YOUR FACE! YOUR BEAUTIFUL FACE!
KESTER IS THE BESTER.
Sophy says: I know this is highly unlikely to be the case, but my fave people from my fave British shows popping up on this show makes me imagine Joss Whedon watching things like The Fades and My Mad Fat Diary and then my brain sort of shuts down.
I wonder if Joss Whedon actually watches other TV? Or does he just watch more of his own TV IN HIS HEAD?
Rin says: Does Joss Whedon watch TV is one of those horrible conundrums that people spend their whole life trying to solve.
Wait no. He loves Veronica Mars.
Of course he loves Veronica Mars.
Thinking of him watching My Mat Fat Diary makes my brain tingle though.
Sophy says: Oh my god I’d forgotten about that time Joss was on Veronica Mars. And now I sort of want to have a cry about it all over again. After all this time always.
Smooth operations walk in a long line.
Sophy says: Never clump! Never ever!
Rin says: I KNEW THIS WOULD BE THE CHOICE IMMEDIATELY. I want to be on this team so bad. Let me in guys.
I’ll be your mascot PUT ME IN A SHIELD COSTUME
Sophy says: So tempted to post that photo of you and your entire extended family in Shield shirts.
Rin says: I AM NOT ASHAMED AND AM MOSTLY PROUD OF THOSE PHOTOS. But I fear not everyone included would be.
Let’s just say…there were human pyramids.
Best Reminder that Joss is back :’)
“We have to live with the choices we make, but sometimes we have to die with them too.”
Sophy says: Okay so basically this entire Hall/Coulson scene was full of those kinds of lines you often hear on Joss Whedon shows that stick with you and have you thinking and talking with your family and – okay, if you’re me you don’t talk about them with your family and friends, because they find it unnerving when you care actively about television.
But in any case, this whole setup is the Jossiest, on account of how it’s an examination of what it really means or doesn’t mean to be a hero – of how the right thing is such an easy thing to get wrong and whether the end justifies the means? Maybe we’ll never know.
Hall isn’t a bad person. If anything the narrative constructs him as a good person, in that he is nobler than most, willing to sacrifice himself for the safety of others. Only the trouble is he’s also willing to sacrifice the safety of others for, well, the safety of others. This is one of those things you wind up feeling really bad and helpless about if you think about it too much because, to my mind at least, there is no answer to the question: Do the lives of two people amount to more than the life of one? What about one person versus a million?
I’m reminded of that time Angel and Spike realized they couldn’t save Fred from Illyria because it would mean vast numbers of other humans dying in agony. They had to face their loss – her loss, in the name of the greater good, and I think part of the reason they made the choice they did was that they knew that Fred is Fred for them, but all those people who would die in her place? They might be someone else’s Fred.
Here the situation is a little different. Dr Hall isn’t protecting one person at the cost of many. He’s sacrificing many for the protection of the world as we know it. At least I think that’s how he sees it. He truly believes that gravitonium, in the hands of the wrong person, could be the kind of epic disaster that will take out just about everyone – probably these same people Coulson is so intent on saving. And he is too cynical to hope that it will not end up in those wrong hands.
Coulson wants to save people because he doesn’t like death. Because it will always be a last resort for him. And he also wants to protect his new family – his little set of Freds, many of whom are on the island. But I think where he and Hall differ is in whether and how much to hope. Coulson believes they can contain gravitonium. And why wouldn’t he? The entire point of his life – and feel free to correct me, movie fans – is control and containment of the fantastic and powerful (with a healthy dose of fangirling of it alongside). Believing they couldn’t stop Quinn or someone like Quinn fucking the planet up with gravitonium? That the only solution to that is the biggest, cruelest, ugliest, most destructive one that you know will work? Yeah, I don’t think this guy is ever that desperate – at least not yet.
He believes in himself and in SHIELD. If he didn’t, what would be the point?
Rin says: I’m upset. Why would anyone think it’s a good idea to talk about A Hole In The World? LET ALONE YOU SOPHY. I EXPECTED BETTER FROM YOU. Why do you want to hurt so many people?
But it’s true and right to compare because it is one of the oldest moral dilemmas used in TV. And I like how it played out in this episode as being something that will continue to have no right or wrong answer. I mean yes, he was more in the shade of being the villain because we like our little team of agents and if they died it wouldn’t be much of a TV show anymore, but Hall makes a pretty strong argument that gravitonium is way too dangerous and will eventually fall into the wrong hands. If the last snippet was anything to go by, it might come back to bite everyone in the butt.
But on the other hand Coulson believes that delaying the apocalypse will always be better than just getting it over and done with.
And now I’m thinking about how that was the whole point of Buffy and Angel. And I’m getting emotional.
These rag tag bunch of misfits are all going to become big damn heroes at one point or another. And I’m super excited for that.
ALSO. I feel like I need to say this even though I think everyone is on the same page anyway. These categories are named after Joss even though we know he isn’t writing or directing these future episodes because we feel like they are following his lead anyway. The tone and everything about this show reeks of Joss, and isn’t it kind of the highest honour in TV land to be compared to Joss? SORRY JED WE KNOW YOU’VE HAD A LIFETIME OF IT. But you are pretty damn great yourself. And your wife Maurissa. We love you all.
