This week, the Agents of SHIELD finally return to our present day, but it’s a difficult, winding journey to get there, of course. We say goodbye to the characters we’ve gotten to know over the future space arc, and learn more about the time loop, before the cliffhanger monolith jump at the end. Loyalty, the importance of making the best choice of who to align oneself with, and when to let go, always a focus on this show, continue to be major themes. Those themes are set up to affect the rest of the season, perhaps the series, in game-changing ways.
Also in this episode, Coulson proves he’s not the greatest leader when he treats Daisy like she’s his property to control. He may think he’s acting like a leader or father, but he takes Daisy’s choices away to the point of rendering her unconscious, while others risk being left behind without a word of complaint from him. That’s not the kind of caring he, or the writers, think it is. Overly possessive misogyny doesn’t stop being wrong because you convince yourself it’s for a good cause.
When the Zephyr pulls into the landing bay of the Lighthouse, Kasius and his guards are waiting for it. The first thing they see when the doors open is Sinara’s body, still hanging, impaled on the balcony railing. Kasius brain melts down. The lead guard orders the rest of the guards to search the ship.
Agents of SHIELD gives us another ambitious episode this week, with more clarifying information about this pod’s mythology, a human rebellion, a callback to Tahiti, the answer to the question “Just what is Enoch?”, a daring escape from what’s left of Planet Earth, and a Daisy-Sinara rematch. Deke also sentenced Voss to his fate, and there was some ominous foreshadowing to end the episode. And nearly everyone on the Zephyr suffered from some form of existential angst. You can never forget about the existential angst on Agents of SHIELD.
We begin with an atmospheric shot of two Kree soldiers emerging from a misty red background to try to put down the human rebellion. They’re being lured toward Mack and Elena, who easily kill them. That makes eight Kree that the humans have killed so far.
The rebels are putting Fitz’ weapons cache to good use. Elena tells Mack that she finds his rebel-peacemaker side sexy, but before they can do anything about it, Flint comes down the hall, all business. Having kids ruins your love life, it’s true. He tells them that the entire floor has been secured for the humans.
This week, Rebecca is determined to save the little guy, with a little help from her friends and acquaintances. In Rebecca’s mind, saving the little guy means taking the law firm back from Nathaniel after he refuses to let her have her job back. She’s also going forward with her plan to donate an egg to Darryl. Meanwhile, Heather has new career opportunities with Home Base corporate, and new life opportunities with Hector. She also volunteers to do a surprising favor for her friends.
Heather is still trying to figure out who she is, and what she wants to do with her life. She appears on Hector’s podcast, and says that she’s many things, including a chewer of gum, but none of these things define her. Hector would like to define them more clearly as a couple and take their relationship to the next level. Heather isn’t sure she can do that until she figures out who she is.
Jordan Peele has written and directed a powerful, thought-provoking movie with layers of statements to make. He’s also made a taut psychological thriller that combines the racially motivated social awkwardness of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” with the justified paranoia of “The Stepford Wives”and the slowly revealed evil of “Rosemary’s Baby”. Get Out reveals the truth about its premise incrementally, at just the right pace, so that the viewer, like lead character Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), ends up similar to a frog in slowly boiling water. When he, and we, finally become sure that things have gone bad, it’s already too late, and it’s unlikely any of us will forget what we’ve already seen. As with any horror movie, there’s no escape left, so the best way out is through.
Along with Chris, Get Out follows the story of Rose Armitage (Alison Williams), a white woman who’s been dating Chris, an African-American photographer, for 4-5 months. Rose has decided that it’s time to bring Chris home to meet her upper class parents, Missy (Catherine Keener) and Dean (Bradley Whitford) who live in the exurbs of New York City, where the nearest neighbor is so far away that they can’t hear you scream. Chris asks his best friend, Rod, a TSA agent (LilRel Howery), to take care of his dog while he’s gone. They check in with each other several times during the weekend.
Humans is a joint production of Channel 4 in Britain and AMC in the US that focusses on humanlike robots called “synths”, some of whom have become self-aware like Real Humans, which just happens to be the name of the original Swedish version of the show that this remake is based on. The first two seasons are currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime.
Season 1 follows a human family, the Hawkins of London, who acquire a synth when the dad, Joe, becomes overwhelmed with trying to keep up with the house and kids while his wife travels frequently for work. The family mom, Laura, and oldest daughter, Mattie, are suspicious of the new synth from the start, with the mom bordering on paranoid.
Their new synth, Anita/Mia, does turn out to have a past and a family of her own, which has been wiped from her memories. She is a self-aware, conscious synth, made by synth creator David Elster in his later years when he’d become a recluse. Elster made at least four conscious synths, who have become separated and are trying to find each other again, along with Elster’s son/their brother, Leo. Besides the Hawkins, the show follows the conscious synths, the people who help them, and the police who are chasing them.
