YOUR FACE! YOUR BEAUTIFUL FACE!
Rin says: FIRSTLY OH MY FUCKING GOD YOU GUYS WE’RE BACK!!! We are back.
And it’s kind of awesome that our season 2 premiere episode packs a guest star punch with Lucy Lawless. We can’t even imagine the burn the Xena fans’ loins felt.
I included the beer cap because I thoroughly enjoyed the way she swirled it, and the face she made at May whilst finishing the bottle.
Sophy says: XENA? WHAT IS A XENA? When Lucy Lawless became Mrs Ron Swanson she stopped being anything else. Ever.
Poor Ron will have to take over so many more household duties now that she’s had her arm snicked off
Rin says: Ahhhh the ol’ we’re back with a new season and our main female character has had a hair makeover. It happens almost always on every show, and it’s usually the fringe.
Sophy says: Rin and I gasped at Skye’s hair like it was a plot twist. And the hood. Seriously if you want us to give any TV show a chance just send us in a screen cap of a cute female wearing a hood and it’ll go to the top of the pile. Unless it’s Pretty Little Liars.
Cells shouldn’t look this pretty.
Rin says: This scene totally reminded me of that scene from Lost between Jack and Kate, through the glass. Ofc the only thing they really have in common is being pretty and talking through a wall but it took me right back there.
WARD! This reintroduction to Ward and this scene as a whole was amazing. There is literally nothing that I didn’t love about it, I love that Ward is still a psycho, maybe even more so, and I love Skye for treating him like the betraying murderous bastard that he is. I never expected them to let up on the seriousness of Ward’s deceit in terms of Skye, but all the same it made me happy to see that they haven’t and won’t. There are no overnight epiphanys, no whitewashing, Ward is going to have to pay, suffer, and make amends before he becomes someone we can maybe learn to trust.
ALSO. WHAT DOES HE KNOW ABOUT SKYE’S DAD?!! Seriously, it was the best when Skye flipped the switch, but IF ONLY YOU HAD WAITED ONE MORE SECOND.
Sophy says: This scene reminded me of Buffy and Spike at the start of season 7! You know, when he’s all cray in the basement, self-harming and rabbiting on about sparks and Buffy’s all okay but you smell and also you tried to rape me that one time so fuck you and also fuck the feelings I’m still having I don’t have time for this shit BUFFY OUT.
Not that I would say the things Skye is feeling for/about Ward here are analogous to the things Buffy was feeling for/about Spike. Buffy and Spike’s relationship had a lot longer to develop into something totally baffling and essential for both of them before the rug was pulled out from under them (OR FROM OVER THEM HA HA) at the end of season 6. It’s a little different with Skye and Ward because while she certainly had feelings for him, by the time those came to the fore she found out that the entire person he was in her life was a lie – a really dangerous, ugly, murdery lie that she needed to get away from by any means possible including taking the real feelings and faking him out with them.
I feel like the development of Skye and Ward’s relationship over and above being colleagues and friends was at a stage where it was possible for Skye to put any feelings on ice. I don’t get the sense that she’s in any particular emotional turmoil over seeing Ward or that she’s intrigued by his promises of honesty except in so far as it could give her and the team a significant advantage with this uphill battle they’ve got going on.
Ward’s feelings for Skye – the intensity, sincerity and ultimate worth of them – are a matter for debate going forward. But Skye’s feelings for Ward? They’re gone. And the only trace of them is her disdain.
I have no doubt that Skye/Ward is going to be a thing. But Ward will be starting from scratch with Skye, and with a different Skye from the one who might have been falling in love with a different version of him. The experience of trusting someone so utterly untrustworthy has changed Skye. She still has compassion, I’m sure, but she’s a little less eager to show it these days. And she won’t let people manipulate her via her better instincts.
