Firstly a metaphor. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is like that kid in high school who’s mum doesn’t let them do anything mildly dangerous. Im sure if the mum could, she would cover him in cotton wool and force him to stay away from busy roads and sharp objects. But everybody likes him because he’s not particularly offensive. This is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D; It never really does anything adventurous it’s just another student in a large high school of cool kids and smart kids.
End of metaphor because im going to show you why I HATE THAT SAFE KID.
Episode one, opening scene, and a kid is staring into the store window like it’s a candy store. Oh look superheroes from the Marvel universe isn’t that a nice homage to the avengers! No. Because this isn’t a nice tie-in, Its a promotional tool to get kids to buy the figures.
It’s so blindly obvious it’s insulting. I feel like I’m being shown that “SMOKE” advert over and over. “BUY OUR TOYS. GIVE US MONEY.” But that’s been Marvel for a while now. They commission movies based on how much money they can make of passive audiences. The only reason they made the new Spiderman is because they can make three more and coax him into making a cameo in the Avengers movie. Holy shit I can’t even imagine how much money that cash cow is bringing in.
I digress. The stereotypical broken family with a despondent son is thankfully interrupted from their incredibly boring conversation by a big explosion in the building not too far away. “Wow the dad is actually a superhero!”. I think he’s as relatable as a plank of wood personally but let’s not judge too much, he’s a single dad after all and that makes the audience empathetic! He saves a woman from the burning building and runs off to disguise his identity. Get used to Mr. Plank I’m guessing he is going to be a main (sigh) character. However, a sexy young woman called Sky knows who he is (you never really know how) and tries to convince him to become a superhero because she wants the public to know what happens in the world without some sort of censoring from S.H.I.E.L.D. We later find out she is part of a group called “rising tide” who want to expose S.H.I.E.L.D and she gets kidnapped but I will talk about that later.
Next scene uses the words “package” and “watch your six” in the first 5 seconds so straight away you can see how much effort the script writers have put into it. Anyway we’re in France and the agent use a silver plate as an X-ray scanner. I SHIT YOU NOT LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. A FUCKING PLATE.
I’m just speechless. through a magical plate he finds this little bag (im guessing that’s the package), fights off some bad guys and escapes from the roof via a rope on a helicopter like a really cheesy 80’s villan. The fight scenes I didn’t mind, couple of choppy edits but I enjoyed it… If it wasn’t for the awful Go Pro footage. It’s like they were given a shit tonne of money just to use their product and in the process ruined the whole scene. In my experience never use Go Pro footage when you’re shooting with such high cost equipment because they will never fit together properly. It’s similar to layering fine food like chicken en croute with Bisto. It ain’t gonna’ make it better if you layer your good shots with your bad shots. How is this analogy working out for you?
Even in this next scene with the agent and Robin from How I Met Your Mother, It shoves information right in your face without you actually getting time to figure it out yourself. Everything is explained via some crappy monologue and that’s just bad storytelling. Then Robin gives you another monologue of what happens in The Avengers – as if none of the audience have ever watched it – and then the big reveal that Agent Coulson isn’t really dead. Let’s just quickly gloss over the fact that he died because that’s not important. Obivously. They pick Mr. Agent to be part of S.H.I.E.L.D and he quickly leaves. A Morgan Freeman impersonator then enters and has the most cheesy one-two lines with Robin.
“Tahiti? He really doesn’t know does he.”
“He can never know”
I WONDER IF HE WILL EVER FIND OUT. IT’S SUCH A MYSTERY.
Further on we meet Fitz and Simons, the stereotypical English geeks who talk gobbeldy gook and are far inferior to everyone else in the agency. They speak some tech words, smash a phone and force me to hit my desk with my head over and over until the shame of being from England starts to become blurry like my vision. This is the furthest I got on the first watch. It’s so unberabley cheesy I couldn’t handle it. Now Im having to watch it again, but I can tear it to shreds so I’m a little more inclined to finish at least the first episode.
Eventually S.H.I.E.L.D kidnap that hot girl who lives in a van (although for some reason has perfect hair and makeup) and interrogates her since she knows who Mr. Plank is. Good Cop Bad Cop is initiated and she lets spill about some “Centipede” project that neither Coulson nor slick hair agent have a clue about. Beaten by a single person with a laptop. Beautiful work gentlemen.
Cut back to Mr. Plank who is again looking at a bill showing us how much trouble he is in. WE GET IT MARVEL HE HAS NO JOB OR MONEY. YOU DON’T NEED TO CONSTANTLY REMIND US. Apparently the talk at the start and the scene in the cafe was just not enough.
