Follow by Email

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

No spoilers in this post. Just speculation, though I'm not even sure it rises to the level of that. Call it "gut reaction".

What I'm about to say originated, as so often, with a comment by shadowkat. After the premiere, she said that Skye (Chloe Bennett) reminded her of Faith (Eliza Dushku). Not only do they look vaguely alike, but shadowkat felt that their mannerisms were similar and the dialogue suggested character similarities.

After last night's episode, I decided she's right. Or at least close to right. Chloe Bennett does look a bit like Eliza, and other things reinforce that. But I'm going to modify her suggestion to say that last night's plot, especially the ending, convinced me that the model isn't Faith, it's Echo (Dollhouse, for those who haven't seen it).

I'm speculating that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is Joss's chance to do what he wanted to do with Dollhouse, but wasn't able to because the network kept interfering. The fact that his brother and sister in law, both of whom were involved in Dollhouse, are very actively involved here seems like another clue.

If I were to start with this assumption and draw inferences, I could make some guesses where the plot is going. I could also suggest some character matches between the two shows. I won't do that because I don't want to spoil things for anyone, but if you've seen Dollhouse, I suspect you'll begin to note some similarities.

I'll check back in as we go through the season to see how this post holds up.


  1. I haven't yet seen any of the episodes from this series. What I've read about it has tended to be fairly mixed - some good, some bad.

    Based on what you've seen thus far, would you recommend it?

    1. The first episode was good, the second was not (derivative plot, uninteresting dialogue). Last night was in-between, with the plot still a bit comic-booky (not necessarily a bad thing, but hard to do on TV), but 2 bits of dialogue were intriguing to me for the future.

      I'm not sold on it, but I'm still giving it a chance.

  2. wish this were a little less cryptic.
    i've seen dollhouse and still not sure which direction you are referring to.


      As I see Dollhouse S1, it's an exploration of how society tries to mold you into a form it considers useful, regardless of your individual integrity or person. It puts into extreme form Foucault's idea of society as a panopticon which controls behavior (see my posts on The Initiative and Goodbye Iowa).

      The question for SHIELD is whether it's truly as good as we're being led to believe. So far, we've seen it as a paternalistic organization doing what's "best" for individuals regardless of their own desires. Given Dollhouse, I doubt that's Joss's real view. More likely, SHIELD is much more morally ambiguous, just as the Dollhouse was (the real evil was not the Dollhouse, of course, it was Rossum).

      Drawing this out, I expect Skye to play a role somewhat like Caroline. Coulson would map to Adele (with a twist, because I doubt that we've seen the "real" Coulson), FitzSimmons to Topher, etc. I don't mean this too literally, but I do expect some similarities to emerge.

  3. I should check in more often. :) I like the idea, and I think there are some similarities that really do fit/work -- in particular, I also am thinking about how Dollhouse started off with a bunch of episodes that were mostly just generic television episodes that were sort of eventually revealed as more of a commentary on storytelling than as the "real" show. I hope the same is true here, but it's hard to know...

    I wrote about Skye as a Mutant Enemy stand-in here actually -- -- where SHIELD is, basically, Marvel. I think I mostly stand by what I wrote there, though it's hard to know where this show is going.

    I haven't watched Episode Six, "FZZT," yet, but Joss Whedon tweeted about his excitement about that episode (which he hasn't about previous episodes), and while there isn't the same press/groundswell surrounding this as there was about Dollhouse's "Man on the Street," to put it mildly, that was still the generally-considered turning point for the show. So fingers crossed.

    1. Yes you should. :)


      Read your essay. Nicely done. I agree on basically all counts. I'd add that not only was Ward's statement about his family a lie, I think Skye is lying about her own family issues. It's not that what she says is necessarily false, but that it's false for her to use that as *the* reason she infiltrated SHIELD.

      Last night aimed for more emotional resonance, which the show definitely needed. I think they succeeded in that, but plot and dialogue still need some work.

  4. I'm still not sold on Agents of SHIELD - not even remotely. None of the characters seem to have all that much depth, the plots have been generic and the dialogue is not very interesting. Then again, it took Buffy until ep.7 to pull off something great so I'm going to give it one more shot.
    Regarding Dollhouse, I have to say I don't have confidence that SHIELD has the thematic depth to create the parallels you are suggesting. Not that Joss Whedon wouldn't be capable of them, but I don't think Marvel want SHIELD to be portrayed as morally ambiguous. That would kind of ruin their Avengers gig.

    1. Yeah, so far the writing has been pretty pedestrian and the plots very generic. I thought the last 2 episodes had more emotional resonance, but that's about all I can say.

      As for my comparison to Dollhouse, last night's episode offers me hope that something like that is still on track: Skye's refusal to trust the system; Coulson's disillusionment at the way VH set him up. Your point about Marvel is really the key here -- as shadowkat keeps reminding me, this franchise is owned by Marvel and not by Joss.

      Like you, I'm not sold. I am giving it a bit more rope.