Another good episode, although I still think it’s time for Skye and Ward to fill the background while Melinda May and Fitz/Simmons get something epic and character-building to do. Remember this column is more of a “highlight” feature than a recap. To find out the details of what happened, I recommend Television Without Pity, io9, or The Mary Sue, all of which have great recaps of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Speaking of Melinda May, do I have a dirty mind, or are she and Coulson ex-lovers? Who might get back together at any minute, especially if Melinda has anything to say about it? Because the way she suggested getting out the mats like in the old days was fraught with meaning. Fraught, I say! They have a torrid past, people! You heard it here first! And did anyone else notice that this conversation happened during the only time in the series so far when Melinda has been wearing casual clothes instead of what is basically body armor? Might we start seeing Melinda, the person, soon as opposed to Melinda the weapon?
And all this makes me wonder – does Phil remember the cellist? Obviously he still has long-term memory but I wonder if he lost any memories from his pre-Loki weeks. Coulson, you have a jet! You can go visit the cellist in Portland! Having lived in Portland, I guarantee you it’s packed with all kinds of things you can investigate, so you can even conduct these visits on work time. As Tony says, “Keep love alive”. Unless you and Melinda might…and I still think you and Maria Hill could…Oh, I’m sorry, were we watching something?
SO ANYWAY, this weeks’ theme is who people really are. At first the theme seems to be that everyone would really love to have sex but would sooner perish than reveal such a fact. Thus we have Melinda and the mats conversation, and Ward and Skye playing Battleship in an awfully chummy way (I prefer to think of them as brother/sister but it’s an adorable scene either way). Skye has sex with an idiot ex-boyfriend (nice underwear, Skye!) and Fitz seems to take the reveal of the boyfriend’s existence awfully personally. Meanwhile, the expendable bad guy of the week is manipulated all too easily by the Girl in the Flower Dress, Raina, who slinks about in pure evil villain fashion. You know who she reminds me of? A sexy version of Blofield from Dr. No. Get this woman a cat.
But as it turns out, all this sexy vibe stuff is just an excuse to get to the bigger theme: can you know who someone else really is? At thins point, we know very little about anyone’s back story so everyone is a mystery. But Skye’s dark secret is revealed to the group, and they are all clearly devastated that she lied to them, in a “we thought we knew who you were” sort of way. Well, yeah – you did know who she was. You knew she was a hacker with a secret hacker organization and a strong belief in basic human rights. Which she is.
And BTW, could we please have the argument that Skye and her ex have about the ethics of S.H.I.E.L.D, only could we please have it between two characters who have higher levels of intelligence than a chia pet? Because there’s an actual, valid argument to be had here and it lacks credibility when it comes from Skye and her idiot boyfriend, on account of how the two of them put together still lack the brainpower of a chia pet.
And of course this whole betrayal thing is laid out nicely in parallel with street magician guy who at first seems like a fairly decent guy who feels ignored but who ends up frying one of our two villains. and of course he is betrayed by the flower dress woman who promises him that he will have fame and fortune and ends up stealing his platelets.
Here’s some more great lines from this week:
Great deadpan, when Skye’s idiot ex-boyfriend says to May, “So, are you guys just going to destroy all my stuff?” To which she says,
Well, you asked, dumbass.
Coulson has the very best lines, of course:
“So we’re good, right?”
“They said he was kind of a tool”
“Oh crap. They gave him a name”.
And the saddest exchange is between Skye and her ex, although no one cares because she and her ex are both such horrible morons during this episode:
“You’re not who you used to be”.
“You’re not who I thought you were”.
One last thing: we now have a firmly established family dynamic on our team. Fitz/Simmons are the babies of the family – cute little kids. Skye is the bratty teenager. Grant is her big brother. Coulson and May are the parents.
Skye gets busted for having sex with her ex, who S.H..I.E.L.D. is looking for. Specifically, she is busted while she is trying to find her shirt, by none other than a very angry Melinda May. The only thing that could make Melinda May seem more like a very, very angry mom at that moment is that she never says the word “grounded”. Seriously, it’s just so pianful. And OMG, Coulson is so dissapointed, and so angry – it’s a great moment for Couson (“You’re lying NOW!”) because we get to see his facade crack a little. He is furious. When Loki stabbed him during The Avengers, Coulson looked a little annoyed, as though he was buying groceries and realized that he had left his wallet at home. Now he is PISSED.
So, despite the entire existence of idiot ex-boyfriend, I thought this was a great episode. There were smallish stakes (individual people might die or get hurt, Grant’s Battleship might get sunk). There were personal stakes. The thing with Skye’s ex was dumb but the shame and humiliation she experiences, and the sense of betrayal and disappointment that the team experiences – that was powerful and real. There were global stakes – an international group is trying to create super-villains, so that’s not good.
No highlights next week because no show next week – we’ll be back with this feature in November!