That’s what she thinks Ward is trying to do here – what May thinks he’s trying to do too – fill her head with his suffering – exploit her capacity for caring about other people’s pain. Skye can’t afford to let him do that at this point. She can’t afford to let him and his sharp pieces of paper and his running into walls keep her up at night. And why should she? Ward violated her on a personal level. He tried to kill her friends. He dedicated his life – and anyone’s life who got in the way – to a force for evil – to a Nazi with Bill Paxton’s face I mean seriously. I’ve seen a lot of hubbub in fandom about her telling him he should have run faster in response to him telling her about his self-harm/suicide attempts. I can get why that line upset people, especially people who’ve self-harmed or attempted suicide themselves and especially people who’ve been belittled by the people who should nurture them afterwards. Believe me, I understand this. But the thing is that Ward has established himself with Skye and the team as a Very Bad Person. We know – or some of us believe – that he’s not actually an evil person so much as a seriously psychologically damaged and emotionally underdeveloped individual who put all his eggs in a very dangerous basket because no other baskets wanted them. A section of the audience believe in a redemption for Ward, or in a process of atonement at least. That’s why we care when he shows us his scars. That’s why it means something to us when he says he wants to help.
But Skye doesn’t have any of the information we do. She hasn’t got Ward’s backstory from an omniscient narrator. She doesn’t know that Joss Whedon is writing their lives and that there is therefore very little chance Ward is going to be the kind of one dimensional baddie who is simply embarking on another long con. It wouldn’t make sense for Skye to trust him here. It wouldn’t make sense for her to believe that after meticulously and coldly betraying them all to the bitter end, he is now so wracked with guilt he’s trying to commit origami suicide.
Coulson confirms for us that Ward is telling the truth about his actions in that cell but none of them can have any certainty about his motivations for acting that way. May certainly seems to think he has his own Hydra-related reasons and why the hell wouldn’t she?
So I guess what I’m saying is that under normal circumstances telling someone they should have tried harder to kill themselves is a pretty unforgivable thing. But when you have all the reason in the world to think they are just trying to manipulate you the same they manipulated you over and over, day in day out for the entirety of your supposed friendship? Maybe you’re within your rights to shut them down as firmly as you can. Basically Skye is a nice person and all but she’s not Dr Phil and even Dr Phil is a giant, sarcastic asshole when people piss him off enough. So.
In other news this scene was so, so pretty and I can’t get over how perfect their posture is in the last cap. They’re basically both suspended in motion and it works so well for the scene and where their relationship is at at the moment. Also Crazy Basement Ward is my favourite Ward so far and I am so excited to see what Brett Dalton is going to do with the character from here on out. He was superb in this scene. So many perfectly strange line deliveries, these flickers of soft boyishness in his eyes… absolutely superb. Who knew he had this in him back in the early days of season 1, huh?
Rin says: Oh my gosh though yes. In a way Skye telling Ward that he should have run faster is just the best way to counter Ward in thinking that he can use Skye to his advantage. Surely I wasn’t the only one who questioned the seriousness of Ward’s attempts of suicide. That’s the thing though, you don’t know how far Ward would go to try and get under their skin yet again. As much as I want Ward to Shanshu in LA, I’m not going to pretend he’s some helpless puppy who just pooped on the carpet. He’s the most dangerous person these guys have ever encountered, and that goes for all of the bad guys with super powers they’ve faced. Is there a bigger advantage for your opponent than having you care for them? Having said that, I personally don’t think Ward is manipulating them and just think he’s a severely damaged person. But that doesn’t mean Skye should think that, she will not be fooled twice, no matter how earnest or serious Ward seems. That is the only smart thing to do when it comes to Ward, so yes, no qualms about Skye’s response from my end.
(Joss is all seeing and all knowing.)
Best Reminder that Joss is back :’)
“All I can hear is you.”
Rin says: I don’t know if I can even talk about this.
Sophy says: I understand. I was chugging along making many, many words and then I got to this point in the recap and I was just like…
So I took a little break, played some Tetris, stuck all the blocks in the wrong places because I was thinking about Fitzsimmons and came back to the recap.
Okay, here’s the thing. Rin and I have a lot of feelings about Fitzsimmons. Many is the time that we have discussed how they will probably be the aspect of this show that ruins us, which I’m pretty sure we already started suspecting before the finale. So to come into season 2 and be faced with this right off the bat? I don’t know how we’re expected to even process it.
Let’s talk for a start about the fact that Simmons has left. Simmons who told Fitz last season that nothing would ever change between them because it was too late for that. Simmons for whom Fitz tried valiantly to give up any chance at surviving last season because he wanted to make sure she did. He is the way he is now – miserable and confused – struggling with the simple things like making words and being who he is – because of her. Well, because of Ward, actually, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the fact that Fitz damaged himself for Simmons. Because she’s “a lot more than that” – a lot more than his very life. And now he’s lost and scared and he needs somebody to help him so he’s conjured up an imaginary Simmons who is honestly doing a great job under the circumstances of not being real but…
HOW COULD SHE POSSIBLY LEAVE HIM TO FIND HIS WAY BACK ON HIS OWN? I JUST.
