Friday tellybox, 2 October 2015: Blindspot and Agents of SHIELD

(Shush, I know it’s Saturday. Yesterday was a long and exhausting day that didn’t include any computer time for me. Argh and all that.)

This week, I find myself with a dilemma. I actually found time to watch some telly. I don’t know how it happened, although draggin my exercise bike in front of the TV might have been a significant factor. When I set the two episode standard for this, it seemed like a nice low bar for my busy weeks. I hurdled that bar. Nay, pole vaulted over and I’m left with a problem:

– Do I squee and flail over the beauty that was Great British Bake Off’s chocolate round?

– Do I discuss the ways that Scorpion is as frustating as it is enjoyable and possibly ending up ranting?

– Do I discuss Once Upon a Time, which has found yet another way to throw around some amnesia?

Nope, I’m going with these (spoilers below the cut, obviously):

Blindspot 1.02: A Stray Howl

So I’m still waiting for this show to hit the kind of amazing I think that it’s capable of, but this felt like a more even episode than the pilot. It’s a solidly interesting show. Jaime Alexander is still hitting it out of the park, covering for any deficiences in other performances, and they’re introducing some extra arcs to play out.

I’m hoping this isn’t the only episode where Jane considers whether she’ll like the person she was before her memories were wiped. It feels like an important thing for her to consider, maybe one of the most important. She may not know who she is now, but she’s learning. The psychologist is helping her to discover what her instincts and preferences are, which is good to see. Jane is becoming a person in her own right, with her own sense of right and wrong, which may not fit with the kind of person she was before. I could understand why she didn’t want to tell the FBI about the memory she recovered: what kind of person kills a nun? The people she knows through the FBI are her only contacts. If they start looking at her with disgust, it would be an even more lonely life for her.

Having that plot resolve that Jane wasn’t killing a nun, only someone who was dressed as one, keeps the audience sympathetic to Jane, which is good. I just hope they don’t drop this character arc for her after this week.

The arc with Weller and the girl who went missing could turn out to be fascinating. I noticed that he made a point of addressing her as “Jane” multiple times after that realisation, forcing himself to remember that he’s talking to Jane and not the missing girl.

The actual episode plot was, again, fairly forgettable. That could be an issue for the show over time. I’m appreciating all the glimpses of the other arcs they’re playing with, but they need to keep the writing of the plot-of-the-week strong, otherwsie people are going to turn off.

It’s definitely a solid show, with plenty of promise, but it’s taking time to really get into its stride. That shouldn’t matter–how many brilliant shows started slowly and are now considered classics?–but the networks and viewers don’t give shows time to find their feet the way they did twenty years ago. There has to be something special about the show for a network to keep faith with it when it’s not immediately hitting winners every week.

Speaking of shows that have something special that keep networks faithful despite slow starts…

Agents of SHIELD 3.01: Laws of Nature

I’m totally an AoS hipster: I was watching and loving it before it got good!

I’m so glad that ABC didn’t lose faith, because when it found its feet, AoS became brilliant. The season three opener promised a lot and delivered.

It’s clear that months have passed–possibly closer to a year. They’ve got a newer, bigger, better Bus. Daisy has grown into her powers and learned how to be a good agent with them. Fitz has become a bit Indiana Jones in his search for Simmons. Bobbi has reluctantly found a role for herself while she recovers from the damage Ward’s torture did–taking over Simmons’ role on the team. Everyone has settled, but as the episode progresses, it’s obvious there are cracks.

This is a show that remembers its past, which is something I appreciate. Characters don’t get to move on from something traumatic with no consequences. Bobbi looks in control, but she’s angry that her physical strength isn’t there yet.

Fitz is the one most obviously cracking under the pressure of mourning. De Caestecker’s performance is terrific and his grief in the final scenes is completely raw.

Coulson looks like he’s recovered from the trauma of losing a hand, but his last scene with Fitz makes it very obvious that he hasn’t. He may appreciate what Mack did in keeping him alive, but he isn’t resigned to the loss yet. It says something very interesting about him that he has the ax mounted on his wall and his hand is still being preserved in the lab.

I didn’t notice these details at first. Thank goodness for gifs on Tumblr pointing out all the tiny details in the background.

The plot-of-the-week here is strong. There’s the new Inhuman they’ve picked up, slowly having to learn and accept that his life before is gone. That ties in nicely to both the long-term arc around the Terrigen stuff released into the ecosystem–Coulson’s horror as the model shows how fast it’ll spread is spot on–and the plot around the group trying to do something with the Inhumans.

At first, I thought they were just rounding up, killing and dissecting the Inhumans. That wouldn’t have surprised me. It was nice to have a plot that went somewhere a little less obvious, with the ACT investigating the deaths ad assuming it was SHIELD killing the Inhumans. I suspect they’re still going to be rounding up and experimenting on Inhumans, but it’s nice to see some other depts to them.

This is how to write a solid monster of the week plot tied to longer runing plots and make it work. Hopefully Blindspot will reach this level of plotting soon.

Those final scenes of Simmons on the alien plant were great. Is it the Kree homeworld? What is she running from? How will she gets back?

Overall, a great opening episode that never let up and set up a whole host of interesting plots. Can’t wait for next week.