Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1x9 - "Repairs"
Curious: Is there some kind of fishbowl containing TV plots that showrunners pull their stories from? In the same week as Sleepy Hollow does a smashing haunted house episode, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. puts its Agents through what's essentially a haunted plane episode. Just a couple of weeks ago, both Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Arrow sent their casts to Russia. In that same week when Fitz was obsessing over a prosciutto sandwich, Boyle became a foodie on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. (Also, Simmons could give Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Santiago a run for her money as a cover girl for Hair Pulled Back magazine.) Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. missed its chance last week to be sympatico with Almost Human and do a sex bot episode. (I would actually enjoy watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. tackle sex bots, but let's save that for fanfic forums. Or, rather, let's not.)
If Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. were interested, in a meta-way, of addressing the numerous complaints of many viewers, the title "Repairs" would suggest the show is looking to make adjustments towards some of its deficiencies. Instead, "Repairs" centers around the mysterious past of Melinda May and how she became the stone faced action figure that she is. It's also about Skye looking for something to do - seriously, the bulk of Skye's arc in the episode is her making multiple suggestions for ways she could contribute to the case this week and being told to do nothing - until she uses her [Registered: Gifted] power of Human Empathy to suss out the answers to the Problem of the Week. She also bonds with May after being the most confrontational she ever has been to the Tiger Mom of the Bus.
The Problem of the Week is a young woman named Hannah who has become the pariah of her small town. Hannah is blamed as the cause of a catastrophe her church-going small town suffered when there was an fatal accident at their local particle accelerator. Wait, what? A small American town just happens to have a particle accelerator? A particle accelerator. (Coulson helpfully explains exactly what a particle accelerator does.) Where was this particle accelerator located, between the Walmart and the Hardee's? And Hannah, who looks and sounds like Blake Lively, is the safety inspector, the Homer Simpson? Also, an accident that killed a dozen people would have been national news and S.H.I.E.L.D. in this universe would have swarmed it with Agents to secure it. But no, the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. only arrive to find out whether Hannah is a telekinetic, acting out like Carrie White in Carrie, all the while pooh-poohing once again that telekinesis exists.
After a near-fatal crowd riot at Hannah's home that plays kind of like a scene from X-Men (people angry at a suspected dangerous telekinetic, a car being launched as a weapon a la Magneto), May shoots Hannah to sedate her and Coulson locks Hannah up in the secure, All-Purpose Room on The Bus for her safety. When Coulson and May play Good Cop, Tiger Mom and question Hannah about her suspected telekinesis, they learn Hannah believes she's being punished by God, sir. But there is no telekinesis and there is no God. What there is, instead, is a g-g-g-ghost! Well, not really. It's actually a man named Tobias, Hannah's co-worker at the particle accelerator, who is now caught between dimensions* (another shout out to Thor: The Dark World and how Thor bounced between dimensions when fighting Malekith - who again is never mentioned. What does S.H.I.E.L.D. have against Malekith? Is he like Voldemort? Speaking of Voldemort, Skye had the best line when, taunted by Fitz-Simmons for never attending S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy, she said, "Okay, I never went to your stupid S.H.I.E.L.D. Hogwarts or whatever." World's longest parenthetical aside.)
So Tobias is not a ghost but he does bounce around the Bus "haunting" it by sabotaging the plane's systems and occasionally choking or bonking the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with a wrench. For the second time in the last 8 weeks, the Bus is in danger of crashing and it's super tense for like a minute, but no, May lands the plane fine, no problem. Uh. Whew? Despite all the wires he pulls out of walls, tables he smashes, and Agents he wrench-bonks, Tobias still can't get inside the All-Purpose Room (note restraint from calling it the Room of Requirement - this Bus is not Hogwarts) to get to Hannah. May absconds with her and hides her in a nearby barn to draw Tobias out, wherein May goes womano-e-mano with a dimension-jumping blue collar worker and, after some difficulty, cleans his clock. Luckily, back on the Bus, Skye used her Empathy analyze the evidence and realize that Tobias was not trying to harm Hannah. Rather, he was hurting everyone else trying to hurt Hannah, to protect her. Because he likes her! Awww. In the end, May talks Tobias into letting Hannah go and leave this dimension and return to the unspeakable hell of the Dark World or wherever he teleports to, forever. No, Tobias, we Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will not help you or figure out how to save you from what's happening to you! Get lost, Tobias! And he does. Problem (of the Week) solved!
What happens to Hannah now? Who will explain to the denizens of her town that wanted her driven out or burned at the stake that it was really Tobias dimensionally shifting from between Earth and the Dark World who caused all the mayhem because he had a schoolboy crush on Hannah? It doesn't matter. What does matter is that, YES! Ward and May did some horizontal Avenger-ing in Ireland, and neither will speak of it. What matters even more is how May got the name The Cavalry. Fitz-Simmons decide that it's time to haze Skye into S.H.I.E.L.D. with pranks, and they do a rather rotten job of it. Best prank these two brainiacs could come up with was a cockamamie story about May killing 100 enemies single handed while riding a horse, which Skye bought. (Fitz's follow up prank involving a scary mop jumping out of a broom closet only succeeded in spooking himself, Ward, and Simmons.) Fitz-Simmons, when pulling pranks in the future, learn from these two.
It was Coulson who gave Skye the lowdown on the real story, and it was far less exciting than the legends: May did take out some enemy agents in Bahrain, and in the process she lost her smile. Or as Coulson puts it, she lost "herself." Heavy, man. You know, if this were Firefly, we would have actually seen flashbacks of what happened to May instead of talkie scenes where four people just tell the story to Skye. But this is the Bus, not Serenity. Coulson also gives Skye the attagirl she's been waiting weeks for, since her Empathy was instrumental in figuring out all the weird shit that went on. Maybe her Empathy will one day take her all the way to the top. (I'm telling you, this series or Skye's career will conclude with Skye as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.) Finally, Skye and May reach some kind of silent understanding, thanks again to the power of Empathy. It's not often you see a network television show end with two Asian women in the cockpit of a plane.
Epilogue: May learns to prank again!
Epilogue to epilogue: God is love. - Nuns to Skye, Skye to Hannah
* Boy, that's shitty. In Arrow's world, being caught in a particle accelerator will grant a man superspeed and not only turn him into The Flash but get him his own TV show. Tobias is in the wrong comic book television universe. And he can't dimension shift into the DC Universe. Poor Tobias. Ah, who cares.