EVEN THE NOTION.
Seriously I think about the fact that Jemma Simmons actually left Leo Fitz to fix his brain on his own and I can’t even deal with it to the point where I’d rather tell myself that Imaginary Simmons is actually real and everyone else just happened to do a bunch of drugs over the hiatus.
BECAUSE NO. NO NO NO NO NO. NO.
But then at the same time yes. Because I love this, you guys. I love that it’s the angstiest thing that has ever happened and it’s happening to the fluffiest pair of little science kittens the world has ever known. And I love that Simmons is human in the sense that she is fallible. She loves Fitz more than anybody in the world but love is not enough. Or it’s too much.
It’s too much for Simmons to watch Fitz suffer and know that it’s because he chose her life over his. It’s too much to know that and to know that he did it because he loves her in very specific ways she has never quite requited. We have yet to see things from Simmons’ side. It’s kind of hard to get insight into how she’s feeling when she’s actually not even in the episode at all YOU BASTARDS OH GOD I HATE YOU. But I suspect that she’s very, very confused right now about the nature of her relationship with Fitz and having a lot of the old survivor’s guilt. So she’s being a coward, which is a thing even good people do.
I could tell myself that the reason Simmons gave for leaving is the actual reason she left. Except it’s the stupidest reason in the universe. She thinks Fitz will get better without her there. Hahahahahha. Hahahah. When has Fitz ever been better at anything without Simmons. HE ONLY HAS HALF A NAME WITHOUT HER. Seriously he’s probably better at being alone when she’s around, you guys. It’s completely laughable that he would improve without the person who is basically half of himself around, and then, even if that was a theory, it was tested, and as Coulson tells us, shown to be bollocky wankshite. So. If that were really Simmons’ reason for leaving she would have been back ages ago.
I’m not saying she’s making up excuses by the way. Or she is, but to herself. She’s probably convinced herself that he’s better off without her around because she doesn’t want to face the real reasons she needs to get away from him: her guilt about being okay, her fear about his declaration under the sea, her sheer, bone-shaking terror that he might never be her Fitz again no matter how hard both of them try together.
Because he’s not just lost for words, is he? He’s angry – and he’s angry with her. Well, her imaginary self, actually, but we can extrapolate from that to the way he might have treated the real Simmons at the beginning of his recovery. Every little bit of frustration he will have directed at her despite himself she will have reinterpreted as legitimate anger at her for not being in his position or for not telling him he’s a lot more than that to her, too, or both, and that must have been an unbearable situation to be in with the one person who is never really angry with you – with the one person you can count on to make you feel okay.
And now that I think about Fitz snapping at his Simmons – telling her she’s the only thing he can hear crossly as though she were a real distraction when she is an imagined whole-point-of-everything-ever… Now that I think about how in that moment he’s really hearing nothing at all because she isn’t with him when he needs her.
I MIGHT NEED TO GO PLAY SOME DISTRACTION TETRIS AND COME BACK.
Okay. Well. I went away and nursed my feelings about this and in the end all I could think is the following: Imaginary Simmons isn’t fake. She may not have physical presence but she is as real as it is possible for anything to be. Fitz knows Simmons so well that the one he made up is more real to me than the one who’s licking her wounds miserably off screen. Because it’s all her. The cheer. The common sense. The gentleness. The never-without-him.
And you know how I mentioned above that I’m excited for Brett Dalton this season? I’m equally excited for Iain this season. Because in this first episode alone he has already made me cry a bit via the means of face. Just his face. Just looking at his inner Simmons with that little smile when, in a deliciously ironic piece of writing, she convinces him that he is getting better and that soon he will see it himself.
“You know that talking to you is the only time I feel clear. And calm. Like I might actually get better.”
UGH UGH UGH.
And then at the end when he has his own hand on his darling little shoulder and he looks so forlorn and Simmonsless AND WHEN HE LOOKS INTO THE FUTURE ALL HE SEES IS HER ALL HE WANTS IS HER CAN WE REST NOW BUFFY CAN WE REST?
