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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Arrow 2x4 - "Crucible"

Arrow is shot in Vancouver. Though in many past episodes, Arrow has shown aerial establishing shots of Starling City's skyline and the skyline has been of other cities, similar to how Christopher Nolan made Chicago, Pittsburgh and New York City stand ins for Gotham. Last night's Starling City skyline was extremely fortuitous:

Congratulations to the Starling City Red Sox for winning the 2013 World Series! It's great to live in Starling!

While the Red Sox were killing it at Fenway Park, Starling City's venerable ball park, Arrow itself was killing it on television. The show was firing on all cylinders, if arrows are fired on cylinders. At a fund raiser at Stately Queen Manor, which raised no funds according to Isabel Rochev, the nimble brain of Felicity watched Oliver and Laurel have one of their awkward, stiff, standoffish conversations between two ex-lovers who've been friends since childhood, and while the viewer may have suspected she was feeling jealous, no, Felicity was feeling sleuthy. Her hunch: each time the mysterious leather-clad blonde bird of prey encountered the Vigilante, Laurel was also there. It didn't take long for Oliver to rig up a rooftop with trick arrows to catch the pretty bird. (Oliver's method of getting her attention is to shoot an arrow that barely misses her head. He did this twice.) But she already knew who he is, and in a I Showed You Mine, You Show Me Yours moment, Oliver unmasked the Canary to reveal Sarah Lance! Laurel's long lost sister and Oliver's ex-fuck buddy who we all watched get pulled under when the Queen's Gambit sank six years ago (played by an actress who is not Caity Lotz.) Sarah vanishes from sight in that ninja way she does, and Oliver's got some 'splainin' to do.

Oliver's 'splainin' came not to Laurel or Quentin Lance, but to Diggle and Felicity, who were grilling him pretty good. Oliver has been holding back on them, and us, and everyone, on some important details about Sarah. Like how, a year after he landed on the Island, he saw Sarah again on the Amazo. Oliver was caged up and shot by his captors, forced to perform battlefield medicine on himself to prove he was tough enough to live. Oliver revealed nothing about the mysterious graves he, Slade, and Shado found on the Island, or the misshapen bodies of World War II Japanese soldiers. And he saw Sarah, alive. All of this information Oliver withheld, and the pertinent Sarah stuff he continues to withhold from the Lances. Sarah ventured to Verdant to see Oliver and they engaged in some sparkling comic book porn double talk where she asked what happened to Slade (she knows Slade!) and Oliver avoided the questions. Sarah's not exactly forthcoming about her whereabouts in the last six years either; only that she met "some rough people" and had to get rough herself. The words "League of Assassins" and "R'as Al-Ghul" were never uttered. While neither is willing to reveal any details this early in the season, in their leather-clad superhero modes, Oliver and Sarah are a dynamic duo. They are, however, not calling themselves the Arrow nor the Canary. "The Arrow" remains a Lance family-coined moniker never uttered in the episode, much less to Oliver. No one calls Sarah's nocturnal alter ego anything comic booky. Arrow and Canary certainly are not color coded yet. They have to earn their colors.

Military grade armaments from a nearby base called Camp Kirby (subtle) are finding their way into the Glades and into the hands of a self-styled gang lord calling himself The Mayor. Oliver: "I thought the copycat Hoods killed the mayor." Oh yeah. Starling City doesn't seem too interested in that as a whole. Anyway, this Mayor, has ambitions to control the Glades and Alderman Sebastian Blood wants those guns off the street. Oliver offers to finance a Cash for Guns exchange, which made Isabel Rochov, Oliver's partner/superior, talk down to him in that way she does about how Queen Consolidated doesn't have the money to do things like that. Oliver opens up his personal checkbook and does it anyway. We've only seen Isabel twice thus far and frankly, she's a bit of a pill. Blood remains skeptical of Oliver, until the Mayor barrels into the Glades guns a poppin' and pops caps in whoever was there (which included Oliver, Blood, Thea, Roy, and Sin, Sarah's street urchin Girl Friday.) Thanks to Felicity's appropriation of the FBI's database (at some point, she's going to prison for everything she's doing for Oliver. We all know this, right?), she ID'd the Mayor as some guy named Xavier Reed and his location. The Vigilante recruits the, uh, Female Vigilante, and they swoop in and take on the Mayor and his heavily armed gang, plus his army buddies.

Superheroes are insane. They just are. They have to be. What Oliver and Sarah did was take on about a dozen men armed with machine guns with grenade launchers attached and they did it with a bow and arrows and a metal bo staff. The very fact they survived was due to the Mayor simply not opening fire on them when he had ample time to. But then, if he'd killed Oliver and Sarah, we wouldn't have seen the cool moment of them trading weapons so that Oliver wiped out some dudes with the staff while Sarah let loose some arrows. Oliver and Sarah fighting together was awesome and sexy in a way that Oliver and the Huntress never quite was (though hey, the viewer can discern for him or herself if it's as sexy as Oliver and Diggle fighting together.)  Sarah had the Mayor dead to rights and had to listen to Oliver make his new "no killing" speech, but then the Mayor called her a bitch and OH SNAP! went his neck. I love Justice Leaguers snapping necks. High five, Clark.

But yes, Sarah is indeed back in Starling City and stalking Laurel because she's concerned about her family. She's not doing anything about her family and their troubles, per se, just stalking them from afar. High five, Clark. You see, in this episode's One To Grow On delivered by Blood to Oliver, every person goes through a Crucible and comes out one of three ways: Dead, Stronger For It, or Dwelling On The Pain Because It's All They've Known For So Long (I'm paraphrasing.) Sarah falls in that last category. She has lots of secrets, even stuff she hasn't told Sin, her only friend in the Glades who brings her take out burgers (not Big Belly Burger) in the clocktower. Sin was shot during the Mayor's rampage, and her life was saved by her personal hero, Roy Harper, who traded in $250 worth of his own personal guns and didn't accept the money. Oliver handled Sin's medical bills and Thea got to see Roy be a hero without tumbling around a dark alley with strange men who want to put some sweet hurt on him.

