“Been to a lot of worlds. Some good; some garbage. But I’ve never been to one where people recognize my face. And it’s not just that. Everyone’s acting like they know me.”

Has Jeph Loeb stopped saying, “It’s all connected,” yet? Because it’s not, unless he means it’s connected in a Damon Lindehof sense of lying to the audience sort-of-way that all the different dimensions are connected by being part of the same multiverse.

Joss was right; movie Coulson has been dead this whole time. TV Coulson is a different guy. Sarge is a third Coulson.

I wish they would kill Sarge in the last episode of this season opening a portal to the dimension where S.H.I.E.L.D. wasn’t ever infiltrated by Hydra and pulls that Coulson in with good Grant Ward so we can have a season of superspy S.H.I.E.L.D. for once.

But they don’t have the balls to Thomas Riker the whole thing, right at the end.

You people thinking something like Men in Black International is just “meh” are clearly insane at worst and wildly out-of-touch with the reality of entertainment in 2019 at best. That movie will crush forever, because it doesn’t give a crap what you think. Professional reviewers are treating it like a standalone reboot like Lady Ghostbusters, or something, and it clearly is not. Get on the bus. You miss it, it isn’t the fault of the bus.

Movies are something different, now; pop culture is something different, now. The producers assume the audience is up-to-date; if you aren’t and don’t get it, that’s a failure of you as an audience member, not a failure of the discrete piece of entertainment they have crafted for you to enjoy.

Now, that applies to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. like anything else. The big ding I have always had about the show is it doesn’t deliver what it says on the tin. I have loved more of it than I didn’t, so I guess that’s a net-win for the folks working to entertain, but it has always been thematically more of a Here’s what we think you need, not what you actually want deal so that is always going to rub the audience the wrong way, even if they don’t overtly realize it. Somehow, TV started to think the audience wanted decompressed storytelling with long-ass, season-long stories. Thing is, if you don’t like where the season is going, the audience checks out. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. cracked the code in Season Four by splitting the difference: three “pods” in a season was genius. Don’t like Ghost Rider? Stand by. Like that? OK, cool. That leads into the LMD story. Give that a miss? At least you get the Framework. Even if an audience member didn’t like a bit of story, the focus quickly changed and they got carried along. It’s the philosophy of the ratings lead-in; you love the first bit, so you’ll be tempted to see the next one through audience inertia. It works. I’m sorry they abandoned that.

But S.H.I.E.L.D. is all over the place, now. Once they settle in to something the audience reacts to, they stir it up, and once they glom on to something, they stomp it into the ground. Of the six seasons of the show, did we need two with the Inhumans and two in future-space? And deconstructed, decompressed soap opera storytelling in what is ostensibly a super-spy show? I get season-long themes but each episode has to be self-contained, in TV, or you concentrate your audience like those old film canister roach towers.

I dunno; this is getting to be an old-timey counter-culture drug reference in 2019, but let me explain: in the old days, phones were just phones and they were hooked to the wall. They didn’t take pictures. Cameras did. and they used a photographic process utilizing light sensitive “film” that came rolled up in small plastic canisters. Kind of like the plastic domes you get for treats in a gumboil machine, but black plastic and conical. Anywho, hippies and college students and other counter-culture dross of society would smoke some joints (I’m sure you’ve seen that in films) and take four or five of those canisters and throw their used roaches in them. Things got tight, you’d roll another joint from the roaches, but save that roach in the next level. You’d add a couple more canisters on top of that and add up. You’d get to the top of your pyramid and there would be the solo canister filled with sticky resin only your local Timothy Leary would smoke.

So I’ve heard.

But even admitting that’s what every TV show should aspire to: building the story pyramid, concentrating the drug only excludes the audience who wants to dabble and gets your faithful strung out and begging for their next hit. Each episode should feature a compelling beginning that captures attention, and sets up the stakes. A middle where events unfold, character is revealed, complications arise, understandings are tested. An end where things are resolved, if even for a moment. But the audience needs to have expectation, anticipation, and release. Anybody who has studied story for ten minutes knows this. Otherwise, you’re left with a concentration of unkempt monkeys banging the treat bar. There are five of them nuts for the treat, but you’ve lost the rest of the tribe.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Season Six seems to be bumping the monkey each episode and just adding detail without letting the monkey out to run around, every once in a while.

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