Meanwhile Coulson’s epic speech at the end of the episode was perfection, especially accompanied by gorgeous score and sweeping slo-mo shots of our heroes risking everything on his orders.
Also whenever Coulson gives these speeches after I’m done being super moved I start seeing the following and can’t unsee:
Rin says: Why don’t we each have a pair of yummy sushi pyjamas? ARE WE EVEN FANS?!
Okay so when I rewatched these scenes to make caps, I cried. That score and the slow mo and the sun and the colours. LIKE, WHY SHOW. Why do you want my tears.
I did not see the imaginary Simmons thing coming at all. Which is why I guess it felt like a tonne of bricks falling down on us when it was revealed. It was plain fucking heartbreaking okay? And when you go back and rewatch the scenes, yes it’s incredible because you realise Simmons never interacts with anyone else and there are a lot of hints in the way Fitz talks to Simmons. And as much as I find Simmons’ unrelenting encouragement of Fitz absolutely within her character, it was also a tiny bit jarring that she was so supportive with a smile the entire time. It was a little one-dimensional, and Simmons is anything but. So I liked that they made a completely believable Simmons that is also kind of not, and is only a shell of a Simmons.
When we first come back to our beloved Fitz
simmons and she’s asking him if he can even hear her, and Fitz has that vacant expression on his face and we think OH GOD NO FITZ IS BRAIN DAMAGED :(((( and then he pulls out the earpiece and is Fitz again. Just a little forgetful Fitz. And we sighed in relief and everything was okay because he would get better it was only a matter of time. It was a fucking double bluff. I hate these fucking writers. BECAUSE HE IS FAR FROM OKAY AND HE IS FAR FROM GETTING BETTER.
Can we talk about how much these two have grown after just one season? They were the OTP that was handed to us on a silver platter because they were the epitome of fluff. And we all like fluff, right? It’s the stuff that makes us squee and feel tingles in our chest area..and now I feel like we’re going to get the season that utterly breaks us and makes Fitzsimmons one of those OTPs that you will never stop shipping. Because fluff is all well and good, THERE’S A PLACE AND A TIME, but come on, we all want the angst. Angst is what moves shippy mountains, and Fitzsimmons will be a force.
Because how earth-shattering is it going to be when Simmons actually comes back? I feel like the group probably haven’t emotionally dealt with everything that’s happened, but her return will be like opening the floodgates. Simmons blames herself for Fitz, that much is obvious, but she also knows Ward is responsible and she will never, ever forgive him. So I’m not only excited for the Fitzsimmons that is going to break our hearts, but for the Simmons that won’t ever be the same. There were a few moments last season that made us think the innocence of our kids was broken and they’d changed after all of the things they’d seen, but that moment is actually now and we’ll be going through it with them this season. I’M JUST SO EXCITED FOR THIS SEASON And I read that the premiere episode did quite well in the ratings, so that doesn’t make me feel safe about the future of the show, but it makes me feel better.
As a final note, I kind of adore Coulson for not sending Fitz away. Like, Fitz probably needs to be in some rehab facility so he can work on getting better, but in a way it’s like.. they don’t want to just abandon him because he is family and he should be with the people who love him the most. (SHHH WE DON’T HAVE TO THINK ABOUT HIS REAL FAMILY)
p.s. Sophy found this treasure in the episode during the scene where Fitz
simmons are on the outside looking in on the rest of the team watching the interrogation. Just after Simmons places her hand on his shoulder and he covers her hand with his own, it cuts away to a wide shot and YOU CAN SEE FITZ STANDING BY HIMSELF HOLDING HIS OWN SHOULDER. But it’s only for a second so if you’re not looking for it you’d never notice. Those genius bastards.
Sophy says: Absolutely evil. As evil as torturing sloths in front of Kristen Bell.
And just on your shell of Simmons theory I think you are right and that’s why it’s so agonizing in that final scene between them because you suddenly see the Simmons cheer fade and she looks uncertain and truly unhappy for the first time in the episode. And for the first time instead of telling him what he’s trying to say she ASKS HIM WHAT HE’S TRYING TO SAY. She says “Like what, Fitz?” in this devastatingly real, troubled and tender Simmons way. And he tells her. Easily, suddenly. Like he has no trouble expressing himself at all. The moment Simmons becomes most real? Is the moment Fitz is being most real with himself.
That is some pretty damn special writing and acting right there.