As for Laurel, she's in a bad way. Recent events have turned her into a pill-popping burgeoning alcoholic in denial. I mean, you can't really blame her considering all the stuff she's been through lately, like Tommy dying and the kidnapping and how she was almost murdered a couple of times, but most people don't like Laurel so they'll blame her anyway. Laurel stonewalls her boss District Attorney Adam Donner when he takes her out to dinner, and she gets pulled over for a DUI. This sends Quentin to Oliver asking for help (unaware his long lost dead daughter is eavesdropping), and to counseling himself about his daughter. Laurel's got a demon in a bottle. Funny, Arrow is one heroin needle away from doing the classic Roy Harper drug addiction comic book story with Laurel instead. And then there is Blood, Oliver's new best friend. Blood loves Oliver now for saving his life. Later, in a secret chamber somewhere secret, we find the Mayor is not dead. Sarah only sort of snapped his neck? A mysterious hooded man who could be the Scarecrow but isn't has the Mayor injected with a mysterious serum that could be Vertigo but probably isn't, and the Mayor dies. Because he isn't strong enough. "Find me another," the masked man orders. "Yes, Brother Blood," his lackey responds. Sebastian Blood is Brother Blood! Who could have ever guessed?

Great, great Arrow episode.

Finally, that particle accelerator in Central City is ready to be tested. In, oh, four episodes? That's coming up fast.

Saturday, October 26, 2013




"To the Devil!"

Kimberly Pierce's remake of Carrie is a screeching, histrionic anti-bullying parable, warning teenagers to be careful who they're bullying lest that person turn into an unhinged, telekinetic mass murderer. Chloe Grace Moretz is Carrie White, born from the womb of Bible-thumping weirdo Julianne Moore (looking like a crazy Christian Skeletor). Carrie's not even a minute old before Moore tries to impale her with scissors, which would define their relationship for the next 17 years. Sometimes, Moore imprisons Carrie in the cupboard under the stairs. No way in Hell is Carrie allowed to read any Harry Potter.

As a senior in high school, the previously home schooled Carrie is an alienated loner resented by her school chums for parroting her mom's beliefs that they're all going to Hell. Carrie is also alarmingly unschooled in the basic aspects of being female; when she gets her period in the gym class shower, she causes such a scene that even her kindly, meddling phys ed teacher Judy Greer belts her across the face to calm her down. Carrie's meltdown is videoed by her hateful classmates on their cell phones. The most hateful one of all, an irredeemably malevolent shrew played by Portia Doubleday, puts the video on YouTube and cannot for the life of her understand why this is wrong and why she should be punished for it. All she knows is Carrie White had it coming.

Carrie's opinion of teenagers is that they are self-serving, conniving sociopaths and budding criminals. Certainly, nearly everyone in Carrie's high school is. Except one sweet girl, Gabriella Wilde, the only good person in Carrie. Wilde is the Regina George of her school but watching Carrie get pelted with tampons in the shower forced her into a rather profound (for this movie) bout of self-examination and she decides she wants to be a better person. Out of the goodness of her heart, Wilde decides to deny herself her dream of attending senior prom and cajoles her studly boyfriend Ansel Elgort into taking Carrie White instead. Elgort balks at first but acquiesces; he really, really wants to get laid. Carrie naturally believes the mean girls are just trying to trick her again, but despite her mother's protests in Bible-tongue, the lure of actually being a normal teenager for a night is too much to resist. 

Meanwhile, Carrie discovers she has telekinetic powers, which explains all the things shattering and exploding everywhere whenever she gets upset. There's some lip service paid to Carrie discovering the wonders of being able to move objects with her mind, but it turns out the best thing about being telekinetic for Carrie is having the power to stop her mother right in her tracks when she's charging at Carrie with a knife. If Professor Charles Xavier existed and wheeled his way into her house, Carrie might have been spared the big centerpiece event the whole movie is building to: Carrie at the prom getting doused with a bucketful of pig's blood by the scheming Doubleday. Moretz, who's all cherubic pretty face and long, gangly limbs, does her best preening and voguing depicting Carrie's psychotic, murderous rampage of revenge as she burns down the school and uses her powers to murder nearly every person at the prom. Carrie's revenge on Doubleday and how she kills her still doesn't quite seem like payback enough for that bitch. Who can really empathize with Carrie, though? She's a killer born of a deranged wackjob. Carrie was never going to get a happy ending. Or a sad ending. But the movie does have an ending, and that's enough.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Arrow 2x3 - "Broken Dolls"

A good while ago, DC Comics used to publish a compendium of its characters called "Who's Who." "Broken Dolls" was like Arrow taking my old "Who's Who" binders and exploding them. In the most nerdgasmic display of DC Universe referencing in Arrow's history thus far, Arrow relentlessly unloaded a quiver-full of DC shout outs in "Broken Dolls." Turns out, the Black Canary was just the tip of the arrow. But oh, do we meet the Black Canary! When last we saw the Hood, he had a dozen red target lights of the Starling City SWAT Team called by Laurel beaded on him. The Hood was done for, until the "blonde, leather from head to toe" female vigilante Roy tried to tell Laurel about last week bursts in through Laurel's convenient skylight (her office has a skylight?) and incapacitates the SWAT Team with a handheld sonic device (a Canary Cry, it may soon be called.) Curiously, the Canary Cry didn't affect the Hood (maybe his perpetual bluetooth to Felicity in the Arrow Cave protected him?), and the blonde bird of prey acrobatically bailed before the Hood could get any answers. Oliver has "a secret admirer," one who targets men who attack women, but he already suspects she's not one of the murderous copycat vigilantes that sprouted up after the Glades went under. (He'd be wrong on that count. She's got killer looks and yes, she kills.)

The episode turned out to be largely a Brave and the Bold team up between the Hood and Officer Quentin Larry Lance. (Larry's his middle name? Yep.) An old serial killer escaped from Iron Heights prison named Barton Mathis is back to killing. He's known as The Doll Maker, because he kidnaps girls with beautiful skin and pumps them full of chemicals to turn them into dead human dolls. For a villain no one's ever heard of before (not a famous DC property), it takes the combined efforts of The Hood, Lance, and the Black Canary to finally stop Barton Mathis, and this is after Felicity bravely volunteered to be the bait in a sting operation that almost got her killed. Felicity merely escaped with a floggin' on the noggin. Mathis resorts to kidnapping Laurel and Quentin, and nearly turns Laurel into an action figure before her time, until she's saved by The Hood. The Black Canary provocatively somersaults into action and takes on Mathis, but is felled by the Clangy Poles of Doom. Two arrows from The Hood put Mathis down, but the Canary delivers the kill shot and disappears. But in all the hoopla to finally put the Doll Maker in a box, we learned an awful lot about the Lances.

