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Recap

Agents of SHIELD Recap: “Eye Spy”


This week’s episode is called “Eye Spy,” and let’s dive right in because I don’t have any pre-episode thoughts.

In Sweden, a bunch of identically dressed men, right up to their creepy red masks (were the rights to the Guy Fawkes masks tak – Oh, right. Comic book publishing competitors. I’m so sorry for what we’ve done to your holiday, England), get on the subway handcuffed to their identical briefcases. They’re followed by our episode’s antagonist, a black lady who kicks all of their butts in the dark, in a crowded subway car, with her eyes closed. She also makes off with one of the briefcases, hacking off a guy’s hand to get it.

That briefcase is now diamonds.

We reunite with the SHIELD team as they do characteristically expected stuff on the Bus as it takes them to Sweden. Coulson finds Skye hiding out in the SUV, taking some me time. He asks her if she’s ever robbed a bank or armored car, by way of assigning her the task of figuring out how all these jewel heists have been happening.

See, all the identically dressed men were a cover for transporting diamonds. Even if you knew what they were, you couldn’t know which one had the briefcase that actually contained diamonds. Coulson doesn’t think it was an inside job, since witness accounts say there was one thief and that she was black, female, and did it with her eyes closed. Skye suggests that the thief has a superpower. May counters that there are no credible studies that confirm ESP, or telekinesis. WHAT ABOUT MUTANTS, MAY. DON’T TELL ME SHIELD ISN’T KEEPING AN EYE ON PROFESSOR XAVIER’S LITTLE BOARDING SCHOOL. I know you’re not allowed to say “Xavier” or “mutants” but you could have made some oblique reference.

Anyway, the team hasn’t actually been assigned here by SHIELD: Coulson’s after this one for himself, not them. We shortly find out why, as Skye wrangles all the commuter social media recordings of the strangely dressed men to reveal the thief, and Coulson knows who she is immediately: Akela Amador, his former protege.

Amador was a SHIELD agent who ran a raid that went bad and was presumed dead. Coulson sent in a second team to recover firm evidence of what had happened, but they were unable to uncover proof of her death. He thought these heists must be her because there are very few women who could pull them off, and, he says to May “Since you’re on the Bus, it had to be her.” Coulson doesn’t want SHIELD to know she’s alive yet: he still hopes he can bring her in in a way that looks best for her before her in the eyes of the agency. He feels that her near death/op failure/defection are his fault, for pushing her too hard to be more of a team player.

We return to Amador in a hotel room, where she nearly bludgeons a visitor with a golf club before he insists the two men she can somehow sense in the adjacent rooms are just there to protect him. He’s there to deliver a pass card (“All access levels, as promised.”) worth $30 million, paid in the stolen diamonds. Akela hands him a golf ball from the bag, pours water on it and THE GOLFBALL IS NOW DIAMONDS.

Sorry, I had to get in another one.

Coulson and Ward take the kids (the Science Siblings and Skye) for an outing in a nondescript white van known as the Short Bus. The SSibs are there to try and track down Amador electronically, and they’re nervous about being out in the field again after “0-8-4.” They get more nervous after Coulson and Ward go for walkies, but they find a strange scrambled broadcast. Also there’s some goofy stuff about “haw haw, none of the Kids understand the gravity of being out in the field” that falls flat for me. Sure, Fitz and Simmons aren’t field agents, but they know field agents, and don’t tell me that designing gear and weapons for field agents doesn’t require them to have a keen understanding of what goes on out there.

Coulson and Ward find a hotel where the proprietress claims Amador’s prescient powers diagnosed her cancer, but in the meantime the Kids have decoded the signal together only to see Akela ramming their van over and into a ditch.

The team, apparently defeated by having their van flipped over, troop back to the Bus. Skye thinks she can keep contact with the data broadcast to gather information about where Amador is, and when the Team sees Akela looking into a mirror they finally put together what the audience has known from the minute the feed was turned on: it’s Amador’s POV. She’s got a bionic eye equipped with backscatter technology that allows her to see through solid objects when her eyes are closed. The merging of the technological with the biological is beyond anything the SSibs have seen.

Coulson and May argue over whether she should be brought in or taken out, with Coulson insisting that she’s redeemable, until Amador writes on a piece of paper “Can I sleep?” in full view of her camera/eye, and receives an answer in text at the bottom of her vision. This shores up Coulson’s theory that she’s not as evil as she appears: she’s being controlled by an outside force. He orders a watch kept on the feed from her eye until they figure out where she is and can bring her in. May volunteers for first watch, jeeze May, try to be a little subtle, you are a super spy.

There follows an interlude where Skye tells Coulson that she supports his gut feeling about Amador since he had the nerve to believe in her, blah blah blah basically the scene is killing a little time so that when we cut to Fitz asleep in the science bay, we can pretend that some time has passed. Anyway, Fitz is asleep in the science bay and May is gone, just as we expected. Coulson finds the clue she found: Amador’s brief glance at a room service receipt that allows them to know what hotel she’s staying in.

May is already visiting Amador in her hotel room. May has guessed that whoever is controlling her doesn’t have audio, and is there to… take her out, I guess? I suppose the reason May doesn’t get courtmartialed at the end of this for disobeying a direct order from a superior is that this isn’t an official SHIELD operation anyway. Amador refuses to look at May, knowing that her handle will use facial recognition to know that May is a SHIELD agent and will order Amador to kill her. She’ll have to do it or die herself, due to a killswitch device inside her bionic eye. But eventually, since May is there to rumble anyway, she looks up aaaand FIGHT. They fight for a bit and Amador blows out the lights but in the end Coulson busts in and downs her with the experimental dendrotoxin-shooting gun Fitz was showing to Ward at the beginning of the episode.

