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Llywela

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Re-Watch

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Since the finale aired, I decided to go back and have a complete show re-watch, to see how it all plays out with the benefit of total hindsight. I just finished S1 so I thought I'd note a few observations here, and if anyone else is re-watching hopefully they'll chip in too.

S1 has a really bad reputation as being weak and slow to get off the ground, but I really enjoy it. I think it plays out much more strongly with the benefit of hindsight. It's more episodic than later seasons, but that isn't a bad thing. There are still arcs woven through those standalone episodes - arcs which perhaps become more obvious with hindsight - and each of those standalone episodes lays important groundwork for everything that comes later. I love how young and innocent everyone still is. I love watching them bond as a team, slowly but surely, getting to know one another and finding out what they are all capable of.

After S7 I saw fandom complaints about the end of May's story, how they felt it was unrealistic that gaining empathic powers would have changed her personality and made her so much warmer, so it was interesting to go back to S1 and see Coulson telling Daisy that May used to be very different, that she used to be really warm. It was Bahrain that changed May, made her the repressed, stoic warrior we saw through the show. What we saw in S7 was May finally coming to terms with her past and reclaiming who she used to be, who she always was, deep down. The depth of her feeling was always apparent to me, even in S1 - all the more so on re-watch - so what changed in S7 was her willingness to show those feelings openly.

Ward is a much more compelling character on re-watch. With the benefit of hindsight, I really enjoy watching his story play out. Without any fear of him being woobified and redeemed and given Skye/Daisy as a reward, his story becomes a fascinating character study, watching him bonding with the team, knowing all along that he is playing them. Early Ward playing at being good is much more fun than I remembered, and the twist of him being Hydra is really well done.

I even managed to slot The Winter Soldier movie in at the appropriate point on this re-watch, for the first time - I watched the early seasons at UK pace, months after the show had already aired in the US but before the movie was out on DVD, so never got the full tie-in experience until now.

It is fascinating to watch Garrett when he turns up, as well, and to follow his story, knowing exactly who he is. The whole Clairvoyant storyline was pretty much built for re-watching - I pick up more details and foreshadowing every time.

I remember always feeling that Coulson wasn't the strongest character to have been chosen to centre a show around, but I'm enjoying watching his story unfold all over again anyway. He still isn't the strongest lead ever, but he is a lot of fun and is surrounded by a strong enough cast that it doesn't matter.

I grew to really love Daisy over the seasons, and going back to the beginning of her story with the benefit of hindsight makes me appreciate her all the more. I know a lot of people saw Skye as a super-special snowflake in the early seasons and hated her for it, but it is clear on re-watch that developing her into Daisy 'Quake' Johnson was the plan all along, the seeds of that story are built into the character right from the start. And in the beginning, her outsider POV provides a really good window for viewers into the world of SHIELD, so that we get to know the organisation right along with her. She was such an innocent little baby in the beginning - S1 Skye would never, ever have believed where she would end up!

Speaking of innocent little babies...Fitzsimmons! So young and fresh-faced and inexperienced, and even just over the course of this first season they grow so much. It seems funny now to look back and remember how many fans in the early seasons were opposed to them becoming romantically involved, preferring to think of their dynamic as purely platonic, like siblings. On re-watch, it becomes obvious that they were always intended to be endgame - I mean, their even their names were specifically chosen to facilitate the portmanteau, which is canon from their very first scene.

And by the end of the season we have Trip, who I adore, and am already pained to recall how little time we had with him, really. My biggest regret of the show is that we didn't get to keep Trip.

(Edited to correct typo because UK and US are really not the same thing and the distinction matters in that sentence)

Edited by Llywela
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As someone who has gone back multiple times, I agree. I think the first two seasons of AoS are pretty much like the Sixth Sense, it is an entirely different experience if you know what is coming. I actually think some of the weaknesses of the first season are the result of the writers knowing it, but not considering that their audience doesn't. "Repairs" for example becomes a slightly better episode if you know about the events in "Melinda". They also foreshadowed Wards turn multiple times, most notable in "Yes Men" where he tries to use the opportunity to kill May. It looks like a bad editing mistake upon first watch, but was entirely deliberate.

Otherwise it is always somewhat strange to go back to Fitzsimmons and Skye. They are just so young, no wonder Fitzsimmons were nicknamed the "Science babies" back then, nowadays nobody would use the term for them, they have grown up so much. And Skye is nearly an entirely different character. Plus, Chloe Bennet's acting abilities really grew during the first season. Not that she was a bad actress, but being paired with so many excellent ones made her look somewhat bad in the first episodes. By the end of the first season, though, she got into the groove.

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5 hours ago, Llywela said:

 

Ward is a much more compelling character on re-watch. With the benefit of hindsight, I really enjoy watching his story play out. Without any fear of him being woobified and redeemed and given Skye/Daisy as a reward, his story becomes a fascinating character study, watching him bonding with the team, knowing all along that he is playing them. Early Ward playing at being good is much more fun than I remembered, and the twist of him beingra is really well done.

I even managed to slot The Winter Soldier movie in at the appropriate point on this re-watch, for the first time - I watched the early seasons at UK pace, months after the show had already aired in the UK but before the movie was out on DVD, so never got the full tie-in experience until now.

