Ah, the second episode. The one where the shine begins to wear off the frenetic energy of the pilot’s introductory scenes, and we must get down to the dirty work of establishing a believable character dynamic. The one where they spent all their budget on Samuel L. Jackson, so 90% of the story has to take place inside the plane. The one where Clark Gregg wears a really nice suit.
The only show that springs to mind as being good at this is Starsky & Hutch, because it was the 1970s and everyone was dating like five people at once. Bizarrely, I get way fewer douchebag vibes from Starsky & Hutch than most mainstream cop/adventure shows airing in the 21st century.
I found it quite easy to buy into the fact that Coulson has a history with Camilla Reyes. Not because Clark Gregg is Dreamboat #1 and therefore prime Peruvian secret agent affair material, but because of the characterisation points I mentioned in last week's review. Phil Coulson's defining traits are all tied into his kindness and reliability. He is nice, sensible, and respectful. In other words, he's the ideal character for a casual ex-girlfriend storyline. He obviously doesn't have time for a relationship, he's pragmatic and mature enough to have short-term flings with no hard feelings afterwards, and when we get to the actual ex-girlfriend episode itself... Coulson's not gonna wind up looking like a douchebag.
Even though Skye, Ward, and FitzSimmons all look about the same age, I think Skye is meant to be about 19 or 20. College-age, anyway. Whereas Ward is a military professional in his late 20s, FitzSimmons are both old enough to hold multiple PhDs, and May and Coulson are both around 50. Skye may be a brat, but she's brattish in a way that makes sense.
I loved the maguffinish nature of the maguffin. VERY X-Filesl. Nonspecific alien bomb threat! Gamma radiation! Science things! Who cares, as long as it all ends with everyone drinking Friendship Beer and watching a rocket launch. However, I did have a problem with the whole jock vs nerd schtick, which is the only thing I've seriously disliked about SHIELD so far. Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon are awesome, and I thought they were above writing well-trod cliches like an irritable jock character yelling "TELL IT TO ME IN REAL ENGLISH!" while a dorky scientist spouts technobabble and waves his arms around. There's a fine line between affectionate parody and just playing into old stereotypes, and somewhere in between the first two episodes, they crossed it. Here's hoping it's a one-off incident.
- Sorry I didn't have much to say about Melinda May this week. I really like her, but right now I feel like we're still waiting for a May-centric episode? Mostly I'm just psyched to see a middle-aged female character onscreen. If they could move Ward into a background role and give May the rest of his screentime, that'd be great, thanks.
- LOVE the little cubby-hole beds on the plane.
- They had some pretty cool camerawork on the plane, just during the everyday walk-and-talk scenes. I think they're tilting or moving the camera somehow to give the illusion of movement, even though the plan is, you know... obviously a set.
- When Coulson told Skye to use a coaster, I was kind of hoping it would be a ~tech coaster~ that would make the bottle stick to the table when the plane turned upside down, or something.
- A couple of commenters mentioned the Tahiti/"It's a magical place," thing last week, and yeah, it's definitely... something.
- Simmons' costumes are still definitely my favourite. Ward and Skye are still just variations on generically bland TV clothes. Fitz is OK, but his clothes suffer from the fact that they don't look worn-in (to me, at least) so he looks like he just bought an entirely new wardrobe. Coulson, obviously, is Professionally Handsome as always.
- Skye/Ward is a terrible pairing. I anti-ship it. Nope nope nope.
- This week on "stupid opinions I saw on Tumblr", I noticed someone describing the yellow inflatable life-raft as an inflatable pool. Dude. Dude. Why would they have an emergency inflatable pool on the plane??
- Skye has really great hair.