of just about everyone at this point. I mean, I *think* I can trust FitzSimmons, but can I?

Mack and Bobbi seem to be trustworthy inasmuch that I think they truly think they are working for S.H.I.E.L.D. That is to say, if it turns out that they find out that Gonzales has been Hydra all along, I think they'll go 100% Team Coulson pretty easily.


Erik Bates | July 4, 2022

Afterlife

I have never met a car salesman who acts like how they're portrayed on TV.

1000 years of evolution happening in minutes? Sounds like a good way to tie in the X-Men. Just saying.

I come back to the issue of funding. If Coulson and Gonzales both think that they're the real S.H.I.E.L.D., then are they both pulling from the same bank account? To be fair, this is an issue with most shows and movies like this. I really shouldn't let myself get hung up on it.

The more I watch, the more I think that Gonzales and Coulson both truly think they are working for the real S.H.I.E.L.D., and in the end, it's all kinda Nick Fury's fault.

At some point, can Lincoln just stop assuming that Daisy "already knew" or that Gordon told her what was happening to her? It's well established that she's had no clue what's happening from the very instant she woke up with glowing acupuncture needles sticking out of her.

Gonzales is either playing a great con, or is the real deal.

Current prediction:
Gonzales is legit S.H.I.E.L.D. and will take on a Director role so that Coulson can go back to being Coulson and running his team.


Scott Hardie | July 4, 2022

Great point about the portrayal of car salesmen. An old friend of mine is one and he doesn't act like that either, though to be fair I haven't bought a car from him. Maybe the portrayal is based on resentment at having had bad interactions with car salesmen who were very good at closing the deal and sold some screenwriters some vehicles that they came to regret, so they decided to write the salesmen as buffoonish as payback, which is really the opposite of how they should be portrayed if so.

Anyway, yeah, the extreme secrecy and compartmentalization within S.H.I.E.L.D. led to the current paranoia. It's not like it stopped Hydra; they figured out most of the big stuff anyway. Gonzales keeps saying that he wants a "transparent" S.H.I.E.L.D. but then lies to his own people, and he wants an "accountable" S.H.I.E.L.D. but then tries to arrest the director instead of working with him to resolve the conflict. I don't think that S.H.i.E.L.D. as an organization can be redeemed or reformed when its paranoia and secrecy run so deep that it's surviving even in the Coulson era.


Erik Bates | July 9, 2022
This comment contains spoilers for Daredevil and Hawkeye. Reveal it.

Scott Hardie | July 10, 2022
This comment contains spoilers for Daredevil and Hawkeye. Reveal it.

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