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For the new ABC show from Joss Whedon. This thread contains SPOILERS.
Those who wish to avoid spoilers can either a) Not Read This Thread, or B) Watch the Show, Streaming, Right Here.
Did I mention that there would be spoilers?
I particularly liked the unicorns in Iron Man suits that fired lasers from their eyes.
Also it's on free Hulu until Oct 30 2013.
I was really amazed how they worked Sue Storm and Hank Pym into every scene.
I was surprised by how much gay sex there was. I mean, after every commercial break it seemed like some guy had just [CENSORED] another guy's [CENSORED]. And in prime time!
SHIELD seemed decent, although it has a ways to go before I care about the characters. Even Coulson.
Sleepy Hollow was extremely silly. Not planning to stick with it.
Korra S2 is watchable so far, although the grownups continue to steal the show.
I guess there isn't any TV this fall that I'm all that excited about?
I want SHIELD to be Hill, Coulson, Ming-na, and Doctor Book standing around bantering. I couldn't care less about Lantern-Jawed Hero, Manic Pixie Computer Girl, or the interchangeable science twins (and oh god WHY another Scottish engineer?????) I wouldn't mind knowing more about Tahiti, either; let's hope the show stays uncanceled long enough to tell us.
I am just in it long enough to get material for some femslash, because I have spent far too much time raging against the dearth of femslash and not enough time fixing the problem. (I don't watch TV generally, so a show I actually want to watch that has multiple female characters seemed like the right opportunity.)
But Manic Pixie Computer Girl is such a fan-favorite on NCIS!
My wife speculated that Coulson is actually an android or cyborg now, reconstructed after his "death".
That wasn't bad. I don't think I'll plan my evenings around it. But the interrogation scene was the best since the Avengers movie.
Scifigrl47's stellar (and sad) "Hollow Your Bones Like A Bird" is still in canon, as far as I'm concerned, with only a minor change in locale.
(The other reason I'm watching is to figure out just how right she was. Iron Man 3 basically fits just fine into the Toasterverse.)
#9 Steve C
Or as per the Avengers movie and the comicbook-verse, a Life Model Decoy?
Colson being a Life Model Decoy is sufficiently obvious an answer that it's tempting to think Whedon has something else in mind.
Did anyone else wonder what was up with the weirdly specific cryptography terms? Something about how Rising Tide "cracked our RSA implementation", something else about AES.
Are we agreed that he definitely for-real died? The current one is some sort of duplicate or robot, and I'm sure they'll reveal what kind in due course. I thought probably a clone with memories implanted (that whole Tahiti thing), but with Joss Whedon, as Avram points out, it could be anything.
Also, it was good to see J. August Richards and Ron Glass again.
I was not sufficiently Marvel-versed enough to know the term "Life Model Decoy", but "android" was my first guess.
(Clone, resurrected with alien technology, hologram with subconscious telekinetic powers, alien imposter convinced of false identity by hypnotic override...)
Gonna be interesting to see if he ever gets injured.
The early discussion about death was kind of weird, though. Stopped breathing for eight seconds? I do that every time I wash my face.
Xopher @16, when Ron Glass showed up, people in my tweet-stream were like OMG Shepherd Book! and I was like OMG Detective Harris!
Oh, so that's what TNH et al have been tweeting about recently :-) I haven't watched the trailer yet, but the comments seem to have enough silliness to them even though I haven't had a clue what it was about.
"I particularly liked the unicorns in Iron Man suits that fired lasers from their eyes."
No, no, The Unicorn is an Iron Man villain with a head laser.
The collective squee here is encouraging me to sit down and watch the UK broadcast on Friday evening. I don't think I've seen anything here I consider spoilerish, although I've not been following the movies it overlaps with, and may be missing clues.
I don't much enthuse for the superhero genre; it sometimes comes across as too American, in an awkward way. In the cinema, in particular, it can come across as too much an excuse for blowing stuff up. If this were a superhero universe, New York would look more like Stalingrad, 70 years ago.
But this has people that make it worth a look.
Oh, and also? Natasha Romanoff isn't Level 7????? This TV show is not canon.
Natasha Romanoff isn't Level 7?????
That's what she wants you to think.
Coulson said it...although if he was wrong about Tahiti he could be misinformed about other things too, I suppose.
Once upon a time, Manic Pixie Computer Girl was a Chinese pop starlet.
Assuming the "stopped breathing, got good medicine, went to Tahiti" story is bogus, there are essentially three possibilities with strong comics-canon background, with a fourth a distant possibility:
1: This is an LMD
2: An LMD died for him (this is the POINT of LMDs)
3: Vision (which opens us to explain why Rising Tide has SUCH GOOD computer technology -- Rising Tide is an Ultron front)
4: (unlikely) Skrull
Internet typo of the week: "Nick Furry".
(I'm sure it's been done)
BSD @25: I'm pretty sure it was strongly implied/portrayed that 'Rising Tide' was entirely, um, Skye. And boredom. With a van. And a laptop she "won in a bet".
Oh, and I can totally see Romanoff keeping secrets Like That from the non-level-7 members of the Avengers.
(zomg zomg Toasterverse eeee)
More possibilities for Colson:
Experimental resurrection technology that is Really Buggy and he's the best result they have yet
Experiment in Dollhouse style recording and imprinting on his previously-unmentioned twin
Alien technology (they have some examples of it in this show, and are clearly afraid of it)
I did like the line "This is an origin story." Doesn't fit the internal story of the universe very well, but it's a great line.
Elliott @27 -- Hmm. I thought she said she had received some tech and tips from third parties. In any event, Ultron, AIM or HYDRA are all viable backers of the caterpillar lab.
Tom @29 -- All perfectly viable. I was just focused on scenarios that have links to the SHIELD/Avengers comics canon (note that your (2) matches closely with Vision's origin -- part of his shtick is he's imprinted with someone's brainwaves (similarly Ultron) and that's why he's more than just a robot).
Notably, Coulson only wears suits in the pilot. This covers both his sternum and his wrists, which are, with his forehead exposed, the spots I'd want to check for Avengers-affiliated resurrection geegaws.
Hey, using the Cosmic Cube (clearly alien tech) is definitely Avengers-canon, and it should have resurrection capabilities. That falls solidly in my third item. Ad IIRC there are other techs from the 60s that could have been used, but it's been about 45 years since I read those issues....
Jon Meltzer @27: Internet typo of the week: "Nick Furry". (I'm sure it's been done)
Dave Bell@21: "The collective squee here..."
Squee? Is there squee going on here? We seem to have formed up around "decent show, has some good moments".
(Okay, there's Ron Glass squee, I'm up for that.)
BSD @26: I will be angry if the answer is #2. On the one hand, sure, that's their purpose. I feel like it devalues baseline human courage, though. I think what made Coulson so awesome to me was that here's this guy with no super powers to speak of, but he won't take Stark's crap and he's not afraid to test the experimental BFG on Loki if that's what it takes to create room for the team as a whole to succeed.
On the other hand, I will not be quite so upset if he's always been a Skrull/LMD/replicant/whatever, but Level 8+ have reasons to ensure that he never realizes that. Ultimately, I expect Whedon to come up with some rage-inducing cryfest that none of us expected.
Elliott @28: That's what I picked up, too, but my husband still thinks she was one of a larger group.
I liked the fact that Extremis has surfaced again, I figured we weren't done with it at the end of Iron Man 3, even if it has been "new and improved."
So how many people who can make the stuff are there? Exploding people is going to get old real quick if we're spending the season just chasing them.
And I'd like to get my hands on Lola.
Coulson-as-android would tie in neatly to the fact that the villain in Avengers 2 is Ultron.
If this Phil Coulson is an LMD, I will pretty much take my ball and go home.
As for the suits: the onscreen version of Coulson has never worn anything but suits, IIRC. I'd be more suspicious if he were wearing something else.
What level is Nick Fury?
Jim Macdonald @ 39: That depends on how you feel about the continuum hypothesis.
Coulson as an LMD seems the most likely, though (agreeing with various others) I will be ticked if that's the reveal, either at movie death or--more likely, in my opinion, since it would be more Dramatic--in the series. On the other hand, no one has mentioned who/what actually killed Coulson in the movie . . . Asgardian magic of one sort of another would be an interesting twist, I think
Boy, it's been a long time since I've been moved to this sort of speculation about a tv show. I must have enjoyed the episode more than I'd realized.
My bet is Coulson really did die and "Tahiti" is how he remembers being dead. He has a saintly aura I don't remember from before.
The Whedonesque one-liners seemed not quite there yet--the timing or the tone was somehow off. They felt like "now I am throwing in a clever quip, see how referential I am" more than "here are living, breathing, intelligent people who react to scary things with humor." I imagine at least part of that is the actors and the writers settling in. We'll see.
I like that the obligatory Boring White Male Protagonist(TM) is actually the punchline character. Finally! A show that realizes that the BWMP(TM) is by far the least interesting archetype of the ensemble cast.
Was anyone else thrown by the monologue? It seems rather at odds with the rather top-down shall we say, origin of SHIELD. It's hard to criticize the Man when your team is working for the Man. "We're the least awful of the shadowy organization into whose hands you might fall" is not precisely a rousing battle cry. Trying to include an "Occupy SHIELD" theme in the show is going to run hard up against that underlying fact, I think: imagine trying to write Firefly from the point of view of an Alliance strike team.
Jon Meltzer (27): A doll-and-puppet-making friend of mine was planning to make a Nick Furry last year, but I'm not sure if she ever did.
I haven't seen* this (no TV, not a big comic fan), but there's been such widespread squee-age in my corner of the Internet that I may have to check it out. Unless major disappointment sets in before the DVDs come out next year.
*heck, until a few days ago I didn't even realize it was a TV show not a movie
My theory (which is mine) is that Coulson didn't quite die in the Avengers movie, but thinks he did---and that he thinks this 'current incarnation' is a LMD into which he has been downloaded.
Andrew Plotkin #34: There was definite squee to be found in my meatspace arena. (Mostly Coulson-squee, with a fair amount of Ron Glass-squee as well.)
Jim MacDonald #39: Nick Fury's level depends entirely on what game system you're using...
I liked that Extremis showed up in the first episode--that tied in neatly with Iron Man 3. And I was particularly touched by Coulson's speech to Mike in the last act--it was exactly the sort of thing that someone who wanted to emulate Captain America would say. Yes, Coulson is working for SHIELD, which is The Man--but more directly, he's working for Fury ("My one good eye"). And Fury has already demonstrated that he's willing to defy orders to do the right thing.
Speculation around Casa de Me is that Coulson was an early (and, apparently, unknowing) recipient of Yet Another Attempt to replicate the Erskine formula. However, given Ultron as the villain of Avengers 2, a Vision-type android is a strong contender, as well. Whatever has been done to bring Coulson back, he's not just a highly-trained-and-skilled agent any more--not the way he Matrix-dodged the door of the van.
I think I lean more toward the android, personally; I'm not sure that "super soldier serum" would warrant the "He can never know" approach...
Also, I want Lola.
A couple of other possibilities in addition to the LMD/clone/alien.
Alien tech + Loki (or Asgardians) in Asgard or Earth. (I'm still going for Toasterverse canon. If Coulson is an LMD, Whedon has written an AU.)
Dead/brought back (thank you, somewhat alien tech) and now there are going to be inevitable side effects that are already starting to show, subtly.
Dead/sent back from Valhalla w/memory wipe and isn't aware that he was taken from Valhalla (and just who would end up doing the paperwork on unauthorized transfer from another dimension, huh?)
The whole thing is that he's just this guy, y'know?
On the other hand, no one has mentioned who/what actually killed Coulson in the movie . . . Asgardian magic of one sort of another would be an interesting twist, I think.
It was shown on screen what killed/"killed" him in the movie--he got stabbed through the chest from behind. Granted, it was with the Glowstick of Destiny, but he was just physically stabbed.
The story referenced in #11 has as good an explanation as any. It's quite a good story, too--thanks for linking it, Jeremy!
I'm of the opinion that Hill stating the Avengers are not level 7 as the answer to the Avengers knowing question is a diversionary tactic. She didn't actually say they (or some of them) didn't know...
Also, the flying drones ABSOLUTELY fit toasterverse canon. Little brothers of the flying Roombas. Love them.
I'm hoping Magic Pixie Computer Girl is an unwitting Ultron front.
That is, that she's genuinely good with computers, but only naturally human-level good and Ultron secretly upgraded all her equipment ("won on a bet" is a good way to give an infected laptop) so that stuff just falls apart more easily for her, working from her equipment, than it really should.
And now S.H.I.E.L.D. has invited her Ultron-infected van inside...
I'm hoping they never explain Coulson's resurrection; I think the mystery works better.
Also, I liked that they slipped the Chekhoving past me, so I didn't tumble til the payoff.
Given that SHIELD seems to be using off-the-shelf crypto software (rather than, say, something derived from a new branch of mathematics developed by examining the Cosmic Cube), the simplest explanation for Skye’s cryptanalytic prowess is that she’s an NSA plant.
Anyone else notice Skye’s comment that the damage from the Avengers movie was cleaned up “overnight”? I predict the show’s going to be incorporating material from Damage Control.
Having not seen the show (I don't think it shows up here in .au until either next week or the week after - I don't watch much TV, and I'm going to be moving house in a couple of weeks, so my solution is going to be to wait and buy the DVD set once it reaches our sunny shores) I have to admit the bit which intrigues me is the flying car. I mean, I can see how it would come about in the MCU - basically, Steve Rogers talks to Tony Stark about the flying car Howard Stark demonstrated (briefly) at the World Fair in '42, and Tony decides to go one better and make one which actually works.
I suspect a bet was involved, since SHIELD appears to have snaffled it shortly afterwards.
An alternative pathway to the flying car: still involves Steve Rogers talking about the one he saw demonstrated in 1942; but in this case, he's talking within earshot of SHIELD engineers who decide to start working on the concept in their Copious Free Time, with the aid of some of Howard Stark's old notes from his SSR days. In this case, part of Coulson's brief is to keep the blasted thing (and incidentally himself) well out of sight of any of the Avengers because the last damn thing SHIELD needs, in Nick Fury's opinion, is the inevitable publicity involved in any kind of patent lawsuit against Stark Technologies. And, let's be honest, Tony Stark would certainly make any lawsuit against SHIELD on this matter extremely public - he does not like SHIELD except in the most vague of conceptual fashions, and he'll do anything he can to try and stymie them.
