Whedon Wednesday :: Agents!!! Of!!! SHIELD.!!! Spoilers!!!

14 May

So I was pretty much in for this show from the beginning, on principle and because I was there for 4/6 of the main characters right from the beginning and because dammit I just needed something like this at the time it came around.  Now by the season’s end I feel justified in these attachments, even though it was definitely my “happy” show for a few episodes (since the beginning with its brightly colored monster-of-the-weekiness was largely… at least not depressing or rage-inducing, with the exception of “FZZT” and even that ended happily, and I had pretty low standards) and it definitely has not been “happy” for quite some time.  I don’t mind.  It’s been rather masterfully crafted.

I think the first thing I would like to address regarding this season as a whole is my No Trope Bingo card.

no trope bingo

No, this show did pass the Bechdel test.  Not every episode, no, and not many of them as of late (though honestly nobody was having conversations that weren’t about dudes, because the only villains were dudes and the hero team was evenly gender-split so there was often a dude in the conversation, but whatever).

Logic was plenty regarded.

There were so many lovely POC characters.

There was some “I was dead” manpain, sort of (not even really manpain, just angst), but it got taken care of and wasn’t insufferable.

Wellllll.  Victoria Hand (Saffron Burrows) is queer in the comics, so that would have been nice to be mentioned and shown.  Any overt queerness would have been nice.  But there was never overt denial of canonically established queerness?

The only real vicious female rivalry, between Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and Lorelei (Elena Satine), was, well, because Lorelei is a comic book villain and Sif is a comic book hero and nemeses were a thing they were.

Not… so much with the ho-yay?  Which is to say, while there was some shipbaiting with any number of ships, some homosexual and some heterosexual, it was never done in the way of making a joke out of potential queerness really.

“FZZT” did deal with infectious diseases.  But it was a direct apology to me for infectious diseases, too, because not only was my Jemma (Elizabeth Henstridge) infected with one and then cured, she was the one who came up with the cure.

There were not, to my knowledge, any prostitutes.

Or dead little girls.  And the only child really given any proper screentime, Mike’s (J. August Richards) son Ace (Ajani Wrighster), was held hostage but returned to safety at the season’s end.

No, the violence stayed pretty much just violent and the sex stayed sex.

No Madonna/whore dichotomy was presented, really.  The only character who ever even really mentioned femininity in a judgmental way was Ward (Brett Dalton) once he was evil (the “eye candy” comment about Natasha, referring to May [Ming-Na Wen] as an ice queen) and it was not with this particular dichotomy.

No Oedipal potential, even.

No fridging.  (Though oh my gosh, I am not sure if this is from the comics or them being meta, but the fact that the prison/storage was called the Fridge was amazing to me, especially in light of Skye’s [Chloe Bennet] line when she was pretending to be May about how “[the Fridge] is a lot worse than it sounds.”  I laughed so hard.)

Nope.  The sex was not gratuitous.  The only thing gratuitous was the hinting at hetbaiting and even that was mostly dealt with.

Well.  Again, Ward gave Skye a nice helpful bunch of inappropriate male attention (he threatened to sexually assault her in the finale.  That is not okay.  If I had been on the fence about Ward, which I hadn’t been, that would have done it) but it was dealt with, sort of.

The rest of that row (pedophilic Stockholm, infidelity, custody battles) was pretty much irrelevant.

Conscious irresponsiblity?  Not really.  No.  The bad behavior of characters was largely not born of irresponsiblity.  It was conscious douchery, maybe, but not the other.

I mean, I could have used more backstory as pertained to May and Jemma and Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) and Trip (B.J. Britt), not to mention side characters, but there was not neglect.

The f :: m ratio was very even, thank you.

The sociopathy was narratively abhorred.

And the love triangles were mostly implied instead of actualized, and also largely in the fans’ heads.  Unless you count any of the mischief that Lorelei caused, maybe.