The irony of Laurel, who was The Hood's season one ally, and Quentin, The Hood's season one adversary, switching roles wasn't lost on them. Quentin's psychoanalysis of his daughter finally gleaned that she's been blaming The Hood for Tommy's death when she deep down blames herself for putting Tommy in the position where a building fell on him during The Undertaking. (Quentin's line: "A guy with a bow and arrow can't stop a building from falling on someone" is apt and funny.) Quentin palling around with The Hood, somehow managing to resist sneaking a peek at his face the whole time, gave him the urge to give his Vigilante buddy a new name, one he shares with Laurel: The Arrow. So to the Lances, he's The Arrow now. But it seems to just be a Lance family name for now because they never bothered to inform The Hood of this suggested new moniker. Something tells me he'll keep it when he finds out.

To get a lead on the Black Canary, The Hood paid a visit to Roy Harper's version of an arrow cave, an alley, and gave him marching orders to find this blonde lady. Roy tracks down a woman named Cindy (or Sin) who runs with the blonde woman, and upon meeting Roy Harper, she bolts, leading Roy on a parkour chase across the Glades and into a clocktower, where the Canary was waiting to bonk him on the bean. "Not my face!" pretty boy Roy screams when she threatens to smack him with her bo staff. Roy claimed his concern for his face was because of his promise to his girlfriend not to go tumbling with strange men in dark alleys, but these two are ladies, way out of Roy's usual M.O. Meanwhile, Thea is more concerned about her vendors getting her liquor orders delivered and her mother in Iron Heights facing the death penalty for her role in The Undertaking, but not in that order. Note that District Attorney Donner, who wants Moira Queen put six feet under, is played by Dylan Bruce, who plays Paul in Orphan Black. Is Sarah Manning > [REDACTED]. Hard to say, there's only one Black Canary (so far.)

While all that was going on, as previously mentioned, "Broken Dolls" went gonzo bananas dropping hints about the DC Universe. The news channel Oliver and Thea watched in Verdant is Channel 52, which is DC Comics' news page on the back of each of their comics. To get a lead on Barton Mathis, Quentin and the Hood drop by the office of his lawyer Tony Daniel, named, no doubt, for one of DC Comics' top artists. Mathis' hideout is a chemical factory called Metamorpho. Five years ago on Lian Yu, Oliver and Slade Wilson leave Shado behind in their crashed airplane base to climb a mountain and continue their bromance, when suddenly the freighter docked in the harbor opens fire on the plane. Oliver and Slade run through a firebombed field to get to Shado; Oliver is blasted unconscious while Slade is set aflame - this must be where he loses an eye (or more) as the Deathstroke he'll eventually become is blind in one eye. Oliver later is captured and imprisoned on a freighter called Amazo. (Owned by a man, or possibly a Professor named Ivo, likely?)

But here's the big one, the one that rocks the Arrow Universe: The Black Canary returned to her clocktower and is confronted by a ninja who demands she return to the service of... R'as Al-Ghul! R'as Al-Ghul! The Demon's Head! (Is there a Batman in this universe? Maybe, maybe not. But there is R'as Al-Ghul.) Savor the possibilities of what this means, that Black Canary is a member of the League of Assassins/Shadows, and what this bodes for the future of Arrow. Nerd. Gasm.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1x5 - "Girl In The Flower Dress"

Skye. Scorch. Skye. Scorch. Those are the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s two big problems this week. One's a liar, the other's on fire. Let's start with Scorch, if that is his real name. It isn't. Scorch is Chan Ho Yin, a Hong Kong street magician gifted with the very real power of pyrokinesis. He can make fire, but he can't ignite his dreamed of career as a world famous illusionist like Criss Angel or David Copperfield. Chan wants to be famous, but S.H.I.E.L.D. caught wind of his firepower and put a kibosh on his dreams, forcing him to not be all he can be. Resentful, Chan falls under the thrall of the episode's title character, the girl in the flower dress, whose name is Raina. Raina is a smooth talker with a silky voice and even after she has a couple of guys in fireproof suits black bag Chan, she still manages to sweet talk him into agreeing to experiments to enhance his pyro powers. Chan's reaction to her new name for him - Scorch - was "Are you joking?" It is kind of a lousy codename. Why not The Human Torch or Firestorm or Sunfire? Oh, we know why. But citing how no one knows who Steve Rogers is but everyone's heard of Captain America, it doesn't take much for Raina to sell Chan on calling himself Scorch. It does kind of grow on you quickly.

Meanwhile, just as Skye has grown comfortable in S.H.I.E.L.D. and a lot closer to Ward - you sank my Battleship closer - her secret life as a Rising Tide hacker blows it all up in their faces. The kidnapping of Chan has the Hong Kong wing of S.H.I.E.L.D. bamboozled until they determined a member of the Rising Tide hacked S.H.I.E.L.D. and sold the information about Chan to the mysterious, villainous Centipede. The very Centipede who is creating unstable Extremis fire soldiers like Mike Peterson in the pilot and now has a pyrokinetic to experiment on. (Chan's very ability to be fireproof is what Centipede needed to fix what was wrong with their Extremis tech.) Naturally, all suspicion fell on Skye, who claimed she didn't hack S.H.I.E.L.D. China. But she quickly fingers who did, a famous Rising Tider named Miles, and we quickly learn Miles has been doing more than fingering Skye. They're ex-lovers. All that suspicion that fell on Skye? Coulson acted on it by sending Melinda to tail her. Thank you, Melinda, for not exposing Skye as a traitor until after Skye was exposed in her underpants. Soon, Coulson has Miles and Skye brought into The Bus in irons, and everyone feels real lousy for different reasons about Skye, including Skye herself. (Meanwhile, Fitz needs Simmons to explain to him how human behavior works, literally needing it spelled out for him why Skye tried to protect her ex-boyfriend from her current work friends. Fitz is either a robot or a six year old boy. Split the difference - he's a six year old robot.)

Skye really blew it. Ward was pissed as her S.O. and for someone starting to like and trust her. Coulson vouched for her up and down the line and now questions his own judgment, along with all the other little weird things he questions about himself lately. And Skye herself finds out Miles isn't quite the high-minded, incorruptible hacktivist he styles himself to be when Ward reveals that Miles hacked Chan for Centipede for a cool million bucks. Miles is a guy who can justify anything he does via the distance he maintains from the damage he's doing via his keyboard, i.e. just like 99.9% of the people on the Internet. Skye has some choices to make about who she wants her friends to be and who she herself wants to be, but that'll have to wait until the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. rescue Chan in China. When the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. penetrate the Centipede base, unfortunately, they don't meet the helpless Mr. Chan, they meet Scorch, the Extremis-deranged supervillain who wants to "burn bright." ("They gave him a name," rues Coulson.)