(I tend to put Tony Stark's political affiliations more at the (g)libertarian conservative end of things - he's rich enough that to him, wider society isn't exactly something he feels he needs the co-operation of in order to be able to function. He's up at the end of the wealth spectrum which tends to regard politicians the way middle class folks regard plumbers and other such tradespersons - you hire them for the stuff you need done, and it's okay being professionally friendly with the ones who are really good at their job, but you don't really know them socially or anything. You wouldn't invite them to your home.)
 In that yes, Tony Stark can understand the theoretical need at a government level for a body which keeps an eye on known meta-humans, superhumans, sanity-compromised inventors, human-seeming and non-human seeming aliens, etc.
Megpie 71: or Howard Stark built it, sometime in the '60s.
Does anybody besides me wonder if Skye's quip about "Todd the T1000" was a Jonathan Coulton shout-out?
Megpie71 @55, a patent filed in 1942 would have expired in the ’50s or ’60s (depending on what kind of patent it was).
La la la not listening...
It's on in the UK tonight (9pm Channel4, right after the IT Crowd Final Episode). I'll be back after that :D
Russ 59: I'm afraid you've got it the wrong way round. The IT Crowd is at 9 pm. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is at 8 pm.
By the way, Manic Pixie Computer Girl used to be a pop starlet in China under the name Chloé Wang. (I posted about that before, but I made the mistake of including two links, so it disappeared into the moderation dungeon.)
I was excited about this, and watched it with all my friends.
I felt that it did a serviceable job, but it didn't really get down-and-deep into the characters. Skating the line between a character-driven drama and a plot-driven procedural.
They spent a lot of time just getting the look right and making sure that this is a TV show that looks like it could plug right into the movies.
I like it, and I think that as it goes on it'll probably get tighter and deeper and better.
The whiplash moment got me entirely, because I was so sure in that moment that the writers had decided I needed to hate this shadowy group of secret agents, and hate them hard, and I was prepared to do it, because of how morally grey they were. I was ready and primed to hate them, and I did.
For just a second.
Carrie S @ 48: Oh, I know it was an actual, physical stabbing death! It's just that gettiing stabbed by a Mysterious Mind-Altering Weapon wielded by an Actual Master of Magic seems to lead to all sorts of shenanigans being possible. Especially since that Actual Master of Magic was actually casting at least an illusion spell at the time, and didn't fully understand the Glowstick of Destiny's properties either (given the tapping-the-arc-reactor scene a bit later--maybe).
Mind you, I still think Coulson is more likely an LMD. It's just--well, the way he keeps calling Tahiti a "magical place" and smirking, as if he knows something that no one knows he knows . . .
Asgarditi? Sounds like a cheesy cocktail in a cone-shaped glass or a retro burlesque night.
What if the LMD died in Avengers? Doesn't Fury say he needed an incident to inspire esprit d'corp among the heros?
Lori Coulson @64: that doesn't seem the sort of thing you could keep Coulson from knowing about (or at least he'd keep asking why he can't go see his old team, etc).
My initial Occam's-razor assumption about Coulson Lives was "Because Fury is a lying asshole who's perfectly happy to play off a saved-through-medicine incident to mislead the Avengers for a week or so until Coulson gets out of the ICU." Since only Fury saw him 'die'. But apparently they're not going with that.
Mary Frances: I think Loki's problem with trying to use the Glowstick on Tony was that he didn't realize Tony had "armor" over that spot. Apparently the thrall-magic will go through clothing, even pretty heavy clothing, but not through several inches of arc reactor. :) And magic being all about symbolism, it's possible that tapping someone on, say, the forehead just wouldn't do. (Maybe if you hit them on the heart you can control intentions, and on the head you can control thoughts. So heart gets you a minion who will direct his normal skills to your cause, while head gets you someone who you can use like a computer, but who will use any spare processing cycles according to his own desires. /silly)
Which is not to say there couldn't have been some interesting shenanigans on Loki's part, or the Glowstick's, of course.
Lori: If the LMD died, there'd be no reason why our current incarnation of Coulson "can never know" whatever the big secret is.
No, the cheesy cocktail would be an Asgardini. (Using Absolut, I think.)
"Asgarditi" would be Mjölnir-shaped pasta.
Better known as "hammarnudlar" in more northerly regions.
Lila @68--I understand plans to introduce multicolored Bifrostini have been put on hold...
fidelio, here is your Internet. Want that alfredo?
elise @ #70--I have some cauliflower in need of decoration, so I don't mind if I do...mmmm, Alfredo sauce!
Would you care for some, Lila?
Not familiar with recent canon, but isn't it likely that this agent Coulson is a clone? I seem to remember that being the standard explanation for bringing people back, back in the day...
That would make the original's sacrifice real, and the 'thing which must not be known' that the current is not the original.
Although I'm also good with a resurrection-with-consequences explanation.
I don't expect it to be revealed until the show gets cancelled and Joss makes a movie (or failing that, comic) to tie up the loose ends though.
Er - also, I found it rather good, and will certainly be watching next week.
There's no reason it has to be a canon reason for him still being alive. New ways to unkill people can be discovered (made up) all the time.
Mayhaps he was killed, far beyond anything normal medicine would have been able to save, but a transplant from some alien beastie could get him going again, and now there beats in his chest the heart of one of those evil space-dudes that totally wrecked the city, which is all sorts of ick and slightly worrisome in other ways as well.
Being a Whedon idea, it seems likely that it's a little non-standard.
Does the sauce for Asgarditi require lutefisk, or can anchovies be substituted?
As much as I'm enjoying the theorizing, I have to admit I found the question of Coulson's recovery the absolute least interesting part of the pilot. What I want to know is why the legendary Melinda May doesn't want to do fieldwork any more.
Jeremy Preacher @76, um, I was never a comic-book geek, and my knowledge of the Avengers comes exclusively from the movies (and a few Hulk TV episodes, back in the day). So... who is Melinda May (I heard it as Belinda, but I can see that alliteration is more likely, this being a comic book universe and all) and why is she legendary?
Cassy B.: To my knowledge, she is original to the show continuity (though probably a representative of the class, "Ass-kicking woman who works for SHIELD," of whom Agent Hill is also an exemplar. And Steve's old flame Peggy, of course.
Yeah, she's legendary as per Agent Cheekbones's reaction to her. She's an original character and all we know is that she doesn't want to do fieldwork (and her takedown of that fake cop was perfect. God, I love actors who can actually pull off the physicality.)
Jeremy Preacher @79: My fave part of the May-vs.-fake-cop was how utterly unshowy she was, and how unshowily it was SHOT. Just ain't no thing, he goes down all finished done. No slo-mo, no lovingly-chosen-to-show-jiggling angles, no big roundhouse telegraphed moves because they Look Awesome On Film.
I just re-watched early episodes of DOLLHOUSE, and I'm pretty sure Whedon is saving the reveal on Coulson until much later in the season. It'll be different from what we expect, and there'll be enough other stuff in between that it will come as somewhat of a surprise when he goes back to it.
He's very good at planting stuff and coming back later.
For those of us who don't have a clue what's going on, what's an LMD? (I have enough trouble with things being named "The Avengers" and not knowing who's playing Mrs. Peel...)
I probably had a dot dot dot or something. And apparently it's been National Bourbon Month all month, so whiskey would be appropriate.
[A triple blank space. --Quiros Bibben, Duty Gnome]
Jeremy Preacher@79: Yeah, she's legendary as per Agent Cheekbones's reaction to her. She's an original character and all we know is that she doesn't want to do fieldwork (and her takedown of that fake cop was perfect. God, I love actors who can actually pull off the physicality.)
Made even more impressive IMO by the fact that actress Ming-Na Wen was born two days before the Kennedy assassination, which means she's just a few weeks shy of 50. Wow, she sure doesn't look it.
One thing that's been causing me some amusement is the number of reviewers who've referred to Coulson's flying car as a rip-off/homage to the one in 'Back to the Future' when SHIELD comics had them back in the 1960s:
Mind you, I also remember being amused when the Valiant on 'Doctor Who' was accused of being a rip-off of SHIELD's Helicarrier, as though that was the first flying aircraft carrier:
Probably would've helped if I'd made those active links:
From Whedon I expect surprising but consistent happenings that keep deepening and expanding the story universe, and, as Tom says (@81), may be setups for later payoffs. But, also, there's the stuff that's fun because you know it's going to happen; to everyone who read the original flying car scene in the comic, around forty-five years ago, Lola was not a mystery, but a promise.
LMD = Life Model Decoy
Bill Stewart @82 said: For those of us who don't have a clue what's going on, what's an LMD? (I have enough trouble with things being named "The Avengers" and not knowing who's playing Mrs. Peel…)
The most accessible recent explanation of the LMDs I've seen is the one GeekMom did during their month of SHIELD-anticipation posts. The others in the series are also good, for those who want some more backstory about all of this than they currently have access to.
In retrospect, my second link should go to GeekMom's tagged list, not the google search I linked (I couldn't find the tag at first).
I don't think I broke the link ...
In addition to scifigrl47's "Hollow Your Bones Like a Bird", there's this take on LMD Coulson (which also includes a relationship with Clint Barton).
Rob 84: The flying car is a ripoff of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Since it was mentioned up at #14: all of the crypto stuff was nonsense. You don't delete things from databases by breaking encryption, and decryption can't be made possible only in a specific location (at least, not against an attacker that can spoof GPS signals or extract the contents of "tamperproof" devices, either of which should be well within S.H.I.E.L.D.'s tech level).
The specific mentions of encryption algorithms might be have been inspired by current events, namely talk about "has the NSA put backdoors in the specifications of our standard encryption algorithms?".
On the technobabble overall, about 50% of the noun phrases were real things.
By the way, if there was one thing I wish more people understood about computer security/“hacking”, it's this: success in attack or defense is not a matter of having more power (in whatever sense) than your opponent; the things that make the difference are qualitative, not quantitative. This is fundamentally different than confrontations in the physical world. (Breaking crypto is sort-of-but-not-really an exception — computational power does make it easier, but most failures of crypto are not due to brute-force attacks but taking advantage of implementation bugs — and the presence or absence of a specific bug is exactly the sort of qualitative distinction I mean.)
Kevin Reid @93, I assumed she meant that her laptop had an encrypted hard drive, and had a second level of security that only accepted a passphrase in proximity to her van.
Wait — didn’t she mention something about GPS? A Bluetooth-based system would make more sense.
Rob Hansen @84, the Back to the Future reference comes, I suspect, from the way the closing scene was shot, which (some people have said; I haven’t bothered to go back and check for myself) directly copies the ending of the movie.
I just finished watching the first episode, and was decidedly unimpressed.
The characterization was tepid, the description of the computer tech peculiar (and yes, you could do some sort of location-based keying with your crypto -- and yes, you'd think that S.H.I.E.L.D. would be able to spoof the location _if_ they knew that was what it was keying off of), and the plotting seemed to be a combination of Whedon trying to be a clever as possible with Disney trying to be as middle-american feel-good as possible, with dreadful results.
I might try watching the second episode -- given how I think it's started, it's got plenty of room to improve.
There's so many, many ways that people have come back from the dead in various Marvel things that I fully anticipate being faked out by one of the more outlandish ones, which will make the actual crazy reveal look a lot more reasonable.
Coulson's signature move seems to be to disarm himself, to surrender, to give something away. In the final confrontation he puts down his gun (See also this short film). He gains Skye's co-operation by giving away information. His fight with Loki almost fits this.
heresiarch @42 - I think one thing to that monologue, about being a regular guy who plays by the rules being crushed by impersonal forces, is the one they might be working with. What does it mean to be a normal person, or even (as the team members are) an action movie hero in a world where superheroes exist? Does what we do matter when there are aliens who might attack us, for who knows what reasons? How do we live our lives when Galactus is out there? I hope that's it anyway.
(I found Ward slightly disappointing - he's clearly the hero of some other spy series who has wandered into the next door universe with superbeings. He knows he's outclassed but he goes in to fight the super-strong guy anyway. Which is interesting but I'm not feeling it.)
I don't know if the above adds up to anything or not. I guess I'll have to watch some more.
Xopher @92 - Outrageous! No S.H.I.E.L.D. comic would rip off the works of Ian Fleming.
Neil W, 97: Hm, so Ward is vaguely Riley-ish. I liked Riley, but then, he wasn't just J. Random Headkicker.
Neil W @97: I think it is deliberate that in another show about these events, Ward would be the hero. And in yet a third, SHIELD would be explicit bad guys. And in a fourth, Mike would be the bad guy ... possibly with Doctor Lady and Centipede protagging.
But this is the story we're told, with Coulson's team central and right-but-muddy-and-he-knows it ... I think. Maybe.
I'm underslept. And I really want the next three episodes right now so I can quit stressing over whether the network's going to make Whedon break it.
I just remember how mediocre I thought "The Train Job" was, and how I let that keep me from watching Firefly until the whole series was out on DVD. Not that bad an option, mind you; it was much better on the DVD, with the extra unaired episodes.
So I'm going to put a little energy into watching more episodes of this than I might have on the merits of the first ep.
* * *
I found it refreshing that Coulson was . . . deeply moral.
It would be so easy to make him a sinister Company Man who takes phone calls from even more sinister never-seen higher ups, and whom the team members find themselves working around to do the right thing.
There are parallels to Alphas, although the characters on that show were more human and desperate.
P J Evans @ #75:
Most likely lutefisk mashed op in sourherring juice.
I have seen (most of) ep1 and quite liked it. I missed 5-or-so minutes at the beginning and the show is at a semi-awkward time for watching the UK broadcasts. But, I think I will at least make an effort at seeing ep2, Whedon or not (I am one of those who considers Whedon's involvement at most a neutral and J. J. Abrams as a very negative signal on quality).
Avram #94: …had a second level of security that only accepted a passphrase in proximity to her van.
Was it bringing together her and the van, not the van to a specific location? Then I misremember.