It is fascinating to watch Garrett when he turns up, as well, and to follow his story, knowing exactly who he is. The whole Clairvoyant storyline was pretty much built for re-watching - I pick up more details and foreshadowing every time.

 

I would make the case that he wasn't really playing them. S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra at that time were two sides of the same coin. As all those Hydra recruits worked for a couple of generations inside of S.H.I.E.L.D. and it tuns out inside of other security and political forces and it was only the presence of Nick Fury's death squadron which brought them into the light to control the guns. But the super protective instincts the lone wolf took to his non Hydra but S.H.IE.L.D.  team was in my opinion real.

Played along with May in the Framework and the training of Skye to "cross someone off", which just might be worse than Garrett and Ward's puppy, always brings me back to they were basically the same..👺 Except when Daisy really pushed that Hydra was associated with the Nazis, although the show gave us a Hydra mixed in with everybody, they were just public with the Nazis first.

 

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52 minutes ago, swanpride said:

I actually think some of the weaknesses of the first season are the result of the writers knowing it, but not considering that their audience doesn't. "Repairs" for example becomes a slightly better episode if you know about the events in "Melinda". They also foreshadowed Wards turn multiple times, most notable in "Yes Men" where he tries to use the opportunity to kill May. It looks like a bad editing mistake upon first watch, but was entirely deliberate.

Definitely - that heart-stopping little moment when he pulls the trigger and the gun is empty, then a second later they are no longer alone and he is back to himself, it all plays so very much differently once you know who he really is.

This is my second re-watch, but first with complete this-show-is-over hindsight, obviously. I pick up on more details each run-through. I think you're right about the writers not quite getting the balance right in seeding clues through the season. I think the show was created off the back of an era of TV in which foreshadowing and obsessive binge re-watching were all the rage, so all the clues woven through the season were designed with that kind of audience in mind, put in place for viewers to pick up as they watched and re-watched - but unfortunately, the show didn't manage to hook into that sort of audience in sufficient numbers to generate the kind of cult following needed to wring every last drop of meaning out of all the foreshadowing. And without that, S1 never managed to get past the poor first impression it made on so many people. I mean, I always enjoyed it, it hooked me enough to keep me watching all these years, but even so I always went along with the party line that S1 was weak and people should hang in there until it got good later. It wasn't until I first went back and re-watched that I realised how much stronger S1 is than I'd realised, because its main strength lies in hindsight, which you obviously don't have first time through.

35 minutes ago, Raja said:

I would make the case that he wasn't really playing them. S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra at that time were two sides of the same coin. As all those Hydra recruits worked for a couple of generations inside of S.H.I.E.L.D. and it tuns out inside of other security and political forces and it was only the presence of Nick Fury's death squadron which brought them into the light to control the guns. But the super protective instincts the lone wolf took to his non Hydra but S.H.IE.L.D.  team was in my opinion real.

Hmm. I'm not so sure. I do think that Ward became genuinely attached to the team - although obviously not attached enough, given what he later did to them - and I do think he came to enjoy his time with them. If Hydra hadn't been forced into the open when it was, he'd have happily continued the charade until told to do otherwise, for the rest of his career if necessary. But he was still working against them, all that time. It is made very clear in the show that he was playing the team all along, that his first loyalty was always to Garrett (and to Hydra via Garrett), not to SHIELD and the team. He was placed inside SHIELD by Garrett and Hydra, placed within Coulson's team by Garrett and Hydra, and he was placed there for a reason. He turned on the team instantly, when called upon to do so, and whatever regret he might have felt over attempting to kill Fitz and Simmons is meaningless given that he chose to do it anyway, even as they begged for their lives. And as @swanpride noted above, he attempted to take out May even before the Hydra reveal, when he had an opportunity to do so without giving himself up. He was always working for Hydra, throughout those early episodes when he seems like such a decent guy. The decent guy was always an act. That's the whole point of his character in S1. It is also the tragedy of his character, because he could have chosen to be that decent guy for real, but didn't. The real Ward is the man we meet after the reveal, the weak man who doesn't know what to do with himself without an order to follow and who never takes responsibility for his own choices or actions.

Here's an early S2 thought that @swanpride might be able to chip in on: the shield technology of the Quinnjets was a new invention for S2, right? I remember being puzzled about it seeming to appear out of nowhere first time around, and this is my second re-watch so I've been paying attention, or so I thought, but there wasn't any mention of Quinn's jets having cloaking technology in S1, right? I'm not imagining that, or overlooking something, no?

Edited by Llywela

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4 minutes ago, Llywela said:

 

Here's an early S2 thought that @swanpride might be able to chip in on: the shield technology of the Quinnjets was a new invention for S2, right? I remember being puzzled about it seeming to appear out of nowhere first time around, and this is my second re-watch so I've been paying attention, or so I thought, but there wasn't any mention of Quinn's jets having cloaking technology in S1, right? I'm not imagining that, or overlooking something, no?

