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

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.

From the dept. of "Why didn't we try this sooner?!"
From the dept. of “Why didn’t we try this sooner?!”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 3, Episode 20 “Emancipation”

Bechdel-Wallace Score: 2/3 – May and Simmons discuss Hive (a male) briefly in the computer room. All the other interactions among women are in a large group setting. I miss the May/Simmons dialogue from earlier in the season. That was good stuff.

Shukla Score: 3/3 – Mack and Elena have one of their heart to heart conversations in what I guess is the SHIELD lounge. It is a good scene and earns all three points.

Russo Score: 0/3 – Still no Joey means still no points earned for LGBT representation, which is the obvious downside of having only one LGBT recurring character anywhere on the show.

Kittehs: 😺😺😺/5 – The episode started with an obligatory nod to the events of Civil War  that was handled pretty well. Then it just kind of coasted on expository dialogue and glacial plot development for a while. Then it got thrilling and awesome, with action, story, effects, and a few twists all in the last few minutes (and also, more exposition). It was basically 30ish minutes of two kittehs and 15 minutes of five kittehs, so I am awarding a messy average of three kittehs.

Low points: May actually said “you need to straighten up and fly right.” She actually said those words in that order. Also, yet again, someone escapes from a woefully inadequate and unguarded containment cell. This makes three episodes out of the last five that this has happened. You’d think they’d have a whole SWAT team staged around every cell at this point. This is definitely deep into lazy storytelling territory; people in containment cells make it off of SHIELD’s base more often than the agents do!

Highlights: I don’t know if I already said this or not, but it is great for me as a viewer to finally be able to appreciate actor Brett Dalton on the show. I never liked Grant Ward as a character. He was boring as a SHIELD Ken doll in season one and somehow, against all odds, was even more boring after he was revealed to be a Hydra sleeper agent in season 2. By the beginning of season 3, Ward was both murderous and whiney, neither of which are appealing characteristics. But here we are near the end of season 3 and, ever since Ward became Hive, he has been interesting and even fun to watch. But I digress. Lash was definitely the highlight of the episode, both because his scenes were cool and because the character, who has a problematic power level, was finally killed. In his final act, Lash saves Daisy from Hive, redeeming himself as an inhuman and giving us a last moment with Dr. Andrew Garner (even if we didn’t get to see Blair Underwood in the role again, which would have been really nice).

Dad edits: I don’t watch this show with my kid. Even if he were older and we did watch this show, I’m not sure how much there would be to talk about. Since we are in the final hours of the season, the show is busy wrapping up loose ends and moving pieces into place for the endgame. This always makes for extra thrills and emotional payoffs for regular viewers, but it also necessarily leaves out the kind of philosophical storytelling that made “Spacetime” such a great episode, or the kind of flashback driven character study from “Paradise Lost,” which was another season highlight. Hopefully the finale will provide a bit more parent/child conversation fodder.

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(Click here for previous reviews)

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

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