Akila wakes up in what I think of as the hexagonal interrogation room on the Bus. The SSibs have rigged her feed so that instead of transmitting from her eye, it’s transmitting from a pair of glasses that Ward is wearing. He’s carrying out the mission with the pass card to buy time so that the SHIELD team can figure out a way to neutralize the killswitch that will kill Amador if she disobeys, and capture her handler. Coulson is kind of adorably gentle with her, or maybe that’s just my sensitivity to Dadfeels.

“Why are you doing this? Where’s the ‘I told you so’.” “That’s not me anymore. I’m just glad you’re alive.” EVERYBODY BE QUIET I just need a moment for my emotions.

Amador explains that for the first four years after her last SHIELD operation failed and she was presumed dead, she was kept alone in a cage at the bottom of a copper mine, blind in one eye. Then she was “rescued” by some organization, she’s not sure who, who gave her her sight back and released her, that is until they started giving her orders through her new eye and hurting and threatening to kill her through the implant in her head if she refused them. She doesn’t know what the pass card is for or why it’s worth $30 million, since she only gets the info she needs to know to complete her missions. Between her and Coulson, however, they manage to figure out a few details about her handler: he’s English, middle aged, and possibly heavyset.

On this info, and May’s tracking of the location of the transmissions meant for Amador’s vision, Coulson has enough to go hunting for her handler, so he sends her in for eyeball surgery with the nervous SSibs. May is now being very cooperative about Amador, but the episode doesn’t spell out a change of heart the way the show has so far; we’re left to infer that the confirmation that Amador is definitely being forced to follow orders is the cause. In the med bay, when the SSibs are too nervous to inject a local anesthetic into her eye Amador does it herself in the most badass moment of the episode.

Meanwhile, remember Ward and Skye? Yeah, they’re teaming up to take on Amador’s mission at some slavic factory that’s really a front for advanced science of some sort. Ward’s wearing glasses that transmit his POV to Amador’s handler in place of hers, and let him see Aamdor’s orders. All is smooth sailing until he is ordered to seduce a final guard. And ladies and gentlemen, that’s four for four, 100% of Agents of SHIELD episodes make reference to the idea that seduction is a weapon in the toolbox of women. I’m not complaining, exactly. It’s clear from the way the show has so far framed these references that it understands how ridiculous this assumption is. However, you’d think that if the creators know the assumption is ridiculous, we’d get at least some episodes that lack a reference to it entirely. Also, gross, Amador’s mysterious handler who watches her all the time, super gross.

Ward is incapable of seducing the guard, but name checks Mata Hari, which is a surprisingly dated sexy spy stereotype to be name checked here. Skye suggests he “bromance” the guy by being friendly. Bromance gets nowhere and so THEY FIGHT. Ward walks into the next room, lined with chalkboards covered in calculations, and after he zeroes in on what look like drawings of circuits to me, receives a “Mission complete. Good Luck” order.

With all the alarms blaring from the unconscious guard not making his check in, Ward dashes for an exit and, while ducking into a bathroom to avoid guards, accidentally looks at himself in a mirror, alerting the handler that his feed has been highjacked. Fortunately, the SSibs manage to remove Amador’s implant just in time and he and Skye make their getaway.

Meanwhile, May and Coulson have located Amador’s handler, but it turns out that HE WAS EYE CONTROLLED TOOOO and he dies on the spot. Turns out he was a former MI6 officer, also presumed dead, and “the real threat’s still out there.” The chalkboard might be alien equation, “we’ll figure it out.” Back in the states (presumably) SHIELD internal affairs or military police or JAG or whatever is there to take Akela Amador away for trial. Coulson promises he’ll testify on her behalf.

But Amador doesn’t leave before she asks May privately about what happened to Coulson. May says he nearly died at the Battle of New York. “But what did they do to him” INSISTS THE CHARACTER WHO CAN SEE THROUGH SOLID OBJECTS. And I guess I should cool my jets because they’re not going to actually delve into What The Freakin’ Deal Is With Coulson for two to seven more episodes at the earliest, if they don’t wait until the very end of the season to talk about it.

The episode ends with Coulson joining Skye for Me Time hiding out in the SUV, mirrored against Akila in jail, sleeping peacefully, and without anyone watching her actions, for the first time in years.

Stinger:
Fitz attempts to get Skye to help him cheat at poker with Ward using the glasses they made that can see through walls, but declines when she points out that in doing that she would see him naked. She uses the glasses anyway to see Ward naked which is a little grooooss also Skye aren’t you a hacker shouldn’t you have a keen appreciation for personal privacy?

I don’t have many overall thoughts for this week’s Agents of SHIELD episode recap specifically, but hot off a panel, and a number of interactions, with folks at New York Comic Con I think I’ll take some time to talk about racial diversity and SHIELD. It’s somewhat ironic that I’d decide to do this for “Eye Spy,” considering that the episode features both an antagonist/guest character of color and a director of color, Roxann Dawson (also a Star Trek: Voyager alumni). But the fact remains that the show could really use another main character of color, and it’s unlikely to happen this season.

I think it’s important to praise the show for managing to wrangle a main cast that includes complete gender parity; for giving its most visible character of color a backstory/archetype that stands outside the usual roles offered to Asian women and that the show is, I think, rolling out slowly but with care and attention; and for casting actors of color in, so far, 75% of its one-episode-guest-star roles. But I think it’s also important to point out the non-diversity of the main cast (Chloe Bennet (Skye), it has been pointed out in the comments, is half-Chinese, and while as a fellow passes-for-white biracial woman I don’t want to erase her heritage, I also think, as a passes-for-white Latina, that “apparent” diversity is important in a visual medium), and if the show had the pull to make a main cast 50% female and a supporting cast very diverse, that maybe it also had the leeway to create a more diverse central cast, but didn’t for any number of reasons. The truth is, there’s nothing in what we’ve seen of Simmons or Ward’s (for example) backgrounds so far that would preclude them from being cast with actors of color. It’s laudable to fill your supporting cast with interesting characters of color, but when they all disappear at the end of the episode it can leave audience members hungry for one that sticks around, makes relationships with the main cast, and gets the kind of expanded character arc that befits a main character of a television show.

