“I’m a secret agent. In space.”

I love how they started this week’s episode. An interesting late Seventies/early Eighties music cue for the chronicom hunter quite reminiscent of The Return of the Saint theme puts the audience on notice of the vibe. Good ol’ Bear McCreary. Then, a quick smash cut to the space-worthy Zephyr, and the whole thing reads like a Guardians of the Galaxy riff on a quarter of the budget. I mean, that’s not necessarily a bad thing because GotG itself is thematically a low-rent affair, but, still. The Netflix Marvel heroes played the same game with smaller bank and seemed to make bigger wins in terms of production value. It’s hard to do cosmic scope shooting in a soundstage on a weekly schedule.

“Hello, fellow brigands. I look forward to playing this game of chance with you.”

But I love Enoch so much. I almost wish this story thread followed Fitz in the chronicom world instead of Enoch in the MTVU (sorry, Jeph, it’s not all connected, so you get a new acronym), but I understand. It’s just it hurts my feelings wasting this badass, backstory-rich character on a space casino story that was old when Buck Rogers did “Vegas in Space” in 1979 and Space: Above and Beyond did “R&R” in 1996. Maybe there’s something in the Writer’s Guild that encourages you to revisit old, tired space casino stories every twenty years or so on SF-based adventure shows? Maybe it’s the writers’ room reliving childhood favorites thinking nobody will notice? I dunno. Maybe they all accidentally dosed themselves with space mushrooms…

…like Daisy and Simmons did. Which, OK, that’s not a bad in to the A story, this episode, although consequence-free drug use isn’t a thing we usually see on Disney-owned family-friendly ABC. And now that Chloe Bennett is 27 it’s a little easier for the audience to swallow her leading SHIELD mission teams than it was back in Season Two. But this “Let’s all just eat alien snacks without a thought” thing seems wildly unearned even if it’s just to get us to the broad comedy this episode seems to want to sell us literally minutes after Simmons goes rogue and disobeys direct orders and fires off the ship into unknown territory based on her feeling Fitz still might be alive in this general direction of space. Minutes after this one-woman mutiny where the rest of the crew is about to brig her at best or murder her at worst, she’s under the space craps table telling Daisy she loves her while pining for her future husband? Come on. There’s dark and light and tonal shifts and whatnot but that one practically gave me the bends. Having this soap opera-esque interlude with Fitz and Simmons constantly trying to find each other and being kept apart by circumstance or misadventure is the sort of push-me/pull-you that kills shows but writers can’t help themselves.

Moonlighting blew apart because “will they or won’t they?” was the point of that show and when you answer the question it’s over. Cheers survived Sam-and-Diane because that wasn’t a throughline of the show, and when it started to be the reason for it they kissed Diane goodbye. This dopey FitzSimmons thing has been going on for years and only tweens, lonely hearts, and shut-ins are falling for it. This show should be balls-out at all times.

“If I can’t Quake it, I’ll break it.”

See? Even tripping balls, Daisy knows what we all want to see. Oh, darn; Jemma finally finds Fitz again only to have him spirited away again.  How has this “they’re destined to be together; forever apart” thing been a sub-theme for years? It beggars belief. I mean, of course we all understand adventure shows should be all things to all people, yes? Bikinis and spacesuits, star-crossed lovers. The Japanese called Sean Connery’s James Bond “Mister Kiss-kiss Bang-bang” and that’s hitting it square. Desperate people doing desperate things in service of true love… that thing that’s worth all the trouble and danger.

Thing is, deft writers can do all that in the same scene, and not have it be two narrative tracks in a forty-eight minute show. The audience who might follow you for the kiss-kiss might not care about the bang-bang, and the folks in the crowd who want the bang-bang might find the kiss-kiss boring. Tightropes need to be walked, but having S.H.I.E.L.D. on Earth and Simmons and the Swoon Patrol in space each episode is a mistake even if everyone knows the two narrative tracks will eventually meet up two-thirds of the way through the season. This one will only satisfy if it ends up that Sergeant Coulson’s Other-Dimension Team is divining ley lines to solve all this hanging plot thread crapola and revealing that they’re good guys working to put it all back together.

I just hope that Jed and the fam have some balls and make Sarge the leader of S.W.O.R.D. and have national treasure Clark Gregg run everything in Season Seven and go out on a crazy-ass, put-it-all-on-the-table adventure note.

Seen better; seen worse. Let’s go make a mess.

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