Superheroes Round 12: A Wrapup for the Agents of SHIELD
First up, we already know that Agents of SHIELD has been renewed for a second season.
I’ve been following the series, and reviewed the first episode, so it makes sense to give an update now that the first season has ended.
And wow, was that a doozy. So, spoilers.
Given my current highly busy schedule, you should also expect ongoing delays in my posting of things.
Dropped From An Airplane
In the penultimate episode, Fitz and Simmons get caught in what is effectively an escape pod (on The Bus, which is an airplane…) and summarily dumped into the ocean off of Cuba. They’re not too badly injured by the fall, and then have to figure out how to escape the escape pod after it sinks.
But let’s back up a moment. They just fell out of a flying airplane. According to Wikipedia, the cruise speed of a Boeing 747 (which I’ll assume is roughly like the plane they use) is about 555 mph (or about 890 kph). Even ignoring the additional speed from falling, that’s not going to be a survivable crash. Based on skimming the Internet, the take-off speed for a 747 is around 290 kph (or about 180 mph). Let’s assume they’re going more slowly then. So, they hit the water at about 180 mph and… um… wait, that’s not terribly survivable at car-crash speeds, either. Especially when you’re not actually strapped down in your escape pod. We’re talking NASCAR level crashes without protective equipment. That kills you. And yet, the only serious injury is Fitz’s broken arm.
There’s a comment that the plane must have been in its helicopter-like, “hovering” mode… and I guess this is why.
The next issue is escaping the escape pod, which has inconveniently sunk to the bottom of the ocean in that area. Their method of blowing up the window isn’t terribly plausible. On the other hand, they do contend with the issue of incoming water at high pressure making holding a breath difficult. That, and Fitz’s present inability to swim due to said broken arm.
On the more realistic side, Simmons needs to spend some time in a decompression chamber afterwards. And Fitz… well, he apparently survived the near-drowning experience, but we haven’t seen him out of the hospital yet, so it’s unclear how much brain damage he’s sustained as a consequence.
One of the later episodes in the series, “Turn, Turn, Turn,” deserves a special note. And I’ll be honest — I did not see that coming.
The series works nicely with the recent Captain America movie, fitting in those events as part of the background to the show. When we learn Hydra has been active, working from the inside of SHIELD all this time, it’s not terribly surprising when John Garrett turns out to be Hydra. After all, he’s Coulson’s old friend, and he’s one of the people who’s been in on all the details needed to continue interfering with Coulson’s plans. The potential for drama is right there, and it’s excellent. For bonus points, they also have Garrett’s two mentees, who can both angst about not realizing how awful Garrett was and also the drama of everyone else suspecting them of…
Oh, wait. Actually, Ward has been in on it the whole time. Holy cow! That was beautifully done, especially the reveal in the final couple of minutes of the episode. It also invites rewatching earlier episodes, for any small tells that might give him away. He even talks about being deliberately reluctant to take the job… sleeping with May to keep her off balance… wow. Cold, man. Cold.
Which leads me to the next point…
How Monsters Are Made
In retrospect, the series seems to make an excellent point: monsters are made, not born. (Well, with a possible exception in Skye. But that hasn’t fully played out yet.)
Nearly every single villain we encounter has a story. Ward was rescued from a bad situation by Garrett, and follows him out of loyalty and obligation. Reyna is driven by an almost scientific curiosity. “What will I become?” Garrett wants to survive, and is driven to disloyalty after being abandoned to die by SHIELD. The same is true for the lesser villains as well – the fire-manipulating young man from Hong Kong is driven by frustration at SHIELD’s interference, another young man just wanted the strength and health to provide for his son, and on and on it goes.
This is so good. The best villains aren’t the laughing, maniacal Jokers whose desire for chaos and destruction is impossible to empathize with. No, it’s the Mr. Freeze, the anti-villain, whose road was very much paved with good intentions, who is actually the most terrifying. After all… anyone could become a monster, one small step at a time.
I look forward to seeing where they go with this.
And, indeed, it looks like the death-defying wonderdrug has side effects. Garrett, upon taking it, appeared to go utterly insane shortly thereafter, with talk about seeing the universe, having a new, grand plan, and etching undecipherable pictograms into the wall.
And then Coulson starts making the same drawings. It was a nice touch, leaving some interesting questions about Coulson’s mental status for the next season.
Given what we now know about Skye, I have to wonder what’s going to happen with her – since she is, apparently, the child of literal monsters. Since Ward has been captured, and will surely have an opportunity to reveal this information, I would dearly love to see some back and forth between the two of them. Will Skye’s anger drive her to a more literal monster-hood? Ward has already admitted that he’s a terrible person; will he try to change? To find a new purpose in life? Of course, given that Ward has a serious crush on Skye, it gets all the messier. It should be… interesting.