[I am having trouble posting all of this comment, specifically a long delay followed by a 500 error. I suspect that I am tripping some anti-spam tarpit, so I am going to try breaking it up to see if one part is the problem.]
… In that case, the attack is to pry open whatever device is doing the proximity check and extract the key it's holding. That's what I meant by ‘extract the contents of "tamperproof" devices’. This doesn't apply if the data or the key is there-not-here, but in that case encryption per se is again not the issue.
A non-encryption-related trick, which is useful if can get line of sight but it would be unsafe to show up, is to point a directional antenna at the van. This has been used in the real world to violate the assumption "this does not need to be secure because the radio signals are short-range" for several common wireless protocols; “range” is not an inherent property of electromagnetic waves.
[Apparently my last paragraph was at fault. I rewrote it a bit and it went through. I'd love to know what the issue is, though; I've previously met this problem and just given up on posting a substantial comment. Here's the original, rot13'd:
Nabgure gevpx haeryngrq gb rapelcgvba, juvpu zvtug or hfrshy vs lbh pna trg yvar bs fvtug ohg vg jbhyq or hafnsr gb fubj hc, vf gb cbvag n uvtuyl qverpgvbany nagraan ng gur ina. Guvf unf orra hfrq va gur erny jbeyq gb qrsrng nffhzcgvbaf bs “guvf qbrf abg arrq gb or frpher orpnhfr gur enqvb fvtanyf ner fubeg-enatr” va frireny vafgnaprf — JvSv, Oyhrgbbgu, naq ASP. Ryrpgebzntargvp jnirf qba'g unir na vaurerag “enatr”.
But in any case, I'll shut up about Bad Science On TV now.]
Kevin, I'm not seeing a post from you in either the moderation queue or the spam bucket, so I don't know where they're going.
There was some discussion of errors-on-posting in the last open thread. They seem to be striking at random.
If you get one again, if you could copy the error message and post it in an open thread maybe someone can figure out what's going on.
None of the anti-spam thingies here should return an Error 500.
I just realized it was on Hulu, so I'm very late catching up here.
Am I the only one who watched the fight scene at the beginning and thought, "Geez, all these white guys look alike!"? I could not parse who I was supposed to be following at all. (This is a common problem for me -- apparently my brain just doesn't process video information fast enough for today's movie fashions -- but it was made considerably worse by the near-identical appearance of all the participants in this case.)
Jeremy, #7: You want femslash, check out the Warehouse 13 fic on AO3. Lots of female characters, and I think every possible pairing has fic.
Jon, #27: It's been done, apparently, by Marvel. There's this on DeviantArt, too.
Gelfling, #35: My impression sort of splits the difference -- she was freelance, not part of any group but willing to take what she could get from anybody else. Which in turn makes me very suspicious of her apparent change of heart.
Avram, #54: I took that as a bit of hyperbole, translating to "they got everything off the streets much faster than normal and before anybody got a good look at it."
Avram, #94: A practical issue with the way she described the GPS-linked "encryption" working -- it ties her down physically to one location, thus negating the advantage of her having the van in the first place. I remember catching that and thinking it was weird at the time.
Also, a fanfic rec: Touching Lola. The flying-car thing was just a bit anticlimactic after reading that, but I still have hopes.
Touching Lola is completely Toasterverse-compliant, it seems to me.
Or it is in my headcanon, anyhow.
For the newbies in the crowd, could somebody please unpack "Toasterverse"?
The Toasterverse is the alt-universe setting for a series of truly excellent Marvel Avengers fan-fic pieces written by scifigrl47. It's known by this name because it features Calcifer, the AI-capable toaster who argues with the Avengers over toasting bagels and other breakfast goods.
I highly, highly recommend them if you're at all interested in such things. A search on "Toasterverse" will bring up the appropriate links.
Jacque, there's a listing on this page. The Casefiles are here.
Huh, I somehow ended up with two of the same link. The series page that has the chronological listing is here.
Carrie: Ah. Thank you.
Specifically, something that runs through the Toasterverse is Tony Stark making lots of AIs all over the place and then losing control of them. The flying roomba plague is one of my favorite set-pieces.
Overall, they're screwball comedy with breaks of heart-twisting emotion (often of the pairbonding sort; in the Toasterverse Tony and Steve are a couple, and so are Coulson and Clint).
Awesome Easter egg after tonight's episode. I so hope this is a trend.
(And another hearty thumbs-up for scifigrl47.)
Re Lila's @116: I wonder if we'll get it on the Hulu 'rebroadcast' ... I no longer own a working TV tuner, so internet sources are my sole path to serialized visual fiction.
I've been following the discussion and finding that it and the AO3 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. works list are causing me problems on the same level: I am a Joss fan, and, after seeing "Much Ado About Nothing," very much a Clark Gregg fan, but have only heard vague rumors of either comics or movie canon.
I'm liking it a lot, but I worry, because I was also one of the eleven people in the US who really liked the TV version of Birds of Prey (for which I had a comparable ignorance of comics canon).
Haven't seen tonight's episode due to chicken-keeping and cooking dinner, and if the DVR cuts off the Easter egg I will be seriously displeased.
Thanks for the warning about the Easter egg, Lila -- I would have missed it if you hadn't said something. IIRC, that was the first piece of network TV that I've watched since ANGEL was still being broadcast....
I liked the rubber raft.
I thought that was a damn smart move, the raft. Probably wouldn't have worked in the real world...but this is a comic book, so it's fine.
I'm watching the episodes DVR'd, so I guess I missed the Easter egg. Cuts off in the middle of the scenes-from-next-week. Maybe I should adjust the end time.
Wow, it took looking at IMDB for me to place Iain De Caestecker (Fitz). Knew I'd seen him somewhere before (ur jnf gur znva xvq sebz Gur Snqrf). Different accent, of course (he's using his native one, or something close to it, here), but even so.
I like Fitz much better than Agent Ward (I love smart nerdy guys). That will not, of course, keep me from shipping them.
Carrie @112 & 113, I have been thoroughly nerdsniped. Thank you. I think.
(Other than shipping, how far are the toasterverse stories outside of canon? I'm not really a comic geek, you see, but I enjoy the movies...)
Okay, back to speculations.
Colson is not an LMD or an android. What does he say about "Tahiti" every time someone mentions it? "It was a magical place." So, he's been resurrected magically. Which makes for a Christ sub-plot, with the team being the disciples. We're being set up to think that Skye is the Judas figure (there's going to be someone who betrays him, but it's not who we suspect).
The major Marvel figure that we haven't seen show up so far is, IMO, Doctor Strange. He had only minor crossovers with the main Marvel universe, but I think he had a few (going by 40+ year old memories here). He's likely to make a small appearance in the show at some point, since they're going to such trouble to set up the "magical" aspect. Bringing him in wholesale would really mess up the universe, and I don't think Whedon would go that far (or the Marvel Overlords, which is probably more to the point).
Colson knows he was brought back from the dead. He knows there's a mission. He's building this team so they can fight it. It's going to involve both technological and magical elements; and the techies will have to figure out (once they stop being paralyzed by the existence of real magic) how to use it in a technological manner -- use their analysis techniques to figure out how to do something specific with the world of magical tech.
That's my theory at this point. Anyone with a better sense of the Christian mythos is welcome to try to map the members of the team onto various disciples. It might be amusing.
Didn't they have an AO4 sighting at the end of the episode? Sounds kinda meta to me.
"He had only minor crossovers with the main Marvel universe, but I think he had a few (going by 40+ year old memories here)"
Doctor Strange stories tend to be less interwoven with other superheroes than a lot of Marvel's characters, but he's certainly a part of the Marvel Universe (with a specialty in Deus Ex Machina walk-on parts).
They did make a Dr. Strange movie, you know. It was embarrassingly bad. That may be why they haven't touched that character again.
Xopher @ 127... I'll give that 1978 some credit for having tried. It is really insane that someone attempted a "Doctor Strange" TV movie with TV's budget and TV's primitive tech. That being said, I love the character.
Cassy B. @123: Basically all the homosexuality and most of the FEELS are non-canon. The wacky way action happens is VERY accurate to original, as are all the crazy (some on-screen, some off-screen but mentioned) battles with baddies/robots/whatever. Toasterverse Reed Richards and X-Men are roughly about right (given the observer bias, in the cases where we're being told about them by Toasterverse-Stark, etc).
A case can be made that Toasterverse-Stark is canon-compliant; some people feel it goes a little farther down the ubergeek-but-has-FEELS road than is justified by the current movie canon, but doing stuff Like That with Stark rhymes with his past continuities (plural). Movie-Stark is already a bit of a reimagination of one subset of his comic continuities so I'm calling it fair.
Toasterverse as a whole is not canon-compliant because it (and most of the ficcing fandom, really) assumes a long-running calm fond deep relationship between Coulson and Clint that predates all on-screen appearances of the characters in the current movies. Only secondarily is it non-canon-compliant for "Tony and Steve don't fall in love" reasons, because you can try to pretend to shoehorn that stuff in 'after' a given movie or whatever, and then just get Jossed (actually by Joss, for once!) by later released stuff.
In my head, the Captain America fic involving his past drawing Tijuana Bibles and interacting with the period Greenwich Village queen scene, pre-Captaining, is completely and utterly canon and I am not dissuadable. I can't find the title/author but I know it's been linked on ML before (that's how I found it), so I may be more forgiving of Cap-queer-after-movies fics than some people.
Serge, I was speaking of the 2007 animated disaster.
Was the easter egg the fishtank reference? Because if so, it's before the credits on the Hulu 'rebroadcast' version.
Elliott, are you referring to More Man Than You? (I saved the link when it was posted here before. I like it too.)
Xopher @ 130... I own the dvd because, well, it *is* Doctor Strange, but my feeling about it was 'meh'. By the way, a couple of years ago, I met Len Wein, who created the Swamp Thing, but who also worked on Doctor Strange, and neither of us could figure why the Doc never can keep his comic-book alive for more than a few issue. By the Vapors of Valtorr!
Elliott 131: Oh, that? But that was spoken dialogue. How is that even an Easter egg?
Serge 133: Most Marvel comics have the villains talking in hifalutin' language with $40 words, while the heroes wisecrack like street kids. Maybe Marvel fans don't like the fact that Strange talks like a villain in the other books, plus he refers to randomly-generated alliterative entities, which even I (who love fancy language) find annoying, by the Hideous Hecksayers of Hamoogloo.
Oh, and one other thing. Has anyone noticed how close the pronunciation could be between Tahiti and Tehuti, or Thoth?
Xopher @ 134... By the Hords of Hotdiggidy! On the other hand, Thor also talks funny. Mind you, he's got a big... ah... hammer.
Re: Easter Egg. I haven't seen yesterday's show yet; it's DVRed. Is the Easter Egg before or after the Coming-Next-Week-NOW-WITH-EXTRA-SPOILERS that they're putting on shows these days? Because I normally kill the show when the Next-Week-Spoilers hit; I don't WANT Next-Week-Spoilers. But I'll be willing to stick it out if there's an Easter Egg afterwards...
If you see the fishtank reference, then you've seen the Easter egg. That's a pretty safe, non-spoilery way to mark it.
To get to iRobot from the Readercon hotel:
a) Turn right out of the hotel parking lot onto Mall Road.
Turn right (south) where Mall Road tees into Cambridge Street.
Bear right up the ramp unto limited access highway 128
Take the Middlesex Turnpike/US 3 North exit (first exit after getting on 128)
Go past the ramp down to the Middlesex Turnpike
Go up the ramp to US 3 North.
Drive about two miles, get off at the exit to route 62.
At the bottom of the ramp, when the light turns green, go straight through the intersection onto Crosby Drive. Go past the entrance ramp on the left to US 3 North. Take the next left, which goes into a business park, and drive to the building which iRobot is in.
To get to RSA (company which does cryptographic computer security codes) from the Readercon hotel:
Follow the instruction above, but do not take a left into the business park iRobot is in. Keep going instead.
Follow Crosby Drive for a mile or so north, to where it curve east and meets the Middlesex Turnpike at an intersection. When the long light turns green, turn left (north). Go over the Shawhsheen River, and look for the RSA sigh on one of the driveways on the left.
As for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., there is a lot of inane technobabble involved, sigh.
Did anybody else read Michael Straczynski's 'alternate' miniseries about Doctor Strange? I wasn't that crazy with how he used Clea, but he had the Ancient One chatting about Simon & Garfunkel, and there was some talk about yak butter.
Elliott Mason @ # 129, would that be More Man Than You?
(And now I see Xopher got there first.)
Easter egg is after the "next week's episode" teaser, immediately before the beginning of the alleged comedy that follows in the next time slot.
I also would like to point out more possible evidence that Coulson is a Howard Stark fanboy as well as a Captain America fanboy: I suggest Howard is the "he" who designed the walkie-talkie wristwatch in Coulson's collection.
Stepping away from my rant on the open thread:
To understand the marvel universe if I haven't ever read comics or seen any of the movies but need some back story for the TV show (and toaster universe), would the xmen movies be the place to start (and stop)?
And if I say deep space nine was my favorite Star Trek (ie I like character-driven stories that pass the Bechtel test, not things blowing up), then what are the best movies to watch to get oriented but not annoyed?
I have a budget, but time on my hands. And a long journey soon, when I could watch movies on my ipad.
The X-Men movies are ok for explaining the X-Men, but not really the Marvelverse as a whole. Honestly, if you can watch at least the first Iron Man movie, Thor, and the Avengers, you'll probably be fine for the show and the Toasterverse. Some things happen in the other two Iron Man movies that are moderately relevant (so you could add them in if you like), but I think those three would get you set enough to not miss any big obvious stuff.
Also, read (some of?) the GeekMom posts they did in the month leading up to MAoS's premiere (I linked them back upthread, but here it is again; the posts are in reverse-chronological and originally ran from most-peripheral to most-central to the new show). They do a great job of going back to the comics and talking about the evolution of a character, antagonist, whatever, with all necessary context to understand why fans of it like it.
Probably for the link. I checked that it worked ...
