Trust The System, Trust The Show

I missed the first ten minutes of the show because my kid didn’t want to go to bed (honestly!  Doesn’t she know I have better things to do than read her poetry?  Selfish child), but it didn’t really seem to matter.  I turned on the tv to find Saffron Burroughs being snotty…indicating that Evil S.H.I.E.L.D. is more than just Titus Welliver.  Oh dear.  That does not bode well for our team, though it does bode well for the show. 

(Question, though: who is the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D.?  Is it Nick Fury?  Cause no audience is ever going to accept that he is evil.  Is it the World Security Council he was sort of accountable to in The Avengers?  But no, they were outside S.H.I.E.L.D., which is strictly American and they have the word “world” in their name.)

"Must be nice to be back in the big leagues."  "I never left the big leagues."

“Must be nice to be back in the big leagues.” “I never left the big leagues.”

Anyhow, I got nothing out of the first scene I saw other than that Saffron Burroughs is a cow.  Moving on.

Simmons by herself without Fitz is a wreck, and Skye asks where Fitz and Ward are (the girls need their boys!) and Coulson shrugs her off, says she’s only Level 5 and this is Level 8 so who does she think she’s kidding, and she should “Trust the system.”  He sounds like a robot, and Skye tells him so.  Simmons starts crying, and so Skye says she’ll help her investigate…by hacking.  “No!” yells Simmons.  “I’m a good girl, I am!”
But Skye talks Simmons into enabling her hacking addiction, and honestly it’s not that hard.

"I won't be part of your bad girl shenanigans!"

“I won’t be part of your bad girl shenanigans!”


Fitz and Ward are tied up someplace that seems vaguely Russia-y, and Ward is freaking Fitz out with various suggestions for how they could escape (like breathing underwater, like losing a pinkie.  It seemed to me like Ward was probably messing with him, but the episode ended up playing out that they are Very Earnest and Have Each Others Backs so that seems unlikely in retrospect.  Which makes it very weird indeed.)

 The lights go out, and Fitz fixes the fuse, and therefore makes himself so popular that the Possibly Russians applaud him and offer him drinks that, apparently, taste salty and look kind of like pee.  (I thought they were messing with him too.  But again, it seems not.  I’m a veteran drinker–what tastes salty and looks like pee?  Very salty tequila?  In Russia-y place?)




It’s time a for a little Sexy Tai Chi.  Melinda May is doing her thing and Coulson comes and sits with her and talks to himself about his discomfort with hiding things from his team, and he imagines expressions on Melinda May’s face as he’s working it out with himself, and finally he says, “You’re right.  I should trust the system.” 

And Melinda May continues to make no expression at all.  (Kind of a revisit of that scene at the bar in Ocean’s 11 where Clooney is all “You think we need one more.  Okay, we’ll get one more” and all Brad Pitt does is blink his eyes.  It was funnier that time because they were both so deadpan, and Melinda May is always deadpan so it doesn’t mean as much.)

Simmons is supposed to do…something in order to help Skye access a computer without her bracelet picking it up.   But whatever it is she’s doing, she’s caught at it by a fellow agent, one who is clearly superior (and acts it.)  She tries flirting with him (“You have a gorgeous…head.  I love men who are my height but heavier.”  “Stop talking now.”) but that goes predictably badly, and so Skye tells her to fix it, so Simmons….shoots him with the freaking Night Night Gun!  What?!?  When I panic, I, you know, run away–I don’t shoot people!  This is maybe why I don’t carry weapons in my purse.

 Skye tells Simmons (accurately) that she failed at that in every possible way…


…and instructs her to go get Melinda May to clean up the mess (Simmons looks unhappy with that suggestion, for which I can’t blame her–Skye has been on the other side of Melinda May’s disapproval; she knows it’s something to be avoided, and she sends Simmons to go ask for it??  Some friend she is.  Or one would think, anyway–turns out May couldn’t care less, or they cut that scene, and Simmons suffers no consequences whatsoever for shooting a fellow agent.  None.)