Episode 1, with catchy title of Episode 1, begins in a room full of deactivated synths, clad only in underpants. One is wheeled out of the room, sealed in packaging. The lights are turned off, the door is closed, and the synths are alone. They do not start chanting “one of us, one of us” because the writers are stronger people than I. One synth, who will go on to become Anita/Mia, does look up through a conveniently placed skylight at the moon. She doesn’t sing “Somewhere Out There” to her lost brothers and sister, so pop culture references are clearly lost on synths, which is a terrible, terrible waste, and may require a return to the factory.
This week, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend continues its sob fest over men’s problems, and I mean that literally. After Dr Shin encourages her to spend her free time helping others, Rebecca decides to save an engaged man from a bad marriage, no matter the cost. Darryl continues to struggle with the ramifications of deciding to have a baby alone. Nathaniel and White Josh bond over their romantic break ups, because no one understands the problems of hot, sensitive guys. Josh joins the party for a while, because he has problems, too. Rebecca stays away from the ex-boyfriends, for now, but she does decide to rescue Darryl. I don’t think she’s quite gotten the message about this whole “Stop obsessing about men” thing.
The episode picks up with Rebecca and Nathaniel’s break up scene. Except Rebecca explains that it’s not a break up. She just needs to avoid falling into old obsessive patterns again, so she can’t see him any more.
This week, the women of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend are all about keeping the men happy. Rebecca is trying to make up for Nathaniel’s sad childhood and to prove that she’s still an A+ therapy student. Paula takes on Darryl’s babymaking decisions, because these things are just too complicated for a single dad to figure out on his own. Lourdes is kicking Josh out of her house, but she’s also making him grow up and stop being so lame. The mixed message here is that it’s the job of strong, independent, modern women to take care of men’s emotional and caretaking needs, at every stage of life, whether the men think they want it or not. Even if the men resent it at first, they’ll thank you for it later. Since empowering women through enforcing gender stereotypes doesn’t do it for me, this was another disappointing episode.
Lourdes is just about perfect in my opinion, so I don’t have much to complain about there. She’s starting up a home daycare business, and needs Josh’s bedroom for the toddlers. She has a muralist coming on Monday to paint dolphins on the walls, so Josh needs to clean out his closet and move in with Hector and his mom by Monday. Josh gets off to a slow start, fondling every memento and getting lost in memories. When he gets to his old Karaoke machine, it’s all over. He stays up all night singing every song.
Desperation begins to close in on all sides as Agents of SHIELD reaches episode 8, The Last Day. We’re closing in on the midpoint of the season and the end of the first story arc. That will bring some kind of change, and it also brings the series’ 100th episode closer. The 100th episode, #12 of this season, is rumored to be an important one for the series and characters, not just the celebration of a milestone.
This episode spends time filling in more details on the True Believers. It shows us more of how Robin’s powers work and how she’s been using them over the course of her entire life to guide the effort to save the world. Mack, Elena and Flint draw closer together as a new family and as leaders of the Lighthouse humans. Everything in the episode involves intense struggle, but by the end Robin is finally confident that she’s in the right place, at the right time, giving the right message to the right person. That alone should be cause for hope.
This episode sees the reunion of almost all of the agents, plus the remaining sympathetic future characters (~ish, in the case of Deke). Grown up Robin reveals herself to May, and Gravitonium makes a stunning reappearance after disappearing for four seasons. The future is full of dangling plot threads, from the remains of the Framework to one of the first mysteries the show ever tackled, last seen in the hands of ruthless billionaire Ian Quinn, who stole it from HYDRA. Everything on this show comes full circle eventually.
The episode picks up moments after Fun and Games left off, catching up with the daring escape of Han, Leia and Luke from the evil empire Fitz, Jemma and Daisy from the Kree. They make a quick stop to let Jemma change out of her flowing white Princess Leia garb, which, while fun, is too conspicuous for an escape. Fitz checks Daisy’s condition after her fall to the crater floor. She asks why he didn’t join in the hand to hand fighting, and he replies, with his usual dry wit, “Wouldn’t be fair. I do push ups now. Double digits. So…”
Jemma and Fitz make enthusiastic plans for storytelling, pints and gin when the crisis is over. Jemma’s ear implant let’s out a dizzying high pitched whine. Fitz looks for tweezers so that he can remove it. He finds clamps, and does a delicate removal procedure on the love of his life’s ear canal while Daisy fights a Kree warrior next to him. I’ve missed having these three together, so so much.