They may be prisoners, but Coulson's team is still lucky to have two world-class Rising Tide hackers currently on their plane. As Scorch terrorizes May and Coulson, and roasts the evil Centipede doctor who removed the fireproof platelets from his bones, Ward unshackles Skye and Miles long enough for them to use The Power of Hacking to help save the day. Ward Seal Team Sixes Skye into the Centipede base so she can unlock the doors and hack Centipede for some intel with lickety-quick speed, while Miles uses his hacking powers to reroute a detonating Scorch's fire into the vents and through the roof, saving Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. from having to pay the extra expense of showing a building explode. The pyro budget of this episode was already maxed out. 

As Raina confers with a Mysterious Centipede Man in Prison about going to stage two with Extremis and contacting The Clairvoyant, Coulson must set his own Bus in order regarding Skye. Miles? Not an issue. S.H.I.E.L.D. takes all his money, straps a metal cuff around his wrist keeping him from operating any electronic devices, and kicks him off the Bus in Hong Kong. Get back to Austin, Texas who cares how. But Skye, she's one of the stars of the show. No kicking her off the Bus. What to do about Skye. May and Ward are back to pilot-level coldness towards her, but the person Skye needs to make good with is Coulson, her mentor. Finally, Skye tearfully comes clean about what she's really doing as part of S.H.I.E.L.D. It's all on her Boob Chip. Skye's precious Boob Chip. It has everything, which isn't much -- Skye is looking for her birth parents. Her entire lifetime of searching is summed up in a redacted S.H.I.E.L.D. document. Skye stays on the Bus, as she must, but with the no-electronics cuff on her wrist. Thus ends the best episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. yet.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Arrow 2x2 - "Identity"

With the status quo of Arrow rejiggered for season 2, "Identity" probes into who the characters are now and who they must pretend to be to the public of Starling City at large. Rededicated to "Crusade 2.0" sans List of people to kill, Oliver is back in fighting form and has a whole new face to present to the public which isn't exactly enamored by anyone bearing the surname Queen. As CEO of Queen Consolidated, Felicity gets an unwanted promotion to her new secret identity: Oliver Queen's Secretary. A promotion which promptly causes Felicity to hilariously lose her shit and openly behave in ways that would get a normal secretary instantly fired (breaking the coffee machine is a sackable offense for the very sackable Felicity.) Diggle reminds her it's not as bad as his secret identity: Black Driver. But they all have roles to play so they can continue feeling good about helping the man who doesn't want to be called The Hood. Oliver still hasn't picked a new name, though a new one of sorts is lobbed at him by China White: The Emerald Archer. Doesn't really roll off the tongue, though.

Who is Oliver Queen these days? Well, he's trying to run a company and save the city at night, but he's his own worst enemy in the public relations department. His other worst enemy in that regard is the rabble rousing alderman Sebastian Blood, who can speechify the masses into an unruly mob to come at Oliver and break the windows of his limo. Oliver invites Blood to Queen Consolidated to broker a deal but Blood is uninterested in his checkbook. (Which is bullshit; of course he's interested in his checkbook.) But what Blood says he wants is for Oliver and his "elitist friends" (hey, Oliver only had one elitist friend and he's dead, Blood) to show they actually care for The Glades and the people "down the road living in the Third World."  Oliver pitches a benefit event that he and his elitist friends can attend to show that they care, and Blood bites. Does Blood think this benefit will actually work in that regard? It doesn't quite seem that way as Laurel discovers when Oliver doesn't show up because of important Vigilante business. Blood seemed like he'd have been more surprised if Oliver did make the benefit, but he wasted absolutely no time in getting up to the podium and burying Oliver Queen to the public for snubbing the very benefit that was his idea. That was cold, brother.

Where was Oliver Queen while Blood was throwing him under the bus? Taking care of Hood business that he was clued into by Roy Harper. Harper, who knows of every dirty sordid thing going on in The Glades, stole a red sports car and tried to stop a motorcycle gang from highjacking a FEMA truck with medical supplies bound for the Glades hospital. Roy ended up in the clink for his efforts (cue Thea after getting the one phone call: "Of course that's where he is!") Roy ends up face to face with the new ADA Laurel Lance, and man, is she angry. She's angry at The Hood and at anyone trying to be like The Hood. "I know how he makes you feel... it's like he seduces you..." Laurel commiserates to Roy. Roy in turn tries to tell her about other vigilantes in The Glades, like a blonde woman who saved his life and left him a red arrow tip, but Laurel didn't really care about that. Oliver even addressed Roy directly for the first time ever and got to see for himself how self-righteous but ultimately good hearted Roy is in his personal quest to help save The Glades. Ultimately, Oliver realized he could kill two birds with one arrow: make Roy useful to him and come up with a way to keep Roy out of trouble to spare Thea more grief. The Hood met Roy in Roy's favorite place to meet dangerous men: a dark alley. The Hood offered him a job as his informant in The Glades in exchange for giving up crime fighting. Welcome to your new role as a snitch, Roy Harper. But at least Thea's happy her sex toy is back in her arms. (Incidentally, since taking over Verdant, Thea redesigned the interior colors to red and yellow, the colors of Speedy. It's tacky but it works.)

Thanks to the tip from Roy, Oliver, who was lamenting about having trouble finding missions for The Hood, is clued into the FEMA truck robberies. With Felicity happily hacking police bandwidths and federal databases ("Another felony, thank you") to keep the cops from shooting Oliver in the ankle again, The Hood confronts the rather underutilized DC super villains du jour: a returning China White (recast, no longer Kelly Hu*) and a new killer, the Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White). Their battle takes place on Lemire Avenue, a nice shout out to current Green Arrow writer Jeff Lemire. The Bronze Tiger, with Wolverine-like blades in his hands, talks a good game about wanting to kill The Hood. Tiger has no trouble smacking away The Hood's arrows and beating him down, but Oliver eventually outsmarted him with his new arsenal of trick arrows. In this case, an electrified arrow that put Bronze Tiger down. China White confronted The Hood's mysterious ally Black Driver (Diggle dressed as a ninja) before Oliver subdued her with handcuff arrows. "You've changed," China White observes about The Hood's reluctance to kill. "So have you," said I to the TV, when I really realized China White is played by a different actress.** And so it was the color schemed super smackdown between Bronze Tiger, China White, Black Driver, and... uh... The Emerald Archer came to an end.

