Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “Turn, Turn, Turn”

“Turn, Turn, Turn” made me unpack every single curse I’ve ever learned but not in admiration. After the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it seems like the article I wrote predicting the outcome of the show will indeed happen. Our S.H.I.E.L.D. team will now have to act rogue as HYDRA has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D.

I always knew that I couldn’t trust the entire crew but there were so many variables that I just waited until the reveal to weigh in with my opinion. “Turn, Turn, Turn” made me angry because I disagree with the writers’ choice for story reasons.

When “Turn, Turn, Turn” began hinting at “don’t trust anyone” and “it’s someone you trust” I thought of Dollhouse where it is revealed that the man behind the entire operation was in Echo’s life (I won’t completely spoil it just in case someone hasn’t seen that beautiful television show, which I count as Whedon’s best work). This might be a pattern since the same thing has now happened on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (even the same archetype).

Only that’s not what the story did. The story instead picked one of the least liked characters, the one with whom no one had emotional investment (except one of the characters), and it fell flat. I thought, “Really? They couldn’t have picked anyone else?”I thought I clued in when they said it would be someone we liked. Well, it all started making sense to me. I had said from the very beginning that Skye was the perfect candidate. We knew nothing about her or her past. We didn’t know anything about her connections. She’s the most likable character in the show. Just think about how much this team has invested in her and now she’s going to be a HYDRA plant? Brilliant.

I can only assume the writers thought it would be a difficult one for the audience to deal with. If the audience gets behind her in their feelings, how are we going to feel if we discover she is not the one? “Whew, I’m glad it wasn’t my favorite character. There’s absolutely nothing I feel about this except relief.” I don’t think that’s good writing. I think that’s safe writing.

When you pick the character with the least going for them, the one you’re most willing to get rid of, you’re not telling a good story. You’re hoping the audience doesn’t get mad at you. And I wouldn’t be mad except that as a writer, I’m offended that this is what they chose to go with when they had a much better opportunity literally at the tips of their fingers.

Skye should have been working with HYDRA. It made sense. It had set itself up to be that. We loved Skye. She was the one person we were invested in. We got to see S.H.I.E.L.D. through her eyes. The revelation that she was undercover would have been shocking and then we would have looked back and thought, “But it makes sense…” Then we could have seen her struggle as she chose either to step away from  HYDRA and work with S.H.I.E.L.D. or to give up her team. The conflict! The suspense! The agony!

This other choice made no sense whatsoever and I am astounded weekly at the writing choices of this show. I have loved some of the episodes but I have detested more of them because they should be great and they’re frustrating.

Last week’s debacle (shooting an innocent person with disabilities because “He’s the villain, obviously” only to find out that he was a victim) and the continued sexist tropes have bothered me to the point where I keep watching because I think it can only go up from here.

And, to a point, it has gotten better. Some things are better. The pacing is much better, the characters are cemented (even if I don’t care for most of them), and the world is unfolding before our eyes. In many ways Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a solid show. It is solidly written. But there are some deeply disturbing patterns I see and I don’t know why they are there because of who is writing (I have so much respect for these writers and it pains me to not love this show).

I did love parts of “Turn, Turn, Turn:” they tried out some new music, some interesting camera angles, and the storyline aided both of those things into making Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. less sterile and dark sci-fi and more space fantasy, like Star Wars, which I found incredibly exciting.

Fitz and Simmons have grown on me (particularly Iain De Caestecker, who is a brilliant actor, turning from goofy to evil to heart broken in a matter of seconds), and I hope they continue to have even more screen time as they only brighten the show with their talent.

I am interested to see where this show is going and if the writers will hear from fans and maybe attempt to fix some of the problems this first season has experienced. It’s a good show. I believe it can be a great show. Marvel knows how to hire people who tell good stories.

Now if we can just sidestep the tropes, the sterility, and the aggravating story turns and stick with the Star Wars vibe, the pacing, and the blending of the Marvel Universe, we’ll have one hell of a show.

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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