Mea @ 142... May I recommend Kurt Busiek's miniseries "Marvels"? It showed some of the most famous events of the Marvel Universe, as seen by a normal person. For example, what would such a person do when the World Devourer comes to Earth and even the Fantastic Four can't stop him and it looks like it's curtains for us all?
Serge - thank you.
Here is the problem. I have never been able to get into a graphic novel or comic. I know that there are GREAT ones out there, and that I'm missing out. But I have a big blank spot when it comes to graphic novels - it is like listening to music in the wrong key. So, due to the limitations in my ability to consume that format of artistic content, I was hoping for recommendations on a introduction via movie.
mea: Without going into comics/graphic novels, it's really hard to understand the Marvel universe. I think the best bet is not to try, oddly enough. The underlying material gives the movies extra depth, which is not really what movies are for; and the movies are generally designed so that there's a complete interior story, across the various movies. Mostly what I'm finding fun is how they morph what the comics had back in the 60s.
That said, the X-Men films are not a good intro at all to the 'verse that's being explored in the Avengers complex (nor are the Fantastic 4 movies, nor the Spiderman movies). Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and Captain America are all being done as a series with The Avengers -- and they're producing a lot of richness among themselves. So I'd recommend the Iron Man movies, definitely, as introducing a certain amount of what's going on; I haven't yet seen the Thor or Captain America movies and have been spotty on the Hulk. The Iron Man movies, though, really help (and they have Robert Downey Jr in them, which is a real help).
That's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it.
Xopher in #127:
Your confidence in this theory may possibly be shaken if you contemplate 1998's Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Despite that movie, here we are, watching a series about S.H.I.E.L.D. anyway.
Tom and Elliot,
I appreciate the input. Trying to express gratitude without visiting the gnomes.
Mea, #142: I was sort of a comics nerd growing up, but more DC than Marvel until I fell in love with the X-Men back in the 80s (not the Classic X-Men, but the updated version with Cyclops and Shadowcat). The Avengers were hardly on my radar at all; I knew most of the characters by sight, and some of their origin stories, and that was about it.
I have also not seen most of the movies. I saw the last 15 minutes of the first Iron Man movie, which engendered a profound reluctance to watch either the rest of it or anything else with him as the central character. I have a HUGE problem with protagonists that keep making me want to smack them upside the head, and "boyish charm" isn't charming at all on a man over 30; Tony Stark cuts perilously close to being a Macho Sue. I've seen some bits of the Thor movie, nothing at all of either Hulk or Captain America.
(Cap was a character I had less than zero interest in during my comic-geek days because of the heavily jingoistic nature of the source material; ditto Nick Fury. Who was white in the comics, just to forestall potential confusion. Historically, there haven't been many black characters as series leads.)
That said, I found the Avengers movie to be quite enjoyable and comprehensible despite not having seen any of the lead-ups. If you watch that, and then maybe go look up all the main characters on marvel.wikia.com (which will give you their backgrounds in text rather than graphics), you should be up to speed enough to follow the show.
I really like the macho sue article.
And I cannot be alone in people new to the marvel universe who misread nick fury as "nick furry."
My first mental image was a squirrel, ala rocky and bullwinckle, not David Hasselhoff.
About the Hulk... Stay away from Ang Lee's "The Hulk". Go for 2008's "The Incredible Hulk", which starred Edward Norton and Liv Tyler, both of them fans of the character.
And let's not forget 2012's "Avengers 1978", a fake coming attraction for what the "Avengers" movie would have been like in 1978, and which used footage from the various 1970s TV movies.
In Australia, the first episode was held back a week, and then the first two episodes were aired back-to-back yesterday. I think that worked out; I suspect I like the show, and certain of the characters, more after seeing the two episodes than I would have after just the first one.
TexAnne @ #22, et seq.:
The most detailed response to the "not Level 7" comment I've seen is this one here.
Mary Frances @ #62:
I've seen a couple of people suggest that Coulson is self-consciously hinting he knows something with the magical place remark, but I'm more inclined to think that the remark is a piece of irony that he doesn't himself possess the context for. I'm seeing it as a canned response he's been programmed with (for whatever value of "programmed" turns out to be appropriate) to paper over the gaps in his false memories.
(I may be influenced here by the old MacGyver episode where one of Mac's friends is abducted and brainwashed to assassinate a visiting dignitary, and given a set of false memories to cover his absence. "It was just me and the fish, like a dream come true." "...like a dream come true.")
Lila @ #141:
I thought I heard Coulson say that the walkie-talkie wristwatch was invented in Poland. (And in the 1930s, which doesn't necessarily mean anything one way or the other as regards Howard Stark, but I can't help mentioning because that puts it comfortably ahead of the 1946 Diet Smith model.)
Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey @ #148:
Ah, but you notice they haven't, in Xopher's words, touched that character again - they had to create a completely new Nick Fury before another SHIELD movie could be contemplated.
Erm, I know a random person's random opinion doesn't really carry a lot of weight, but I like Ang Lee's The Hulk. I mean, it's flawed and it's flaws are sometimes goofy, but it's not totally awful.
Also it lead to this, Stewart Lee on Ang Lee.
Paul Herzberg @ 155... I like Ang Lee's The Hulk
And that's the bottom line.
(My apologies if I suggested there might be something wrong for liking it.)
"My first mental image was a squirrel, ala rocky and bullwinckle"
Guardians of the Galaxy is going to feature Rocket Raccoon, who is fairly close to being a Nick Furry character.
He has Tony Starks ark reactor for a heart.
I don't read Marvel comics, and haven't seen all the movies—and I'm thoroughly enjoying this TV show. I may be missing Deeper Meanings, but I'm enjoying the fast dialogue, silly fighting*, and general shiny.
*As in punching a bad guy, dropping him unconscious to the ground, and then turning your back on him. That reminds me of old cowboy TV shows.
Saw the second episode. Fun, exciting, not spectacular.
My DVR didn't record the very end of the credits. What was the bonus scene? I did see the scene where Fury chastises Coulson for making a mess.
Stefan Jones @ #160:
That was the bonus scene, as far as I know. Apparently there's been some regional variation in whether it appeared before, during, or after the credits.
I laughed when Fury first chastises Agent Coulson for having a bar, and then admitting it is a nice bar.
Mea @ 149: There actually is a viewing order to the Avengers family of movies:
IRON MAN 2
Though these are standalone movies, the order is basically because of the post-credits teasers, which lead into the following movies. I like all of them, but am particular fond of the first one and final two. These six films also constitute what Marvel have termed 'Phase one' of the development of their cinematic universe.
'Phase two' is set in the post-AVENGERS world and dealing with the fallout from the events of that movie. To date, this includes:
IRON MAN 3
AGENTS OF SHIELD
THOR 2 (in cinemas within weeks)
Still bored by everyone except May (and I'm not really interested in why she quit fieldwork. "Nameless Horror" is enough for me.) Even Coulson didn't hold my interest this time. Whoever described him as a Hufflepuff is A-plus correct, though. That idea actually kept me watching. Everybody else is just "no, no, go away and grow a character before I strangle you with your quirks."
I’m betting that whichever of Fitz-Simmons is the male one traded away his personality for that briefcase full of spiffy quadrotors.
Am I actually the only one who liked the fast-talking Britsh twins? I mean, ok, they don't have a personality yet. But, you know, neither do my kittens. They'll grow into them. (The kittens, not necessarily the twins.)
TexAnne: I find Ward boring. I like May best, and am willing to hang out with Fitz and Simmons. Skye is annoying. Coulson is being bland even for Coulson, which in the Whedonverse I take as a sign that he's manfully holding it together under tremendous pressure or angst or some damn thing.
I'm willing to give it several more episodes at least. Of course, part of that is we've got a streak of takeout pizza on Tuesday nights followed by watching Agents of SHIELD with daughter and daughter's girlfriend that is quite pleasant apart from the content of the show....
As for the Tahiti thing, my theory is that Coulson has amnesia for a significant chunk of his recovery, he's aware that he's been given false memories, and he's working behind the scenes to find out what really happened.
Where's Romanov when you need her?? Oh right. She's off Winter-Soldier-hunting with Cap.
I find the science twins boring because of the recent-in-mind comparison with _Pacific Rim_, which did that gag better and more distinctively in less screen time.
I'll still watch the show, though. It's got some good bits and nothing in it chronically annoys me.
(I still haven't found a TV series this season that I'm enthusiastic about.) (I'm looking forward to whatever specials Dr Who gives us, but the next season isn't until next summer.)
Speaking of Doctor Who -- did you hear that they found a large batch of the lost episodes in Etheopia? That's pretty exciting!
Tom @ 169: If it's true. This rumour has been floating around the internet for months now and what's in that Mirror report doesn't look any firmer than what's been said to date. I would *love* for it to be true (seeing 'Power of the Daleks' and 'Web of Fear' again after all this time - you bet), but I'm not getting my hopes up just yet. What makes me doubt it is that the Beeb are still going ahead and animating some of the missing episodes allegedly found in this cache, something that would be a very odd thing to do if the story is true.
106 episodes found would be *all* the lost episodes, which seems an overly-neat quality to the story.
It's quite possible that some of the episodes found in Ethiopia are not lost. We also don't know the condition. There's a lot we don't know, even if the find is genuine.
It's also quite possible that it was a large archive that was found, that includes among other things all the lost episodes -- and they're only mentioning the lost episodes because the others aren't interesting. Condition would certainly be a reason for the BBC to be keeping the planning going on the animated versions.
I'll await further developments in any case. And thanks for the insider view, Rob -- I'll be less expectant of a perfect outcome. But I've been in on the finding of a few archives in my time, and it's a pretty wonderful thing when it happens.
My first thought on the archives was 'were they next to the Ark of the Covenant?'
Okay, there's now a version of the story from the Radio Times which seems a lot more specific: http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2013-10-06/doctor-who-newly-discovered-lost-episodes-to-be-released-for-sale-this-week
(It also says it's unconfirmed)
The radiotimes story doesn't mention a source, not even an anonymous one, and it contradicts the Mirror story. (If the BBC was negotiating last week, they're not getting anything on sale next week.)
I am putting all of this in the "noise on top of noise" category until the BBC says something. (Beyond "it's not true", which they said a while ago.)
P J Evans @174 -- have you read Raiders of the Lost Basement, as originally published by P&T in Izzard? These things actually happen.
While I'd be a little disappointed if the latest Who rumor weren't true, I must confess I'd be delighted if it were a set-up for the release of "dutched" fan-made Who episodes. (Possibly with much better special effects than the originals.)
Tom, I do know that these things actually happen. It's that Ethiopians claim that they have the Ark in one of their churches. So...
The Radio Times story mentions two episodes and probably relates to the two episodes that were genuinely found earlier this year and subsequently screened at the ICA. These are unconnected with the Africa rumour. (Also not exactly going to set the world on fire since they were one episode each of 'Galaxy 4' and 'The Underwater Menace', the latter being widely regarded as Doctor Who's 'Plan 9 From Outer space'.)
And, yes, 106 would be all the missing episodes. The Africa rumours earlier this year spoke of 90. They also said these had been found in a warehouse in Uganda.
Hmm. Digging further, there may be something more going on. I guess we shall see:
Aha, that is considerably more promising. (The bleedingcool link, which reports a BBC press conference is upcoming.) Thanks.
("Cautious optimism", as we say in an unrelated fandom.)
Fitz is the male part of Fitz-Simmons. I think he's absolutely adorable and charming and I'd love to know someone like him in real life. He's not flashy or extroverted but he has PLENTY of personality for my money.
Lydy 166: You Are Not Alone. Though I like Fitz better than Simmons, that may be because he's so cute.
Lydy, I really like the idea of them as kittens.
I'm enjoying Fitz and Simmons, though I agree some more character development for them would be nice.
I've just realized that part of what I find so weird about Fitz and Simmons is how .. naked they are all the time. I'm used to broken-and-armored-over-the-spackle people (and most of the Avengers are that sort), and especially Simmons is so constantly gleaming all her soul's secrets right out her pores that it almost makes me uncomfortable.
I knew I found watching her intense-er scenes uncomfortable, but I hadn't quite articulated why until now.
I found the first ep okay, and the second one bland, but so far, they are at least entirely serviceable doing-artwork-to TV. (Plus, I'm desperately hungry for skiffy, these days.)
Am I the only one who is bored to tears by Daleks and Cybermen?
Jacque 187: Am I the only one who is bored to tears by Daleks and Cybermen?
You are not. This is not the same thing as being bored with Doctor Who, however. I just think the Daleks and Cybermen are played out. I felt the same about the Replicators on the Stargate franchise. When I heard the "Replicator noise" I rolled my eyes and said "oh, damn," because every episode with them ended the same way.
The fact that ST:TNG took the Cybermen and did them better years ago (yes, I'm saying that the Borg are a Cybermen rip-off, but a successful one) doesn't help either. All the interesting plots have been done, some of them twice (The Doctor being cyberized and Picard being Borged, very similar concepts). If I never see another Cyberman I will be perfectly happy with that.
The Daleks could still go somewhere interesting, but they keep doing the same thing with them over and over. The last interesting Dalek story was "Asylum of the Daleks" as far as I'm concerned.
I'd put the Weeping Angels on the "used up" pile, too.
Come up with some new monsters, guys.
"Dalek" -- the first new-series Dalek episode -- was wonderful. (I first saw it at Worldcon, I believe, 2005.) I wish the show-runners had had the artistic stubbornness to leave it at that.
The Cybermen have *always* bored me, but the most recent uses have at least tried some new things. Maybe I'm just reacting positively to Neil Gaiman.
...The dirty secret of my Dr Who fandomness is that *at least half* the episodes I've watched, of *every era and actor*, have been *not very good*.
Xopher@188: "Last" in the sense of "most recent", or "last" in the sense of "they should end things there"? That construction usually means "most recent", but in context that doesn't make a lot of sense.
David, I've been watching things out of order. Right now I can't actually remember whether the Daleks have appeared since that episode. I thought they had, and were boring. *goes and checks* It appears not, though, which a) makes my comment pretty nonsensical and b) leaves me with "OK, that's enough Daleks. Don't want to see them again."
Xopher Halftongue @188: "Am I the only one who is bored to tears by Daleks and Cybermen?" You are not. This is not the same thing as being bored with Doctor Who, however.
