YOUR FACE! YOUR BEAUTIFUL FACE!
“Guys what if it called to them with magic?”
Rin says: My favourite Skye is when she’s being incredibly lame.
And plaid shirts.
Sophy says: Is she ever really anything but incredibly lame? In the best possible way. Seriously though I thought it was adorable that she suggested magic and adorable that Simmons was so scoffy about it and adorable that Coulson wasn’t so scoffy about it because the reality is that magic and science are not as far apart as we think.
Skye and Simmons are pretty much on the same page here. It’s just that what Skye calls magic – what Coulson called mythology – that’s what Simmons calls a “scientific attribute we have yet to discover.” I think the rather large and daunting thing about this show is that it presents all mysteries of the universe as knowable – as having their origins out there some where. The Norse Gods aren’t gods, you guys. They’re aliens. And that means that magic can happen left right and centre only it’s just science.
“Did I fall asleep?”
“For a little while.”
Rin says: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH DOLLHOUSE REFERENCE!!!!
Sophy says: I didn’t get the reference It’s been a long time since I watched most of Dollhouse and I think I was a bit drunk during most of it. I feel a bit dirty admitting that, actually. Not the possible alcoholism – the failure to properly appreciate a Whedon oeuvre.
BUT THIS WAS REALLY FUCKING PRETTY? And further to what I said above: it was genius that after all this talk of magic and science, Coulson wakes up in terror from his Tahiti dream off the words “It’s a magical place”. Because whatever happened to him that made him alive now when he was dead then? It wasn’t massages and catnaps in a tropical paradise. Whether it was magic or science or magic that is really science… it wasn’t that.
This whole episode was just so marvelously layered and interwoven. Because not to mention Coulson finally begins to see the truth through the delusion of Tahiti in an episode that is basically all about Ward’s repressed painful memories. Brilliant.
Rin says: You really should give Dollhouse another go. Sure it’s patchy but LIKE ALL JOSS SHOWS IT REALLY COMES TO A HEAD AFTER A LONG BUILD AND OH GOD. There is one very iconic scene that will always stay with me.
Best Reminder that Joss is back :’)
“You’re saying touching the staff unlocked certain memories.”
“My worst memory. The first time I felt… hate.”
Rin says: This episode was so good in giving us reasons to love Ward. It was setup so beautifully five episodes ago when Ward was telling Skye about growing up with his siblings and how it was his defining moment to commit.
“I had a brother who beat the crap out of me, me and my little brother … for nothing, for eating a piece of his birthday cake. I had to learn to protect us the way I am trying to protect you.”
And then they showed us his worst memory and wow. It was so horrible and upsetting and MY BABY WARD
It does make me wonder if we’ll ever get to meet either of his brothers. And thinking about it now it probably is something they’d do. Because WHEDON TEAM. But I think it’s probably something they’d have to wait until season 2 to do. So THERE BETTER FUCKING BE A SECOND SEASON. God damnit. I need it.
Also special mention to the scene in the lab where Ward is ripping into everybody and Simmons tries to explain the hurt away with science.
Sophy says: Yeah, so. I fell in love with Ward in this episode. A lot. I think I have further to fall, but really this was a good start. And it was a start, because although we’ve spent plenty of time with Ward over the seven previous episodes we’ve never really known him. He presents himself as a cartoon superhero, you know? Like Captain America only significantly less gregarious. That’s not to say there weren’t hints that everything inside Ward was perhaps not as orderly as everything outside – his conversation with Skye about her time in the Foster system and his brother and the birthday cake being the main one. But this is where all of that gets fleshed out. This is where we get a glimpse of what motivates Ward beyond what he will give us willingly – that he teaches people to protect themselves like he had to learn to protect himself and his brother.
The angry-stick is the show’s way of cutting him open and seeing what’s inside – Simmons would be so proud of that metaphor, though probably also disappointed that it’s only a metaphor.
And man, this was distressing. I can see why this memory – undoubtedly the cream of a horrible crop – is something that Ward would work hard not to think about. For most of us there is nothing quite like witnessing suffering – suffering inflicted by cruelty – and especially the suffering of a child. Certainly, there is nothing like being complicit in it, as Ward no doubt feels he was up to a point, despite the fact that he as a child himself and coerced with threats.
This is why he’s a hero now. Because he wasn’t enough of a hero then. This is why he is drawn to Skye, who is a gentle person – a needing person – a person who was once a child just like his little brother – abandoned, mistreated, left to cry at the bottom of a metaphorical well. It’s also why he’s drawn to May who is nothing like Skye. More on that later.