All of this is to say, thank you show for not doing the things that I was so mad at other shows for doing so much of.  Even when it stopped being more-or-less happy, there were still little shining glimmers of loveliness, there was still enough narrative consistency, there were still characters I gave quite a few damns about.  Etcetera.

Then I made a “no” list for the finale of the series specifically.  It was as follows.

  • actualization of romantic FitzSimmons.
  • outright redemption of Grant Ward.
  • actualization of Skye/Ward.
  • and, you know, the death of anyone I liked would have sucked too.

That was it that was the thing.  And: well, Fitz confessed his feelings for Jemma but then she didn’t say anything in return, kissed his face but not his mouth with a sad smile, and saved his life because friends, so I’m okay.  I just didn’t want them to become a couple while they were in a holding container at the bottom of the ocean.  Not because I begrudge people who ship it, or because I want other things (even though I do), but because their platonic relationship is very important to me.  And I think there are still ways to deal with this, even though I’m not sure where we go from here given how things were left.

Ward sure was not redeemed!  Instead, Ward was beat up by Melinda May (and gosh, I roared with delighted laughter when she muttered that “you were never on top”), nail-gunned to the floor and punched in the larynx, and taken into protective custody to be dealt with.  And eh, there might be nonsense with him later, but this still felt like an apology for things too.  (When I say “an apology for things” in this really at all, I’m mostly just talking about one thing.  You guys can figure it out.)  Furthermore, Mike, who had never been doing Cybertek and HYDRA’s bad things of his own volition, did get redeemed, and that was nice and important.

No, Skye sure still did hate him.  Skye also called him “weak,” which I was thrilled about.  I’m going to include this piece of meta that just came across my dash because it gets at a lot of things brilliantly and better than I probably could at short notice, and I will instead just point something out: even before he went evil, a lot of my problem with Ward came from the fact that for one reason or another I associated him with both Bill Compton and Stannis Baratheon (the former of whom I abjectly hate, the latter of whom I do not hate but have developed a strong averse reaction to for a variety of reasons).  These are apt comparisons in reference to this assessment of Skye’s, though, more so with Bill than Stannis but still: all three of these character have, at points in their canon (Ward a few times, Bill so many times, Stannis once or more depending on the assessment of the qualifier), been implicit in the murder or attempted murder of someone who counts in some way or has done at some point as close to them but not explicitly double-tapped the job into action.  While I am thankful for this in Ward’s case, as it meant that FitzSimmons were able to science their way out of the bottom of the ocean, it is still worth mentioning.

And furthermore:

  • Thank you, show, for very directly not killing my British girl twice now and also letting her save herself (with science!!!).  No thanks for that monologue about returning to the universe or what have you, because while it was beautiful it hurt a lot.  But it was fixed.  Sort of.  Poor Fitz buddy.  I’m sure they’ll figure out a way for him to be okay, but leaving it on the sad note… well.
  • Trip is a delight.  “Sir, I bring the noise and the funk” made me rewind to listen to it again because it was so great.  And I really do adore his suitcase of vintage tech.  (One of my people refers to it as his “go bag,” because Patton Oswalt played a character in Justified who had such a thing in case of emergencies and said person found that phrase hilarious.)
  • Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is a delight.  He and Coulson (Clark Gregg) snark so wonderfully together.
  • I appreciate so much that Coulson’s “I was dead” pain was dealt with by repeatedly yelling at Fury that the plan was stupid.  Then Fury said nice things and all was resolved and all right, onto the next chapter of the story.
  • Gosh, and I thought Russell Edgington was going to be the only guy I ever saw rip bones out of someone’s torso bare-handed.  That was yicky, but it was pretty clear crazy, Garrett (Bill Paxton).
  • I am not even attempting to come up with theories about any of the next-season stuff.  I don’t have the proper comics background to draw from comics, and I don’t have enough information here to presume.  And maybe that is a good thing.
  • Important comfort hugs!
  • Melinda May is the Hand of the King!  (I’m saying this everywhere because I’m happy about it.)

Phew.

–your fangirl heroine.

the cat that ate the canary

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