Verily and forsooth! And when (while we're on the topic) is 7.2 going to come out? I'm jonesin', here.
I just think the Daleks and Cybermen are played out.
I think they started played out. They're just brainless destroying forces. There's no motive to it. No intent that could be manipulated, not interest to influence, even. So they become approximately as interesting as an oncoming asteroid. Which is to say not very, because it's already been repeatedly established that [this] is how you destroy [that monster]. Yawn.
Yeah, I thought "Blink" was brilliant, but ever since, the angels just become one more Big Bad.
I felt the same about the Replicators on the Stargate franchise. When I heard the "Replicator noise" I rolled my eyes and said "oh, damn," because every episode with them ended the same way.
My theory was that they used those episodes to train up new writers. Or after a long weekend when everybody was too wasted to actually, you know, be creative.
I keep hearing show runners comment, "Everybody just loves the [Big Bad du jour]!" and I want to scream "What everybody!? I hate those almost as much as I do the 'let's spend the entire hour skulking around the corridors of the alien ship' episodes!"
The fact that ST:TNG took the Cybermen and did them better years ago
Huh. Yeah, I hadn't made that connection, but I think you're right. But for my money, the series that really went to town with the Borg was Voyager. To my extreme surprise, I actually found myself looking forward to Borg eps in that series.
Andrew Plotkin @189: The dirty secret of my Dr Who fandomness is that *at least half* the episodes I've watched, of *every era and actor*, have been *not very good*.
Yup. This is actually true of most TV. What saves it (if it can be saved) is the characters and the relationships. If those are good enough, I'll endure a lot of collateral mediocrity.
Xopher Halftongue @191: "OK, that's enough Daleks. Don't want to see them again."
I'd be willing to watch them again if they could come up with something new to do with them. The (new version) ep with the Dalek that opened its little can and Saw The Light and then died actually had a surprising amount of merit to it. But that's the only one I can think of.
Jacque @192: Fun fact! Jeri Ryan only auditioned for 7 of 9 (her agent was called and she was requested to come in and read) because her youngish-at-the-time son happened to overhear that HIS MOM could be ON STAR TREK and bounced and enthused at her energetically until she did it. :-> She hadn't thought much of the part secondhand and at a distance; after she (at his urging) went in and read for it she found it juicy and interesting, and was happy to be cast.
Jacque @ #192: I think they started played out. They're just brainless destroying forces. There's no motive to it. No intent that could be manipulated, not interest to influence, even.
That isn't how they started out, though. The first time the Daleks appeared, they had a clear and understandable backstory and motivation (which, however, went by the wayside subsequently because it didn't scale to "universe-shaking menace"). Even later, there are some good Dalek stories - specifically the ones where the writer doesn't fall into the trap of thinking of the Daleks as brainless destroying forces.
"The Power of the Daleks", which is unfortunately one of the stories from the 60s that went missing, is a good Dalek story, with some similarities to "Dalek". A single Dalek, held captive by humans, with no operating weapons, shows itself capable of getting around its captors by other means.
I also think Ben Aaronovitch's first Doctor Who novel is pretty remarkable. One of the Aaronovitch's recurrent concerns in his writing is to avoid lazy racial stereotyping: you don't tend to get, say, "an African" in an Aaronovitch novel, but an individual whose roots are in a specific place, who has been shaped by a particular culture and history. Which is nothing many other writers haven't done, as far as that goes - but I can't think off-hand of any other writer who extends the same effort to his Dalek characters.
An official BBC post which talks of "a number" of missing episodes having been found:
Missing episode announcement
This is starting to sound promising.
Tonight's episode was better than last weeks. Ok, wonky science on Gravitonium, but some nifty FX, some good character development from Rising Tide girl.
So what does it mean that Phil couldn't work the gun like he used to?
Also, Coulson's decision tonight strikes me as an excellent origin story for a supervillain. And Coulson should know this - consider who he works for.
I was just laughing at the wonky science - Gravitonium, Upsidaisium, Handwavium, all the same, right? But what I noticed most was that during the training and fight scenes, I kept looking over at my housemate, who's a brown belt in tae kwon do, and checking HER reactions. I didn't notice these things so much before she started studying (though I've been noticing fencing for years, as my ex-husband fenced both modern epee and SCA).
That, and what was Skye's dress MADE out of, that the skirt was still swirling airily around her legs after she'd climbed out of the pool? Swimsuit Lycra? I would have expected it to be clinging and plastered.
I was surprised that the truck driver survived the impact, too. Seat Belts Save Lives, or artistic license?
Shove a Canadian scientist into Upsidaisium...
... Agent Coulson does not have the muscle memory. I hadn't made the connection until Steve C. pointed it out.
On the other hand, I'm the first person here to actually say out loud "Dr. Franklin Hall is Graviton in Marvel canon."
Next... Molecule Man... Absorbing Man... The Texas Twister...
When Vin Diesel was saying that he really really wanted to be in an Avengers movie, I envisioned him as Absorbing Man. He has the right look.
(And that villain would work in movie continuity because he got his powers from Loki in comic ... )
Jon Meltzer @ 202... So Diesel is one of us? Did you know that Michael Chikliss also is? Apparently, in his late teens he declared he'd one day play Ben Grimm. He eventually did, in what I think of as one of the worst comic-book adaptations I've experienced in this century.
My guess is that Coulson's lack of muscle memory means he's no longer in his original body.
We did see him bleed, and then later he was healed, so if he's an android he's a pretty high-grade one. Or they're doing repairs while he's "asleep". Or some damn thing.
Vin "D&D Character Tattoo" Diesel? One of us? I thought everyone knew!
Jim @ 205... No, I didn't know. By the way, I think James MacAvoy also is one of us. So is Ben Affleck, and so was his "Daredevil" co-star, the late Michael Clarke Duncan.
I suppose they could do Molecule Man too, if some nebbish managed to get hold of The Tesseract.
The Texas Twister, though - no. Not even with Stark technology. Just saying.
Jon Meltzer @ 207... I was wondering if anybody else would remember the Texas Twister.
I'm really sad that I can't get into this show. I find our main young heroes to be bland and so far past tropes that they're actual cliches (Oh, look - it's a Heroic White Guy telling a Young Sassy Hacker what to do!) and the plots seem, I don't know... sort of kiddie-level. The characters I give a shit about (Coulson and Melinda May) are hanging out in the background being authoritarian or mysterious respectively. The science nerds could be the best part of the show, but I doubt that's ever going to happen. It being a Whedon show, I suspect there will be some character development for them at some point, but it's just not hitting too many complexity buttons for me to care overmuch. The good thing is the general lack of racism and misogyny. I am happy about that, and hope that it influences the rest of network TV for a few seasons (dare to dream, right?) but at this point I don't think a network drama airing at 8pm is aiming for me in the audience.
2008's "The Incredible Hulk" starred Edward Norton, who was a fan of the comic-book, and Liv Tyler, who was a fan of the TV show. Another tidbit of trivia, of which my brain is full... Remember the old man at whose diner Banner finds shelter after coming back home? That was actor Paul Soles, who did the voices of the Hulk and of Banner in the 1960s cartoon. He's better known though as the voice of Hermie the dentist Elf in Rankin-Bass's "Rudolph".
The handling of the gravitonium chunk leaves open the "Is Coulson/SHIELD a bad guy using all these good people for bad ends?" question. He specifically told OtherAgent to not mark it for slingshot,which would've been MY choice. I can think of two quickie 'why' answers off the top of my head, one significantly more nefarious than the other:
* Gravitonium is known or suspected to have a Very Bad Interaction with being thrown into the sun. We only have one of them, we need to not, um, compromise it.
* It might well be useful later, don't throw away anything useful.
With the added twist that if Coulson knows the good doctor is likely to still be alive in there, he might not want to murder him ... or might want to hang onto him for later usefulness.
Probably a matter of spacing.
I loved the fact that Fitz actually ate popcorn while tracking Skye into the bad guy facility.
I was thinking that very thing. Of course, this is a misunderstanding, because "muscle memory" is actually happening in the backbrain and spinal column, but hey. Might not be his original backbrain and spinal column either.
We also have no idea of how revivification might work. An LMD would be much more likely to have that kind of muscle memory -- the dolls in Dollhouse (not Marvel canon, but Whedon) did have that kind of muscle memory, since Echo could write a letter in the hand of the person she was imprinted with (in Haunted, S1E10). And LMDs were supposed to move like their originals -- well enough to fool agents of HYDRA, at least, in Fury's first meeting with SHIELD, as I recall.
I'm led to wonder by the line in the preview of the coming week, not clear who it's being said to: "You're a robot -- can you do that?"
The show apparently takes place in the Marvel movie universe, which seems to be much like the Marvel comics universe, with a similar allowance for hand-waving in physics, etc., for continuity and/or plot points, but with filters for stuff that would look too silly in live action, even with the usual movie/TV divergences from reality. If our suspension of disbelief doesn't match the allowance/filter settings we can get jarred. Also, we are in the early episodes, and we know Whedon likes progressively nuanced tropes. So I'm hanging on. We shall see....
I think it definitely behooves us all to remember that this is a comic book brought to life, not a real-world simulation with, somehow, superheroes.
I am particularly susceptible to this error. Note my comments about muscle memory above. In the comic-book universe, Coulson's muscle-memory could be failing because
I do think it's likely that Coulson actually believes he lived and recuperated in Tahiti; he seemed honestly confused that his muscle-memory wasn't there. And although people have referred to him dying, my recollection is that it has not been in his presence, or has been sotto voce and he plausibly might not have heard it.
And, of course, even if he heard them, he could plausibly believe that they're mistaken about him dying and simply fell for Fury's cover story.
Me, I'm inclined to agree with the folks here; "Tahiti" is a fake memory or a post-hypnotic suggestion or some such; Coulson actually died, and was actually brought back (for some value of brought back) somehow.
Xopher: what language/tradition is that raith there? I suspect I've run across a reference to it without knowing it (I assumed it was a pun on "wraith").
Marv Wolfman made a comparison between "SHIELD" and "Arrow", saying that the latter has more going in it than the former has had in three episodes. "Arrow" may have more stuff going, but I can't get over Oliver Queen's dad shooting himself after shooting the one surviving crewmember - without asking the latter's opinion - so that his precious son can make it with what little supplies they had.
Lila, it's supposedly Gaelic. I got it from Starhawk. As far as I know it's not related to 'wraith', but my dictionary lists 'wraith' as "origin obscure," so there's no way to be certain.
Cassy B @217 -- I thought Coulson had commented several times on his having died (about once per episode), though he said it was only for a period of minutes. I'd have to go re-watch it to pick out times on the screen. I think he knows he was dead.
Tom @221, I don't recall Coulson explicitly saying he'd died. He did say he'd "stopped breathing for eight seconds" which struck me as weirdly trivial; if his heart had stopped for eight seconds that would be one thing, but breathing? Not so much.
(Which makes me wonder what process stopped for eight seconds that Coulson conflated with breathing.)
Anyone out there remember him actually saying he'd died?
"Director Fury faked your death, to motivate the Avengers." [...] "It wasn't that much of a stretch. I stopped breathing for about forty seconds." "That gets longer every time you tell it." "You get shanked by the Asgardian Mussolini, you can tell it your way. I was looking at the big white light and it felt like a lot longer than eight seconds."
(Got it right here.)
At face value Coulson has every right to joke about having been briefly dead.
Andrew Plotkin @223 Hmmm. I find it interesting that the subjective time was longer than eight seconds. Presumably someone told him it was eight seconds... but I'm wondering if it was actually minutes, or hours...
I wasn't terribly impressed with this last episode. The main plot didn't make much sense: The evil tycoon of the week wants the gravitonium because evil. Do I have that straight? A lot of the little stuff was good, but it all added up to much less than its parts.
The general idea of the series seems to be that mankind is Just Not Ready for certain technologies. This week’s ep was the first in which the Bad Tech is of entirely human invention, rather than a modification of an alien import.
James Nicoll has already joked about a 1930s version of SHIELD, protecting the world from air conditioning and antibiotics.
Avram @ 226... Considering what a bangup job SHIELD itself has already done with unusual tech, I think I'll take my chances elsewhere. Anyway, who gets to decide when we're ready for that tech? The same clowns who wanted to nuke Manhattan to save it from an alien invasion?
Well, I now have _The Web of Fear_ and _The Enemy of the World_ (Troughton serials) purchased and downloaded, and am planning a watching party.
My current feeling on SHIELD is that the writers(*) are trying to buy thematic riffs that they haven't nearly invested the payment for. The first episode laid out a decent mission statement (in Coulson's voice) but you have to fill that in with shows. Now they've got bits like the "big brother" line, okay, good idea, but it's just a line until we are comfortable with Wade and Skye etc as people. First. Which they're not yet. To me.
The contrast with _Arrow_ is that _Arrow_ consciously set itself up as a drama (which riffed on superhero-genre ideas). Lot of characters, but within the first couple of episodes their character arcs were all introduced and running. SHIELD is... it's not *ignoring* that(**) but it's a smaller part of the show structure.
Plus, obviously, _Arrow_ kept alien tech and superpowers firmly out of scope. That made for very good focus. (I understand that's going to slip in season 2. Their mistake to make, I guess.)
(* I don't know how much Whedon is involved with episode specifics.)
(** Except for the science twins, who had better turn into *some* kind of payoff sometime this season.)
The show apparently takes place in the Marvel movie universe, which seems to be much like the Marvel comics universe
I'm kind of curious if there's any precedent in the Marvel comics universe (about which I know next to nothing) for the idea that Malta is some kind of semi-rogue state that's opted out of the usual international organizations and regulatory frameworks, where would-be corporate supervillains can set up their home compounds... or if that was just some weird bit of sloppiness on the part of the show's writers.
Malta not so much, but there is the island of Madripoor; they may have decided to give it a real-world name for some reason?
Malta used to have a reputation for being a base for weapons dealers. Tom Clancy has that pop up as a plot detail in..."Patriot Games" IIRC.
(The Zodiac boats used in the prisoner-springing caper were sold to the Irish terrorist by someone in Malta.)