Sophy says: I just tell myself that Joss puts a piece of his soul into all of his colleagues when they do TV shows together. They’re like wonderful horcruxes, maybe. Sorry guys.
Best Reminder that Joss is LOL
Sophy says: IT’S ALL IN THE DELIVERY. ALL OF IT. This is actually a pretty low rung Xander gag in terms of writing, but it’s neither humdrum nor repetitive thanks to Iain’s delivery which is somehow entirely self-conscious and entirely un-self-conscious at the same time. And of course, Simmons’ reaction. Always Simmons’ reaction.
Meanwhile, was anyone getting a mild but definite jealous vibe coming off Simmons in this episode with respect to Skye and all the attention she’s getting? I enjoy this.
Rin says: YES. To everything. I love how he still just SAYS it even though the damage had already been done like he literally couldn’t help himself because he is that awkward.
AND SIMMONS BEING ALL ABOUT IT. Because omg stop objectifying Skye BUT ALSO STOP OBJECTIFYING SKYE
I love Fitzsimmons so much it hurts.
Cutest of the Scoobies
Meek little girly girl!
Sophy says: HER RIDICULOUSLY UNENTHUSED GIRL-PUNCHES WERE THE BEST. BEST.
Is it fair to call Skye a Scooby yet? I’m thinking she might have earned it. She’s on probation, maybe. That works.
In other news I am cheerfully imagining Simmons reading this recap and being like ‘Well sure, if you find a lack of gumption and can-do spirit attractive, have at it.’
I ALMOST WANT TO SWAP SKYE’S GIRLY PUNCHES OUT FOR MY IMAGINARY SIMMONS.
Rin says: Imaginary Simmons is pretty damn special. Next time we’re just going to have stick figure drawings of an imaginary Simmons scene.
And we’ll just be laughing and laughing underneath for our commentary because she’s just that great.
But for now the little jabs were the cutest.
Please sir, we’d like some more
“They’re big brother.”
“Maybe. But they’re the nice big brother who stands up for his helpless little brother when he’s getting beat up because he ate a piece of cake that he wasn’t… you know… you kidnapped a person!”
Sophy says: Okay so. This whole family theme was phenomenally well managed. So often with other shows I find myself either a) rolling my eyes at the extent to which the writer clearly wants me to understand the Very Important Message he or she is trying to convey, or b) struggling grabbily to find sense in a world of nonsense. With Joss Whedon shows I’m pretty much always in the perfect middle, and this is a case in point.
I get what Joss is saying here about Skye and Shield and family and what it all means. The rest of the viewing population gets it too, because it was clearly conveyed as opposed to hinted at weakly and recreated in strength by meta and squee. But at the same time nothing was so obvious that I wasn’t involved and in the moment – that I wasn’t sold on this being an organic process.
Skye never had a family. She wants one. She is very, very afraid of the fact that she wants one. Basically, she is your classic commitment-phobe – she likes to keep her options open, isn’t that what she said? This makes perfect sense in the context of what she tells Grant at the end of the episode about her childhood and a failed attempt to call someone mom. It also makes perfect sense in the context of her running to him like a kid when he dispensed with Quinn’s security – of her choice to side with Shield when it came down to the wire.
What motivated that decision was clearly Quinn’s remark about Shield targeting her because she has no family. Up to then she seemed cocky and in control, like she could go one way or the other depending on what Quinn put on the table. But the thing is that she realized, suddenly, what Rin and I and the rest of the fandom were onto last week – that the Shield team she is poised to become a part of has started to become a little family – that they will pull together and fight for each other and unwind together at the end of the day, because it’s important to do that when in the field and all.
The thing is that Skye doesn’t want to be part of Quinn’s family. She doesn’t belong there. She’s just experienced that by wandering through a cocktail party that takes itself very seriously having to be fed lines to interact with people and resorting to ‘That’s… whatever’ when left to her own devices. Major props to the costume department for her pink dress in a sea of black and beige, which did a great job of signalling the fact that she just does not fit in with this crowd.
With the kids at Shield? It seems like almost sort of kind of could. Because they’re Big Brother but they’re the nice Big Brother. Because Quinn is the kind of man who’ll order the chopper and whisk himself away from his guests when disaster strikes, but Skye has seen the people at Shield stick up for each other – stick their necks out for each other, actually – and maybe it’s just remotely possible that they could do the same for her – that she could do the same for them – that this could actually work for once in her life.
That scares the crap out of her. But she can’t bring herself to run from it. A fear of intimacy does not necessarily mean you don’t want that intimacy – you want it – actually all kinds of badly a lot of the time. It’s just that you can’t trust yourself or other people not to fuck it all up. This kind of push-pull in personal relationships is classic in people who have been rejected multiple times, particularly as children.
