Friday, May 16, 2014

Finales: Arrow vs. Agents of SHIELD

This post contains spoilers if you haven't watched these episodes already.  You've been warned!

This week saw both big comic book-related TV shows, "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD" and "Arrow" wrap up with their season finales.  As has been the case most of the year (since I started watching it at any rate) "Arrow" was the winner in terms of superhero action.  But Agents of SHIELD wasn't terrible either.

I had stopped watching Agents of SHIELD in February or so when they took a break for the Olympics or whatever, but I started watching again after "Captain America 2" came out because I heard there was a seismic shift in the show.  Which there was as SHIELD crumbles in the wake of discovering Hydra has infiltrated it to its highest levels, including uptight supposedly straight-arrow Agent Grant Ward.  This made the show slightly better as the team was fighting for their lives instead of the bogus X-Files ripoff crap from earlier in the season.

In the last episode Coulson and company are tracking down the evil Garrett, who's trying to make an army of supersoldiers like the cyborg assassin Deathlok.  For the last couple of episodes they've been tracking him down but now they finally reach his base of operations.  And then mayhem ensues.  I already knew about the Nick Fury cameo in advance, though I was surprised it came so early in the show.  I thought it'd be another one of those where he shows up at the end.  Not that he necessarily DOES a whole lot except talk and give Coulson the BFG (Big Freakin' Gun in Doom) to shoot at supersoldiers.

There was one part of the episode I found absolutely ridiculous.  In the prior episode Ward has ejected dorky scientists Fitz and Simmons (do not ask me which is which) in an escape pod that sinks to "the bottom of the ocean."  Well apparently the bottom of the ocean is as deep as a motel swimming pool because they blow the window in the pod (why does it even have a window?) and manage to swim out to the surface.  From the bottom of the ocean.  Without any scuba gear, just a single oxygen mask.  Are you freaking kidding me?  I'm not Jacques Cousteau here (which is good because he's dead) but I know you can't go to the bottom of the ocean without a vehicle.  The pressure down there can crush you like a freaking grape.  Even subs have a maximum depth they can go before the pressure gets too much.  It's like saying they could jump out of a space shuttle and go through the atmosphere without burning up.  I ain't buying it.  But maybe I need to consult with Neil deGraase Tyson on this.

Besides that it was a good episode as far as this series is concerned.  And now that Coulson is the head of SHIELD they have a chance to reinvent the show and maybe make it not suck as much as it did most of the year.  There are still questions left unanswered like what the deal with Skye is.  Has she ever shown any potential to do anything special?  Was her daddy bathing in blood?  Nasty.  And what was that thing Coulson (and Garrett earlier) were going all A Beautiful Mind drawing?  Since Avengers 2 is coming out in May, around the time when season 2 of this show should be wrapping up, do you suppose they'll use the next season to help set that up?

Probably the second most ridiculous thing is that apparently the Patton Oswalt character had an identical twin.  Who are both SHIELD agents.  Who both maintain out-of-the-way hiding places.  Maybe they're robots?  Or clones?  It was kind of lame.  (3/5)

By contrast the "Arrow" finale was a lot more epic in terms of action.  It channels "The Dark Knight Rises" a bit as it basically involves the bad guy (Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke) and the good guy (Oliver Queen aka the [Green] Arrow) throwing down in a street fight.  Oliver's army is made primarily of assassins from the League of Assassins (aka the League of Shadows from the Nolanverse) who have made a deal with Sarah (aka [Black] Canary) that means she'll have to rejoin them in exchange for their help.

The real focus of the action is between Oliver and Slade.  Employing the Sam Raimi Spider-Man playbook, Slade kidnaps first Laurel and then Felicity to kill the woman Oliver loves.  His confusion is understandable since Oliver has pretty much screwed every woman on the show--except his half-sister.  Except Oliver cruelly used Felicity as bait to get her close enough to use the cure for the Mirakuru super-steroid on Slade.  Total dick move there, brah.  I liked how they intermingled flashbacks of Slade and Oliver fighting on the sinking freighter to them fighting in the present to give you an idea of how they've come full circle.

I was disappointed they didn't kill anyone, but at least they did write out a couple of characters for a little while.  You know Sarah, Thea, and Slade will all reappear at some point in the future.  The way they potentially killed Laurel/Sarah's dad was probably the weakest point of the episode.  I mean he's saying goodbye to Sarah and then all the sudden he's like, "Ooh my tummy hurts...I'm dying!"  Hurm, probably should have gotten an X-ray after being punched in the gut by a dude hopped up on super-steroids.  And the second weakest moment was when they reveal that unfortunately there's more to Oliver's time away from home.  Now he's in Hong Kong in Amanda Waller's clutches?  WTF?  Seriously, could we just end these flashbacks already?  It's getting a bit ridiculous.

It'll be interesting to see where they go in season 3 after the fallout from Starling City being ravaged--again.  Oliver kind of sucks at being a superhero.  (4/5)

During the "Arrow" finale they had a teaser for "The Flash" which is debuting next year.  Apparently "Arrow" and "Agents of SHIELD" have done well enough that 5 more comics-related series are premiering next year:  The Flash and iZombie on CW, Gotham (a Batman prequel) on Fox, Agent Carter (a SHIELD prequel I think) on ABC, and Constantine (vaguely related to that lame Keanu Reeves movie that was vaguely related to the Hellblazer comic) on NBC.  On top of that in 2015 Netflix begins showing new Marvel series focusing on Daredevil, Luke Cage, and some others.  So now comics are taking over the small screen AND the big screen.  And one even stars a woman, so that's progress.  But guess which one will probably be cancelled first?

Now to try to get some page views as Briane Pagel and I were discussing on Indie Writers Monthly yesterday, here's a picture of Sean Connery in a swimsuit:


  1. I loved both of these finales. Did you see the five minute trailer for the Flash? I think I'm smitten with Grant Gustin (who plays the Flash). Most adorable character ever.

  2. These were both great episodes although AOS is riddled with plot holes. Flash looks good, but the tone is a lot lighter than Arrow.

  3. I came for the reviews but stayed for some Sean Connery flashback sexy. Nicely done.

    RE: your annoyance with the scientists at the bottom of the ocean. So you can buy into steroids creating supersoldiers, but not someone being able to survive the depths of the ocean? I actually had a similar reaction to "Bee Movie," in which I accepted a bee driving a car but got annoyed when they used pollen inaccurately.

    There is a concept called "The Uncanny Valley," which has to do with our acceptance of humanoid like figures. Basically it goes like this: we can accept sort of human things, like Robot in "Lost In Space," and as they get closer and closer to looking like humans, we're fine, until they are almost exactly like humans but not quite, at which point our minds rebel and we hate them -- think of the things in "Polar Express." Then, when they bridge that gap and are fully human, we're okay again.

    I think a similar reaction is at work with science. We can accept totally ridiculous science, or totally realistic science, but something that's 99.9% science we reject. So if your scientists had rigged a teleporter to get out of the sub, you'd be fine with that. I assume?

  4. OH MAN I'm on Sweetie's computer which she APPARENTLY DECIDED TO USE TODAY.



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