Who was Oliver Queen five years ago on Lian Yu? Well, he just learned he's a killer at heart, complete with literal blood on his hands. Slade and Shado worry about him, so Slade sends Shado to talk to him. Instead, Shado goes and bones Oliver in a lake, after some talk about duality in man, the yin and yang and making the Tao Te Ching somehow a prelude to sexytime. Just for the score card: Oliver has officially placed his arrow in the quivers of: Laurel Lance, Sarah Lance, Helena Bertinelli, McKenna Hall, and now Shado. That's a way better List than The List.

It wouldn't be Arrow without a lot of soap opera. Oliver literally needed Felicity to spell it out for him that Diggle and Carly, his dead brother's ex-wife who worked for Big Belly Burger, broke up. Oliver was too caught up in his own shit to remember Diggle has his own festering shit about killing Deadshot, who killed his brother, he's been nursing unresolved since season one. When Oliver realized Black Driver also suffers, they almost hugged it out. For her part, Felicity finally giving Oliver a cup of coffee is added to The List of Sweet Little Moments between the two. (Even better is Felicity catching herself when she blurted out "I love spending the night with you!" Add that to the Awkward Moments of Olicity List.)  The real soap opera though is between The Hood and Laurel. Somehow, Oliver found a way to control the lights in Laurel's office and shuts them off when he arrives to talk some sense into her. Instead, The Hood learns that Laurel entered the collapsed building where Tommy died and saw The Hood leaving Tommy behind. In her mind, it means The Hood let Tommy die and didn't save him, betraying his pledge to her that he was a hero who wanted to save the city. And that's why Laurel hates The Hood now. But how much Laurel hates The Hood is something Oliver discovered when he messed with her lights again and returned to Laurel's office. This time, Laurel was ready -- with a SWAT team! Oh man, he's caught! If The Hood gets caged, will he sing like a canary?

If Oliver were a different type of CEO, he'd make Felicity interview to become his secretary.

*, ** Oops, it was Kelly Hu after all.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1x4 - "Eye Spy"

Eye Spy a show starting to hit its stride. Also, "Eye Spy" second chances. Everyone gets one, according to A.C. Well, not everyone, but people A.C. thinks deserves one. And A.C.'s a good judge of character. All right, enough of "A.C." It's too cool for me to use; best to leave it as Skye's nickname for Phil. Just stick to Agent Coulson from now on. "Eye Spy" is literally about a spy with a robot eye, after Coulson and May make a big deal about shooting down the existence of telepathy or ESP in the Marvel Studios Universe. (Skye understandably doesn't get why when aliens and wormholes and all those other crazy things exist.) But it should be noted that outside of Thor, a "god", and his "magic" - and Thor himself explained to Natalie Portman that he comes from a place where magic and science are one and the same - Marvel Studios and now Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. go to lengths to explain how the superpowers appearing in this universe are science-based. Even, it looks like, the flaming throwing Asian man who pops up next week. Is that Sunfire??

Coulson picks this week's op for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to tackle after a million red masked man march in Stockholm ends with a subway car of dead masked bodies and a stolen briefcase containing $30-million in diamonds. Boy, were their faces red. Coulson's investigation points to his former protege Akela Amador, a former Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. herself once thought dead after an op years ago went sideways. She's reappeared as a super spy/thief/assassin under the thrall of a shadowy organization that shall as of yet remain nameless. She was given a night vision-equipped robotic eye that lets her handler, a stout, mysterious British man, see through her eye and levy instructions. May and Ward directly challenge Coulson on his belief that Amador must be brought in alive and even helped instead of taken out, but when they discover Amador is merely a puppet being used, even they relent and allow Coulson his will. Skye is on Phil's side; she has some sweet moments with A.C. about how much he values her and how cool he is. Plus Coulson "lives outside the box". Although Skye lives on The Bus. So. Uh. Carry on?

May, having volunteered for combat last week, finally gets unleashed. When she is able to identify Amador's location, May sends in The Cavalry to Amador's hotel room for a bad ass girl fight. When the lights go out, Coulson makes the save and drops Amador with Fitz's new invention, the Night Night Gun (which really shouldn't be its name, according to Ward. Ward in turn names the S.H.I.E.L.D. van the Short Bus, and Coulson doesn't like that either.) For Coulson and Ward, it's probably a little dismaying to learn they can't leave Skye and Fitz-Simmons alone in the Short Bus and trust them not to break radio silence asking for restroom breaks or snacks or not to have the Short Bus rammed off a cliff by Amador so that they are all nearly killed (but no, miraculously, they're all perfectly fine).

The final gambit is for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to send Ward, with Skye as his extra eyes, off to fulfill Amador's original mission to penetrate a Russian stronghold and photograph a mysterious set of blueprints to what could be an alien weapon of some sort. The Ward and Skye Marvel Team Up generates plenty of laughs, especially when Ward is ordered by Amador's handler to "seduce" a burly Russian guard. The weakness of this entire enterprise is how Amador's handler didn't know it wasn't Amador. Ward is probably a foot taller than Amador and surely that would have been noticeable long before Ward accidentally saw his own reflection in a mirror. Meanwhile, Fitz and Simmons perform ocular surgery, complete with squishy sounds, on Amador, mostly with Amador's help. They do manage to remove the robot eye and drop it into one of those containers the Ghostbusters use for ghosts like Slimer before it exploded or whatever happened to it.

Skye is beyond useful this week with her hacktivism - without her, pretty much none of this op could have been pulled off. Hacking is her strong suit; using a gun without dropping the magazine is not. (She also yells "BANG!" when shooting a gun, but Ward, "BANG!" has authority. At least she doesn't say "Ptew! Ptew!") Professionalism is also not Skye's strong suit, when it comes to having X-ray specs and not using them to look at Ward naked after a poker game with Fitz. Finally, we learn despite her bunk on The Bus, Skye likes to camp out for her Me Time in the big black ground transport because it reminds her of her van. As for Amador, she gets turned over to S.H.I.E.L.D. for a promised "fair trial", after becoming the second African American on this show to need an eye patch. However, Amador, who can't help but compare the Coulson she knew to the A.C. who rescued her, knows Coulson is different. "What did they do to him?" she asks a bewildered May. More importantly, what Vision (hmm?) did Amador's robot eye see in Coulson? She's not telling.

What I think I liked best about "Eye Spy" - besides when Amador turned golfballs into diamonds, which kind of one ups when Superman turned coal into diamonds with his bare hand - is the ending where Amador finally got to get some sleep. Sleep is important. Sleep is good. We should all get more sleep. 

Last night, I tried to get some sleep and was awoken by this awesome, awesome tweet.

