The true hallmark of a Joss Whedon show is a strong female protagonist. In this week’s episode of S.H.I.E.L.D. this trope was taken one step further with the arrival of Lorelei, an Asgardian escapee who can turn men to her will with a touch. Since she makes all of the male agents on the Bus drooling idiots, we are left with Simmons, May and special guest star Lady Sif to take care of the mess Lorelei has wrought.
I adore Jaimie Alexandar’s Lady Sif, but on the small screen her overly mannered ways and warrior code are too big, and in truth, the episode did not give her enough to do. In my opinion, bringing a character from the cinematic universe and dropping them into the world of S.H.I.E.L.D. only works in one of two ways: make the appearance a cameo, like Samuel L. Jackson’s brief appearance or make the entire episode about that character and continue or start a story arc that will play out on the big screen. Working through a story arc in two mediums – TV and film – presents logistical and practical problems that I’m sure ABC and Marvel have no interest navigating, especially without the promise of a second season pick-up.
However, the introduction of Lady Sif simply makes the world of S.H.I.E.L.D. appear small and for a show still finding its footing in an undeniably large and complex universe, vacillating between big and little isn’t good for anyone. It only helps to further uncover the show’s shortcomings.
The one thing the producers seemed to have learned though is that we need season-long story arcs, as every week they drop another bombshell leading to what I imagine will be a finale that allows Coulson to uncover what exactly happened to him and what using the special medicine means for him and Skye. This week’s revelation was that May is apparently in on the subterfuge. In some ways, this is a welcome development as her continued offers to listen to Coulson and help him through whatever he was feeling seemed a bit out of character. I figured she was either trying to pump him for information or sleep with him.
While it is known that the first seasons of shows are always rocky, I’ll admit to losing faith that Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, Jeffrey Bell et al. are the ones to navigate this ship into calmer waters. The truth is, this is not a Joss show, and he doesn’t have time to take over. I will forever hold out hope that the show will get better, but I truly feel it’s going to take some significant creative adjustment in order for that to happen.
The show’s performances are still great, but the actors are simply not given enough to do. Fitz and Simmons remain caricatures, while Ward, May and Skye have only played one note so far. Coulson’s characterization seems to be coming along just fine though, which is a little ironic since he’s supposed to be, you know, dead.
Maybe the most frustrating part of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is that we have seen how amazing it could be; The Avengers gave us just a glimpse into a world where heroes were flawed and flawless, situations were large and small and the good guys were both good and bad. Will Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ever find that kind of balance? I’d bet you a trip to Asgard that’s the only question worth asking or answering.