Previously in Agents of SHIELD Recaps

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  • Anonymous

    EDIT

  • Anonymous

    This was definitely one of the stronger episodes but I’m still getting unpleasant reminders of Torchwood circa season 1. Like this I feel like once you get past the fisticuffs and Snarky Mcsnarkster one-liners, there isn’t a whole lot going on, and a lot of the characters (save for Coulson) don’t feel real to me yet. I ended up finding the “villain” of the piece to be far more interesting and less annoying than many of the actual agents.

    Like I’m left with the unsettling feeling that were it not for Clark Gregg and the Marvel logo, I wouldn’t care. Were this just another genre/sci-fi/ show, there wouldn’t be enough here to keep me interested.

  • Haleigh Yonish

    The actress who plays Skye is half-Chinese, so two out of the three women are Asian. I think it’s always nice to have more actors of color, of course, but just thought I’d point that out!

  • Noonie

    I was about to say the same thing. As a fellow woman of mixed ethnicity, it was fairly obvious to me at the outside that she was, although I understand that it isn’t for everyone. So yes, the diversity could be better, but it IS better than some people think.

  • Anonymous

    YES! I remain so disappointed that they didn’t use his story as an entry for him to be part of the main cast. WTF. We need to start a campaign to bring back J. August Richards.

  • Anonymous

    I did not know that! I have edited the post accordingly.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    I like that the time and care has been taken, that when POCs are antagonists on the show, they are nuanced, the team approaches them with nuance.

    The fact there isn’t a more diverse cast is a problem, and I hope some of these people make it to full time. Whedon shows are somewhat known for reusing good antagonists and guest stars.

  • Anonymous

    Sure, but, as the revision notes, she fits into that sort of new American mixed-race thing where she’s probably not hampered by her ethnicity in terms of casting in the way that, say, Lucy Liu is. Or Ming-Na Wen, I assume. In addition, viewers consistently fail to notice that she’s technically non-white and she didn’t keep her original name, so I have a hard time giving diversity points for her casting. YMMV.

    If Marvel’s live-action universe didn’t have a diversity problem overall, the largely white casting for SHIELD would be less of an issue, but they do. I’m a little baffled that management hasn’t handed down a directive to its creative teams that they need to make more of an effort. But you have Whedon adding more white people to the Avengers and then the cast for this and the next franchise is presumably going to be Dr. Strange and it just seems like Marvel doesn’t care.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    But before you whitewash her, remember that A) Chloe Wang was a Chinese pop star before she became an American actress named Chloe Bennett, so careful where you step when you state that she wasn’t hampered. YOU DON’T KNOW THAT.

    Also, Bennett is portraying a woman who grew up in the foster system. Now, we ALL know that non-white children are often left to languish in foster systems, which she did, and that throughout history, white passing minorities have tried to pass off as white to be protected from discrimination. So there is an in story reasoning as to why Skye presents more white than Asian.

  • Anonymous

    No, it’s true, I don’t know that she wasn’t hampered. But I assume she changed her name for the same reason Ben Kingsley doesn’t go by “Krishna Pandit Bhanji,” that she thinks she can get more work if she downplays her Chinese background and/or that casting directors hearing her Chinese-sounding last name were expecting someone who looked more Chinese so she changed her name to reflect that feedback.

    And I’m not trying to whitewash her. I’m just noting that a lot of viewers look at her in the show or cast photos and it doesn’t occur to them that she’s Chinese-American. So, IMO, she doesn’t contribute to the visual diversity of the show in the way that Ming-Na Wen does.

    Sure, if the show comes up with an internal reason for casting someone who looks like Chloe Bennett, that’s fine, but that doesn’t answer the overall problem of lack of diversity. There’s no internal reason for the Ward, Fitz and Simmons characters to be white. That’s a choice the showrunners made.

  • Solveig Rørholt

    It WOULD be interesting to see an interracial SSibs, if only because it feels like it happens so rarely.

  • Anonymous

    It’s not an issue for white viewers, but I imagine it’s an issue for non-white viewers. Actually, I’m white and it bothers me. It makes the show seem weirdly dated compared to some of the other new fall shows.

  • http://www.facebook.com/myron.byron Myron Byron

    “If you are casting a person of a particular race in a series, you should do so because either the story makes the racial characteristic important, or simply because the actor/actress is that talented.”

    Yeah, I’m honestly sick to death of hearing this. You’re basically saying that if we’re to have a black/asian/other character in a story, the story needs a justification for that character being black/asian/other. Of course, this requirement is never, ever, EVER applied to white characters.
    Please explain how Coulson’s whiteness is justified by the story. Please explain how the overwhelming ubiquity of white characters in media today is justified by the story.

  • Anonymous

    Coulson’s whiteness is sort of justified in the sense that he was originally conceived as the faceless face of our unaccountable bureaucratic security state and, thus, stereotypical boring white guy in navy suit. Why, say, Joss Whedon decided to make Maria Hill white? I got nothing.

  • Erin Treat

    Chole Bennet passes for white to you? Because she certainly doesn’t for me. I’ve always seen the asian in her and that’s one of the things I praised about this show on one of your recaps. Joss making up for creating a show infused with asian culture and not having an asian actor anywhere in it, Firefly, by casting two woc in Shield.

  • Anonymous

    It’s not an issue for some people who are white, due to privilege and willful ignorance. I’m white, I recognize my privilege, and I want the things I love to be more inclusive. I’m glad you do too, to an extent.