Chloe Bennet is the coolest. Hope her swollen cheeks unswell soon.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Arrow 2x1 - "City of Heroes"

When last we saw Oliver Queen, he had failed Starling City. Well, to be fair, he only failed half of the Glades, allowing Malcolm Merlyn to devastate it with his Unidac earthquake machine during The Undertaking. Oliver also failed his best friend Tommy, who died a hero saving Laurel from a building collapse during the earthquake. With failure heaped upon failure, Oliver did the only thing he could do: spend eight years living in Stately Queen Manor as a hermit. Wait, no, that was someone else. No, what Oliver did was bail from Starling City as fast as an arrow from a quiver and return to the place where perhaps he truly belongs: Lian Yu, the Island that gave birth to the crazy pull up mastering, vigilante archer killer known as the Hood. We don't know exactly how long Oliver was on Lian Yu this time, weeks at the least, but I guess Lian Yu has an island barber now to keep his buzz cut nice and trim. It is in Lian Yu where Diggle and Felicity find their grim, sweaty former boss, who rescues Felicity from an errant landmine Tarzan-style. Diggle and Felicity bring bad tidings from Starling City. They've come to bring Oliver home. Oliver doesn't want to go home.

Minutes later, Oliver is home, to a Starling City a lot worse off-looking than when he last left it. Graffiti seems to be up 1000% in the parts of the Glades that aren't holes in the ground. The most intriguing graffiti supports votes for a man named Blood, running for alderman. Well, maybe this mysterious Mr. Blood (Brother Blood, villain of DC Comics) should aim his sights a little higher: to Mayor, now that the Mayor of Starling City has been publicly executed by a gang of gun-toting, self-styled Vigilante copycats calling themselves The Hoods. Real original, guys. The Hoods are survivors of The Undertaking who lost loved ones (and in one case, a hand) and are killing people associated with The Undertaking. There aren't that many left, actually, with Moira Queen imprisoned and the Merlyns taking dirtnaps. Oliver Queen's sudden reappearance in Starling provides them with an easy target. Oliver is so newsworthy, reporters like Bethany Snow (also of DC Comics) bumped the death of the Mayor to talk about Oliver.

As Oliver is wont to do, he dutifully checks in on various members of his supporting cast. Thea has taken over running his Verdant nightclub, despite being underage, and bangs her bar back Roy Harper off hours. These two haven't changed; she's still hot for him and he's way more into getting it on with sweaty men in dark alleys. Thea running Verdant > Lana Lang running The Talon coffee shop in Smallville. I mean, both were highly unrealistic, but Thea and her job are just cooler. Oliver also checks up on Laurel, who moved on up after her law firm took a journey to the center of the Earth, and joined the District Attorney's office as an Assistant DA. ADAs also dress way, way hotter, apparently, judging from her clingy red dress and the tight orange number she wore to visit Tommy's grave. Laurel blames the Hood for Tommy's death and says sex with Oliver was a mistake. She's batting at least 50%. But she's now targeting the Hood and plans to help her boss, District Attorney Donner (nice shout out to the director of Superman: The Movie and Geoff Johns' former boss), take down the Hood. Finally, there's Moira Queen, now a felon incarcerated. For Moira, orange is not the new black. Black is the new black. Inmates wear black in Iron Heights prison. Oliver visits Moira looking for help to save Queen Consolidated from a hostile takeover by Stellmoor International and in these moments, one realizes Oliver's life is in Arrested Development and he's turned into Michael Bluth.

As he makes the rounds, we are reminded Oliver knows a lot of hot ladies, and here's one more to add to the weekly mix: Isabel Rochev, who never smiles, played by Summer Glau, who sometimes smiles, except when she was a Terminator. Rochev is a VP at Stellmoor and she doesn't think much of Oliver Queen, explaining the basic math of how much stock she owns vs, how much stock Oliver owns to him in the most condescending way possible. Isabel likes Oliver even less after The Hoods crash their board meeting and try to kill Oliver with guns a-blazin'. Oliver does another Tarzan-like escape with Felicity, smashing through a window and smashing through another window on a lower floor to safety. (The sweetest moment in the episode is when Oliver brushed her hair off her face to see if she was okay.) The audacity of The Hoods still isn't enough to push a very, very obstinate Oliver into Hoodwinking himself. Oliver doesn't want to kill anymore, you see. Because Tommy called him a murderer (he actually called him a serial killer) and died thinking Oliver was a bad man. But when The Hoods invade Verdant and kidnap Thea right from under Roy's pretty little nose, Oliver can't stands no more, and succumbs to Diggle and Felicity's hard sell for Hoodness. Felicity refurbished the Arrow Cave with new tech and even got Oliver a bad ass new compound bow. (She kept his sadistic pull up tower because she likes watching him use it.)

Thea can't forgive her mother for her role in The Undertaking, but four creeps with machine guns blaming her and her family for the earthquake made Thea realize her mother was frightened of Malcolm Merlyn and did what she did to protect her family. The Hood arrived in the nick of time to beat up his unwanted namesakes and put arrows in them non-lethally. Officer Lance is pretty surprised to find the Hoods all trussed up and not dead, but the Vigilante who put so many bad people in the ground last year declares to his grudging ally in the police that he's trying to "find another way."  Oliver Queen no longer kills. But tell that to the callow Oliver Queen five years ago, with his little makeshift family Slade Wilson and Shado on Lian Yu post-Edward Fyers. When new Chinese interlopers invade the Island and kidnap Shado, Oliver puts one of those Chinese guys' heads between a rock and a hard place, over and over. Ah, killing. It's the best, ain't it? So who is/was on the Island? We'll find out. And apparently, they own a pirate ship.

As Thea visits Moira in prison to tearfully reconcile and hug (No Touching! Actually Orange is the New Black established they can have one hug), Oliver turns to his surprise savior, his former stepfather Walter Steele, for help in saving Queen Consolidated (nice to see Walter and Felicity briefly reunited). This earns the ire of Isabel Rochev, who's been reduced to being Oliver Queen's business partner in running Queen Consolidated. Hope it works out for those two a little bit better than when Smallville's Oliver Queen and Tess Mercer ran Lexcorp together. Little does Oliver know there's yet another hot lady arrived in Starling City, a new vigilante, blonde, black-clad, pretty hot. This lady saved Roy Harper from another round of dudes he was looking to get cornered in an alley by, and disappeared. She's the Black Canary, but no one calls her that (yet). Speaking of people being called things, Oliver, in his new quest to be honor Tommy and be the man and the hero Tommy would have wanted him to be (seriously, dude, Tommy would have settled for you not banging his girlfriend), no longer wants to be called "The Hood".

