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Agents of Shield finale

I don’t usually bang on about Agents of Shield on here, because…while I enjoy the show, it doesn’t tend to excite the thinky-thoughts part of my brain. But just this once:

1). I think I’ve banged on before about Agents of Shield having masterful dramatic structure, but it really shows in this episode. The ‘original sin’ of AoS is Grant Ward’s betrayal of the theme, his undying loyalty to the man who brought him into Shield (well, Hydra of course, as it turns out) even in the face of clear proof that letting him go was the right thing to do. And five years later, Daisy Johnson is faced with the exact same choice – give up Coulson for the greater good. (A weakness of the show is that we never really saw WHY Daisy fell for Ward – aside from his being pretty – but I think the information we’ve learned since then makes it retrospectively more understandable. They really are VERY similar people).

Except, of course, Coulson, being a better person than Garrett, couldn’t countenance the idea of holding his life above Daisy’s for a minute – Garrett almost had Ward killed to ensure he got what he wanted, but Coulson gave up a chance at prolonging his life to ensure Daisy became the hero she was always meant to be. Knowing how easily it could have gone the other way gives that choice more weight.

One of the more adult aspects of AoS is that it’s never subscribed to the idea of there being Good People or Bad People, as though Goodness or Badness are independent qualities existing inside of someone, rather than contingent upon a person’s choices. The choices the characters make MATTER.

2). The dialogue however remains clunky as hell. No one in AoS talks like a human being – there’s always a slight sense of every line being written to Convey A Specific Piece of Information. (Coulson in particular falls victim to this for some reason).

3). Killing Fitz in the way they did (where it’s obvious he will be coming back, in at least some form) seems like the only option the show had. Because, realistically, once the crisis was over, there’s no possible way they could have allowed him to continue as part of Shield. Performing non-consensual brain surgery on a colleague is a real “You screw one goat” move – having turned on Daisy like that, there’s simply no way any of the characters could ever trust him again, not long-term. There is NO way to make that believeable, and doubly so because he seemed either unwilling or unable to understand the impact of his actions. Who’s to say that he wouldn’t feel completely justified in doing something equally heinous all over again the next time the world was at risk (which since he works for Shield, is something that happens with pretty regularly).

It’s something May said to Yo-yo, that none of the invincible three seemed to grasp – once you make ‘the hard choice,’ no matter what the reasons for it, people will inevitably see you differently – there’s a price to pay. (I must say though, Fitz’s dickishness on the matter I can kind of understand – he is suffering from an untreated mental illness – but Simmons baffles me. There’s something almost neurotic about it). Which is why I hope they don’t brush the magnitude of Fitz’s betrayal under the rug – it’s notable to me that he, Jemma and Yo-yo were all so certain they were right that they were willing to attack their colleagues without direct provocation. (Regarding Fitz, the Ward parallel is also useful here – Fitz’s willingness to let the whole world go to hell if he can save Jemma is not substantially different from Ward’s fanatical devotion to Daisy. Which isn’t to say that they are the same person or that their motives are the same, but that, just like May and Daisy in relation to Coulson, Fitzsimmons should be asking themselves some hard questions about their behaviour).

4). I don’t love that the moment Shield gets a female leader almost all her colleagues immediately start mutineering and undermining her at every turn, and they don’t get properly on board again until A Man is put in charge.

5). Saving the effects budget for the final episode was worth it – and I love that they used Chicago instead of New York or Los Angeles. (Partly, because I’ve been to Chicago, and it’s one of my favourite American cities). Daisy’s fight with Graviton was thrilling to watch if, sadly, too short. (I thought her final fight with Hive was probably more emotionally powerful, but man it felt good to see Daisy get an unequivocal WIN). And I have to say, the moment when Shield came to the rescue and the police officer’s response was “Thank God” felt really earned.

6). I am not touching the time travel shenanigans for one second. I’m just going to assume that, by breaking the loop, that means the future they went to no longer exists.

So what do you make of Amy "pretending to…

So what do you make of Amy "pretending to want to commit to Ed" in 2.10? Is it mostly circumstantial (whe's considering leaving her long time professional relationship with Selina so she wants to lock down a personal? More that despite not being really into him, he was easy enough to be with and she was ready to say that she wanted to be with someone?

It’s worth backing up a bit here, and explaining my headcanon for “why Ed.”

Because I agree, Amy never really seems all THAT attracted to him – and Anna Chlumsky doesn’t have much sexual chemistry with the actor (I don’t know what his name is), which doesn’t help.

But, honestly, I think that was part of what made Ed appealing to her. It seems likely to me that Ed was the first man she dated after Dan, and I think knowing that she had the upper hand – that Ed was more attracted to her than she was to him – was comforting. (And okay, we don’t KNOW that, but I think it’s more likely than not).