It wasn't new as the helocarrier had it in The Avengers. My head canon wold be that Big S.H.I.E.L.D. probably just didn't use it for their basic model quinjet for cost reasons and perhaps the technology falling into  some nation's hand like the real life stealth helicopter that went down on the raid to get Osama bin Laden

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Just now, Raja said:

It wasn't new as the helocarrier had it in The Avengers. My head canon wold be that Big S.H.I.E.L.D. probably just didn't use it for their basic model quinjet for cost reasons and perhaps the technology falling into  some nation's hand like the real life stealth helicopter that went down on the raid to get Osama bin Laden

Good point about the helicarrier. But I don't think we ever saw that shield technology in S1? Like, I literally just re-watched it last week and I'm sure we didn't. Then in S2 Coulson has the team steal one of Quinn's confiscated jets specifically to get hold of the technology, which is where my confusion arises, because we saw Quinn a bunch of times in S1 but I don't recall that we ever saw him using shield technology. Unless the shielded jet they stole wasn't Quinn's at all, in which case why are they called Quinjets??? See, this is why I always feel like I'm missing something about the damn things!

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17 minutes ago, Llywela said:

Good point about the helicarrier. But I don't think we ever saw that shield technology in S1? Like, I literally just re-watched it last week and I'm sure we didn't. Then in S2 Coulson has the team steal one of Quinn's confiscated jets specifically to get hold of the technology, which is where my confusion arises, because we saw Quinn a bunch of times in S1 but I don't recall that we ever saw him using shield technology. Unless the shielded jet they stole wasn't Quinn's at all, in which case why are they called Quinjets??? See, this is why I always feel like I'm missing something about the damn things!

In Captain Marvel we had an early model quadjet. I just presumed that the "quin" was just a fifth engine

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8 minutes ago, Raja said:

In Captain Marvel we had an early model quadjet. I just presumed that the "quin" was just a fifth engine

That makes sense. The existence of Ian Quinn is clearly what was throwing me off!

It still creates a slight disconnect, for me, that there is no hint of the technology in S1 and then in S2 the team goes off to steal it from a warehouse of confiscated SHIELD tech. Like, if Fury had just given them one in the first place, they could have been saved so much trouble - and if it was SHIELD tech to begin with, surely Fitz should have had access to all the specs previously, since it is right in his wheelhouse, and wouldn't have had to try to invent it again from scratch while recovering from a brain injury. I think that's why I assumed it was something confiscated from Ian Quinn, because the show implies it isn't something SHIELD had access to previously. But if it was already SHIELD tech...

Okay, I'm gonna accept that it's a slight logic gap that exists because S1 had no need for shield tech and then S2 did, and I'm gonna drop it now, secure in the knowledge that it isn't just me overlooking something obvious! 🙂 

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3 minutes ago, Llywela said:

That makes sense. The existence of Ian Quinn is clearly what was throwing me off!

It still creates a slight disconnect, for me, that there is no hint of the technology in S1 and then in S2 the team goes off to steal it from a warehouse of confiscated SHIELD tech. Like, if Fury had just given them one in the first place, they could have been saved so much trouble - and if it was SHIELD tech to begin with, surely Fitz should have had access to all the specs previously, since it is right in his wheelhouse, and wouldn't have had to try to invent it again from scratch while recovering from a brain injury. I think that's why I assumed it was something confiscated from Ian Quinn, because the show implies it isn't something SHIELD had access to previously. But if it was already SHIELD tech...

Okay, I'm gonna accept that it's a slight logic gap that exists because S1 had no need for shield tech and then S2 did, and I'm gonna drop it now, secure in the knowledge that it isn't just me overlooking something obvious! 🙂 

I guess you had to be at least a Level 7 tech, in Big S.H.I.E.L.D. to know the secrets of the cloak.

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1 hour ago, Raja said:

I guess you had to be at least a Level 7 tech, in Big S.H.I.E.L.D. to know the secrets of the cloak.

Probably. And let us assume for the sake of sanity that when the government got hold of the aircraft with shielding installed, they never figured out what they had, which is why we don't see them using that tech against SHIELD later!

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The bus didn't have the cloaking technology. And I suspect that the technology is quite complicated, and was only used on the highest level from the get go. That is not the kind of secret you want to spread around to other agencies.  No relation to Quin whatsoever, if he had the technology, he would have sold it to the highest bidder. Multiple times.

 

Another aspect of the first season is that a lot (but not all) which looks like puzzling incompetence is actually explained with Ward's true identity as Hydra Agent. In both The Bridge and T.R.A.C.K.S. he acts strangely incompetent (especially when he places himself so clumsily that he can't keep watch of the whole prisoner exchange), but in hindsight, it is obvious that those mistakes were deliberate.  

 

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23 minutes ago, swanpride said:

The bus didn't have the cloaking technology. And I suspect that the technology is quite complicated, and was only used on the highest level from the get go. That is not the kind of secret you want to spread around to other agencies.  No relation to Quin whatsoever, if he had the technology, he would have sold it to the highest bidder. Multiple times.

 

Another aspect of the first season is that a lot (but not all) which looks like puzzling incompetence is actually explained with Ward's true identity as Hydra Agent. In both The Bridge and T.R.A.C.K.S. he acts strangely incompetent (especially when he places himself so clumsily that he can't keep watch of the whole prisoner exchange), but in hindsight, it is obvious that those mistakes were deliberate.  

 

Remember The Bus was pulled out mothballs for Coulson. Either Coulson or Ward made a crack about  the 90s technology when they were in trouble once.