I have to give major props to Brett for his acting in this episode, and especially for his face directly following the flashback – ie the last cap you see above. And hey, you know you’ve arrived with me as an actor when I actually go and look up your name and make a mental note to remember it for future recaps. I also have to give props to the director/editor/writer/whoever dealt with the flashbacks. The constant flashed teasing of the horror throughout the episode culminating in us being fully in that moment with Grant as he fully surrendered to his rage – lost to the memory, unable to escape that child’s cries… it was totally brilliant.
Best Reminder that Joss is LOL
“How long do you suppose he’s been on our planet?”
“A thousand years. Maybe more. If we could just cut him open a little bit, get some tissue samples, maybe some bodily fluids, we could find out.”
“Or we could just ask him, weirdo.”
Rin says: I love it when Simmons becomes really detached when it comes to her scientific curiosities.
And Fitz doesn’t care one bit and probably also finds it as cute as we do.
Sophy says: OH SIMMONS. And yes, Fitz is just standing there with an unchanging smile of Simmons-approval. Because this is who she is and he is unchangingly fond of it.
IT’S OKAY FITZ, I FIND SIMMONS’ FAINTLY PSYCHOPATHIC QUALITIES ADORABLE TOO. We’re all normal here.
Also, I’ll take this opportunity to briefly comment on the history professor who teaches about mythologies he as an actual part of in terms of how he’s actually hundreds of years old and an Asgardian alien type person. I loved him. He’s probably the most interesting guest spot so far on this show. I didn’t see it coming when he crushed Ward’s knife with his bare hands, nor did I see coming the poignancy of his reason for being here. He likes life on earth. He likes books and wine and monks and stuff. He likes being a Giles, basically, and not even a Giles who’s really a Watcher. Just an actual bona fide tweed and tea kind of a Giles.
Cutest of the Scoobies
“I mean, the Norway spruce is a rather fast-growing coniferous, and I know you’re trying to trick me into going up, but I’m going up anyway, so…”
“I’ll catch you if you fall.”
Rin says: Oh my gosh this was so cute. I’m so happy Shield continues mix things up in terms of who bonds with who. That they give their characters life outside of whoever their intended counterpart is, because seriously.. a lot of shows actually fail at this even though it seems like the most basic thing. If you’re going to have an ensemble cast, you need to let everyone form their own unique relationships with each other.
First. WARD’S LAME THINKING FACE. And I love that they’re still following up with Simmons post-almost-dying. And he cares about how she’s handling it and helping her get through it. She has to get back on the horse, or log, and overcome her fears. It was amazing when they used the cliche of distraction to get her going, and Simmons is just all, “I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING BUT I’M GOING UP ANYWAY :-??”
AND THEN JUST THE CUTEST LITTLE LINE FROM WARD.
“I’ll catch you when you fall.”
CAUSE THAT’S WHAT WARD DOES. OUT OF PLANES. OFF OF LOGS. WHATEVER.
Sophy says: This was just so lovely. Like Rin said, this show is particularly good at paying attention to all the relationships, not just the ones it has earmarked as OTP, and you know that’s a smart policy, first because it means there are that many more opportunities for your viewers to bond emotionally, just as the characters bond, but second because sometimes you just don’t know what’s going to emerge as OTP in the long-run. It can’t hurt to give every pair an opportunity to develop their chemistry, right?
Actually it kind of does hurt because I get very confused about who I ship with this show. But I’m hoping that will sort itself out eventually. At a certain point I do prefer to be rabid about these things.
And yes, following up on the way life-changing events, you know, change characters’ lives is something Joss has always been very good at. So we get to see Simmons struggle with fear. We get to see her fear soothed by the person who saved her. We get to have an adorable little throwback to the saving with “I’ll catch you when you fall”.
And you know, I think this scene was really important in establishing the softer side of Ward before the angry-stick makes him so angry. Later when he snarks at Fitz, Skye quips whether that was the normal Ward or the new angrier Ward, because she can’t tell. We, the audience, really need to be able to tell. So we see him being not only supportive and present for Simmons but sensitive – understanding – thoroughly decent about what happened to her in the episode before last – or almost happened to her. We see him being cute with Fitz at the start of the episode too, affectionately referring to him as “our little monkey”. So we know, when he’s completely insensitive to Fitz about what happened to Simmons that some bad mojo has gotten into him.
AND SIMMONS UP A TREE IS JUST THE CUTEST THING. AND HE CALLED HER EQUIPMENT A DOODAD. AND SHE MADE FUN OF IT. AND IT WAS THE BEST.
