Melinda ~ Agents of SHIELD: The Art of Evolution

4/10/2015

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I've had their pain. Now give me yours.

I really need an extra few hours per week. Another has gone by without a peep from me other than to talk about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. every Friday via limited edition prints. Good thing then that I love the show to pieces. The artwork has been beautiful, but I wish they were also available as t-shirts. It's much easier to come by drawer space than wall space. Shirts would also be less expensive, so I wouldn't have to be so picky and anxious that the next might be better. The previous prints still seem to be available, so I am going to try waiting to see what's in store for the final five, but I love this one. If I were to rank all of them, this would be either at or near the top. The artist really captured May's face. It shows her cornered, in a desperate situation, the shadow of an attacker looming over her. We know she triumphed, but she also lost something. She went in alone, saved the day, and came out a completely different person.

"Melinda" is the seventh in a series of twelve to complement the back half of the second season, available from the Marvel Shop. Read more about it at Entertainment Weekly before next Tuesday, when we finally get to know exactly what happened in Bahrain to earn May the nickname of "the Cavalry." Until now we've only gotten hints. It's an incident that changed her personality from warm and rule-bending to cold and by-the-books. The May we know is a highly skilled asset to the team and can single-handedly save the day, but she is closed off, unwilling to be vulnerable again. Coulson misses the person she was and I'd like to find out myself the person he knew. We've gotten a glimpse before; in which episode I can't remember, but I do remember a smile. It will be good to know why that smile is so rare, and character background is always important.

I have been exhausted the past couple weeks. Not with the show. Not with its direction or pace. I love every moment. It's just everything they've been through, and now with "the real SHIELD" and their relentless pursuit. One thing after another. They need room to breathe or something good to happen at some point. And that point finally came.

After the blitz attack on S.H.I.E.L.D., the capture of FitzSimmons and May, and Hunter, Coulson, and Skye's narrow escapes from the clutches of the "real S.H.I.E.L.D.," forcing them into hiding, it's been feeling like the hopelessness that was felt at the end of last season. But there are key differences. This new S.H.I.E.L.D. is not made up of a bunch of sociopaths and the easily suggestible. That doesn't take the sting out of betrayal, but at least there is the possibilty they could work together eventually...after the huge task ahead of Coulson and team finding a way to beat them or make them consider the possibilty that they went about this all wrong. They attacked good people because they're afraid of anyone with powers and believe that Coulson and Skye have been compromised, even calling Skye a thing. They want to neutralize everyone that's different, not considering that good people can still be good and assets, colleagues, or friends. S.H.I.E.L.D. sees people. The "real S.H.I.E.L.D." only sees threats to be controlled or eliminated, which is understandable after what they all went through with Hydra's devastating resurgence. "Shoot first, ask questions later" must be their motto. They believe that loyalty to a man is dangerous, that loyalty to the organization, an idea, will prevent another attack from within. But really it only makes it easier to take out their own, to never question an order, to deaden emotions...to become as bad as those they are afraid of.

Another difference, and the best moment of this half of the season for me, was the end of "Afterlife," where Fitz left the Playground. It reminded of when May left Providence because she had been discovered spying on Coulson for Fury, a moment filled with sadness. It reminded me of Skye leaving with Ward, a moment filled with dread. But this moment was filled with hope. When Fitz got in the cab and pulled out the Toolbox, I was cheering for Jemma again for only the second time this season; the other was when she captured Bobbi. When Fitz pulled out the prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella sandwich with "a hint of pesto aioli," his favorite, I was grinning from ear to ear. This scene was filled with joy at the prospect of getting a leg up on the "real S.H.I.E.L.D.," but more importantly FitzSimmons returning to a semblance of their old selves, doing great work together and having a close friendship. If they can make it through such a tough situation, they may be better for it in the end.

Speaking of Ward (a few sentences ago), now they have to enlist the help of that duplicitous crazy pants. Awkward conversation. I still hold the tiniest bit of hope that Ward will eventually be on slightly better terms with S.H.I.E.L.D., maybe edging out of villain territory. Even after getting to know who and why he is, I still see glimmers of the Ward of season 1, the man who made friends with his team, who acted so normal. That he turned out to be a deadly double agent for an organization that values order and control above life was such a blow, the kind which you only see in the most well-written shows, where realistically-played relationships matter. Those stakes are what make it great. It's a world where superheroes are becoming more commonplace, a world where death can be reversible if you're are willing to do whatever it takes, but the human connections are very much grounded. Even with all the story interweaving across mediums, that's where Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.shines brightest: the simple, complicated lives and emotions of people.

A few great moments that I couldn't fit anywhere else:

Another narrow escape when Mike Peterson (Deathlok) showed up just in time! It's been so long since the first season finale that I actually forgot he was free from Hydra and back on the side of the good guys. I didn't get the season for Christmas, so I haven't rewatched yet. I have to do this soon.

It was hilarious when Coulson and Hunter fooled their pursuers with a hologram of them playing cards, allowing Coulson and Hunter to hit the agents from behind with ICERs.

Oh, and Skye nearly kills Raina, but her mother stops her. Skye doesn't know who she is, but she was visibly shaken by their meeting.

Fun fact: I got interrupted no fewer than a dozen times by family while I was trying to write this. It's amazing I got anything done. And here's the promo for "Melinda" if you missed it.


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