"So what do you want to be called?"

Surely, Oliver won't choose a lame name coined by Malcolm Merlyn at a dinner party last year. Surely not...

In other news, apparently there's a particle accelerator at STAR Labs in Central City. Isn't that interesting? We'll find out more about that in, oh, about seven weeks. Before we know it, that episode will be here in a flash.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1x3 - "The Asset"

This episode could also be titled "You Can't Take The Skye From Me". As the center of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s gravity switches to more character-based focus, all eyes are on Skye. Once again, not an official Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and merely a consultant, albeit one who has "a bunk on their plane," Skye's commitment to S.H.I.E.L.D. and her very loyalty are questioned. First, there's whether she's even physically fit for field work. Her personal trainer Supervising Officer Ward isn't terribly impressed with her physical fitness as they train on the heavy bag in Serenity's hangar, though Skye has a point about pullups. They're a bitch. But then Ward is also right that if she's hanging off a building by her fingertips, she'll want to have the ability to do at least one pullup. Ward is also not thrilled with her horsing around when he's trying to show her how to disarm someone with a gun pointed at her. Though wouldn't you know it, Skye did absorb those lessons into muscle memory right when the Big Bad of the episode has a gun pointed at her.

That Big Bad is named Ian Quinn, a billionaire who made his fortune raping and pillaging the Earth's natural resources while hiding out in Malta, free from the long arm of International Law. A quick Google search indicates Quinn is not a Marvel character, unlike the man he kidnaps in this episode in a daring, anti-gravity truck heist, Dr. Franklin Hall. Hall, in Marvel lore, is the alter ego of the super villain Graviton, a B-grade baddie who tangles with the Avengers now and then. In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Franklin Hall is a bald, nebbish of a professor and the former instructor of Fitz-Simmons. He taught them a lot of technobabble. Quinn has built a super weapon using an element called Gravitonium that, of course, can alter gravity. It's a dangerous weapon that Coulson feels shouldn't be in anyone's hands, plus two of his kids are yapping about how they need to go rescue their teacher, so off to Malta they go. Illegally, because S.H.I.E.L.D. has no jurisdiction. They need to send a man in, who can technobabble Quinn's technobabble and lower the force field surrounding Quinn's compound.

Skye's just the man for the job. For one, she's E-vited to Quinn's evil billionaire and world leader party, thanks to her hacking skills and links to The Rising Tide. For two, she balks at every task S.H.I.E.L.D. has given her, and she hasn't even hacked anything for them, so what the hay, field mission! Ward and May doubt Skye has the assets for this mission. Skye shows up in Malta in a clingy red dress and we see why, yes indeed, Skye does have the assets. They're wonderful assets. They're even better when Skye dives off a balcony into the pool and gets the assets wet. 007 himself would agree. Although Daniel Craig's James Bond would yell at Skye that she needs to stop touching her earpiece. The rest of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. listening in can't help but admire Skye's resourcefulness as she talks her way into Quinn's secret chamber (the assets surely helped). Skye then goes dark; all the better so the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. can't listen in as Quinn questions her loyalty to S.H.I.E.L.D. and offers her a job in his evil organization. She may be a homeless orphan and a high school dropout, but everywhere Skye goes, someone offers her a job. If she met Hank Scorpio, he'd surely offer her a job. But Skye knows where her bunk is, on the S.H.I.E.L.D. plane, and was only playing Quinn to get the technobabble out of the way so Coulson and Ward could penetrate Quinn's compound.

Coulson shows up to this mission on a beach in full suit and tie. It's weird. Ward, meanwhile, invades Quinn's compound to rescue Skye, a compound full of armed guards, and he never draws his gun, preferring to karate his way through the guards, who obligingly karate him right back. As Ward rescues Skye, who did a pretty good job of escaping Quinn's clutches by confusing him by regurgitating Ward's confession of how he used to be beaten up mercilessly by his cruel older brother over birthday cake, Coulson finds Dr. Franklin Hall. He didn't expect Hall to actually be the one who arranged a phony kidnapping so that he could gain control of the Gravitonium reactor thing. Hall's master plan: use it to sink the compound, or the whole country of Malta, probably, so that no one can get their hands on the Gravitonium. Hall does make some fair points that even Coulson acknowledged about S.H.I.E.L.D.'s unreliability when it comes to energy sources like this, alien invasion and all. The Gravitonium makes things all wacky, with Coulson and Hall fighting Inception style on walls and ceilings, and yet no one was floating around or doing Matrix moves outside the lab? Physics. Who needs it?

Coulson makes the tough call and shoots some glass, sending Hall into the Gravitonium and to certain supervillainy. Because we learn in the tag, of which there will be one at the end of every episode, when the Gravitonium is sealed in a vault in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s super secretest facility, Dr. Hall is alive in the Gravitonium ooze and will presumably become Graviton (though the odds of him appearing in an Avengers movie are nil. Sorry, Graviton.) Speaking of, Coulson reminded May, who doubted his competency as a field operative, that he saw plenty of action with the Avengers. May's retort: "And you died." That was uncalled for! For her part, May later approaches Coulson and finally stops complaining about being put in combat situations, asking instead to be put in combat situations. Like Mr. Burns, May had one of her trademark changes of heart. Speaking of trademark changes of heart, this brings us back to Skye, who is now the hottest, sweatiest, most committed new member of S.H.I.E.L.D. 24 Hour Fitness. That taste of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. field action made Skye realize she wants in, assets and all.

Now enjoy some Tweets from Uatu The Watcher.

And lastly:




Life Is Impossible In Space

Astronauts are in constant danger in outer space. Any mishap, from equipment failure to an exterior collision with space debris, could spell disaster and death. For astronaut Sandra Bullock, everything that can possibly go wrong does go wrong. Murphy's Law violently assaults Bullock with all the malice co-writer and director Alfonso Cuaron can muster. Cuaron's incredible cinematic tour-de-force Gravity is a textbook case of one damn thing after another: a routine mission in orbit goes completely haywire in a matter of moments when a shower of debris batters the space shuttle piloted by Bullock and her fellow astronaut George Clooney. So devastating is this debris shower that the neighboring International Space Station and Chinese space stations immediately abandon ship and escape to Earth. Bullock is separated from her berth in the space shuttle and careens helplessly through space. It's horrifying. She's a goner. 