Please sir, we’d like some more
Rin says: May/Ward isn’t something I expected to love as much as I do. They’re equals in the way where they both have to be the warriors of the group, and they understand each other — they would both willingly give their lives to save the team. So at the end of the day when they’re both battered and bruised, having had to relive their worst memories, they take comfort in each other. I love that they’re clearly not an OTP, but in so many ways you can see how if things were different they definitely could be.
I’m also just a huge fan of when May shows she has feelings you guys. I liked that despite getting blown off the first time she offered to help Ward, she stepped in again and simply told him to let her help. TO LET HER.
Sophy says: Yeah, May/Ward really took me by surprise because of the amount of build up there’d been previously for Skye/Ward (Skyward??? Best ship name ever y/y?) but that’s the thing: Ward needed to do a U-turn at this point. Basically he’s a mess in a way that many of us can understand all too well. I know what it’s like to remember things you haven’t thought about in a long time – things a very meticulous part of you has been kicking to the back of your mind because your mind can’t handle them. I know what it’s like to be completely flummoxed by how vulnerable the process of being forced into contact with these memories can make you. And whether you’ve ever actually managed to forget things that have hurt you or terrified you or made you feel terrible helplessness or guilt or all of the above… whether you forgot those things or just tried to live your life with them ticking inside of you, just out of reach. Then you know what Ward is going through. And it is absolutely terrifying.
Ward is a hero. Catching people when they fall is what he does. But what happens when he’s the one falling?
This is why he can’t take Skye up on her offer of talking. First, because he’s Grant Ward, okay? He’s not much of a talker. But more than that it’s because his entire construction of their relationship – or the relationship he would like to have with her – is one in which he is Protector, capital P. This is not to say that Ward is a caveman or that he sees Skye as a damsel. It’s just that being looked after by somebody is not something he’s comfortable with.
May gets that. She gets that shoulders to cry on are about as useful to a person like Ward as a swift kick to the shins. What he needs is simplicity. What he needs is someone who understands him without him having to say a single word. And that’s not Skye, because that’s not necessarily the person you’re infatuated with or even the person you’re in love with. It’s the person who suffers what you suffer.
Skye and Ward have some pretty potent stuff in common, as relates to a difficult childhood. But it’s not the abuse that has scarred Ward here. It’s the gut-wrenching self-hate. The terrible regret. The feeling of not having been strong enough – brave enough – fucking all round good enough. It’s watching somebody else be abused and all the reasons he didn’t make that stop.
When Ward is going full angry-stick Skye pleads with him to calm himself, saying that this isn’t him. Except it is him. The stick has little to no effect on May except to make her stronger. The only reason it affects Ward the way it does – or any of the humans who wannabe gods the way it does – is because of what’s already inside them and an inability or unwillingness to manage it. This rage is Ward. Skye can’t see that. Ward certainly can’t let her see that. But May…?
We haven’t had a lot of insight into May’s past yet, but we know that she is built like Grant is. We know that she’s the kind of person who couldn’t function without being strong – in charge – impenetrable and always there to save the day. And clearly there are terrible things there in May’s history, just as there are for Ward.
And you know what? She has come through.
I’m not going to say that she is the most emotionally healthy individual around, not by a long shot. But she has found a way to know awful things without having them own her. She has found a way to be what she needs to be 24/7, no matter what kind of Asgardian tomfoolery comes her way. It’s like building up an immunity, you know? Every day you force yourself to think about the things that scare the shit out of you and little by little they still scare the shit out of you but you don’t have to react to that fear. You don’t have to live it out.
This is how May is so strong. This is how she can wield the full angry stick and kill ’em all and still be May. This is how she can help Ward: by proving to him that fear is just a feeling – that hate and guilt and need and shame are too – that he can feel them with her – that he can feel anything he needs to and there will be no consequences.
“I don’t panic. Ever,” Ward says.
He can panic with May. The irony being? That’s exactly why he doesn’t need to.
(Rin says: Faberry is the best ship name ever.)
Head In Hands
Rin says: There is never a time when I don’t enjoy May fighting, but I especially enjoy it when the entire episode is spent talking about how dangerous and powerful this staff is.. and May goes ahead and joins all three together and makes a day of it.
Her ‘I’M COOOOOK’ blurry screencap is especially nice.
Sophy says: Has there ever been a more badass badass than Melinda May?
My face is Skye’s face.
Rin says: Impressed and aroused?
Sophy says: WHAT OF IT???