Super Agents?

Photo by Justin Lubin - © 2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reservedI don’t usually undertake reviews of TV that is still airing, but I’ve been watching Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for several months and feel it’s necessary to share how I feel it’s improved over the past 3 episodes.

The first episode had a lot of pressure riding on it, and to a certain extent, it delivers. After the film The Avengers, it’s hard to imagine anything involving a mildly relevant premise not having significant hype. Once the show aired, I was pleasantly surprised by the humor and warmth Clark Gregg (Coulson) brings to the show. He has the weight required to anchor the episodes but let’s face it, he’s also one of the funniest deadpan comedians.

However, I was not enthusiastic about the neutral performances from the relatively green ensemble cast. I wondered what made Agent Ward so awesome when all we knew of him was what they told us. Writing 101 tells you that exposition kills, especially in TV. Fans of this kind of genre show either want the thrills and action adventure of the movies. Choose your poison, if you ask me. This show didn’t really seem to know if it was going to bend the expectations or if it was just going to take some time getting there, and it certainly didn’t have the instant chemistry that The Avengers has.

I also really just wanted to know why the name “FitzSimmons” was even a thing. I mean, scientists Fitz and Simmons got a couple name before we even knew them as separate people! You just can’t afford to do that when you’re establishing characters based on geeky super genius stereotypes. You need someone like Daniel Faraday on LOST who has the natural charm to pull off talking about sci-fi gadgets or time travel like he/she isn’t giving information overload. When Simmons delivers her expository dialogue, however, I often feel like the writers could do better on the jargon. They’re pretty inconsistent in how they write “intelligent” explanations. They should also remind people more often how cool Fitz can be (as evidenced in the episode called “The Hub.”) and give Simmons the same chance to shine on her own!

Side note: I am also very pleased to see Lauren LeFranc and Rafe Judkins as writers and not just producers, as they created some of the most memorable moments on the awesome show Chuck

In any case, I think what is truly remarkable is how much they have turned this show around since the episode which aired right before their hiatus. It was becoming a little bit old to hear Coulson constantly saying that Tahiti is a “magical place,” and finally the viewers get to understand that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been keeping the truth from Coulson: he didn’t just die; they forced him back to life and took the memory of it from him. Why? That is still the question. In addition to: who is the Clairvoyant? It better be Skye’s mom/pop, or let me tell you something, these writers are just the biggest teases in TV!

Finding out something tangible about Skye’s past probably should have happened five episodes ago, but I won’t complain. Just like with Coulson’s mysterious resurrection, there are some things that you can tease and others you really just need to give partial information about so at least your viewers can feel how high the stakes are.

Something you can always say about Marvel is that they love sticking their characters into unlikely circumstances to see if they will rise to the challenge. So far, we have only just started to get into the real drama on this show, and I really hope that the network will give them more than just this one season. I think this show has the makings of something really special given the time to progress.

{Photo by Justin Lubin – © 2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.}


A New Year’s Flashback

2013 was a year full of firsts and lasts: I graduated from college, got my first post-grad job (an internship, but who’s keeping track?), and sent in my first graduate school application.

I have thought of countless things to say about the New Year, but instead of just commenting on the things I hope for this year – and there are many – I want to share with you something I prayed on this day one year ago.

Father, I am a fool for letting Your name go to waste in my heart. I’ve been letting my fear of failure hinder my life to the point where I can’t tell when I’m being wise and when I’m just making up excuses. I pray that Your Spirit would cut through the darkness and the doubt so that I wouldn’t fear the world for its effect on me and that I wouldn’t fear my own decisions. May I find strength in You alone, in Your Word, and in Your witness within my heart. I go nowhere alone because You are in my heart. Be with my family, as we’re constantly on the edge of a new transition. I praise Your holy name above all others. I’ve seen You at work in the lives of Your people, and more than all else, You alone have the authority to give and to take away. May I not shy from that reality, Lord, or from Your ultimate power. If I believe in Your name, then I believe You will do as You’ve promised. May I no longer be in bondage to my flesh, since Jesus has defeated death! In His holy name I ask these things. Amen.

This prayer still feels as fresh as if I had written it today, and with all of my heart, I want for you readers to embrace the future without fear. The only things we carry from our past are the lessons we’ve learned; we don’t need to carry the baggage, too.

I don’t know where you all are in your lives, but I know that we’re all looking down the barrel of a new year. Some people are excited by the prospect of the new beginning, while others are having trouble leaving last year in the past. But I hope that this prayer can be yours, as well as mine.

I want to leave you with this song, which has meant a lot to me in the past year of my life.