Week of May 14, 2023:

The Team (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. s3 e17) released April 19, 2016 (where to watch)
AVENGERS IMPACT: A WHIH Newsfront Special Report (WHIH Newsfront s2 e1) released April 22, 2016 (where to watch)
The Singularity (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. s3 e18) released April 26, 2016
WHIH Newsfront: The Cost of Saving the World (WHIH Newsfront s2 e2) released April 26, 2016
WHIH Newsfront: The Avengers and the White House (WHIH Newsfront s2 e3) released April 28, 2016
Scott Hardie | September 10, 2023

The Team: Here's further proof that AOS is at its best when paranoia runs high and the team turns against itself. Maybe these episodes aren't for everyone, but to me they're consistently the best of the series. The show would fall apart if it tried to do these every week, so I'll take them when I can get them. Gideon Malick turning on Hive by telling Phil Coulson everything, and then meeting his inevitable demise, was a highlight; no swap of colored rocks would spare him this time. (R.I.P. Powers Boothe shortly afterward.) Lincoln Campbell's loyalty was never really in question, as it would be too obvious for him to be the mole, but the reveal at the end of how he pulled off the subterfuge was still satisfying. (8/10)

WHIH Newsfront: I'll save all of my comments about this short series for next week.

The Singularity: I've been thinking a lot about the Inhumans and why they've been such a dramatic failure at the heart of this series for two seasons and counting, and the conclusion that I have reached is that the Inhumans are not *about* anything. Hulk is about bottled-up rage, Daredevil is about guilt, the Punisher is about grief, Dr. Strange is about tripping balls, and so on. The Inhumans don't stand for anything as a concept. There's no subtext to the storyline about the Inhumans versus humans, no real core values that differentiate the two sides. One is simply coded as "good" and the other as "bad." It's S.H.I.E.L.D. versus Hydra all over again, two sides that are functionally identical even though there's a whole lot of pretending that they're not. Hive wants to kill all humans and take over Earth for Inhumans, but why? Why do humans deserve to die? Why do Inhumans deserve to inherit the Earth? Are Inhumans not themselves former humans, just as capable of mistakes and moral failings? What is the principle that supposedly justifies Hive's genocide? There isn't any, and that's why the storyline is so boring. It won't be over when one ideology triumphs because it is morally superior; it will end when the writers are ready to move on to another story, probably at the end of this season. Yawn.

On Coulson watching Glenn Talbot wipe out the last vestiges of Hydra: Suuuure, that's what happened. For a show that keeps wiping out the last vestiges of Hydra and then continuing on with more Hydra stories as if nothing changed, AOS is weirdly invested in pretending that Hydra even can be eliminated. Surviving their last vestiges being wiped out is kind of their whole deal. At least the show relegates it to the D-plot of the episode, because it's really not important and really not convincing anyone of its importance at this point.

On Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons negotiating whether and how to have sex: Holy shit are these two the least appealing romantic pair in television history. Most will-they-or-won't-they TV couples fascinate audiences because there's an undeniable spark of sexual chemistry whenever they talk. These two have all of the sexual tension of a lengthy Terms & Conditions agreement.

I'm picking on this episode, but in truth, I actually liked it. A lot of parts large and small worked for me: Melinda May piloting through the wrecked roof of the aircraft hangar. Simmons shooting Hive because she's learning from past encounters with various forms of Grant Ward. Coulson revealing a shield-shaped force field in his high-tech prosthetic (reminding us of how May once told Coulson that "you *are* S.H.I.E.L.D."). Hive calling Daisy Johnson "Skye" because he's running on an out-of-date set of memories. Lincoln Campbell's fight with Alisha and her clones; his quick thinking continues to be appealing. Fitz & Simmons's infiltration of Holden Radcliffe's hidden base, unrealistic but considerably more stylish than this show usually is. Hive buying an empty town, which is just weird enough to qualify as unpredictable in a show that needs to pack more genuine surprises. (8/10)

Erik Bates | October 27, 2023

The Team
I agree that this is a good episode. Kept me on my toes the whole time. I didn't know who to expect the mole was, but I wasn't expecting Daisy. Well played, AOS. Well played. I didn't figure it would be Lincoln, as yes, it was too obvious, and let's face it, putting him in a situation like that would just be frustrating, from a viewer perspective. Pick on someone else for a while, ya know?

Erik Bates | October 27, 2023

The Singularity
I didn't realize just how much they packed into this episode until I read your last paragraph, Scott. Damn. A lot happened.

To your point about what the inhumans are about, or what their motivation may be to take over the Earth -- My thought wasn't so much that it's the Inhumans leading that charge. It's Hive. And we've established that Hive is a parasite, right? So the only way to ensure survival is to infect those that he can infect, and eliminate anything that could slow or stop him, and on Earth that's the humans. Unlike Hydra whose goal was more power, Hive's goal is to not die. Just a thought.

Scott Hardie | October 29, 2023

Ok, agreed about Hive's motivation to eliminate humans, good point. And S.H.I.E.L.D. fights back for the sake of humanity's survival. But I maintain that this is still not a story about anything. There's no underlying principle or idea that's motivating the conflict, just two sides fighting indefinitely. And that makes it boring. :-\

Erik Bates | October 29, 2023

Oh, I'm with you 100% that it's a boring plot line. I'm just trying to locate a bit of logic in their writing :)

And maybe not that it's boring, per se. But it is unoriginal. Ok, maybe the "parasite taking of the world" gimmick is relatively novel, but the ambiguous good vs evil thing with little more than (cue ominous music) THE FATE OF THE WORLD being at stake leaves much to be desired.


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