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I know the Bus didn't have the cloaking technology, that's why Coulson sent a team in to steal the tech in S2 in order to reverse engineer it for the Bus and their other jets. It was just the appearance of the tech having previously been unmentioned that confused me a bit. It isn't clear why that one quinjet they steal has the tech when nothing else we've seen till that point has. I guess that detail wasn't important enough to be included as exposition, but without it, my brain always associated the name of the jet with Quinn and then never questioned the assumption until now.

I'm getting into S2 now. I enjoy these early seasons more each time I watch them.

Edited by Llywela

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This will sound crazy but I didn’t start watching Agents until season three, and I just got around to seeing the first and second season in July. Maybe my affinity for Daisy was clouding my judgement, but I couldn’t understand why people hated Skye so much in season one. So now I’m doing my first rewatch of the early seasons and I think it’s better on second viewing. Like others have said, when you know what’s coming, it’s fun to look for clues leading up to the reveal.

I’m now a few episodes into season two and really enjoying the interactions Trip has with the team and it makes me sad because I know what’s coming. I’ve also been reading the old episode threads and it’s interesting to see the various theories and how opinions have changed.

Edited by BaggythePanther
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Hate is maybe slightly overstating it...the thing with Skye was that the writers tried a little bit too hard to make the audience like her. Once they allowed her to do awesome things instead of having Coulson talking about how awesome she is, the audience fell in love with her pretty fast.

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I felt like I was the only person here defending Skye for a long time. I liked her immediately.

I was never on the FitzSimmons romance train, but in my defense, neither were the actors; they did a few interviews where they talked about how they felt like they had sibling chemistry. I think the show ended up doing a great job with their story, but I was still disappointed that a good platonic m/f friendship turned into yet another romance.

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I had the problem more with May and Coulson, but at the end of the day, I am okay with it. A big plus of AoS was always that they wrote relationships, not "romances"....and somehow what they did ended up ten times as romantic as the standard romance. Fitzsimmons vows are the best!

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I actually find it funny, now, to look back at how platonic we all thought the Fitzsimmons relationship back in S1. I remember all the heated discussions after the finale and early in S2 about how they came across like siblings and how turning the relationship into a romance was a betrayal of that platonic bond! Yet now, I can't see them as anything but endgame, even going right back to the very start. The seeds of the later romance were always present, and I actually really like the way the relationship develops slowly, over the seasons, always progressing in a forward direction.

I enjoy all the relationships in the show, in fact - I think @swanpride has hit the nail on the head about them being written as relationships rather than 'romances' and how that makes all the difference. The relationships all feel completely natural and organic to me, through all their ups and downs. Around social media, I see a lot of disgruntlement over Coulson and May not getting a happy ending together, but that too feels natural and organic to me - they had their little romance, but they left it too late, then Coulson died and what came back wasn't truly him. It feels right that May mourned him and then moved on, that her arc through the final season was about her, not about trying to recapture her love for Coulson with the LMD who took his place.

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Yeah, that is basically why I was okay with May and Coulson as a couple...while I would have been perfectly happy with them just staying friends, two people who went through so much together bonding late in life kind of makes sense, and they were never sold as star crossed lovers, just two people who had "a" deep relationship, but May could have been just as happy with Andrew and Coulson could have been just as happy with his Cellist or Rosalind. It just wasn't the cards for either of them.

Fitzsimmons mostly worked because all the hurdles to their relationship came from the outside. What stopped them from being together was never the usual BS writers use to drag romances out, or something which could have been cleared up in a five minute talk, but simply circumstances. And honestly, can you imagine either of them being with someone who isn't able to follow their train of thought? Not trying to be arrogant, but a relationship with someone who isn't on your intellectual level just doesn't work out in the long run. You'll end up bored pretty fast.

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On 9/4/2020 at 11:46 PM, BaggythePanther said:

This will sound crazy but I didn’t start watching Agents until season three, and I just got around to seeing the first and second season in July. Maybe my affinity for Daisy was clouding my judgement, but I couldn’t understand why people hated Skye so much in season one. So now I’m doing my first rewatch of the early seasons and I think it’s better on second viewing. Like others have said, when you know what’s coming, it’s fun to look for clues leading up to the reveal.

I think a lot of the early dislike for Skye came from a lack of trust in the writers. It really wasn’t about anything she did but about people fears that she and Skye/Ward were going to take over the show. 

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19 hours ago, swanpride said:

And honestly, can you imagine either of them being with someone who isn't able to follow their train of thought? Not trying to be arrogant, but a relationship with someone who isn't on your intellectual level just doesn't work out in the long run. You'll end up bored pretty fast.

I liked Simmons with Tripp and would have liked to see that explored more. 

As for Fitz/Simmons, besides the actors believing it was just a platonic relationship, they had Fitz pining for Skye the entire first season until they were underwater. It was then that Fitz sacrificed himself and declared how it was always Simmons. It wasn't. Or at least, it didn't come across that way to me. So, I resisted the pairing for quite a while. I must admit that the writers and the actors did win me over with the relationship as the series went on. 

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Not the entire first season...until Fitz tried to make a move on Daisy and Daisy basically told him that he is clearly into Jemma...at which point I guess his perspective on Simmons changed. Sometimes the most obvious thing is directly in front of you.

What I liked about the dramatic "I love you moment" was that the show itself made clear that just because Fitz risked his life for Simmons and sacrificed his health, Simmons was not obliged to love him back. That she eventually did was more about all of his qualities, not just about his devotion to her.