  • Anonymous

    Again, though…why a white guy? And what does Maria Hill have anything to do with this?

  • Anonymous

    As I noted in an earlier post, the Marvel live-action universe has a diversity problem overall. It’s not just this show and this one character or group of characters. Maria Hill was an example of an MCU character that really could have been cast with a non-white actress, particularly since, IMO, Cobie Smulders is neither an exceptional talent nor a box office draw.

    Coulson being white doesn’t bother me for the reason I stated, that “boring white guy security-state bureaucrat” fit the original conception of the character Favreau had in IRON MAN.

  • Anonymous

    As I noted in an earlier post, the Marvel live-action universe has a diversity problem overall. It’s not just this show and this one character or group of characters. Maria Hill was an example of an MCU character that really could have been cast with a non-white actress, particularly since, IMO, Cobie Smulders is neither an exceptional talent nor a box office draw.

    Coulson being white doesn’t bother me for the reason I stated, that “boring white guy security-state bureaucrat” fit the original conception of the character Favreau had in IRON MAN.

  • Claire

    Indeed, I loved me some Charles Gunn on Angel. Richard is such an intense and multi-faceted actor.

  • Anonymous

    This is where my feels came in: [CN: domestic violence]

    “Coulson (commenting on the van getting wrecked with them inside): That shouldn’t have happened.

    Skye: It’s okay. Not nearly as scary as watching my parents fight as a kid.

    Coulson: That shouldn’t have happened either.”

    Holy…shit. Coming from a white man, in an episode that paints him even more as a father-figure…I had to pause it. Flashbacks of being terrified of my parents, more so my father, in his entitled view to be ruler of the household to the extent where he would beat us because we existed in a way that defied his whim…Means THE WORLD to me to hear that on my favorite tv show.

    Other then that, a few points. When Skye was in the van, talking about bathroom issues, stating that “girls and boys have different parts” is cissexist (I believe that’s the correct term, not sure though) Either way, stating that as fact disappears a lot of people who do not identify that way, ie transexuals, transgender, etc. The “Go for Short Bus”, in which Coulson states he wants to name the vehicles next time, means the butt of the joke is “Short Bus=mentally challenged=funny because people like that are hil-arious”. Actually it’s ablism, and it’s not funny to be exclusive.

  • Anonymous

    But you’re still not answering the question…….why does it have to be a white guy? Why can’t this mysterious bureaucrat be a person of color?

  • Anonymous

    Because Jon Favreau was playing into a comedic stereotype of the generic security state bureaucrat and that stereotype is that of a bland, forgettable white man in a business suit. But, look, I said it was “sort of” justified. I’m not going to man the barricades to defend this position.

  • Anonymous

    That’s not what Skye said. Her line about “watching Mom and Dad fight” was referring to Coulson and May’s disagreement, and Coulson was acknowledging that it was unprofessional.

  • Emily Neenan

    Leverage actually did this really well with a really racially ambiguous actress for the grifter character, Sophie. She passes as white, Latina, Arabic, South Asian, depending on the character. That made sense, she can fit in in the US, South America, Europe, South Asia, the Middle East, and parts of Africa as a local. (Plus they had three boys and two girls, and the nerd/hacker character was a black guy!)

  • Anonymous

    Which certainly may be the plan for Chloe Bennett, once they turn her into a proper field agent.

  • Emily Neenan

    I didn’t get that impression from Coulson giving out about “Short Bus”, because he was like “You don’t get to name things anymore.”.

    Also, while Skye’s phrasing absolutely is cissexist, I felt, as a woman who went on field work organised by a bunch of older men, the frustration of “But WHY, guy-in-charge, did you not think that my bathroom needs would be different from yours?!” really resonated!

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    He is, but fails to understand that doesn’t mean “Diversity Accomplished!”

  • Emily Neenan

    Exactly! Shows should just default to black actors, and they should only cast a white person if it “makes sense”, like they’re a member of the British aristocracy or they’re a close blood relative of an already-established white person. Like, a lot of movies have only one white person in them and everyone else is black, but casting directors just pick the best actors, you know? Nothing else could possibly be happening.

    You know, the sad part is, you’re right, they _should_ cast based on the actor being “that good”, and only specify by race if their race is a plot point. But until they do, I’ll keep asking for the racial-diversity-requirement, and I’ll think more of shows that have diversity and do diversity well.

  • Stephsco

    I was so glad to see him on the show! And then… Yeah. I would like him back, please.

  • Anonymous

    And much like Torchwood circa season 1, I feel that at least two of the characters are boring and useless, and need to be killed off.

  • Anonymous

    I had no idea she was anything other than white until I read it in a recap. I was completely surprised. She looks white.

  • Stephsco

    Didn’t know that about Leverage, have never seen it. Now I’m curious!

  • Stephsco

    I respectfully disagree. I think the “gatekeepers” of our culture have a responsibility to represent more culture, more faces that I see every day. Honestly, my main issue with SHIELD is that there aren’t any actors that really stand out, other than Coulson and Ming-Na (I’m a Stargate Universe fan). I miss the quirky-funny characters of past Whedon shows. I’m not seeing that in the leads who were chosen. I see nice looking but bland. I mean, Gunn showed up and he’s gone already!

  • Mark Matson

    My take was closer to Thae’s. We know Skye had a troubled childhood.

  • Anonymous

    While I’m sympathetic, what else should she have said? “Girl and boys have different parts, unless they identify as transgender and have not yet, or have chosen not to have reassignment surgery, and therefore may be girls with penises or boys with vaginas or may be genderqueer and not identifying with either gender”?

  • Jake Brown

    In the episode my only real question is how the handler didn’t notice that his operative was suddenly white. At the very least during the fight scene. Mostly thinking about Ward’s hands here.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, there was no way that, at least in taking down the security guard, he didn’t look at his hands.