Skye is afraid. But it’s too late. She wants this. And the brilliant thing is that ‘this’ is the two very same things that are feeding her conflict. Because Shield is both, actually. It’s family – home – a soft place to fall. And it’s also going to train her to be harder than she is – to be able to protect herself even if that means taking someone else down in the blink of an eye. That’s why the mix in that final scene of her now vigorous, determined punches and her downcast openness about the things that hurt was so brilliant.
Skye is a very well drawn character, so far. She is strong, tough, prone to surprising the whole room. And yet at the same time she is ordinary and afraid – she is small when it really comes down to it – and in some ways, maybe to Grant particularly, she is predictable. She didn’t have what it takes to pull the trigger, after all.
This is what Joss is so good at. You don’t ever hate his characters, whether for being too good or too bad, because ultimately they are always both. And nobody ever has the monopoly on awesome, either, to the point where you’re just irritated by how fabulous they always have be. No one gets it right all the time. No one gets all the cute lines. No one is the be all and end all and that kind of means that to we the viewers… they all are.
Rin says: Firstly I want to say that I wish Quinn wasn’t the baddie, and I wished he was a she, a beautiful blonde-haired she that we could ship with the beautiful brunette. Sigh.
But Sophy is right. The development of Skye in this episode is superb, and not over-the-top. It didn’t feel like it was getting shoved down our throats the way in which other shows might force a character upon you. And that’s one of the great aspects of a show run by Joss, nothing ever feels forced and it feels like we’re just given the pieces to the puzzle and it’s up to us to make of it what we will. And am I just repeating what Sophy said? Yes. Kind of. But it’s important to note because really, you don’t get this in the majority of shows. And we haven’t had the chance to recap a Joss show yet and it feels like we finally get to talk about all the things we always talk about with each other but now we get to share it with you guys. There is a difference between the shows we recap and a Joss show. I feel safe with Shield. I really do.
And it’s things like how well they’ve handled Skye’s character in the space of three episodes that makes you appreciative of a well written/structured show. We’ve learnt a lot about her character but it still isn’t everything, not by a longshot, and at the same time it doesn’t mean the other characters suffer for it.
Skye is continuing to straddle two worlds even though she committed to Shield in this episode it doesn’t necessarily mean that she isn’t still committed to the rising tide. I would love for her to be in with Shield and only Shield but in the same breath I wouldn’t be surprised if she turns her back on them.
Sophy says: OH MY GOD IT WOULD HURT SO GOOD THOUGH.
Head In Hands
“Skipper to Bravo, I’ve got eyes on Top Dog. The Eagle is landing on it.”
Sophy says: OKAY BUT FIRST OF ALL IT WAS SO CUTE BECAUSE SKYE WAS BEING ALL SUPER-SPY AND REALLY GETTING INTO THINGS IN THE MOST TRAGIC WAY POSSIBLE. AND THEN SIMMONS WAS LIKE ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING?’ AND I SPAZZED OUT FROM CUTE AND I WAS STILL SPAZZING OUT WHEN SKYE ADORABLY RETRACTED AND REPHRASED. AND THEN THERE WAS FITZ AND HIS POPCORN.
ACTUAL POPCORN, YOU GUYS.
Though I think the MVP for this scene was Simmons mostly because the ‘What are you doing’ line was so layered. I mean, on the one hand, it was a kind of snooty overstep from ‘What are you saying?’ and on the other I was just picturing Simmons literally imagining Skye wandering into some barn where there’s a dog and an eagle and whatnot and reporting what she’s seeing and obviously being in entirely the wrong place. OH IMAGINARY SIMMONS.
And actual Simmons.
Rin says: All the Simmons! May she always be in our heads while we rest them dreamily on our hands.
I think I just love everyone though. I really think everyone is equally cute when they want to be — whether it be Skye’s lolsy spy language. Melinda’s confused and slightly irritated looks. Simmons. AND FITZ WITH HIS POPCORN. Everyone is always winning on this show.
But Skye and her Hermione-esque-ness continues to amaze me. THE FACT THAT I GET WEEKLY HERMIONE MAKES MY HEART SOAR AND MY WINGS FLY.
“You committed to the cause or just watching my back?”
Sophy says: THAT LINE THOUGH. Ships are being built. I don’t know what kind they are exactly but they are large, fast and shiny.
Also very pleased they are continuing to tease gently at the whole Tahiti issue with Coulson. Having him be perplexed by a loss of muscle memory was a really clever way to do that. And Melinda knows and she wants to protect him from it and from everything and SAME THING GAHHHHHHHH.
Rin says: Yes! The whole muscle memory with Ward/Skye and then it being something that comes into play with Coulson is pretty great. I WANT TO FUCKING KNOW WHAT HE IS. ARE YOU A CLONE? ARE THERE ACTUALLY A WHOLE BUNCH OF SHIELD TEAMS RUN BY A COULSON?
IS MELINDA HIS MONITOR???????
Okay. So I’m getting out of hand and mixing my shows. But you never know.
And yes. Shipping. So much shipping.
Melinda May in a relationship would be hilarious. AND SO ADORABLE.