And yeah, the thing about fluff is that it’s nice when it’s just fluff but when it’s had a heap of angst chucked at it and still manages to be fluff at the end of the day IT’S THE GREATEST THING IN THE WHOLE WORLD. You guys have no idea how excited Rin and I are for Simmons to never, ever forgive Ward. And sort of hate Fitz for not hating him enough. COS SHE’LL HATE HIM LIKE IT’S HER FULL TIME JOB AND HER HOLIDAYS TOO.
We discuss these things. With many emoticons.
Best Reminder that Joss is LOL
Rin says: I’LL HAVE YOU SO DEEP IN HORSE MANURE SON YOU’LL NEED A DAMN SNORKEL.
Wow. Just wow. And Patton Oswalt covering his face with his hands oh my god.
Sophy says: Just when we think Coulson has gone all corporate on us he pulls shit like this. Still as lame as ever.
AND YES WHEN BILLY COVERED HIS FACE WITH HIS HANDS WAS WHEN I LAUGHED THE MOST.
Cutest of the Scoobies
Rin says: They have made Tripp much much cuter. Thank you for that Shield. He’s not someone trying too hard to worm his way into the team, and now he just feels like a part of them. A sideline, cute funny character..KNOWING THEIR PLACE.
Also, Skye teasing Coulson that Tripp was really looking forward to a hug was adorable.
Sophy says: Yeah, last season I wasn’t really sold on Tripp because it felt like he’d just been tacked onto the group to fill in for Ward when Ward turned out to be Basement Crazy. I guess it felt like he was being parachuted into our core group without really earning a place in it, you know? But little moments like this, as well as him preening around in his undercover outfit later, go a long way toward endearing him to me.
“WATCH THIS.” And Skye’s mock impressed face. Best.
Please sir, we’d like some more
Rin says: NOOOO daddy coulson stop being so distant.
You can see how much it pains Coulson to not be able to joke around with Skye, or tell her that he’s sorry he has to put her up to facing Ward. HE’S HIDING BEHIND HIS WORK JUST LIKE THE NEGLIGENT DAD HE IS, probably because he doesn’t want to deal with his feelings about Ward, and the guilt of it all. Coulson is such a dummy sometimes.
He’s not just the guy in charge of a small covert team anymore, he’s the guy in charge of the whole damn show and with that comes a much greater responsibility that is clearly taking a toll on him. FIND THE BALANCE COULSON. FIND THE BALANCE, YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL.
Sophy says: I don’t know, I just kind of want him to lose his job. I DON’T WANT COULSON TO HAVE NICE THINGS THAT AREN’T MAY AND SKYE BASICALLY.
Meanwhile I love that he asked Skye to talk to Ward and that Skye, as much as she didn’t want to, followed through on it. Anybody thinking she was too delicate to deal with that situation would be an insult to the woman she’s become and giving Ward way too much credit when it comes to getting under her skin.
Head In Hands
“Let’s stick together on this one.”
“You got it.”
Rin says: YES. WE’RE GETTING EXACTLY WHAT WE WANTED.
I love it when TV shows give us exactly what we wanted. May is training Skye to be a Mini-May, even giving her wardrobe tips on how to look completely badass 24/7. Hint: Lots of black and leather. But I love how they’ve already grown so much closer and you could see how it was like, they’re the only originals left on the team so now more than ever they’ve got each others backs. They have a bond with each other, especially after everything that happened with Ward, that isn’t shared with anyone else. And I feel like it’s because of what happened that May and Skye are both determined to make Skye more field-ready. It’s about May needing someone with the ability to watch her back, but also needing Skye to be able to fend for herself in case she can’t protect her.
Sophy says: SKYE BEING A MINI-MAY IS THE BEST. BEST BEST BEST. I loved how in sync they were in this episode, like they have become this functioning little unit because needs must, you know? Not in an Alice Morgan type way, shh shh. But really, like Rin says, necessity is the mother of invention, and May and Skye being the only two of the team left to get out there and get shit done have kind of invented themselves into a dynamic duo. With lots of black leather. And great hair.
Rin says: UNTIL OTHERWISE CONFIRMED I AM DUBBING THEM THE GREATEST-MOTHER-DAUGHTER-CRIME-FIGHTING-DUO-OF-ALL-TIME. GMDCFDOAT FOR SHORT.
Sophy says: Omg I need a GMDCFDOAT shirt, stat.