The Good Stuff
This episode set a different tone than the previous episodes. with a creepy opening sequence in which a young black woman encounters a group of strange men with suits, briefcases, and red masks at a street fair. They end up on the same train, the lights go out, and when they come back on train is full of dead red-faced guys while she is at the station unloading a box of diamonds into her hand. It’s part horror, part heist.
We can thank three things for this week’s success – decent writing that was unafraid to show a story that doesn’t revolve around Our Heroes emotional tics, excellent direction (the opening montage was visually fantastic), and a sublime performance from guest star Pascale Armand, as Akela Amadour. Here she is, folks:
It’s a tribute to the power of tropes that I saw the opening scene as a woman being stalked by creepy guys, when in fact the plot suggests that she stalked them. And there are lots of other nifty reversal and twists in this episode. Above all, Armand is such a subtle actress that she single-handedly brings a high level of gravitas to the show, which the actors around her do a great job of keeping it from becoming oppressive. Akela projects vulnerability, so I felt empathy and worry for her. She’s tough (physically and mentally – holy shit, that eyeball thing was badass!) and smart, so I respected her. And her presence allows for more conflict among the team – May is genuinely put out with Coulson, the ever-infallible Coulson seems to have made a huge mistake in the past with Akela, and everyone has to do things they aren’t comfortable doing. So, I laughed plenty during this episode, and had fun, and got to take a much-needed weekly break from Thinking Deep Thoughts, but I also got very invested in what was going on. Congrats, show!
I’m fond of the fact that this show keeps addressing, and subverting, the idea that the role of an agent is to seduce people. In the pilot, Skye only uses her womanly wiles to gain an advantage over Ward after he specifically tells her that that will work. In the next episode, Coulson’s ex tries to seduce him but that just makes him realize that she’s up to something. In the following episode, Skye attempts wiles again but is informed by the bad guy that he is only interested in her brains. And in this one, Ward has to seduce a man. Now, I’m annoyed that Ward would balk at the idea of seducing a man. He’s been an agent for ages and I find it hard to believe that he hasn’t had to do it before. But, I find it hilarious that the problem isn’t really that he has to seduce a man, it’s that he has to seduce a man who is probably straight, and that the answer to this conundrum is to try to make friends. Yes, Ward, friends. It’s in the dictionary. Look it up.
The Not As Good Stuff
I still don’t understand why Fitz and Simmons are doing eye surgery. They don’t understand it either. Is it actually possible that no one on the planet but me, Fitz, and Simmons understands the difference between being able to build a bomb and being able to cut someone’s eye out without doing unintentional damage? I mean, anyone can cut out an eyeball, but putting it back, or even leaving it out and not having your patient bleed to death through their eye socket – that’s tricky. I’m sorry to have to dwell on such a disgusting subject, but oh, my God, the eye horror was through the roof this week, with the needle, and the – OK, see, now I have to go lie down.
Best Lines of the Week
The best line this week comes from the unexpected difficulties of stakeouts, when Fitz, Simmons, and Skye ask Ward where they are supposed to pee (“It was really a long drive! and some of us are nervous”) and he suggests an empty water bottle, prompting Skye to say, “Did you ever learn the part where boy parts and girl parts are different, and our parts aren’t PENISES?”
For other standouts, I give you the following:
Fitz/Simmons giving Ward experimental weaponry: “In case you miss! Or…have…multiple..assilants”.
Coulson: “Next time I get to decide what we call ourselves, OK?”
When Skye mentions being attacked during the stakeout, Coulson says, “That should never have happened”. and when she brushes it off saying it wasn’t as scary as listening to her parents fight, he says, “That should never have happened either”. Now I have, like, ALL the emotions. Excuse me while I just stick my heart back into my chest.
Couple bits of trivia – this episode was directed by…wait for it…Roxann Dawson! Who played B’Elanna Torres on Star Trek: Voyager! Personally, I’m not a fan of Voyager, but I was a fan of that character, so – Hi! And on a purely personal note, whenever I’m looking for images for these posts I keep finding images of Loki instead. Oh, Loki. Ours is a forbidden love.