Lori Coulson @ 231:
Hmm... I'll have to mention that to my Maltese friend and see what he knows about it ;-)
(It was just a bit jarring to hear the villain speechifying about how wonderful that place was because it was so free of the stultifying, oppressive regulation of the US, the European Union, etc., etc.... and know that Malta has been part of the EU for the past nine years, and part of the Eurozone since 2008. So, not exactly free of all those regulations.)
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D drinking game.
Even having seen only 1 episode as yet, this rings very true to me.
I have a friend whose mother is Maltese. His cousins came over from Malta for a wedding and had many tales of the long history of smuggling on the island. (One of them looked very like a pirate as well).
In the real world, Malta is part of the EU, one of the organisations called out by Quinn as over-regulating his research.
Tonight's episode: big belly laugh at the order to "seduce him". Even bigger WTF, dude!, at a datalink that can send video but can't manage the measly few kilobytes per second for sound.
And I have some tasty tenderloin, freshly microwaved.
And eye surgery on the show. Isn't that special.
I 'like' the cavalier manner in which Agent Coulson justifies monitoring what we put out there on the web. Of course, he's a good guy so he'd never abuse such power.
One: Agent Coulson may well be nice, but he is not good.
Two: This universe does not have science, it has Science! instead. (That is, mad science operating under different physical laws from our own, which may or may not count as magic. Yes, this makes Tony Stark a Spark.)
Dear Agents of SHIELD writers:
EYEGLASSES DON'T BLINK.
Here's what worries me: Everything about Dollhouse that I hated and decided to ignore because it was "too stupid to be intentional" was everything that the intended-finale  was ABOUT.
So the apparent-clunkiness might be a Deep Reveal that I will be deeply annoyed by. Or it might just be "Disney owns this, and they're leaning on us, so we're going to pitch it at people who are simultaneously nine and forty-five years old."
Because so far I'm buying none of the characters except Agent Coulson , none of the situations, and don't even like buying the handwavium. 
 "This isn't getting renewed, so we're giving them the ending now." [SUMMER PASSES] "We got renewed? What?"
 Barely and grudgingly.
 If you go to the opera on purpose you can't complain about the melodrama; if you watch a superhero movie you can't complain about the science.
Anyone else notice that the technological weirdness seems to be getting less weird?
Eps 1 & 2, alien tech. Ep 3, Earth-made tech utilizing an exotic element and cutting-edge physics. Ep 4, something that SHIELD’s house gadgeteers can reproduce with an hour’s work.
"We do seem to be learning by trial and error - mostly error."
- from "Alphas", which was very flawed, but better than this
I wonder if SHIELD's next episode will have Agent Coulson run into yet another woman from his past, which would make it the 3rd time in 5 episodes.
I'm beginning to wonder if Whedon is involved mainly as Name Recognition. Even Dollhouse had more snap than this. He evidently directed the pilot, but he only shows up as cowriter, and in only two eps. If so, he's not doing his personal brand any favors.
Jacque, I wonder if the lack of snap is because Whedon's working in someone else's world. Buffy and Dollhouse were his creations, but SHIELD isn't (at least, not entirely). Yes, he did the movie, but that can be a good deal different than a TV series.
_Buffy_ was *also* Whedon working in somebody else's world. Then there was _Much Ado About Nothing_...
Maybe he's not working on SHIELD personally. Maybe he's just writing weak scripts. It happens.
@247 Andrew Plotkin
_Buffy_ was *also* Whedon working in somebody else's world.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer was created by Joss Whedon. He wrote the script for the original 1992 movie, though he hated the way it ended up being made. The series was his proper vision, but it was always his world.
So I binge-watched _Arrow_. The last time I read a Green Arrow comic, he was clean-shaven and had a red feather in his hat, and Speedy was his kid sidekick, not his kid sister. That was, I guess, many retcons ago. But I've seen later covers, so the hooded look wasn't a surprise. Heavy on the angst pedal. It looks to me like when a character has to make a decision, they go for the one that will produce the most future emotional pain and character conflict. Lots of physical pain, too. And the characters seem somehow false or hollow to me; not sure why. I like the structure, with the back story running parallel to the current story; I don't watch enough TV to know if this is a common thing.
Cheryl@248: Whoops! I had forgotten, or never knew, that the Buffy movie was Whedon's script.
(I still wave my point around generally -- there are a lot of factors here, and it's not obvious that "my sandbox / other sandbox" is a crucial one.)
Don Simpson, re _Arrow_:
"I like the structure, with the back story running parallel to the current story; I don't watch enough TV to know if this is a common thing."
I guess _Lost_ made it famous? In genre TV, anyhow. _Once Upon A Time_ does it too, with mixed results. (It's a mixed sort of show.)
(Not quite the same cases, as both of those shows scramble the past-era storyline rather than running it linearly.)
I went through _Arrow_ S1 in about a month. I figure I'll wait and then do the same thing on S2. It's not like I'm short of TV right now.
... a datalink that can send video but can't manage the measly few kilobytes per second for sound.
I can imagine (only slightly handwaving) arguments to the effect that an artificial eye isn't really a very good place for a microphone.
(Or that someone originally designed said eye assuming that if the person using it needed audio communication, they'd just wear a microphone.)
Jacque @ #245:
I gather from reports that although he was involved in setting up the series and planning where it was headed, Joss doesn't have much of a hand in the ongoing running of the thing because he's busy with the next Avengers movie. The actual hands on the helm are those of the other two co-creators. (They've both worked in the Jossverse before, for what it's worth, on Doctor Horrible and, for better or for worse, on Dollhouse.)
Re Arrow: I quit watching it partway through S1 (and now those eps have expired off free Hulu); I'm not sure if I'm going to watch S2. It was full of loathsome people.
However, one thing it never did was trivialize its female characters, or put them there primarily for the titillation, which shocked, surprised, and pleased me when I realized it.
(also, watching ActorName do things with his amazing naked upper-body musculature was wonderful. I am shallow)
Not comicky, but is anyone else watching Once Upon a Time in Wonderland? I enjoyed OuaT all right, and still almost can't imagine Disney is allowing this kind of transformative fic with their characters.
My main (and completely unspoilery) reaction to the pilot of Wonderland is, "So, um, that backstory they breezed past? Why is THAT not the show?? It sounds an awful lot more fun than what you're pointing the camera at now ..."
I watched "Arrow" for a few episodes then gave up. The initial outing had a big problem for me, with Dad deciding that Son is such a great human being that, when their yacht sinks, leaving Dad, Son and the only remaining crewmember with limited supplies on their raft, Dad decides that the only way Son can survive is if Dad blows his own brains out after blowing out the brains of the crewmember, whose opinion wasn't asked and Son doesn't object. Besides, I miss the Ollie Queen who'd sarcastically call Batman 'Chuckles'. I also miss the boxing-glove arrow.
I watched one episode of Arrow, wasn't intrigued—and was reminded of the '80s evening soap opera, Dallas.
I really should start watching my DVD set of "Birds of Prey".
I never tried Arrow. I've only been tempted because Colton Haynes and John Barrowman were on it, but never actually watched it.
I have, however, been watching the lead actor's cousin on The Tomorrow People. So far its chief virtue is eye candy.
I'm the last person in the world to see this, right? The Consultant
I guess I do want to watch some of the movies after all.
The new season of Arrow reached the UK yesterday and it seems that Ollie Queen is trying to stop being haunted murderous revenge vigilante The Hood* and maybe try to be less murderous and more heroic. Also I don't know if the actor has improved or the writing is better suited to him but I find him a bit more convincing now.
Serge @255 Besides, I miss the Ollie Queen who'd sarcastically call Batman 'Chuckles'. I also miss the boxing-glove arrow. Yes - they've positioned him as the straight man in the show. Which doesn't mean he can't be and isn't funny, but only often enough that's it's always a surprise.
...although it seems like it would be trivial to insert a periodic cut out/switch to backscatter (whatever the original does) into the already compromised feed. Admittedly the blink thing wasn't something I'd thought of, but I'll be surprised if that's the worst assault on the suspension of disbelief the show throws up.
Enjoying it so far, but it's not gripping me by the shirt collars the way Buffy or early Supernatural did. It feels less like the beginning of a whole new world opening up and more like mid-run "monster of the week" in a familiar universe, which is not the greatest sign for a show four episodes old. Maintaining faith that we're waiting on a big bad or overarching theme to make it more cohesive.
I feel sort of like the Good Fairy in Little Bunny Froo Froo: "I'll give you THREE chances to be good...!"
Well, more than three. But not, say, a whole season.
I finally figured out who the guy who plays Coulson reminds me of: Anthony Head.
I've watched OUAT because: Robert Carlyle! (Rumplestiltskin: creepy and adorable!) But I find my patience with it generally limited. (I never did grok the appeal of Lost.)
I find it's one of those things that works better when watched in batches, so I'm currently saving up the first five eps for a binge.
Finally got around to watching Bones, which is another one improved by bingeing. Absolutely fell in love with T.J. Thyne; if you want a fun, StFnal love story, try Shuffle.
Angel always annoyed me; David Boreanaz just can't carry off the angsting Romantic Hero, I'm sorry. Booth is a much better fit for him.
John A. Arkansawyer @259 -- not the last. And thank you for the laugh.
Jacque @263: I fell away from Bones (after initially loving it) when it started suffering from what I call the Series Mystery Book 5 Problem: it got so wrapped up in quirky personal lives and rohMAAAAANtic subplots and such that it quit actually having a whole plot/mystery/problem in each episode.
I watch them for the plot. I like that the characters feel like people, but when their personal lives rise up and strangle all the life out of every other aspect of the show, I lose all interest. I may be odd, though, because the 'monster-of-the-week' eps were the ones I liked BEST in X-Files, and I understand I am in the tiny minority on that.
This happened to Anita Blake after Blue Moon, for example, though some authors manage to make it past five books. Susan Conant's dog mysteries (starting with A New Leash on Death) made it surprisingly far, as I recall, before I had to give up on it due to the relationship-thrashing and lack of any interesting plot per book, as did Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak books.
Elliott Mason (265): I liked the X-Files Monster of the Week episodes best, too. (The habitues of alt.tv.x-files used the phrases 'it's not just you' and 'you're not the only one' so often that we abbreviated them to 'injy' and 'yntoo'.)
For me, Bones fell victim to my general problem with detestable leads. Took a while for me to decide Brennan was actually a bad person, and not just irritating (and I've ranted about her here before, so I'll leave it at that).
I barely made it through one season of The Mentalist. Actually I probably watched that one longer than I should have, because he had his little flares of decency, the way decent people have little flares of temper where they say things they later regret.
Another unexciting episode tonight -- a little tiny bit of visible Coulson arc advancement with the "What did they do to him?", and I bet they're building something with the various bits of tech introduced in each show like the blackboard equation (a maguffin which makes no sense at all except in an early Marvel universe plottish way -- if it's that secret, who are the two geeks inside, and why did the seller have a sellable access card?). There's not being very much payoff so far. Backscatter x-ray tech without an x-ray source, though -- that's pretty interesting tech.
Neil W @ 260... they're finally adding humor to "arrow"? Good. Even Mike Grell's work on the comic-book sometimes laughed ar itself, like when Ollie sang the theme song from Richard Green's "Robin Hood".
I think I'm about done. Nobody's actions make any kind of sense. (E.g., you've got a guy with magic platelets or some damn thing, so obviously the thing to do is take his current supply and then kill him, rather than, I dunno, keep him around so he can make more platelets.)
Yeah, that was pretty disappointing. At least they killed off that damned doctor, though they appear to have replaced her with someone even worse. And it was good to see May in action. And people actually speaking real Chinese on TV was also kinda cool (Whedon likes it, apparently, but couldn't quite make it happen on Firefly).
The fireproof platelets made me go "Whaaaaaaat?" And he had bloody sores on his arms...with no platelets, wouldn't they keep bleeding and not clot? Jim, can you comment?
And I agree with Lila, "let's take the platelets and kill him" made no sense. I think they're just trying to evil up the villains, to maintain contrast with the sort-of heroes. "See, we don't murder our allies! We enslave them with control bracelets! We're GOOD!"
I'm afraid I didn't buy Scorch's corruption, either. He just wasn't that evil, or that amoral, at the beginning that he could have gone all the way to killing people—even SHIELD agents—that quickly.
And if those bracelets keep you from using electronic devices, doesn't that pretty much make Skye useless baggage? I mean, she's a hacker—if you disable her hacking you might as well just lock her up in the SHIELD equivalent of Gitmo.
If I recall correctly what Coulson said about the other bracelet is that the guy would have problems with electronic equipment for a while (with the length of "while" unspecified). Also that the bracelet would do what Coulson wanted it to do.
Which suggests that any effect of the bracelet on hacking is to some extent under Coulson's control.
SHIELD: It was an episode. Apparently I don't judge evil scientists plans on logic, because the platelets don't bother me. But I wish the evil doctor lady was distinguishable from Simmons by my poor weak brain. (By face, I mean. Voice is no problem.)
Hm, IMDB says FitzSimmons have first names. Not sure IMDB is reliable, though.
Yes, I've been watching OUATWonderland. It's... well, it's got all the cheese of the original show, but without the real-world anchorage and without either Robert Carlyle or Lana Parrilla. (Naveen Andrews is a good actor but his character is one-note, so far.)
It's thin cheese. A Kraft Single, one might say. And yet, I'll watch it, because -- I dunno, it's low-stress and pleasant. I've watched sillier things.
(And yet I didn't stick with _Sleepy Hollow_, whose chief virtue -- according to fans -- is that it's silly adorable cheese. Eh, nobody pays me for consistency.)
Andrew Plotkin @273: Eh, nobody pays me for consistency.
One of Nancy's buttons: "I'm more committed to truth than to consistency." :-)
I like "Sleepy Hollow." Haven't tried either of the OUATs.
I say avoid CW's "Reign" like the plague -- their costumers apparently don't know how to make a period dress (strapless gowns on the maids-in-waiting? And cutesy names for them that are definitely neither Scots nor French?!).
As for historical accuracy, the less said the better. To the best of my knowledge, Diane de Poitiers was infertile, there was no bastard son or daughter by Henri. And Catherine de Medici was not a redhead...