After a quick call he is affirming that the “product works” to some Doctor he reveals the centipede device on his arm is giving him super human strength. Literally 30 seconds after referencing this new project we find out exactly what it is. It’s as if they never want a mystery in this TV series because are tiny brains would get too confused.
Fitz and Simons investigate the burnt out remains of the building to gain clues to how it exploded. In come the bad-ass little robots who are named after the snow white dwarves. I think they are a pretty cool touch but only because they are visually exciting and are not subject to the tedious script that everyone else is. They find a CCTV and some alien object.
Moving on slightly, we see Mr. Plank begging for his job at the factory he used to work at.
Did you know he doesn’t have a job? Ok just checking.
Anyway he gets angry because the chubby, middle-aged boss won’t accept him back and throws a hissy fit flinging him across the factory floor. Then comes another monlogue by Mr. Plank basically saying he’s a hero and the boss is a bad guy. Seriously Marvel? A normal guy with too much power becomes evil? So cliché.
Remember Sky the woman who is part of “Rising Tide”? Well she actually works for Coulson and it was all a ruse to investigate slick agent guy (or Ward if you prefer). Again, im going to gloss over this since It just baffles me. The CCTV images come in but its distorted so Fitz and Simmons talk gobbeldy gook again and Sky leaves trying to find some GPS signal so they can clean up the image revealing the Dr’s identity.
In the next scene we see Mr. Plank visiting the woman he saved in hospital. The quickest roid rage to nice guy transition i’ve ever seen. The bunch of flowers is the icing on the cake. Look at that nice guy smile!
Turns out that girl is the Dr who was given the “centipede” gadget by aliens for some innate reason like to cause havok. More talk insues about how he’s a new person and then he jumps out of the window because some how every superhero or villan has to jump out of windows. It’s an unspoken rule.
Back to the plane and the brits unscramble the video feed and some how it’s now 3D. We see another roid raged guy who is arguing with the Dr. about his dosage. The Woman scientist (I havn’t the foggiest if it’s Fitz or Simmons at this point) then explains how the serum in the centipede is much like that of the Super Human formuale tested in the 40’s. Three guesses to what they are referencing here. However this stuff is much more volatile and unstable which caused this guy to explode and set the building on fire. Finally they have solved the mystery! Well done gang!
Mr. Plank shows up again and kidnaps Sky with his kid and they go on a drive to a crowded transtation just so they can delete all of his personal files on all databases, basically rendering him a ghost. It’s convenient that it’s right next to a crowded place, that way if it all goes tits up he can basically hold them all ransom since he is pobably going to explode anyway. S.H.I.E.L.D turn up, he escapes into the train station, has a fight and general shit goes down. Mr. Plank then takes a tumble off a balcony in the station and is face to face with Coulson who tries to reason with him.
This speech is perhaps one of my favorite parts of the episode. It’s not cliché and gives the audience a welcome relatable look into the man behind the steroids that has been lacking throughout the show. It’s important to have that reflective attitude in the script because it shows intelligent script writing which has been lacking throughout.
“You said if we worked hard, if we did right, we’d have a place. You said it was enough to be a man but there’s better then man! There’s gods… and the rest of us? What are we? They’re giants… we’re what they step on.”
Seconds later he’s shot in the head. It’s the old “build him up so he’s at the turning point of being good again and then kill him” routine. I like this usually because it keeps the audience on their toes, never gives them an opportunity to feel safe but in fact Ward shot a concussion round that neutralises his power. What a copout. Back out when you make a difficult decision that can’t be revisited why don’t you marvel. Well, I guess in the case of Coulson that doesn’t really apply.
The last scene is just to tie up the loose nots, give the kid back to the mum, and general setting up of episode two. I thought I could breathe a sigh of relief – It was all nearly over – then Coulsons car turned into a delorean-esque hovercraft.
I Just can’t.
To sum it all up, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is safe because it takes all the stereotypes used by cops and superhero’s and geeks of the last 30 years of film and TV and converts it all into one show. The script is dreary and condescending and the fact that it references the Avengers all the time shows that this could not stand on it’s own two feet without the influence of that and Marvel. For kids watching its great, but its demographic research seems messed up by trying to combine an adult show and a childrens show all into one. It’s usually either one or the other but by the fact it’s broadcast at 8PM it’s scarily close to watershed hours. Its main draw are the visuals but that is only because Marvel throw money at the VFX guys like high class strippers. I would take good storytelling over visuals any day. “you can’t polish a turd” comes to mind.
If I ever watch episode 2, I know at very least that It can’t be quite as bad as this.