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1 hour ago, swanpride said:

Not the entire first season...until Fitz tried to make a move on Daisy and Daisy basically told him that he is clearly into Jemma...at which point I guess his perspective on Simmons changed. Sometimes the most obvious thing is directly in front of you.

What I liked about the dramatic "I love you moment" was that the show itself made clear that just because Fitz risked his life for Simmons and sacrificed his health, Simmons was not obliged to love him back. That she eventually did was more about all of his qualities, not just about his devotion to her.

Yeah, I don't think Fitz's brief crush on Daisy or Simmons's brief attraction to Trip negates the very clear and present connection between them, from their very first scene, for an instant. Both, in fact, feel like very normal, human behaviours that help to flesh them out as individuals and make them feel more real. Life is a broad and rich tapestry, after all, and human emotion is extremely complex. It took time for each of them to understand that what they felt for one another ran deeper than friendship, and their interactions with other people formed part of that process, helped them work through what they were feeling and reach a point where they were willing to express it to one another and move their relationship into a new phase.

And...oh, you've just given me flashbacks, because I watched the early seasons with my then-boyfriend, and I remember that early in S2 he was desperate for Simmons to 'reward' Fitz's devotion and I had to point out to him that she was under no obligation to do any such thing. Which I still wholeheartedly believe, which is why I'm glad it took longer for them to get together, that Simmons was allowed to take time to process her feelings, rather than responding to Fitz's declaration of love out of any kind of a sense of obligation. I think taking that time to assess, and to heal and move on from the trauma of their near-death experience, made their relationship stronger and healthier, in the long run. 

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On 9/7/2020 at 9:16 AM, Loandbehold said:

I liked Simmons with Tripp and would have liked to see that explored more. 

I like FitzSimmons as endgame but I also wish Trip and Simmons had actually gotten together at some point. Simmons took his death hard, I can only imagine how much worse it would have been if they were together.

 I’m in the middle of season two and I loved Skye and Fitz’s friendship here. Good, platonic guy/girl friendships are hard to find and I really enjoyed Skye and Fitz and I will forever be bitter about what happened in “The Devil Complex”.

Not a fan of the “Real Shield” storyline and I can’t remember how it ends. I’m curious what the whole point was. And I didn’t realize until a few days ago that Cal is actually a comic book character. KM is fun to watch.

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Honestly, I like the "Real Shield" arc...if for no other reason than it delivering "One door closes", one of my favourite episodes.

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5 hours ago, BaggythePanther said:

I’m in the middle of season two and I loved Skye and Fitz’s friendship here. Good, platonic guy/girl friendships are hard to find and I really enjoyed Skye and Fitz and I will forever be bitter about what happened in “The Devil Complex”.

Not a fan of the “Real Shield” storyline and I can’t remember how it ends. I’m curious what the whole point was. And I didn’t realize until a few days ago that Cal is actually a comic book character. KM is fun to watch.

Me too, middle of S2 in the re-watch. I do remember how the 'Real SHIELD' storyline ends, so it's fascinating to watch all the little details coming together. Like how Hunter's paranoia around Bobbi always comes across as just that, paranoia, until all of a sudden it is clear that he is right, and as great as Bobbi is (I love Bobbi) his mistrust of her is fully justified. She does lie to his face, she does keep secrets from him, she does blow hot and cold for no apparent reason. We, as viewers, are given just enough of her POV to understand where she is coming from, but from Hunter's POV her behaviour must be maddening. And yet the Real SHIELD crew make a lot of good points, and it is entirely believable that after a massive, unwieldy organisation like SHIELD melted down, multiple smaller factions would have formed, not all of them even aware of one another.

I always forget how early in S2 we lose Trip and it always comes as a sucker punch, on every re-watch. 😞 What is worse is that he effectively kills himself - when the mist is released, Raina and Skye turn to stone, but Trip is unaffected. If he'd taken no action, he might have survived. But in his rage over Skye, he lashes out and destroys the Diviner, and that's what kills him, the shrapnel as it shatters. Poor Trip.

Although having said that, it is always really noticeable to me that everyone grieves for Trip so very much, yet two techs are killed by Raina in the very next episode, and no one is the slightest bit concerned about that! Poor red shirts. It was the same back in 2.01 when Hartley and Idaho were killed. Everyone made a big fuss about Hartley's death, Hunter went to great lengths to arrange a decent funeral for her, but Idaho's death was just shrugged off as no big deal. Very inconsistent!

I did know that Cal is a comic book character. He is so entertaining to watch, even at his worst.

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5 hours ago, Llywela said:

Me too, middle of S2 in the re-watch. I do remember how the 'Real SHIELD' storyline ends, so it's fascinating to watch all the little details coming together. Like how Hunter's paranoia around Bobbi always comes across as just that, paranoia, until all of a sudden it is clear that he is right, and as great as Bobbi is (I love Bobbi) his mistrust of her is fully justified. She does lie to his face, she does keep secrets from him, she does blow hot and cold for no apparent reason. We, as viewers, are given just enough of her POV to understand where she is coming from, but from Hunter's POV her behaviour must be maddening. And yet the Real SHIELD crew make a lot of good points, and it is entirely believable that after a massive, unwieldy organisation like SHIELD melted down, multiple smaller factions would have formed, not all of them even aware of one another.