  • Anonymous

    “So there is an in story reasoning as to why Skye presents more white than Asian.” I’m not sure what that means. She looks the way she looks, so what would she be doing differently to “present as Asian?”

  • Anonymous

    I agree, and find it problematic when casting agents cast people of color who look very, very white, and then say, “look how much diversity! We are so not racist! Can haz pat on back now?” Good job casting the least threatening person of color you could find, casting director?

  • Erin Treat

    Obviously you meant to write that she looks white to you, since I and several others accurately noted her asian heritage without needing to be told.

    Also, who voted me down for noting that failure about Firefly? Some people are strange.

  • Anonymous

    And obviously she does look Asian to you. What’s your point? Are you looking for a pat on the back for picking up on her heritage?

  • AStirling

    I feel like there’s something to be said for casting more mixed race actors and actresses as well. I’m not going to bother thinking about the percentage breakdown, but I’m a millennial and plenty of my friends (and myself) are not strictly one ethnicity. Why do we have to pretend that things are completely cut and dried these days? That being said, yeah, more obvious diversity is in general needed on TV.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Haven’t been able to watch one episode of this total letdown and boring show all the way through.

  • Anonymous

    I honestly think it’s starting to get better. We’ll see.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I’ve started, with this episode, reading the recaps for signs of better. I hope you’re right.

  • Bria

    As someone who is half-Chinese like Chloe, it was obvious as hell to me too. I LOVE that we get to see her on screen because there aren’t that many mixed race actors in main roles. It’s incredibly inspirational.

  • Anonymous

    It seems pretty clear to me she was talking about Coulson and May fighting. She didn’t say “My mom and dad” or “my childhood” at all in that scene.

  • Emily Neenan

    It’s worth watching, especially if you like comedy-dramas with awesome-if-unbelievable tech and a cool team of quirky characters each bringing a specific skill set to a job-of-the-week. It actually shares a lot with AoS! It wasn’t perfect, but it’s very funny, slick, the 5 main characters have great chemistry, and it got pretty high points on diversity stuff!

  • Anonymous

    RE: Stinger. I’m shipping Fitzkye so hard.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, during the line “Don’t look at the credit card when you swipe it, you have man hands,” my instant thought was, “Yeah, and more to the point, he’s white.”

  • Erin Treat

    You’re being obtuse and annoying. My post said what it needed to. Yours was miswritten and rather than acknowledge it you come back at me. Whatever.

  • Anonymous

    Very true. I did not read your responses correctly, so I apologize for dragging that out. I thought I was making a point, but I was just repeating myself. You’ve responded very thoughtfully; I appreciate it.

  • Anonymous

    I understand regarding the Short Bus thing; it rubbed me the wrong way (explained in my original post) so I mentioned it. I’d rather be wrong then not point it out.

    As for what Skye said, absolutely!! I only wish it could’ve been done in a more inclusive way.

  • Anonymous

    You’re right; there’s NO other way to describe it or be inclusive….

  • http://medusas-mirror.blogspot.ca/ Fionnabhair

    She could have easily reminded Ward that she does not have a penis, and unlike people with penises, cannot easily urinate in a bottle.

    There. Point made, sans cissexism.

  • Anonymous

    Ah, I see.

  • Jake Brown

    Considering that noone on the team is transgender why would she have mentioned them in this instance.

  • Jake Brown

    I was pretty sure that the van was called the short bus because the plane is called the “Bus” and the van is smaller than the plane but is what the team uses on away missions. thus dubbed the “short bus”. Therefore it had nothing to do with mentally disabled people and more to do with Coulson’s disappointment with the lack of creativity of names.

  • http://medusas-mirror.blogspot.ca/ Fionnabhair

    How do we know that no one on the team is trans*? AFAIK, none of the actors are trans* themselves, but that doesn’t mean that the characters they portray are not trans*. We can *assume* that the people on the team are cisgendered, but that is also a function of cis privilege.

  • Anonymous

    I’m pretty sure that if you were able to come to this conclusion, so was I. This doesn’t make my point invalid, it’s just you stating the obvious.

  • Anonymous

    “This is ten years ahead of anything I’ve seen.” I see Von Doom entering the picture.

  • Jake Brown

    I feel like I am now navigating the underbelly of tumblr.

  • Anonymous

    I thought it was pretty clear the “Mom and Dad” was referring to May and Coulson, especially since the last episode mentioned Skye’s childhood and the fact that she grew up in the foster system and thus never really had a Mom and Dad. As she said, the one time she called someone Mom “it didn’t really work out.”

    While she was clearly being facetious in the name-calling it was also meant to emphasize- I think- that she’s starting to think of the team as her family. She hinted as much last week and this was just another subtle nudge at that.

  • Janelle S

    And yet, the show isn’t as fun as Whedon’s past shows have been. (Excepting, IMO, Dollhouse, which never became fun for me.) I’m not expecting it to be Buffy out of the gate. Buffy wasn’t BUFFY right out of the gate. But I do want it to be fun or compelling, or at least manage the same level of must-see-ness that the first season of Heroes managed. (Yes, I know Heroes was not Whedon.) At this point in the season, even No Ordinary Family had a stronger hold on my attention than Agents of Shield does.

  • Anonymous

    I’m hoping Akela Amador gets cleared by SHIELD and comes in to join the Bus team. I get that SHIELD might take a dim view of a SHIELD agent doing illegal shit “just” because somebody’s torturing and threatening to kill them, but at the same time, she’s spent all that time in a living hell (she even states that she wishes she were back “in the hole” in the copper mine), and SHIELD is pretty pragmatic, AFAICT, about giving useful people a blank slate.

    I’d like to see her developing a friendship with Agent May, since May’s been a decided loner for the most part and she’s also got some kind of unidentified trauma in her past; that could be common ground for understanding one another, even if they don’t spill their guts and become Adorable Besties.