SHIELD continues to disappoint, and I continue to watch. Meanwhile, on Arrow, Black Canary has shown up, Ra's al Ghul has been mentioned....
wouldn't they keep bleeding and not clot? Jim, can you comment?
Yeah, he'd find clotting a challenge. But removing all of his platelets would be even more of a challenge.
If you have someone who produces Magic Platelets, keeping him around to make more would be an Extremely Good Plan. I guess the bad guys ignored the Five Year Old Child line in the Evil Overlord's List. ("One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.")
I don't know what's up with this show. I expect that it's the interference of Marvel Creative Services (five lies in three words).
So, here's an explanation of why they might not have wanted to keep him around.
Initial plan: keep him around. But, he's highly unstable, and could easily go off the deep end. So, here's their alternate plan -- take out enough of the platelets to have plenty to analyze and from the analysis synthesize whatever protein/magic it is that keeps him from burning. They get one chance at this. They couldn't have taken out all his platelets anyway, but plateletpheresis is a well-known technology (it's been used to take platelets out or my blood). Sample gets taken, he reacts really badly to some part of it, then goes crazy and injects himself with Extremis. They've got what they *need* in their sample (which did not look like the product of platelet extraction to me -- it's not red/pink at all, but a sort of butterscotch color IIRC). And they're following a triage scenario getting it out of the building because everything's just gone completely wrong. And they knew this would be a possibility because, like, give them a name and they go batsh*t.
Trying to find out what the factor in his blood is that keeps him from combusting is better than using whole platelets because of blood compatibility problems. A solution that only works for people with type AB blood (as single-donor platelets could, per this compatibility chart for platelets) would not be very helpful for someone trying to put together an army of super-soldiers.
They don't need to give all their soldiers his platelets. They need to give them his immunity to burning up. That immunity may be found in his platelets -- but that doesn't mean it has to stay there.
Yeah, but the opening of the ep has them using goons in fireproof suits to kidnap the guy, rather than saying “Hey, we’re willing to pay you a buttload of money to let us do some tests on you, and also we can get you out from under SHIELD’s aegis.”
They had to pull him out of SHIELD's surveillance quickly, and didn't want to take the time to convince him to come visit them. Besides, they are the bad guys -- that has to be demonstrated every so often.
Also they actually said "take all his platelets and kill him." Not like keeping him was ever a plan.
"Three words: are mutants dangerous?"
"That's an unfair question, Senator Kelly. After all, the wrong person behind the wheel of a car can be dangerous."
"Well, we do license people to drive."
"But not to live."
I think of these words from 2000's "X-men" when I watch "Agents of SHIELD" and it's not favorable to the latter.
Hmm. People assume that the main characters of a movie or TV show are the good guys. This isn't so. The Men in Black were always the bad guys until the movie Men in Black, and I would contend that making them the central characters doesn't change the moral equation. They wind up saving the world a few times, but overall they're still the bad guys they were in The X-Files.
SHIELD aren't the good guys. They're allied with the good guys part of the time; that's the best you can say.
It's interesting to contrast it with The Tomorrow People, whose cancellation should be coming along any week now. In TTP, the organization that's trying to contain and depower the mutants is unambiguously evil; they control you, take away your powers, or kill you (or both of the last two). SHIELD is a little gentler, but wayyy off the "good guys."
Xopher @ 283... Last week's episode only reinforced my opinion of SHIELD as anything but the Good Guys. If they shared the same reality as the "X-men" movies, Agent Coulson and his crew would happily be enforcing the Mutant Registration Act.
Xopher @283, Serge @284, I think you have to allow for shades of gray here. Shield are certainly not White Hats; they're Big Brother. But in their defense, they're not exactly Black Hats, either; they didn't imprison or kill pyrotechnic-guy; they just kept an eye on him. (Still not good, but not exactly Evil, either.) In the stuttering words of Hacker-girl (sorry, I can't remember ANYBODY's names), they're Big Brother that sometimes beats up bullies for you. (And sometimes are bullies themselves.)
I haven't decided what I think of this show. My husband expressed profound irritation at the presumption that All Hackers Are Anarchists....
Oh, and didn't Shield say there was no such things as psychics? So how do they explain pyrotechnic-guy? (And Centipede seems to think that psychics exist, if they have a tame precog...)
Cassy, good points on shades of gray. (I've heard there are 50 of them, but I think that's a gross underestimate.) Seriously, they're Gray Hats.
And they told Scorch that he couldn't use his power or they would come for him. I started rooting for him at that point. That was definitely on the bad-guy side.
As for "all hackers are anarchists," it's more that all hackers are outsiders of one kind or another; some are anarchists and some are in it for the money. The meaning of the word has changed from "someone who does computers at a deep level, with little regard for structure or aesthetics" to "cybercriminal."
Whatever else it may or may not be doing, the show is being fairly upfront about the fact that SHIELD are, at best, the grey hats.
(And on the "what's up with Agent Coulson" front, I think it's significant that the former agent with the prosthetic x-ray eye who knew Coulson from before didn't say "That's not him," but rather "What did they do to him?" Based on that, my current bet is that he's a cyborg, rather than either a robot or a clone.)
Cassy B... Agreed. They are grey hats, but they scare me. First, you have the Inner Circle that unilaterally decides to nuke Manhattan after Nick Fury's own bunch dabbled in forbidden technology that allowed for an alien invasion to begin. In last week's episode, when the hacker asks about due process, they basically say they don't have time for that. Of course the hacker himself turn out to be full of BS and everything is front-loaded to make SHIELD's actions OK. There are bad guys who want to use mutants so of course we have to keep them from living their own lives.
S.H.I.E.L.D.'s mistake is that it wants to keep all this stuff under wraps. It completely makes sense for a grey-hat in-the-shadows organisation to tell a pyromancer to not let anyone know, because there are bad people out there who shouldn't be allowed to know this stuff exists. But they still think and act like a covert ops agency, when what with the alien invasion etc. it's all out in the open. They should be shifting to a police role, telling the pyrotechnic they're keeping an eye on him, so don't step burn anything he shouldn't, but not keeping it a secret.
I also recall the first season of Buffy which opened with the undeniable truth that vampires were bad and slaying them were good and the Slayers and Watchers were the good guys etc. and that turned out to be a bit more complicated. As for Joss Whedon's involvement, I'm certain that as an executive producer scripts cross his desk. He's reported to be a workaholic, so it seems likely to me that he's at least read and commented on them.
Serge @269 - Arrow isn't a comedy and never will be. But the first season seems to have been a prologue and Ollie has got some of the rage out of his system, and more of the angst has been moved into the flashback scenes. Still, I laughed out loud at the scene when three characters complained about their secret identities.
I think it's also significant that this is a grey hat organization that has recently lost a huge amount of materiel and a significant number of people. In other words, it's abruptly more resource-poor than it used to be. Possibly this accounts for the "stand over here and don't get into any trouble" approach to the pyro street magician.
BTW, the Captain America: The Winter Soldier trailer definitely supports the grey hats view of SHIELD.
I'd be tempted to ask Agent Coulson WWCAD.
What would Captain America Do?
Neil W... So, no boxing-glove arrow? Drat.
Not yet. Which is a pity as there have been great places for them to be used in the first three episodes. Instead stun arrows and regular arrows used non-lethally.
Okay, there was enough in this week's episode to make me watch next week's.
Possibly just for the fun of me and my daughter simultaneously yelling DON'T TOUCH LOLA!
Startled daughter's girlfriend considerably, but our dog (whose name is Lola) slept right through it.
Think I'm done with SHIELD. We had the science-twins character focus episode, and I'm still not into them. Not enough left here that I care about, and Coulson's backstory isn't enough of a gimmick to cover. Ah well.
I liked this week's episode. There was some emotion to this one, particularly Coulson's doubts about himself. The play between Fitz and Simmons isn't quite there yet, but it's growing.
But why the hell does a six-engine jet not have a visible copilot?
Given what I've heard about Whedon's refrigerator habits (this and The Avengers is what I know of his work), I've been expecting what didn't happen tonight to happen, so good for whoever didn't kill her off.
If this turns into a Fitz-Simmons-Ward-Skye quadrilateral-like object, I don't think I'll like it. And while it was nice seeing Ward not be frustrated, I was really hoping Fitz would hop into Lola to save the day.
Fitz FTW! This is getting good.
An improvement over last week's episode, which was an improvement over the previous ones, and the preview for next week's episode looked comic-booky in a good way. The series seems to be finding its footing. And the Cnexre reference took me by surprise: it fits established comic continuity, but it's not a connection I expected them to make.
What Parker reference? I missed it.
(And this is explicitly marked as a spoilers thread; no need for Rot13.)
I approve of the FZZT episode, even though it is awkwardly welded from two interesting bits. Firstly the problem is an accidental result of an alien invasion. Then Ward complains about his uselessness, which fits in with my personal theory of him being the hero from a spy thriller who has found himself in a superhero universe. THEN he goes all James Bond, because there will always be a need for nerve, daring and courage to deliver the payloads of the technical part of the team.
Steve C @297 - Not only why does it not have a co-pilot, but why is the team not twice as big?
Then they could send 6 people out into the field. Leader or second in command can keep an eye on things from the command centre on the plane. Pilot and co-pilot. Then that leaves one technical expert and two combat ready agents as backup on board in case things go wrong, as they do every week.
Of course to do that Coulson would probably have to halve the size of his office* to make room for them so that's a no go.
* Which would leave very little room for the camera crew to be able to film from every angle as they can at the moment.
What happens if the team's latest problem comes up in a town that's 100 miles from any landing strip? It's too bad the Bus can't do vertical landings/takeoffs. At least, if something went wrong with its engines, it'd have a better glide path than the Helicarrier has, which writer John Hemry has described as worse than a brick's.
I agree, things are looking up. I may be losing objectivity because I adore Jasper Sitwell and because Barton & Romanov got namechecked, but hell. Fanservice is a legitimate tool.
Do we know for sure it can't do VTOL? Really and truely?
And Serge, I was expecting them to use Lola (who does have VTOL) for the exfil rather than the bus. On the one hand, unquestionably the bus has better armament and probably better shielding, but on the other hand, Lola's a lot more nimble and can get a lot closer without being noticed.
@301 Avram: When Coulton and May were talking about the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who dropped Skye off at the orphanage. At the end of the conversation, May looked at some photos and said, "Parker." In the comics, Richard and Mary Parker worked for Nick Fury in a proto-S.H.I.E.L.D. agency.
(I can always remember the names of Peter Parker's parents because my own parents are named Richard and Mary.)
We saw the big SHIELD plane hover in place and swivel its jets in the most recent ep. That implies VTOL capability to me.
VTOL it is then.
@307 Steven desJardins
When Coulton and May were talking about the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who dropped Skye off at the orphanage. At the end of the conversation, May looked at some photos and said, "Parker." In the comics, Richard and Mary Parker worked for Nick Fury in a proto-S.H.I.E.L.D. agency.
She said "Poor girl", not "Parker".
Thumbs up on this week's ep. Nice touches include the harm that secrecy and compartmentalization can do ("trust the system") and Coulson's loyalty to his team. Also, the slight hesitation in Coulson's automatic response about Tahiti ("It's a magical ... place") as if it was implanted in him. Idle thought ... What if Coulson is a Life Model Decoy, and a prototype for a more human version, and the original Phil is still in, erm , Tahiti, in some sort of coma?
A prosciutto sandwich with a touch of pesto perhaps?
@310 Cheryl: Oh. Whoops. For one brief shining moment, I thought they had actually planned out a detailed, interesting backstory for one of the characters. My bad.
Well, I feel the need to be more explicit about what I liked about this episode.
Fitz is developed as a character. In this episode he proves that he's smart (the dumbness about the sandwich aside) and brave, and can think on his feet (just as I was thinking the timely blowing of the lights was contrived—it wasn't) and is not too timid to kick someone in the face when it's called for (though I had to watch that four times before I was sure what happened, which isn't very good editing). He was also able to be tactful with Simmons and not tell her "sorry, the big lug there chucked the sandwich into the tarn." I totally crush on Fitz, but surely anyone can see that his character is becoming more of a person and team member and less of a stereotype?
Simmons got "into the field" a little too, though less excitingly. She was never in any real danger, even of the court martial she worries about after stun-gunning an agent.
Team bonding, rule breaking, and the SHIELD person's callousness turns out to be confidence instead. What's not to like?
Lila 306: First, Avram is right (308). But also, Lola doesn't have enough jet power to blow down a bunch of enemy soldiers.
Steve 311: I interpreted that as Coulson finally noticing that he automatically says that whenever anyone mentions Tahiti.
@313 Steven desJardins
Oh. Whoops. For one brief shining moment, I thought they had actually planned out a detailed, interesting backstory for one of the characters. My bad.
I'm not sure that her saying "Poor girl" necessarily precludes that, but... OK, then?
It would be cool if Skye turned out to be Spiderman's sister. Probably not a lot of stories to hang from that, though, especially if Spiderman never appears on the show.
I was thinking Skye might turn out to be May's daughter. Ming-Na Wen is actually old enough to be Chloe Bennett's mother, and Chloe Bennett has one Chinese parent.
I'm trying to watch the ep and I'm stuck with Simmons trying to get Sitwell to leave her alone in the Seeeekrit Halllway of Seeeeekrits.
I'm supremely uncomfortable and have to keep closing the window, both because there's this horrible sexual-harrasment air over the entire scene (my current pause was Simmons commenting on his head) and because SITWELL WOULD HAVE TO BE A TOTAL IDIOT not to know what's going on: I mean, seriously? Skye is VISIBLE FROM WHERE THEY'RE STANDING, and Simmons has a 1 in Subterfuge. Sitwell, as previously established, is Coulson's equal.
It feels like laughing-at-incompetent-people, and I hate that and it makes me feel like a bully. Watching TV should not make me feel like a bully. :-/ I think I'm going to skip forward short bits until something else is happening and just acknowledge I won't know directly what happened in that scene.
Elliott, and they could have fixed that so easily by putting Sitwell in that final scene with the SHIELD boss, and saying something like "I had to play so dumb to let them get away with this!"