I always forget how early in S2 we lose Trip and it always comes as a sucker punch, on every re-watch. 😞 What is worse is that he effectively kills himself - when the mist is released, Raina and Skye turn to stone, but Trip is unaffected. If he'd taken no action, he might have survived. But in his rage over Skye, he lashes out and destroys the Diviner, and that's what kills him, the shrapnel as it shatters. Poor Trip.

Although having said that, it is always really noticeable to me that everyone grieves for Trip so very much, yet two techs are killed by Raina in the very next episode, and no one is the slightest bit concerned about that! Poor red shirts. It was the same back in 2.01 when Hartley and Idaho were killed. Everyone made a big fuss about Hartley's death, Hunter went to great lengths to arrange a decent funeral for her, but Idaho's death was just shrugged off as no big deal. Very inconsistent!

I did know that Cal is a comic book character. He is so entertaining to watch, even at his worst.

I got the small cells like Coulson's team all trying to remain the shield for society. Where it failed was then Colonel Talbot and others chasing down S.H.I.E.L.D.  yet Agent Gonzales had a full fleet aircraft carrier off of the world's naval forces  grid.

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1 hour ago, Raja said:

I got the small cells like Coulson's team all trying to remain the shield for society. Where it failed was then Colonel Talbot and others chasing down S.H.I.E.L.D.  yet Agent Gonzales had a full fleet aircraft carrier off of the world's naval forces  grid.

I dunno. Coulson was the one on Talbot's radar, and he had an entire secret base full of secondary red shirt agents, engineers and technicians, plus multiple enormous aircraft including the Bus. Not to mention, Gonzalez seemed content to sit back in the shadows while Coulson's team were more openly fighting the good fight and taking all the heat. How much shielding of society did Gonzalez's gang actually achieve from their aircraft carrier? If they spent most of their time in covert mode, spying on another SHIELD cell instead of more pro-actively working against Hydra, etc, it seems reasonable that they remained overlooked, with the attention of the armed forces elsewhere (namely, on Coulson). And, sometimes you just have to suspend disbelief and go with the flow!

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I actually think what Gonzales did was stupid and unforgivable. Because he focussed so much on Coulson, a lot of Agents died. Coulson didn't have the means to reach them in time, while Gonzales did. Kara alone is an example for this. That Bobby revealed her safe house, okay, that was a decision she made to protect other agents, but Coulson could have reached her in time if he had access to Gonzales resources.

The way to hell is paved with good intentions.

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16 minutes ago, swanpride said:

I actually think what Gonzales did was stupid and unforgivable. Because he focussed so much on Coulson, a lot of Agents died. Coulson didn't have the means to reach them in time, while Gonzales did. Kara alone is an example for this. That Bobby revealed her safe house, okay, that was a decision she made to protect other agents, but Coulson could have reached her in time if he had access to Gonzales resources.

The way to hell is paved with good intentions.

All of which proves that a lot of the SHIELD old guard learned nothing from the whole Hydra situation, even while believing they had. They responded by mistrusting one another and hoarding resources in small cells, doubling down, instead of sharing and cooperating with one another to rebuild trust. The Real SHIELD crew talked a good talk about transparency and how bad it is that Coulson, as Director, keeps secrets from his agents, but all the while they themselves were keeping secrets and lying and hiding in the shadows.

Re-watching this arc, the Real SHIELD gang make a big noise about how they had to set up on their own because Coulson was crazy, with the compulsive alien writing and whatnot, but Bobbi and Mack were already in place, spying for Gonzalez, before any of that was revealed. Which means that in the beginning, it was more a case of, 'oh, looks like Fury has chosen Coulson as his successor, not sure I agree with that, so let's send in some spies in search of evidence to justify a coup'. The senior agents like Gonzalez never even tried to work with Coulson, instead they let him believe they were dead, even while he was reaching out to all the former agents he could find alive, trying to bring all the loyal agents in out of the cold. 

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6 hours ago, Llywela said:

Re-watching this arc, the Real SHIELD gang make a big noise about how they had to set up on their own because Coulson was crazy, with the compulsive alien writing and whatnot, but Bobbi and Mack were already in place, spying for Gonzalez, before any of that was revealed. Which means that in the beginning, it was more a case of, 'oh, looks like Fury has chosen Coulson as his successor, not sure I agree with that, so let's send in some spies in search of evidence to justify a coup'. The senior agents like Gonzalez never even tried to work with Coulson, instead they let him believe they were dead, even while he was reaching out to all the former agents he could find alive, trying to bring all the loyal agents in out of the cold. 

I understand why people were weary of Coulson and his alien writing obsession but I was a little annoyed that no one really acknowledged that Coulson’s obsession with the weird alien writing actually lead to legitimate intel and a win against Hydra. What was Real SHIELD doing during that time?

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I don't think that they knew that Fury had chose Coulson...they just knew that Coulson had this toolbox. And they wanted the secrets in it and (rightly) thought that Coulson wouldn't share easily. And I guess the whole issue they had what the fact that Coulson died and was revived.

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"The Real SHIELD" did give me a little of the dopamine rush that season 1 did in that final run of episodes starting with "Turn Turn Turn". Coulson and co. on the run and on their own against the world again but this time with a wild card like Hunter on their side. It's like those episodes of Mad Men when the Sterling Cooper people do corporatw shenanigans, the first and best being "Close the Door, Have a Seat".