    One of the things I find lacking in the show so far is that Agents Coulson and Ward talk to each other quite a bit, but none of the female characters interact with each other much—their primary interaction partners are all a man or men. May with Coulson, Fitz with Simmons, Skye with Coulson and Ward.

    I’d like to see the cast grow a bit as we get these six characters fleshed out. Amador is my first choice to add, but Agent Mack and the Superdad from the pilot would also be good. Really, just six people living on a plane that spends most of its time in the air? I hope they’ve got good autopilot.

  • Anonymous

    At a guess- and it’s JUST a guess based on my own interpretations- I’d say Coulson is White because he is supposed to represent The Man. The Man is a symbol of oppression and white guys are very good at oppressing everyone else. Yes, that’s meant to be a little snarky, but I think it also has a grain of truth in it.

    There’s no reason Coulson couldn’t be a different race, and I’m sure he would be just as effective regardless of his skin color (or gender identity, or sexuality, or anything else) but if the goal is to deliberately emphasize stereotypes and symbols of power in America then it’s going to be an Older White Guy in a suit. I’m not saying I condone that mentality and I agree that stereotypes need to be looked at long and hard so they can be fixed, but in terms of using them to convey a subtle point I think Coulson’s OK the way he is. He’s already more open-minded and accepting than the average Older White Guy Authority Figure, so while he may not be breaking any stereotypes, hopefully he’s at least stretching the borders a little.

    I hope this comes across as politely as I intended.

  • Anonymous

    Skye’s personality still bothers me, but at least she was marginally more useful in her chosen field than she has been. Ward is still a complete write-off as far as I’m concerned. I understand needing a stick-up-the-ass by-the-books character to offset the more flexible members of the team- particularly Skye- but ye gods, he still grates on my nerves. And I don’t really care that it’s “only” the fourth episode- SHIELD may have gotten a full season order, but shows have been killed faster than this because they couldn’t make things gel and I really think TPTB need to stop screwing around with the rigid stereotypes and start producing some solid development.

    I was fine with most of the ep even if parts of it were paint-by-numbers (the ridiculous phone call about snacks, Ward’s scorn, the van getting targeted, etc.). The stinger, though, was unforgivably terrible. It was childish and stupid and one of the most painfully cliche stunts the show has pulled yet. I hated it more than words can express and it’s a good thing it came at the end of the show because I would have turned off the TV and walked away mid-episode. I HATE stupid “jokes” like that. Even leaving aside the asinine Skye/Ward angle, if it had been Ward looking at Skye like that the internet would have gone nuclear with rage. I think it was shitty and unfunny and I really wish the show could be above that kind of gutterball humor.

  • http://medusas-mirror.blogspot.ca/ Fionnabhair

    I’d love to see Amador join the team full-time, too. I don’t think it’ll happen until that what-really-happened-in-Tahiti plotline gets resolved, though. No one on the team is supposed to know about that, and I think Amador is smart enough to have figured out from May’s reaction that her bionic eye made her privy to some highly secretive information (though I don’t know what Amador knows about what happened in New York). I think that’ll tie SHIELD’s hands somewhat in determining what Amador’s fate ultimately will be. Assuming she’s willing to do so, having her join back with SHIELD would probably be in their best interest. I mean, what’s their alternative? Anything else would compromise their secrets, or make Coulson angry (or both), and they won’t want that; Coulson knows a Hulk, after all.

  • Penny Marie Sautereau

    I’m also a passes-for-white-sometimes mixed race woman so I’ll take my mixed-race props where I can get them!

  • TKS

    I feel you. Though, I really didn’t like how they ended Richards’ character’s story. He feels the system is rigged against him and the white representative of the system says “it’s not what you have it’s how you use it?” Come on.

  • Aline

    I think Jake mostly meant that the name’s lack of creativity was all there was to the joke, and that there was no intent to make the mentally disabled the punchline. I’d never even heard of the term ‘short bus’ used in that way, so that was also my original interpretation.

    Now that you mention it, though, I do have to wonder why they went with ‘short’, as opposed to ‘small’, or ‘mini’ or whatever, which would’ve seemed a lot more natural to me. If it really was an ableist joke, then I’m quite disappointed. ):

  • Russ Rosin

    I’m giving this show a lot of latitude not just because it’s Marvel but it also reminds me of Spycraft RPG campaign.

    The show seems like it needs more main cast members. Mostly because Fitz/Simmons comes across as a package deal, as one character that just happens to be both male and female at the same time. It’s a neat gimmick, but that may be partially why the cast feels like it’s lacking something.

    I wondering if the show has room for a “More than human” character. Since the idea of the show is they’re all misfits in some sense.

  • Anonymous

    That’s funny I thought the same thing, However I was a tad bit distracted by Twitter and the RT storm Mr Gregg got me involved in lol. Sorry your moment was taken away… heck hold onto it!

  • Anonymous

    I have to say, I didn’t know that that kind of statement came off that way. I’ll have to note that for the future. It’s new to many of us, I just hope people take the time to be polite.

  • Anonymous

    RE: Other Fall Shows:

    Sleepy Hollow is particularly striking for a diverse cast. Crane is a white male, but not exactly a contemporary American, and other than that, the only white guy of note is the dead sheriff.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001702773745 Charles M. Hagmaier

    I have to wonder if the current fixation on racial politics is going to appear as odd to posterity as, oh, say, early Victorian paranoia about freemasonry does to us now.

    I only regret that I’ll be long dead by the time that the population is blended enough that all these BS racial definitions and the privilege/victimhood delusions they spawn are washed away in a societal flood of hybrid vigor. Of course, by then, people being people, there will be a whole new set of nonsensical tribal distinctions to obsess over and cry oppression against the Man (or Human, or Machine, or Hormagaunt).