There was never any danger of Ed breaking her heart – and since she’d been burned by Dan, that made Ed a very safe option. He was training wheels in other words – a chance for Amy to put herself out there without ever putting too much at risk. And given how focused on her career Amy was at that point in the show, I can’t imagine that she wanted to fall in love with anyone. Falling in love would be distracting, and pull her attention away from politics, and she might have to make compromises to keep the relationship going.

With Ed, she could go on some nice dates and have interesting conversations and semi-regular sex, and never have to worry that she’d develop serious feelings for him or get hurt again. I mean, even the way she talks to him in 2.10 – about drinking tea and reading the papers – doesn’t exactly scream passionate love. (To put it another way, Ed was attractive for all the ways he WASN’T like Dan).

It’s hard not to think that Ed knew that, on at least some level. Hell, Amy may have been attractive to him for very similar reasons, we don’t know. But he’s so thrown by Amy appearing to consider a genuine relationship, that I doubt he’d given the possibility much thought. (The way he suddenly becomes enthusiastic once he realises Amy will be working on a presidential campaign always struck me as rather sketchy, though Amy doesn’t seem to notice).

As to why Amy develops an interest all of a sudden, I think it’s actually kind of a pattern with her? Being kicked out of the White House clearly played a role in her relationship with Buddy becoming as serious as it did – and she finally sleeps with Dan again after Leon’s story comes out and it seems that one or both of them may go to prison.

In other words, when her career is in danger or is somehow dissatisfying, Amy kind of compensates by focusing more on her personal life. And, I’d be willing to bet that the reverse is true, though we haven’t exactly seen it – whenever Dan broke up with her, I’m SURE she immediately threw herself straight back into work. That’s certainly what she did after ending things with Buddy.

With that in mind, I think it makes slightly more sense. Selina leaving the ticket in 2.10 could cause Amy all kinds of problems – bear in mind that at that point in the show, Amy had never worked for anyone else (at least, in season 4, Amy says she’s worked with Selina for a third of her life – and I don’t think she’s OLD enough to have had any other bosses). Dan, Sue and Mike ALL immediately start looking for other positions – Amy doesn’t, and it’s hard not to suspect that it’s because she doesn’t really know how to. She’s not all that good at selling herself, and I think she’d struggle to just call up a Senator and make a pitch. (In fact, Amy may still not know how to do that – Dan probably did it for her at PKM, all of BKD know how skilled she is (in fact, it kind of seems like THEY approached her), and Buddy would have given her any job she wanted).

And there Ed was – stable, sensible and pleasant to be around…an ideal life-raft. (I should also say, I really doubt Amy KNOWS that she’s doing this – it’s all probably happening at a subconscious level).

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So you write great Dan and Amy fanfiction. I&#…

So you write great Dan and Amy fanfiction. I've loved every single one to slightly carrying degrees. Are there any Amy/Dan stories out there written by others that you've enjoyed, that you would recommend? Dish, if so!

I think I’ve read pretty much every Dan/Amy fic out there, almost all of them with great pleasure.  (There were one or two that got the characters wrong in my opinion, but not many).

I will however make a special note of safflowerseason’s fics on AO3 which I have both enjoyed and felt some serious writerly envy over.  They are very well written, and so close to my own conception of the characters that I’ve been slotting her 4.05-4.06 fic into Behind the Scenes – her’s is so well written (probably better than any of mine) that I don’t see the point of taking it on myself.

Your opinion on seeing people get nostalgic fo…

Your opinion on seeing people get nostalgic for that you were around for the first time, but they weren’t?

I’m not quite old enough for that to have happened much, I have to say, thank you so much!  Though I have noticed that in the last few years all the nostalgia works – Stranger Things, IT etc – are set in the 80s, rather than the 50s/60s/70s.

But my first real memory of anything political… or really anything in the outside world, is the fall of the Berlin Wall, shortly followed by Ireland making it to the 1990 World Cup and the release of Nelson Mandela, so… although I was born in the 80s, I think I’m really more of a 90s child.  (I have found it distressing to see 90s fashion, which was largely terrible, coming back into style, I must say).

It’s a strange thing, but a lot of the children’s films I remember watching – Now and Then, Stand By Me, ET – weren’t set in the present, but harked back to the time of my parent’s childhoods.  

That said, I’ve been slowly making my way through The Americans (slowly, because even for me, that show is grim), and it is strange to watch something set in the time right before I was born.  Because even from a very young age – say three or four – I was aware of the Cold War and nuclear weapons and the Soviet Union, even if I had almost no understanding of what those things actually were.  Which has made me think that that show in particular must be a very different experience depending on one’s age – even my older brothers, who can remember the 80s in a way I can’t, would probably understand it differently to how I do.