Yeah. Shield has cameras and AI, and A TAG ON SKYE. They knew she was standing at that doorway. They couldn't NOT know. It's an idiot plot, and Joss knows better. :-/
Having seen the poor-girl scene, I think it likely that Skye's parents were caught in some kind of crossfire (either as bystanders or participants) and SHIELD took the loose parentless (or parents in permanent SHIELD custody?) kid to an orphanage.
Xopher: Or perhaps, "I don't appreciate being the one who had to play dumb for that, ma'am. Because I had to play really, really dumb."
Well, it was clear by the end that the SHIELD boss (what was her name?) not only expected but wanted Coulson's team to extract Fitz and Ward, so SHIELD's selective blindness to Skye's presence is satisfactorily explained. I honestly don't think that's a retcon, but they could have made the agent's stupidity (and he had to go some to out-stupid Skye and Simmons, who were...well, let's just say I think the average 8th grader can lie better than that) more explicitly part of the boss's design.
Carrie, yeah, even better!
His patsy is legendary, after all.
My hand-waving on the stupid agent is that SHIELD expects sophisticated, subtle threats to security, not clumsy, dimwitted ones.
Sorry, wasn't gnomed. Persistent name....
I also got the impression that Coulson was actually trying to nudge Skye into her hacking excursion.
I don't think Coulson can be an LMD for several reasons -- the scar that he shows off for one, the medical results, the ways in which the Level 8 members treat him, and such. It doesn't play. A revenant, definitely, but not an LMD.
Well, that was satisfying. And I'm glad to see my fears of a "Fitz-Simmons-Ward-Skye quadrilateral-like object" seem to be unfounded. Now: Does May already know about Skye's parents? And will Skye hack SHIELD to get Coulson's file?
Agent Jasper Sitwell (S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy, Class of '66) appears to have lost the blonde brushcut and horn-rimmed glasses he was sporting the last time I saw him.
Tom Whitmore @327, the scar which could easily be artificial — I mean seriously, you’d accept a robot with realistic simulated human-like skin, but not that the technicians who put it together could add a fake scar? The medical results he’s not allowed to actually see the originals of?
The only thing that makes me think that he might not be an LMD, at this point, was Skye’s line in the most recent ep about Coulson “acting like a robot version of himself,” which seems too on-the-nose if that’s what they’re really going for, but just right if that’s what they’re trying to trick the long-time Marvel fans into thinking.
If he's a robot, Simmons has to know -- she's mediscanned him on camera. And I doubt she'd be cleared for it (or could keep the secret from him, if she knew).
I had to smile when Agent Coulson objected to being told something implying he might be an older man. I don't know if Coulson is the same age as Clark Gregg, who plays him, but the latter is 51 years old, which makes him 7 years younger than me. And did you know he's the son-in-law of Joel Grey? I mean that Gregg is, not Coulson.
Ming-na Wen will turn 50 this month. This makes me extremely happy, in a genre where women over 30 are mostly either absent or insignificant. (Also: Rene Russo, who's nearly 60, kicking some serious ass in Thor: the Dark World!)
Lila @ 333... Rene Russo? Be still, my heart. Anybody else remembers her being in the short-lived TV series "Jon Sable"?
Serge @332: Thanks for making me google that name. I now know not only that Joel Grey originated the Emcee in Cabaret, but that he ALSO originated the Wizard for Wicked.
His daughter, Jennifer Grey, was known to me from Dirty Dancing and Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Ferris' sister) ... and yes, is married to Gregg.
Elliott Mason @ 335... Wilkommen! :-)
I thought tonight was another decent episode. I wasn't expecting the Professor (nice turn by Peter MacNicol) to be an Asgardian.
And a sly Dollhouse reference at the end, when Coulson asks, "Did I fall asleep?" during his dreaming of Tahiti.
"Of course I don't know Thor. I was a mason. I didn't hang out with the Crown Prince."
I kept expecting someone to say "Aren't you a little short for an Asgardian?"
The Doubleclicks have written a song about Agent Coulson
Interesting episode, where it looked like the story would be about dealing with the couple who'd found the first segment of the Staff, but it wound up being about Peter McNicol, and about the old crap dredged out of the memories of the team's hunk.
(When we were told about Pagan Hate Groups, I went 'Huh?')
Sadly, there are a bunch of groups who claim to worship the Norse gods and are also virulent racists.
Serge, actually, some white supremacist groups use Norse pagan imagery, and some individuals and groups who define themselves as Norse pagans also espouse some nasty racist shit, and sometimes they claim that the racist stuff is justified by their religious beliefs.
It's a very big can of worms and I've tried to make my description as calm as I can. I'm in NO way saying that All Norse Pagans Are Racist. Very far from it. But I'm also trying to avoid the No True Scotsman type of defense.
I do NOT recommend Googling to learn more about the overlap.
However, I did find it entertaining to contemplate what the Marvel movieverse Asgardians would make of those groups. Or, rather, how they'd go about expressing the basic concept of You Guys Are Assholes. Chris Hemsworth's Thor being earnest and serious, Sir Anthony Hopkins being a scathing Odin, and Idris Elba's Heimdall just standing there, deadpan, letting them work it out for themselves.
Serge: Anders Breivik, for example. See also this.
Rikibeth, I shudder to think what Loki would do.
I stand corrected.
Lila @ 338... "Aren't you a little short for an Asgardian?"
Thse are not the Druids you are looking for.
Carrie S., I suspect he'd egg the assholes on, then deliver a speech to one of the other lead characters about how much fun it is to make the humans fight each other, and how little they realize that they're all just puny mortals. And Tom Hiddleston would have that crazy-evil light in his eyes which I have only ever seen outdone by the one Richard E. Grant can produce.
I think he'd start by egging them on, but then there'd be a very sharp lesson. Granted, probably of the form "None of you puny mortals are any better than any others", but still.
(The guy who runs Ardalambion wrote up a very nice treatment of the Akallabeth and how it might be filmed, and my buddy and I tried to cast it. Until Benedict Cumberbatch ended up as Smaug, he was our leading contender, but the voice is just too distinctive for him to be Sauron now too. Thus, Tom Hiddleston as Annantar Celeblamba...)
Can I ask a favor here, and get a spoiler?
The video cut out while I was watching this ep before the final Tahiti sequence -- so I've heard the audio. What happens in the video part?
Coulson's in a little beach cabana with his shirt off (dude's been working out), getting a massage.
OK, first: PAGANIST? *facepalm* Doesn't anyone fucking copyedit or fact check these fucking scripts?
The Norse Pagan RELIGION that Whedon trashes in this episode is called Asatru. It's the second-most common conversion religion in US prisons, where it does tend to be the white guys banding together against the black guys (who more commonly convert to Isalm). But I have some friends who are Asatru and I'm not friends with any White Supremacists, I promise you (and if I find out otherwise it will go right back to being true when I cut them off without another thought). Certainly none of them are the bloody destructive murderers the ONLY PAGANS SHOWN HERE are in this episode, gods damn it to fucking Whedon hell.
He's 0 for 2 on his Pagan religions. In BTVS he made hash of Wicca, then made fun of Wiccans for being religious instead of just wanting to throw magic around like Willow.
I'm beginning to think he's kind of an asshole.
Steve 337: I didn't think that was a sly reference. I think Coulson is a Doll.
Tom 349: He's getting a massage in Tahiti. He appears to wake up. The woman you heard continues to massage him. When she says "it's a magical place," he wakes with a start in his very high-tech bedroom on the Bus.
Nothing peculiar happens when the music comes up at the end?
(dangit, hit 'post' too soon) and then he wakes up in his quarters on the Bus, gasping.
Thanks for the quick responses -- that all makes sense.
To elaborate on "Coulson is a Doll," of course he'd have to be the Marvel equivalent. They could have taken a Dollhouse read of his brain after he lost consciousness but before he died, then grown one of those thingies (or taken some innocent guy and given him surgery to make him look like Coulson), then written Coulson's memories onto the guy's brain.
Also, why are the characters palling around with that smug Asgardian piece of shit? What happened to Ward was his fucking fault. I'll stop short of saying they should have let him die, but they definitely should have locked him in a box and not let him out for...I dunno, how about a decade or two? Nothing to him, of course.
Probably not, but I get the feeling that SHIELD is going to handle Asgardians with kid gloves. They'll keep a close eye on the professor; he's a valuable resource.
It should be noted that "just wanting to throw magic around" is also what got Willow in trouble. And one of the key influences that helped her recover was a group that seems to have taken a more spiritual approach to magic.
Xopher: Whedon's recent mansplainy comments about feminism make me think you're probably right.
Interesting question of whether one can "read" a personality from someone really recently dead, or whether that quality is actually what goes away upon death. It's not at all obvious that they could have gotten to Coulson quickly enough to record a life-map (we don't know how long that takes, either -- just how long it takes to wipe someone, effectively instantaneous). At least, that's what happens in the Dollhouse universe. And I did like the audio reference, but I expect it's not really relevant.
Yeah, just a few minutes into this week’s ep, I was thinking to myself “Wow, Xopher’s gonna be fuming over this one!”
Leaving aside the matter of whether they’re Ásatrú (I don’t think that word is ever used in the ep, and the impression I get from skimming Wikipedia is that actual European Germanic neo-paganism is a bit more complicated than that), I think this week’s bunch of bad guys is the weakest yet, in terms of how they’re written. Barely anything in the way of motivations of characterization — I don’t think they even had names. It reminded me of shows I’d watch when I was a kid, where a biker gang or a bunch of punk rock fans would be the villains, and it the writers seemed to assume that the audience would just go along with the characters being violent criminals because they were bikers or punk rock fans. Like orcs in modern fantasy games.
Is this something carried over from Thor 2, or just crappy writing?
The two that cut down the tree (and did we ever actually get an explanation of just how they knew exactly which tree it was?) did have names; we saw them on a readout screen. I don't think anyone ever said their names out loud.
It's fairly well established that the Professor thinks with his penis, and told one of his students a bit more than he should have in order to get her into bed.
Tom Whitmore @ 363... the Professor thinks with his penis
Mrs. Howell, Maryann and Ginger tell all.
As far as motivations go, I find "We want to be Gods" to be an entirely sufficient explanation.
Not carried over from Thor 2, at any rate.
And yeah, we appear to have two kinds of villains: 1. the Orc/Iago model (that's just how they roll) and 2. the misguided/drugged/enhanced model, who will either be dead or disappeared down the SHIELD rabbit hole by the end of the episode.
Geez, Professor, you couldn't have dropped the stupid thing in the OCEAN? (For preference, three different oceans?)
And yes, glad someone besides me noticed that Inappropriate Grad Advisor Is Inappropriate.
Lila @ 366... someone besides me noticed that Inappropriate Grad Advisor Is Inappropriate
So did I.
He considered dropping the staff in the ocean but worried it might cause an epidemic of berserker kraken.
Michael I @ 368... Thordines?
I do get tired of Coulson's death and stay in Tahiti being mentioned every episode. And I still would prefer that they never explain it; I like the mystery.
Meanwhile, on Sleepy Hollow, there was a glass armonica of the original foot-treadle type, which gladdened my simple heart.
Should we make bets that "Agents of SHIELD" turns out to be Agent Coulson's equivalent of Ambrose Bierce's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge"?
Serge: If it does, I'm personally going to tape a picture of Joss Whedon's face to my heavy bag and wear it out.
And then never watch anything of his again.
(Glass armonica for the win! That's amazing.)
Serge @ 371: Maybe he's in Valhalla, with paperwork. A cross between "Job" and "Captain Stormfield's Entry Into Heaven".
Meanwhile, Writer Walter Jon Williams notices a slight problem with Malekith's cunning plan to wipe out the Nine Worlds...
People say they're tired of the Is-He-Or-Isn't-He-Back-From-The-Dead thing, but they give us a pretty decent if not great episode without any Coulson death content and no one says a thing for a day now.
John A Arkansawyer @#375, between NaNoWriMo and Thanksgiving, I'm lucky I had time to watch the episode.
Not one of the best, IMO. I'm really tired of villains whose motivation is "IITS" (It's In The Script).
And I wish writers wouldn't do the "magic speech" thing. It only works if the speech is actually magical--I mean on a "band of brothers" level. If it just sounds like "I turned a PTSD survivor into a merry prankster with this one weird trick!" it kicks me out of the story.
But I was glad for a vacation from Tahiti.
I'm really tired of villains whose motivation is "IITS" (It's In The Script).
See, that was the part of this episode that I got. That's the bittersweet-ending version of how that story starts, down in the comments, where the spoken intro lives. The parallels were lively in my mind as I watched. The Magic Speech--thanks for that expression!--I took here as shorthand for vulnerability. Showing that can, I think, work magic.
What I didn't get was how incompetent the "bad guy" (hardly a villain) was. Did he ever kill anyone on purpose, even with all those surprise attacks with lethal weapons? I don't think so.
The show seems to still be deciding what sort of violence it's going to show. One day, it was a needlessly severed arm or a tastefully sizzled eyeball. Another day, it's strictly flesh wounds, if that. I myself like the Silver Age vibe of the MCU, which isn't so dark as the DCU (is there even an acronym?), and would prefer CCA-Approved violence levels. The creators are always welcome to turn up all the other stuff to make up for the lack of death and gore.
But the b-plot. Was it about a S.H.I.E.L.D. tradition of pranking as initiation? Or was it about Maye's background? Were Ward and then Coulson playing Skye with their ever-more-believeable-yet-still-unbelieveable stories? (Though I'd kind of like it if FitzSimmons gave Skye a totally made-up story which she iterated to the truth in two steps.) Is it a S.H.I.E.L.D. thing that once you commit to a prank, you carry through even in the middle of a hairy live situation?
It puts me in a mood to watch Family Guy.
I'm not sure that "incompetent" is the right word in reference to the bad guy not killing anyone on purpose. "Lucky" is probably a better word. I don't think he was specifically trying to kill anyone (at least not most of the time) even though he was certainly doing lots of things that could easily have gotten someone killed.
(I'm fine with calling him a villain. Deliberately repeatedly sabotaging an extremely dangerous piece of equipment definitely counts. Not to mention sabotaging the plane carrying the person you're supposedly trying to protect.)
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