Progressive/Nerd/Parent Review: Agents of SHIELD, “Absolution / Ascension”

TLP’s Progressive/nerd/parent reviews contain lots of spoilers and are intended for folks who have already watched the show and are looking for some supplemental commentary and analysis.

Outfit envy. Well, except for the murder vests. I don't want one of those.
Outfit envy. Well, except for the murder vests. I don’t want one of those.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 3, Episodes 21 & 22 “Absolution / Ascension”

Bechdel-Wallace Score: 3/3 – May and Daisy had some dialogue that managed to be more about Daisy than about Hive, so it earned all three points. It was, I believe, the only scene in the two hours to actually score 3 points – which is a bit off for a show with four important women in the action – but at least the one scene passed the test.

Shukla Score: 3/3 – Mack and Elena score three points this week, as they tend to do. The scene was pretty funny, too, with Elena razzing Mack about how long it takes him to set up a gadget. Mack and Daisy also had some good scenes.

Russo Score: 0/3 – Sad that the show chose to finish without any LGBT representation, especially after what was otherwise Agents of SHIELD‘s best season for said representation so far. Hoping they do better in season 4.

Kittehs: 😺😺😺😺/5 – The episode could have gone for five kittehs, but instead they chose to try to manipulate viewers by keeping us guessing every few minutes about which character was going to die. It became not just boring, but off-putting, and that cost a kitteh. Otherwise, it was a pretty great double episode. The end was a satisfying resolution to the season’s storyline. They even kept up with the “anyone taken prisoner by SHIELD is gaurunteed to escape within the hour” continuity from other recent episodes. The writing in this episode was definitely above average for the series with a lot of delightful humor. The little taste of next season at the end was pretty cool. I appreciate that it was enough to make us wonder what is going on, but not a cliffhanger to leave us in agony for months. (More about that in a future post about TLP’s wishlist for season 4.)

Low points: It was obvious to anyone paying attention, as soon as Lincoln said he was going to leave the team and “see the world,” that he would be the agent who died at the end of the episode. I am mentioning this because not only was the gold-cross-as-existential-hot-potato a bit overwrought on its own, it was also an insulting distraction once Lincoln’s fate was so heavily foreshadowed. Without question it was the low point of the two episodes as it took away from the story and even made me hate the writers a bit. In the end, Lincoln does his noble sacrifice, but it felt unecessary. Fry the manual controls, have Daisy quake-crush Hive a bit and carry Lincoln off the jet, leave the jacket behind – and ta-da, Hive dies and we keep a good character. But no, they wanted viewers, and they decided to get them by promising to kill an agent. *sigh*

Highlights: The action and dialogue during the missile base sequence were really great. Mack is a great character, played fantastically by actor Henry Simmons, and he was an ongoing highlight for both episodes. Elena was great too. And we got back good Lincoln, yay! Plus, and I know I said this back at the mid-season finale too, but we finally get to see Ward die (again), and it sure does seem really permanent this time. I liked Hive better than Ward as a character, but despised Ward enough to be glad to see him go again in any form. Speaking of bad guys who needed to go, Fitz – Fitz! – managed to take out Giyera in a move that was definitely a highlight of the last half of the episode. In real life, I wish death on no one, but in fiction I want the villains to get it and get it good. This episode delivered plenty of that.

Dad edits: Yikes, what would even be left of this episode if it was edited for a younger kid? Not much. If my kid were old enough to watch the show, I think a discussion about Daisy’s condition would be interesting and fruitful. Particularly her decision to ask Hive to take her back – that was Agents of SHIELD keeping it real and I was impressed by that. Not much else happened to really talk about, mostly just action. And that’s fine!

Tell TLP what you thought of this episode! Send an email, comment on Facebook, or tweet on Twitter. There is also Tumblr and the comment field below, if you’re into that kind of thing. 

(Click here for previous reviews)

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs on ABC on Tuesdays at 9/8c 

There is currently no official trailer for season 4 (and the fan trailers all suck) but this post will be updated whenever one becomes available.

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