  • http://www.facebook.com/myron.byron Myron Byron

    Didn’t have the courage to post this message until the news item was just about to fall off the front page? Well, at least you have the decency to be embarrassed…

  • Anonymous

    Very good point. And yes, it did :)

  • Anonymous

    ” and that there was no intent to make the mentally disabled the punchline.”

    Intent is not magical. As for examples, I’m sure a quick google search can point them out. And yes, I agree with you on the second point.

  • Marshall Hitch

    Clark Gregg’s race has no real bearing on the story of Coulson, any more than Samuel Jackson’s race has as Nick Fury. Both are excellent character actors and both focus on the personality that they are playing rather than obvious stereotypes.

    I think it’s demeaning to have the “token” racial character. Racism at its heart is all about making a ethnicity inferior…about objectifying a person as a label. A token is not a person, it’s an object. I think the real racism is adding a character to an ensemble not because it gives the story any more heft, but because some sort of quota need to be filled.

  • Anonymous

    Absolutely agree with you about Skye invading Ward’s privacy. Very much a “Wtf?!” moment. And, I’m starting to see, even though it’s the fourth episode…I would like more character development, pls :)

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    There is a very long and complicated history of biracial and light skinned minorities using makeup and wigs to downplay characteristics that are more associated with minorities, like eye makeup that makes the eyes look rounder.

    As a white woman, I don’t know HOW to do these things*, but I do know they were done.

    *White women are instead taught how to “exoticize” their features, dark lipstick to emphasize the lips, eye makeup to make the eyes seem angular instead of rounded.

  • Christopher LaHaise

    I’ve see people throw around ‘The Marvel Universe!’ as a complaint about the lack of super powers and super beings in the show. From what I gathered, the New York Invasion was the first public, obvious sign of things being far beyond normal in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – so I’m pretty sure the general public are unaware of things like mutants. There’s no super heroes yet, beyond what we’ve seen in the Avengers and other Cinematic works.

    I’m thinking, as Marvel gets these rights back, things will unfold more and more, but it is going to be a slow gradual process. Basically, the Avengers are the first super heroes, but there’s some catalyst for more to come as we move forward.

  • Renee I.

    I am largely enjoying the show. The only issue my husband and I are having is with Skye. I get that she isn’t a biochem genius, but she is a sharp hacker and very resourceful yet they continue to portray her as struggling with inane sorts of things. I just don’t believe that after a few rounds with Ward that should couldn’t tell the difference between a safely and a mag release. She isn’t dumb and has the ability to learn one min and then is infuriatingly clueless the next.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    Have you ever fired a pistol?

    I have, and I am also exceedingly nervous around them, due to lack of exposure. I am confident that after a few rounds, I STILL would not be able to tell the difference between a safety and a mag release. (And I’d still say bang every time I pull the trigger, only it would be accompanied by explosion noises once it hit the target)

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    Whedon’s macho dudes are almost always deconstructions of one sort of another(Riley was the macho dude coping with the stronger girlfriend, Paul Ballard was a FRIDGED A LOT) so I am patiently waiting for this one, my guess is that as Skye gets more capable, Ward becomes the damsel.

    The stinger was all kinds of wrong though.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    Vision lines up with having a cellist girlfriend in Portland, because that apparently hints at Scarlet Witch.

    And the Vision rumor came from Gregg himself on Twitter.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    I feel that Coulson’s discomfort with the name, and the demand that all names now go through him, was because of the unfortunate association.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    It is demeaning to have token characters, which is why creators, ESPECIALLY WHITE ONES, have to take special care effort to consider actors of color for roles where no race is specified. People of color are underrepresented in our film culture.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001702773745 Charles M. Hagmaier

    Let me introduce you to a much-discriminated-against “minority” named Archibald Leach (aka “Cary Grant”) – because everyone knows how utterly despised the English were in pre-war Hollywood. Or maybe taking stage names is a heck of a lot more complicated than whether or not someone’s being victimized by society.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001702773745 Charles M. Hagmaier

    Or maybe I didn’t see the episode until this morning, as I don’t have cable?

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    That’s all very nice, and but what’s been shown to happen, AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN, is that white creators hire white actors for non racially specified roles. Just like women are constantly passed over for jobs in favor of men with the same ability, sometimes even less.

    Their own unacknowledged biases lead them to believe they picked the best person for the role, but really all they did was pick the best white person. This is a documented fact.

    And as nice as it was for you to try and defend the above commenter, they clarified that no, they have a problem with diversity quotas.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    And the creators of Sleepy Hollow also acknowledge that they had to work hard to achieve this diversity, because it’s not easy. It’s hard for people to overcome their biases, and the writers WANTED that diversity from the start.

    All these other commenters who are just “hire the best person for the role” are ignoring that reality.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    He was not killed off. They shot him with the NightNight(cough*Chekov*cough) gun Fitz and Simmons were working on at the start of the episode, which had been loaded with the Extremis antidote Simmons developed(the NightNight gun made another appearance this episode, in pistol form).

    At the end, Skye and Coulson talk about how he’ll be rejoining his son shortly before they fly away in Lola. He’ll be back.

  • Anonymous

    He’s white, he’s a different height, he carries himself differently, he probably looks around in a way she doesn’t and notices things she wouldn’t have, and there was that whole scene in the car where Ward kept trying to turn around and look in the back seat, which would look weird as hell. And speaking of cars, how the hell did he drive there without ever looking at the steering wheel or using the mirrors? And even if he could manage that, wouldn’t it look weird to someone watching?

    Yes, I know, suspension of disbelief and all. I’m just saying, you see your own body a lot more than you realize. The typing, too. Even if you’re looking at the screen your hands are still in view. And your nose is unavoidable. ;)

  • Renee I.