Squirrel Girl

I know it’s massively unlikely that Marvel will ever make a Squirrel Girl film… but everytime I see a picture of her, I think how perfect Anna Chlumsky would have been in that part if Marvel had had the sense to cast her five years ago.

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Do you know the play You Can't Take It Wi…

Do you know the play You Can't Take It With You? Or maybe the 1938 Frank Capra movie version? I loved it wen I was a kid, then saw the movie in my 20s and hated it, wanted to blame Frank Capra for making it too focused on the male characters at the expense of the female ones. Then a couple of years ago I saw it on Broadway with James Earl Jones and Anna Chlumsky (kind of why I'm asking) and spent the whole time thinking how distinctly of the 1930s it is. Any thoughts on it?

I’ve never seen the film I’m afraid, and it’s not a play that’s been revived in London.  From what I’ve read about it though, I agree, it does seem like very much a cultural product of its time.  Frank Capra’s got one hell of a CV if wikipedia is anything to go by – nine films in total, but that includes It Happened One Night, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (which I also haven’t seen).  

James Earl Jones was part of one of the worst theatrical experiences I’ve ever had though – he played Benedick in Much Ado at the Old Vic and it was truly, truly terrible.  When Dogberry is the best thing in your production of Much Ado, something has gone badly, badly wrong.

Reid Scott looks so handsome in the fun run ep…

Reid Scott looks so handsome in the fun run episode with the sunglasses…Amy’s gonna get some

And yet…in the very next episode she pretends to want to commit to Ed, despite Dan being at his most…obliging and willing to be ordered around by Amy in 2.09.  (He’s even nice to Mike after the run is over, giving him advice to help him recover, which is very out of character).

She’s not someone who is won over easily, in other words.  Which is something to bear in mind for season 6.

What actor hasn't done Shakespeare that y…

What actor hasn't done Shakespeare that you think should? British or otherwise.

I don’t know about hasn’t.  Denzel Washington was so good in Much Ado About Nothing that I’ve always wondered why he hasn’t done more (on film – he may well have done stage work I’m unaware of).

It can be hard to predict who would be good at it – like, the Josh Whedon Much Ado surprised me, because Clark Gregg, of all people, was really natural and comfortable with the language, which I would never have guessed.  

There is nothing, and I do mean nothing, worse in theatre than having to listen to someone deliver Shakespeare who clearly doesn’t have the faintest clue what they are saying.  I’d love to see Wendell Pierce (Bunk Moreland from the Wire) give it a try – he had some fairly baroque speeches to deliver in the Wire, and he has a fantastic speaking voice.

Shakespeare’s heroines tend to have a bit more…sass to them than the average romantic comedy character, which, combined with the cross-dressing, tends to scare ingenues off, I think.  But someone like Saoirse Ronan could do a great Viola or Rosalind.  There are also some fantastic parts for older women in the later plays… the problem is that they’re mostly supporting parts – Volumnia in Coriolanus or Paulina in The Winter’s Tale – and the plays are more obscure, so they don’t get adapted much.  But I remember watching Slings and Arrows, and hearing Ellen deliver just a little of Paulina’s speech… and feeling genuine regret that we never got to see her do it for real.

The big one that has never been adapted is Antony and Cleopatra, which I would love to see done right.  But I have this fear that it would be ruined.  

I saw Harriet Walter play Cleopatra and she was sensational is the only word – but I think it’s important to note, Harriet Walter is not what most people would consider a beautiful woman.  (I feel so mean writing that).  She has a fabulous speaking voice, and she’s very distinctive looking, but not what people think of when they think of the sexy queen of the Nile.  

I fear that they’d cast someone like Angelina Jolie or Marion Cottillard… someone who is traditionally sexy and obvious, when actually you need an actor with character to make the part come alive.  (I have some admiration of Angelina Jolie’s causes, but I’ve always found her dull as ditchwater on-screen – she’s very beautiful and has a tonne of charisma… but there’s not much in the way of nuance.  And I’ve never, ever seen her be funny).  Rachel Weisz might be able to pull it off, but I don’t know…I think you want someone with a little more grit.  Cleopatra has lived a life by the time we meet her in the play, and I’m struggling to think of an actress who has the facility with the language (which will largely be confined to native English speakers), and has the slightly earthy, womanly quality I’m thinking of. You don’t want someone in her twenties, or possibly even her thirties for that part.  Christina Hendricks maybe?  (She’s so far from being anyone’s image of Cleopatra as to be almost laughable, but she has some of the qualities I’m thinking of).