Luckily, Bullock is not a goner. Clooney, zipping around with a jetpack, is able to rescue her before she floats beyond Earth's orbit. They manage to make it back to the International Space Station but they're not out of the woods by a longshot. More frightening calamities ensue, and Gravity strips away options for survival gradually, until Bullock is left all alone to accept her fate that she's going to die. Who could really blame her? The odds against her are insurmountable. The last act of Gravity where Bullock musters the will to live and then does everything humanly possible to reach the Chinese space station and pilot the last remaining escape pod back to Earth is magnificent; it's a rousing counterbalance to Cuaron's bravura direction in Gravity's first half where the beauty of Earth as seen from orbit and the horror of Bullock's predicament are in symphony. Cuaron's alternating use of the silence of outer space and Steven Price's haunting score as jarring dramatic cues, plus the breathtaking cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki where the camera moves into Bullock's helmet into her point of view and back outwards, are masterful. 

The experience of Gravity is thankfully not weighed down by oddball bits like Clooney basically just playing himself in an astronaut suit; his constant jabbering betraying both the screenplay's obvious exposition and curious head scratchers like how he explains to Bullock, a medical doctor, what happens to a human body when exposed to the vacuum of space, as if she wouldn't know.  It's also strange how a woman with Bullock's psychological makeup, still grieving for the loss of her daughter, would make it through NASA's vetting. Unless NASA is extremely lenient when it comes to movie star astronauts. Bullock and Clooney's conversations also are bizarrely of the "getting to know you" variety, when they should have already spent weeks together prepping for the mission in space and working together. Unless Clooney really did do all the talking all that time while Bullock pouted silently in the corner. A welcome tip of the hat to Apollo 13 is Ed Harris as the voice of "Houston-In-The-Dark" mission control.

Gravity is a gorgeously photographed, immersive, stunningly visceral cinematic experience. Pure filmmaking of the highest order. In its breathless majesty depicting cruel realities of humans trying to survive in outer space, Gravity is perhaps the closest we'll get to what it must have felt like for audiences decades ago to see 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time. As we root for Bullock struggling against unfathomable obstacles to survive multiple catastrophes in space and attempt to return home to terra firma, Gravity is also a relentless 90 minute anxiety attack. A white knuckle, hold-your-breath triumph of the human spirit, Gravity is a most of all a triumph for Alfonso Cuaron, cementing him as one of the great directors of movies.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1x2 - "0-8-4"

Lingo, technobabble, and team-building are the crux of the second episode of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Boy oh boy, is there a lot of technobabble. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is well-aware there is no Star Trek currently on television and they're doing their damnedest to fill the technobabble void. Virtually everything Fitz and Simmons said was relentless technobabble. Ward was the audience's stand in for demanding they speak English. S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn't yet do the Star Trek dealie where they do a technobabble info dump and then someone explains what was just said using a quaint metaphor. They should really work on that.

It's Skye's move in day as a brand spanking new consultant to S.H.I.E.L.D. ("Technically, [Tony] Stark's a consultant," Coulson reminds us.) Ward doesn't like it since she's not trained for field ops, but then neither are Fitz or Simmons. Exactly one half of Coulson's Mobile Command Unit isn't fit for combat and field ops, and one who is - Melinda May - doesn't want to see combat. This is some team Coulson has put together. Since they're taking Skye's van away, which is also her place of residence, it seems like Skye gets to live on the S.H.I.E.L.D. plane. The plane is "officially an airborne mobile command station, but we call it Serenity The Bus," explains Fitz. The Bus - callsign 616, the nerdiest reference to the Marvel Universe in the episode - also actually flies; it didn't last week but now it does, and a lot, and almost crashes, but we'll get to that later.

The Bus and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hop on down to Peru, where an Inca temple houses a mysterious 0-8-4 - which is S.H.I.E.L.D. designation for an object of unknown origin. The last 0-8-4 was Thor's hammer, and we all know how that turned out -- awesome, for the ladies. This 0-8-4 is a 1,500 year old alien device that looks like a crappy 1950's toaster but is loaded with Tesseract energy, seemingly hidden there by Hydra soldiers after World War II. (Captain America also gets a shout out.) Skye, who's all read up on the political state of Marvel Peru thanks to The Rising Tide, knows there's a rebellion going on that the Peruvian military is trying to quell. Both sides would love to get their hands on a toaster that shoots blue Tesseract lightning. Also, Skye is dismayed to learn part of her job is to now be a S.H.I.E.L.D. Internet liar when called upon to lie, which is the opposite of what she stands for as a WikiLeaker.

Long story short, the Peruvian military show up and a blammy blam blam shootout and car chase puts the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Peruvian soldiers, lead by Coulson's old jungle boogie buddy, the unusually hot and horny Comandante Camilla Reyes (Leonor Varela), on The Bus hightailing it out of Peru and into The Slingshot, a S.H.I.E.L.D. blacksite. But that was Reyes' plan all along - to take the S.H.I.E.L.D. plane and the 0-8-4 by force. To do what with it? Why crush the rebels and rule Peru, of course. Can the bickering Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. who don't trust each other overcome their bickering and mistrust to work together and save Coulson and the day? Of course they can, by using the 0-8-4 to blow a hole in the plane -- with teamwork! (100 people with 1% of the solution can get it done. Or in this case, 5 people, as Skye explained to Ward as they discussed S.H.I.E.L.D. lingo like S.O., i.e. supervising officer, over spiked whiskey and sexual tension.) Amazing how handily a hole in a plane at 30,000 feet eliminates a cadre of Peruvian soldiers (shout out by Coulson to falling 30,000 feet like Thor did in the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier Hulk trap in The Avengers) and even more amazing how easily a rubber life raft inflated by Skye, who read the flight manual, can safely patch up said hole in said plane.

And so it was that six days after first assembling, Coulson's Mobile Command Unit survives their first mission as a team, safely bringing the 0-8-4 to The Slingshot and The Bus in for repairs. The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have bonded; May nudges Ward into becoming Skye's S.O. to make her fit for S.H.I.E.L.D. duty, well-aware as the audience is that they are clearly going to become horizontal Avengers. I mean, the show's not remotely subtle about it. Meanwhile, while literally everyone's back is turned, Skye gets a secret communique from The Rising Tide, which is about to go dark, seeking her status. "I'm in," Skye texts back. Don't trust the hottie who refers to herself as "a hacker" repeatedly and used to live in a van. For his troubles, Coulson gets a serious dressing down from Nick Fury himself! Check out Samuel Motherfucking Jackson making a television cameo appearance! Fury, his priorities ever above reproach, admonishes Coulson and tells him there better not be a fish tank on his plane. "Cancel the fish tank," Coulson calls to nobody. He'd better. What does Coulson think this ship is, the Enterprise?