Edited by VCRTracking
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The Coulson/Hunter/Ditz trio was fun and it was interesting watching the shifting alliances. I just found it a little frustrating because it seemed like most of the drama could have been avoided if they had a conversation instead of a coup, but that wouldn’t make for good television. I like the agreement they worked out - Coulson in charge with a team of advisors and I wish they had followed through with it. I know half of them died, but Weaver, May and Bobbi were still alive at the end of season two and could have kept it going.

I’ve been rereading the episode threads as I go along and I’m surprised at how many people thought Mack was gay/bi at the start of season 3. I never got that vibe but now I’m wishing Mack was bi.

 I love Bobbi and Hunter and I’m sad that we lost them to the spin-off that never happened. AOS had terrible luck launching spin-offs.

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26 minutes ago, BaggythePanther said:

i.

 I love Bobbi and Hunter and I’m sad that we lost them to the spin-off that never happened. AOS had terrible luck launching spin-offs.

I think that after Age of Ultron was thought of as a creative failure compared to the first Avengers movie and with The Winter Soldier after it thought of as the best of the MCU the public image of Whedon making The Avengers work changed to Feige made the MCU work. So with Feige gaining power within Disney anything he didn't have a want to do, meaning all Marvel TV from AoS to the Defenders on Netflix all the way down to Squirrel Girl got deemphasized. 

With the show on ABC's bubble for seasons 2-5 I wonder who was behind the scenes at Disney who made them take it so that the global audience would have  someone paying for the production. 

Comics wise I think Flint is the biggest survivor from the "its all connected" goal as the books started emphasizing Inhumans over the mutants which another movie studio owned.  AoS did Inhumans, NuHumans from the comics stories,  better than the Inhuman (Royal family) miniseries

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Nah, the issue was a change in leadership at the ABC...and that new leadership didn't think that more Superhero shows were a good idea, hence Agent Carter got axed (to be fair, the numbers for the second season weren't good at all) and a lot of projects never came to pass. Word was that AoS itself escaped the carnage mostly because some higher up at Disney itself liked the show.

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I started my rewatch over the weekend.  I was reminded of the Dollhouse call backs in a couple of the early episodes with the "Did I fall asleep?" from Coulson, answered by "for a little while."  Since I just finished a rewatch of Dollhouse it really stuck out in my mind.

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Clark Gregg and Ming Na might have thought the show was "treading water" until the Hydra reveal but I like those early episodes now. They were the "innocent" days. T.R.A.C.K.S. is my favorite pre-Winter Soldier episode. It's what the show could have been at its best under it's original premise: a light, fun spy show set in the MCU.

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44 minutes ago, VCRTracking said:

Clark Gregg and Ming Na might have thought the show was "treading water" until the Hydra reveal but I like those early episodes now. They were the "innocent" days. T.R.A.C.K.S. is my favorite pre-Winter Soldier episode. It's what the show could have been at its best under it's original premise: a light, fun spy show set in the MCU.

Me too! I love S1, and I don't think any of those early episodes were wasted or meaningless. Every one of them serves a purpose, establishing and building the characters and their relationships and the universe in which they operate.

Lincoln just showed up in my re-watch and my heart sank. That character just really never gelled, for me, and I'm never quite sure why. Is it the writing or the actor? I lean toward the actor. The character always seems really weak, but I think a stronger actor could have elevated him. As it is, he just comes across to me as a charisma black hole. Chloe Bennet does a good job of selling why Skye/Daisy falls for him, but Lincoln himself...no, I get nothing. And yet his angst after the fall of Afterlife should be compelling! I think it's the actor - with apologies to his fans!so

Also, the Real SHIELD crew are bugging me all over again. As believable as it is that a vast organisation like SHIELD would splinter into multiple factions after its fall, none of them sure who to trust, the way it plays out with Bobbi and Mack's little coup just doesn't quite work for me. It seems such a counter-productive approach for their faction to take. I love Coulson and Hunter (and then Fitz) on the run, though.

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6 hours ago, VCRTracking said:

Clark Gregg and Ming Na might have thought the show was "treading water" until the Hydra reveal but I like those early episodes now. They were the "innocent" days. T.R.A.C.K.S. is my favorite pre-Winter Soldier episode. It's what the show could have been at its best under it's original premise: a light, fun spy show set in the MCU.

I couldn’t get into SHIELD when I first tried to watch season 1 as it aired. Then after getting into the show a few seasons later I went back to season 1 and I enjoyed those episodes. So personally I feel like I enjoyed season 1 the second time around because I already had an affinity for the characters and it’s interesting to see how their relationships developed. Also, throughout the show’s run there are call backs to season 1 so it’s nice to look back and see where they came from.

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I think the issue with Lincoln was that he was originally mostly an exposition machine. The first episode in which he has to say "I thought you know" all the time is REALLY awkward. And later on he was mostly there to explain Inhuman history. They only started to flesh him out when Hellfire showed up, at which point he became a little bit more interesting, but his alcoholic backstory didn't really fit the "young doctor/Sunny boy" persona from beforehand. Suddenly we were supposed to believe that Lincoln has a dangerous temper when nothing pointed in the direction beforehand.

 

So I would say it was the writing, not the actor.