    I am an accomplished shooter now but someone had to teach me. I have also done a number of group classes with some individuals who caused me to question their intelligence but still picked them up very quickly shown after being shown what each component does. So personally I think you are selling yourself short. A nerves argument/comment would have made more sense to me rather than not being able to understand that this button does this and this button does that. In any event, the firearm is not really my point, it was a singular example. There have been several moments in the episode where I think they have been inconsistent in their portrayal of her. Where they show her as a sharp cookie one minute and unable to comprehend another.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    They’ve shown her as a sharp cookie on the things she picks up easy, and floundering on the things she doesn’t, by her own admission. It’s consistent to me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/myron.byron Myron Byron

    Well, you definitely should have been embarrassed by what you wrote. It’s gone, now, though.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    It was very upsetting, especially with some of the more overt parallels they were drawing.

    It was counterproductive, IMO, to film such a strong scene that was basically about not shooting a black man perceived as dangerous, then to end up shooting him anyways, even if it was in a non lethal manner.

  • http://www.thesuperfluity.blogspot.com/ Brady Darnell

    Ah. I only recently started following Gregg on Twitter, so I didn’t see that. The article I read simply said “a source.”
    I would actually be okay with them ditching the Ultron-created, Simon Williams brain-patterned comic book version of the Vision to make this incarnation happen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/myron.byron Myron Byron

    You don’t even know what tokenism is, do you?

    Tokenism is when Caucasians are a minority in America, and yet the media would have you believe that America is a snowy-white homogeny in which people of color are a rare species. That’s what tokenism is. That’s the tokenism that shows like Shield contribute to.

    The only appropriate response – the ONLY appropriate response – to tokenism is to include more people of color, more women, etc, etc. But that’s exactly the opposite of what you want, isn’t it? Because, we all know what will happen if characters are decided purely by their APPROPRIATENESS TO THE STORY. We know exactly what will happen. More white people. More white people. More invisible minorities.

    Oh, and by the way? Your definition of racism? WAY off the mark, although it would be useful, I guess, if one wanted to indulge in anti-diversity apologetics…

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

    It was after the show was announced, and he was asked how Coulson could come back. He responded, “Vision?”

  • Anonymous

    For the boy parts/girl parts thing I’m willing to let it slide in this instance. While there was probably something she could have said that would have been more inclusive A) she didn’t have a lot of time to think of a Snarky Comeback and B) she was talking to Ward. If her dialogue continues to be that way it might be a problem, but for an off-the-cuff comment I’m willing to allow that not everyone is thinking in entirely correct/inclusive terms all the time. Slip-ups happen. And given what we’ve seen of Ward’s personality so far he doesn’t seem like someone who’s big on subtle nuance. At the very least /Skye/ probably assumes he isn’t one for picking up finer “social” cues, so she breaks it down for him into the most obvious, dumbed-down way she can manage: boys vs. girls. His big alpha-wolf-wannabe boy brain probably can’t handle more than that. At least not until the producers bother to give the characters some damn dimensions.

    The “short bus” joke is much thinner ice and I can definitely see it as having crossed the wrong line. That said, my opinion /at the time/ was that Ward was making an unsubtle comment regarding his feelings about his team and wasn’t considering the wider ramifications of the term beyond that. Coulson’s comment about how he’ll be naming things from now on indicated, to me at least, that he felt Ward was in the wrong and that the name was unacceptable. That’s okay-ish, as far as it goes, but it still shouldn’t have happened. From the perspective of those who are writing the show I’d be willing to guess they didn’t consider the wider ramifications of the comment any more than Ward did and that’s not okay at all. In this day and age writers should be pretty well versed in what is and isn’t acceptable, especially in terms of humor, which has so much more power to be misconstrued or to reinforce bad attitudes. Between this “joke” and the one that implies Skye is getting an eyeful of Naked Ward without his knowledge or permission it’s pretty clear the writers are using outdated material and may need to attend a sensitivity course or two.

  • Ivan

    Hey its the marvel cinematic universe, if i can believe in thor and the hulk then i can believe that the handler didnt see wards white hands because ward is that good.

  • Anonymous

    The cold open was great, but was anybody else kinda disappointed that the red mask dudes weren’t HYDRA?

  • Ivan

    You’re not wrong about the quality of this show, i almost stopped watching after episode 2. For me episode 3 is when the show started to appoach respectability. Episode 4 i can say is the best episode yet, a lot more serious, lets see where they take it from here.

  • Anonymous

    Ward is a bag of phallic symbols and I don’t think he’s half as good as he believes, but the point is still taken. Yes, in a grand universe with infinite possibilities Ward getting through this without getting caught is small potatoes. But it’s still fun to come up with reasons why he SHOULD have been caught. ;)

  • Anonymous

    Hmmm! Good point, thank you.

  • Anonymous

    For Skye’s comment, I understand all of that. But this is a show, with writer’s. There are ways around cissexist “These are how Boys and Girls are” lines. I’m all for making the Alpha Dudebro the butt of jokes, just not at the expense of others.

    As for the “short bus” joke, that was brought to my attention by Aeryl above. Quoting because:

    “That’s okay-ish, as far as it goes, but it still shouldn’t have happened. From the perspective of those who are writing the show I’d be willing to guess they didn’t consider the wider ramifications of the comment any more than Ward did and that’s not okay at all. In this day and age writers should be pretty well versed in what is and isn’t acceptable, especially in terms of humor, which has so much more power to be misconstrued or to reinforce bad attitudes. Between this “joke” and the one that implies Skye is getting an eyeful of Naked Ward without his knowledge or permission it’s pretty clear the writers are using outdated material and may need to attend a sensitivity course or two.”

    Absolutely agree.

  • Ana KH

    Good point about the women on the “bus” not spending much time talking to each other. I’m trying to think of one-on-one conversations with any of them and I think May and Skye teaming up briefly was the only time?