Week of January 29, 2023:

Maveth (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. s3 e10) released December 8, 2015 (where to watch)
The Lady in the Lake (Agent Carter s2 e1) released January 19, 2016 (where to watch)
Erik Bates | March 19, 2023

Mack: “‘Ancient alien god?’ Are you listening to the words coming out of your mouth?”

I’d give that phrase more credit if he wasn’t the acting director of SHIELD in a post-Thor season of the show.

Didn’t see the Will twist coming. Though I was starting to question how they had made it that far into the no fly zone without being attacked.

I hate it when shows and movies play fast and loose with countdowns. Whether they had 61 or 72 seconds of that portal being open, between Coulson taking his time killing Ward, and the casual walk toward the portal, I can guarantee that it was more than the time allotted, unless Daisy was holding it open longer, which it didn’t look like she was.

Erik Bates | March 22, 2023

The Lady in the Lake

Did I miss how they knew to set up this elaborate trap at this specific bank at this specific time?

I’m trying to figure out what Dottie’s deal is, but I’m pretty sure Jack is being recruited into Hydra. That, or the next iteration of SSR, aka SHIELD.

But my money is on Hydra.

What was that black stuff at the end? It’s not a tie to what’s happening in AOS, is it? Have we seen it before? It’s familiar, but I can’t place it.

Erik Bates | March 22, 2023

Random thought: Is Jane Scott dying by literally freezing a too-on-the-nose fridging?

Scott Hardie | March 26, 2023

Maveth: Finally! The death of Grant Ward has been overdue for at least a year now, long after the character has outlived his usefulness to the series and become reprehensible. Turning him into a different character is a clever way to keep the actor on the series. (I'm reminded of Terry O'Quinn on Lost.) I do not buy Ward's final speech about realizing that he's part of something bigger upon seeing the crumbled Hydra statue—it's way out of character, and in hindsight, clearly shoehorned in just before his death—but I don't mind Brett Dalton getting one last chance to show us another side of Ward. He's always been welcome on the series even when Ward hasn't. I'm not a fan of Jerkass Coulson, whose hard-edged turn threatens to ruin one of the MCU's most likable characters, but if the writers felt like Coulson's personality change was necessary in order to justify his choice to murder Ward (it wasn't), then I can stomach it. If the closing scene's I-know-what-you-did look from Fitz to Coulson hints that the series is going to hold Coulson accountable for murder, can they please also hold Simmons accountable for letting Lash kill numerous Inhumans just to save herself? Given how many Inhumans are on the team now, I hold out hope that someone will have a problem with her lethal decision, but it remains unlikely on this TV series.

I liked Fitz deducing the truth upon discovering Will's gnarly rotting leg, and "Will" casually dropping the act because he's confident in his imminent victory and because Fitz has become irrelevant to him; that's how you write a villain. I didn't like the transformed "Ward" knowing exactly where to stand to intercept Malick's car, but we've seen AOS depend on that lazy and nonsensical trope before. I also didn't like Johnson refusing to obey Mack's instruction to evacuate; does she ever follow orders? Gutierrez's happiness at being on his first mission and discovering new uses for his powers was fun. And Erik, that abuse of the clock annoyed me too; better to have the heroes pull off victory with 0:01 on the red countdown timer than to have them spend three minutes getting out after being told there's "one minute left!" (7/10)

The Lady in the Lake: I think it was the autopsy scene that finally made me realize that I might have AOS all wrong. Agent Carter is a show that takes place in a heightened reality, an exaggerated recreation of 1940s Los Angeles that exists more in our collective imagination shaped by Tinseltown propaganda than in actual history (despite the MCU's Howard launching his own movie studio just like his namesake). Its frequent tonal shifts and contrivances and coincidences are supposed to be part of the fun, like the coroner named Meltzer who cannot thaw a woman's icy corpse. That's how I came to consider that AOS might also be trying to operate in a similar mode, which is evident in "Closure" when the very normal Thomas Ward was dropped into its snakepit of deceitful, morally slippery spies and made clear that he wanted to do as little as necessary and then leave, the healthiest and most realistic attitude that any character on that show has demonstrated in a long time. If AOS is similarly supposed to take place in a comic-book reality that isn't trying to be plausible, then I'm wrong to judge it for extreme improbabilities like, say, Coulson's world-record dive into the portal in that same episode. I just wish that I could tell whether AOS's writers intended for their show to be a deliberate break from reality or whether their show is just a damn mess by mistake. :-\

As for The Lady in the Lake, it's a very busy episode that spends a lot of time dealing with Carter's transfer to The City That Never Stops Expositing, so it has to rush its titular mystery a little, but I assume that this is merely prelude to the larger story to come and I don't mind. I don't buy that Chadwick would be dumb enough to kill his mistress in a manner that connects her to his energy company when he's also smart enough to pay off a cop to fake some friendly fire, but then again, I also don't buy that Carter and Souza didn't immediately peg that cop as dirty since it seemed pretty obvious. The look of the people crumbling apart into frozen chunks and of the black blob at the end were very reminiscent of AOS's terragen mist effect and its monolith (we noticed too, Erik), and if they're not related as I expect (and hope!), then the art department has some explaining to do. It's possible that Vernon Masters is trying to recruit Thompson into Hydra as you say, Erik—the lapel pin stolen by Underwood sure looks like Hydra's space program logo from recent AOS episodes—but I really hope not. The world is big enough for multiple evil-doing secret societies; does everything always have to be connected to Hydra? (5/10)

I don't think the apprehension of Underwood at the bank was explained, but I assumed that the SSR had been tracking and observing Underwood and so they knew her plans. And that's a good observation about "fridging;" I wouldn't have made that connection. :-)

Scott Hardie | March 26, 2023

Addendum: I forgot the point of the reveal that Frost was in on the dirty cop payoff with Chadwick, which is not just to establish that she's evil too (something that could have been saved for a more exciting reveal later), but to establish that she's the brains of their marital operation. It told us that Chadwick messed up with his mistress and that she had to help him fix it. So, I take back what I said about Chadwick not being dumb; he definitely is.

Scott Hardie | March 28, 2023

This AOS spoof is fun. (There are no spoilers! It came out at this point in the series.)

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