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46 minutes ago, swanpride said:

I think the issue with Lincoln was that he was originally mostly an exposition machine. The first episode in which he has to say "I thought you know" all the time is REALLY awkward. And later on he was mostly there to explain Inhuman history. They only started to flesh him out when Hellfire showed up, at which point he became a little bit more interesting, but his alcoholic backstory didn't really fit the "young doctor/Sunny boy" persona from beforehand. Suddenly we were supposed to believe that Lincoln has a dangerous temper when nothing pointed in the direction beforehand.

 

So I would say it was the writing, not the actor.

Hmm. I'm inclined to blame both, because a really strong actor can elevate that kind of material and really sell it in spite of any contradictions. The biggest problem I have with Lincoln is that he just comes across as really bland even when his story should be genuinely compelling, like when he's on the run in S3 with his whole world imploding and doesn't know who to trust. Plenty of actors in this show managed to do a lot more with a lot less.

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Maybe it's just me. Sometimes an actor just doesn't work for you personally, a chemistry thing - like how I've never liked Benedict Cumberbatch and most people think I'm crazy for that! 😄

I always forget how much I enjoy that run of episodes in the second half of S2, when SHIELD seems to be splintering into factions again and no one is entirely sure who to trust, and Skye is tentatively bonding with her parents and finally discovering her own history and identity, for which she has longed for so long, and Ward is in the mix again like the wild card he is, and Afterlife seems like such a wonderful place, before it all goes to hell, and it's all just really well done. I don't know how much of the storytelling was planned how far in advance, but it all holds together really well, picking up story and character strands that were seeded way back at the very start of the show - not just for Skye but also May, with the Bahrain backstory that finally pays off here, giving us painful new insight into her psyche.

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It's also interesting to see those episodes now, knowing more about the whole backstory with Kora. For example, it really explains why Daisy's mother doesn't train Inhumans anymore, and is so hesitant to train Daisy herself.

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I never thought about it the first time around, but it is kind of weird that Jaiying was at Afterlife training Inhumans in the early 80s, and then she randomly ended up in China in the late 80s where she met Cal. Kora‘s suicide fills in that gap. Also, in the story Cal tells Daisy about the day she was born, Jaiying was pretty calm, that would make sense if it was her second child. Jaiying has been alive since at least the 40s. What are the chances that she has other kids?

Speaking of family, I recently realized we know nothing about Simmons’s family. I don’t think her parents’ names are ever mentioned. Coulson is the only other current main character whose family we haven’t seen, but he’s spoken about his father. Simmons’ parents could be circus performers and we’d be none the wiser.

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13 hours ago, swanpride said:

It's also interesting to see those episodes now, knowing more about the whole backstory with Kora. For example, it really explains why Daisy's mother doesn't train Inhumans anymore, and is so hesitant to train Daisy herself.

Yes! I'm really impressed by how well all the details hold together, over seven seasons. The writing team did a great job of understanding (and remembering) the finer details of the universe they created, weaving everything together to create a coherent tapestry. I don't notice much contradiction over the seasons, but I do notice how well everything fits together, the storytelling constantly reaching back into its own history to draw out new nuance.

7 hours ago, BaggythePanther said:

I never thought about it the first time around, but it is kind of weird that Jaiying was at Afterlife training Inhumans in the early 80s, and then she randomly ended up in China in the late 80s where she met Cal. Kora‘s suicide fills in that gap. Also, in the story Cal tells Daisy about the day she was born, Jaiying was pretty calm, that would make sense if it was her second child. Jaiying has been alive since at least the 40s. What are the chances that she has other kids?

Speaking of family, I recently realized we know nothing about Simmons’s family. I don’t think her parents’ names are ever mentioned. Coulson is the only other current main character whose family we haven’t seen, but he’s spoken about his father. Simmons’ parents could be circus performers and we’d be none the wiser.

Yeah, the backstory with Kora really explains a lot about Jiaying and why she ended up volunteering at the same clinic as Cal - she was studying to be a doctor, Cal told us in S2, and had intended to return to Milwaukee with him to finish her training. Linking that story to the backstory about Kora's suicide suggests that Jiaying pretty much fled Afterlife after her daughter's death and tried to bury herself in a new life.

I wonder, though, if the village where she met Cal was the village she originally came from, her original home? I think it probably was, since Whitehall seemed to know where to look for her. How unfortunate that she returned there just as Whitehall was released from prison after so many years!

I think the only thing we know about Simmons's parents is that they exist and are still together, because they are always spoken of as a unit and she has them listed under the same number in her phone. When she thought she was going to die in S1 she told Coulson to tell her dad first, so he could soften the blow for her mum. The impression I got was that they are resoundingly normal people who would not understand the life Jemma leads in the slightest. Oh, and we know they live in Sheffield - Coulson talked about going to Sheffield to give them the bad news after Simmons got sucked into the portal in the S2 finale.

We don't really know much about Elena's family, either, beyond the cousin who died in her first episode and the sad backstory about her uncle being murdered that we got in S7. I would add Bobbi and Hunter to that list, as their only backstory was with each other, but they weren't really around long enough to be explored in depth.

On this re-watch for the first time I remembered to watch Age of Ultron in its proper place in the season, between 2-19 and 2.20 - I think that's the last real tie-in, isn't it, that is alluded to in the show? Other than a couple of vague references to Thanos in S5 that never got paid off, that is.

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