Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “Yes Men”

I used to think Stephen Moffatt and Joss Whedon were writing gods. I believed everything they wrote was perfect and that they could do no wrong. In the last few months, both these men have been shoved off their pedestals and my belief in them has shattered. I know that individual writers (like Shalisha Francis, who wrote “Yes Men” and “The Bridge) are somewhat to blame, but the creator or showrunner of a series has the most say, and as such, I place the majority of blame on them when something isn’t right.

Before I go on, let me say that I still think Moffatt and Whedon are strong writers. They have a clear worldview, they have talent, and they’re clever. I guess I’ve just developed a different worldview. One where men and women are equal and there isn’t a divide between genders that decides who can do what based on their genitalia.

I also think Whedon, who is the stronger writer in terms of overarching storylines and character development, believes in equality for all. He is trying to create that world, and it becomes stronger with every show. His writing evolves. I see nothing of the sort in Moffatt’s writing. He laughs at fans who ship Johnlock because, “They’re not wired that way” and then makes a character who identifies as a lesbian fall in love with a man. I think Joss listens to his fans and that I could have a conversation with him about what I find difficult to watch in this episode and he would listen, whether he agreed with me or not. Moffatt, on the other hand, would just dismiss me with a wave of his hand because I’m a female and a mere fan who doesn’t deserve his time but should slavishly worship him and his masochistic pleasure in torturing us.

Back to “Yes Men,” this episode really hit a hot topic for me. In the canon of the show it was a strong episode, much more like the back half of the season than the first half, which is a positive sign that the show is on an upward swing and will only continue to get better. They’ve introduced sorcery instead of going back to another Earth-related science experiment, and they’ve begun to explore other races outside of humanity.

However, the episode starts off with a prisoner on the run, Lorelei. She’s a siren-type villain, wooing men into doing her bidding. Of course, it’s sorcery and the men aren’t in their right minds, but the explanation for her sorcery capabilities? “Men have an inherent weakness.” Or, “all men are weak.” Also, a reference is made to the fact that Lorelei can fight but that she likes to see men fighting for her.

Um, what? Men are weaker than women? Men have an inherent quality about them that makes them more likely to be subjected to slavery? How in the hell is that ok? I detest the “fact” that Lorelei preys on men just because she can. There’s literally no other explanation in the entire episode. She just enjoys dominating men. Quite honestly, it’s a look into how powerful women are viewed, which means that women in charge are viewed as witches, able to bend men to their will, not through hard work, not because of their training, but because of their beauty. They play on mens’ lust to get what they want.

Lorelei goes on to make a man choke his wife to death. She taunts May by telling her that Ward desires another woman. She even gets in Lady Sif’s head about Thor. She delights in twisting everyone’s emotions and is happiest when she takes someone who belongs to someone else. I’m offended by that view of women. I’m not going to say none of us are like that, but the majority of women I know (and I know some powerful women) don’t go around commanding men to serve them whilst alienating other women. If there are women (and men) like that, I think they’re a minority.

Lady Sif, another strong woman, doesn’t have time for feelings. She’s all warrior all the time. She sticks to her code and her sword (a not so well hidden symbol of manhood) without any way to embrace the hardness and softness of being a person. May fits right in with her. The younger girls, Skye and Simmons, are a bit better but are still stereotyped. Since they are nerds, they have a box to fit into as well. It’s so damn irritating that we can’t show a spectrum of humanity. Not all of us are the same, even if we have the same general label. Each of us is full of contradictions, bits and pieces of our past, our family, and our experiences. None of us deserve to be treated as two-dimensional.

And you know what? As soon as someone said, “Women are immune” to Lorelei’s power, I instantly thought, “Oh my gosh, there’s a transgender character and we can have this great discussion about gender and it will foil Lorelei’s plan!” Guess what? It didn’t happen. Also, why would Lorelei’s power work on all (and only) men? What if there were gay characters? What if there were lesbian characters? If there was any diversity in orientation apparent on this show I would be thrilled. But there isn’t. As far as I know, they’re all straight. What a missed opportunity.

One other thing: I always disliked that Lady Sif seemed to like Thor. They’re too similar. She’d be much better suited to someone like Loki where their strengths would complement each other. They would be a dynamic duo. So when Sif collars Lorelei and tilts her head, asking, “You were saying?” I was strongly reminded of Loki and wondered if Sif had preferred him after all.

There’s no episode next week, but a special showing some new footage of Captain America: Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Avengers: Age of Ultron as well as a sneak preview of what’s next for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I’ll be tuning in hoping to see Karen Gillam. I miss you, Amelia Pond. You deserved better.

K.M. Cone

K.M. Cone

K.M. Cone is a story nerd, particularly for the episodic stories told via the medium of television. When not parked in front of the TV, K.M. Cone can be found writing kooky urban fantasy on her personal site, attempting to learn German, or making a huge pot of soup for her friends, who are probably coming over to join her in her latest TV or animated film obsession.
K.M. Cone

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