Monday, March 23, 2015

Agents of SHIELD, Season 1

So I just got back from a three-day run at Coastcon over in Biloxi, and I had what I would say is a decent time.
I didn't buy anything while I was there, but I did find some cool freebies. There was a table with papercraft figures, and the first day I got a 1-up mushroom from Mario, the second day I got a paper Spock, and today I got a paper Stormtrooper.
Somebody else was passing out free copies of Pathfinder Tales: Reign of the Stars, which I was happy to take. Haven't played Pathfinder, but I'll take a free book.
I also got some weird single CD these people were passing out called "Otter Popstars Original" with music supposedly made by some cartoon otters, somewhat akin to Alvin and the Chipmunks.
I also met Tony Amendola, who portrayed Master Bra'Tac of Chulak in Stargate SG-1, and Edouard Kagame in Continuum. He was awesome to talk to.
Also met the writer for Peter is the Wolf, a webcomic that I read through a while ago, and got his signature on one of the Peter is the Wolf handbills he was passing out. So that was fun.
Running the games was a little less fun, since on Saturday we barely had any peace and quiet, and on Friday we didn't have enough time to finish. Today was a lot better, because we finished the game, and managed to actually have fun doing so.
Anyways, onto the review!
Agents of SHIELD is a great show.
Seriously, I think it's amazing so far. I only just finished up season 1 a week ago, but I think it's great.
So, Agents of Shield follows on from the end of The Avengers. Phil Coulson is back, and raring for action. He's got a new lease on life, an elite team of SHIELD operatives under his command, and a state-of-the-art hover-jet as a mobile base. The team consists of Agent Grant Ward, Agent Melinda May, the team of Super-scientists Agents Fitz and Simmons, and a genius hacker named Skye, who isn't a SHIELD agent, but might as well be.
Throughout their adventures, they retrieve alien technology, track down and imprison supervillains, team up with aliens, and solve problems that would potentially destroy the planet.
They develop the characters very well, they pace the show competently, and it fits in well with the rest of the MCU. Part of the show even ties in with the plot of Winter Soldier.
And honestly, when I first saw this show, I thought that it wasn't going to fit in with the rest of the series too well, but it does.
Unfortunately, there aren't too many characters from the main series showing up on the show. It's pretty much restricted to Agent Coulson and Nick Fury. If they could get RDJ, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffulo, Scarlet Johanson, or Benedict Cumberbatch onto the show, it would be pretty damn cool. Unfortunately, I don't think that's very realistic an outlook.
It'd also be nice if they would introduce one of the big-name major heroes on the show, but that doesn't seem very realistic either.
I like how they're using mostly original characters to populate the cast, it means that nobody can have any preconceptions about their personalities.
Now, since this ties in with Winter Soldier, it explores some of the ramifications of the Hydra takeover of SHIELD. And not to spoil anything, but one of the characters is a career-long Hydra infiltrator.
This comes straight out of nowhere, and the traitor is a character I didn't expect to work for Hydra.
There are hints scattered throughout the rest of the series, little things that make the whole storyline worthwhile. Things that mean it makes some kind of sense.
And there are small hints that otherwise didn't make sense that actually work in context after you figure out who the traitor is.
And one of the strongest parts of this plot-thread is that they didn't try to buy-back that characters betrayal. Nothing to make the situations seem ambiguous, nothing that makes the character seem justified in their actions.
There are some small things that make the character in question more complex. Such as showing remorse for betraying those who considered them as close as family, hesitating at certain actions that someone else might not have thought twice about.
Sure, it's highly unlikely this character will have any kind of realistic redemption arc. They're not quite in the kind of position Loki, Harry Osborn from the original Spider-Man series, or Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z were. There's no way they can completely absolve themselves of their crimes, but they're in a position where they can either do their best to redeem themselves and finally make the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the Earth, or go down that dark path, deeper and deeper, until they finally die at the hands of one of the heroes.
Honestly, I would appreciate either possible route.
In the cases of villains who turned heroes, Loki started out as a decent sort, who could have succeeded in becoming a great hero if he hadn't been placed in a bad situation, and ultimately managed to redeem himself (For the most part) in a quest to avenge a fallen family member with his brother, Thor. Yes, he did do some terrible things, but honestly, I still like Loki as a character. He's got some depth to him, which allows him to make a compelling hero and villain.
Harry Osborn (From the Raimi series) was the victim of misinformation. For all he knew, Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin were different people, and Spider-Man had actually sneaked into his fathers room and killed him. He was a decent person that was pushed into a horrible situation through a combination of bad information and bad luck, and he wound up redeeming himself in the final battle against Venom in Spider-Man 3, standing with his friend, and overcoming the manipulation of his fathers ghost to become a hero.
And finally, Vegeta. Vegeta lead a two-man invasion against the defenders of Earth, contributing to the deaths of Tien, Chiaotzu, Piccolo, and Yamcha.
And finally, he stood against Goku and Gohan in the final battle of the Saiyan saga.
Goku and Krillin spared his life, and Vegeta went on to turn against the man who'd killed his father, destroyed his entire species, and blew up his home planet.
In another situation, where the Z-Fighters and Vegeta didn't have The Ginyu Force as a common enemy on Namek, the series probably wouldn't have turned out the same way, and Vegeta might have slipped further down the dark path Frieza and his mentors had set him on.
Vegeta is probably the most similar example in this entire little tangent to the character in question, as he started out with horrible intentions, but changed as time went on.
Vegeta would up allying with Krillin, Goku, and Gohan to take down The Ginyu Force, and from there they further teamed-up in the fight against Frieza.
And in his final moments before Frieza killed him on Namek, Vegeta realized that if he'd been in Goku's shoes, he could have turned out a lot better, a lot happier, and a lot stronger.
And I'll bet that his relationship with Bulma, coupled with the fight against Frieza on Namek was what ultimately made Vegeta into a hero. He still wanted to become the best fighter there was, but he had a wife and son he cared for to protect. Still a little selfish, still a little bit full of himself, but in the end, he wound up being a great hero.
And what I see for this character is them confronting their inner demons, and fighting their hardest to right the wrongs sewn by Hydra. And maybe even sacrificing themselves to protect the world and the ones they care about.
And possibly earning themselves a second chance like Coulson was given. Except Coulson was a hero like Steve Rogers from the beginning.
So anyways, judging the season by itself, as well as a part of the MCU, I like what it is. I can also see it going interesting places. I hope Joss Whedon and ABC keep up the good work.
Sorry this was kind of late, I was wiped out Sunday and didn't have the time to finish the article.
I'll see you next week with X-Men, Days of Future Past!