"You are terrible at this!"

“You are terrible at this!”

Fitz pulls out a sandwich Simmons made him when he was leaving, and he describes it lovingly, and then Ward throws it away.  Simmons looks utterly betrayed, and Ward says “dumbass, we’re being tracked by dogs, so you know, proscuitto is not the best idea here.”  He offers him a power bar, but that is no substitute for a Simmonswich.

Skye tries to hack into her parents’ file, runs out of time and so switches to finding where the boys are (I still can’t figure it out, but then whenever we play Trivial Pursuit, Geography is always the category the opposing team tries to stump me with) and panics because…there is no extraction plan.  Coulson catches her (the bracelet?  Simmons ratted her out?) he scolds her, and she says “yeah whatever, you sent our boys to die!”  He continues to chew her out, and sounds more serious than he ever has, including that time she betrayed them.  But he looks both guilty and conflicted, so Skye is confident about ignoring him.


"Trust the system."

“Trust the system.”

 Ward and Fitz have some kind of blanket made out of Elvish Cloaks.

Frodo and Sam hide.

Frodo and Sam hide.

Ward and Fitz hide.

Ward and Fitz hide.

They hitch a ride to some…where that has some kind of….pipe machine.  None of this makes any sense whatsoever.  Maybe this was all explained in the first ten minutes but I really doubt it.  Anyway, the pipe machine emits sound waves that are….bad.

"This is going to take a while." "You have ten minutes."  "I thought you were going to say five."

“This is going to take a while.” “You have ten minutes.” “I thought you were going to say five.”

Saffron Burroughs is still a cow.  Coulson goes to confront her about the no extraction thing–which it turns out he did not know about–and she says, “Hey Barton and Romanov have no extraction plan all the time,” which does kind of put Coulson in a tough spot.  He could say “yeah but they’re  Avengers, crazy lady,” but that would imply that his team is less awesome than he is constantly claiming they are.  Well played, Saffron Burcow.  Well played.  He settles for, “Yeah, but Barton and Romanov know that going in, and I should have been the one to make the call.”  She says, in case we missed it the last five hundred times, “trust the system.”

 So Coulson joins May and Skye and Simmons on their own extraction plan.

Ward and Fitz have some mild issues re: Ward’s Stupid Superman Jump, but they work it out remarkably quickly.  “I just have your back.”  “No, I have your back!”  “Listen here, I have yours, got it?”  “Penis measured yet?”
“Oh yeah.”  S.H.I.E.L.D. attacks the compound, which is, you know, unhelpful.  Ward and Fitz are finally caught messing around with a machine so awesome S.H.I.E.L.D. will descend from the sky to obliterate it, so they both fight, and equally effectively, which is nice to see.  Fitz is very proud of himself, but I don’t begrudge him that.  Just in time, May flashes the bus’ engines at the bad guys, and they all blow away.

Ward and Fitz give each other manly nods…but then Fitz blows it by not rushing and grabbing Simmons and kissing her, which would have been even more manly than nodding.  Instead, he thanks for the sandwich, and lies and says it was delicious.  Being a chicken and a liar are decidedly not manly.  

Coulson tells Skye that he looked into her file, and a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent dropped her off at the orphanage–he doesn’t know who.  For some reason, Skye thinks this a veritable font of information, and gets all teary and grateful.  Coulson looks uncomfortable, leaves, and shows Melinda May the real file.  “You didn’t tell her why?” says May.  He doesn’t tell us either, but he does show us a picture of a dead body.  They make a pact to figure out what really happened.  Coulson’s a chicken and a liar too.

Empowered Count: 0

Pithy Line: “Which non-expression is this?”

Episode Grade: B-


There was way too much back and forth for me–the recap is jumpy enough and I cut and pasted some stuff to make some scenes that were actually three scenes into one scene.  I get doing that when a lot of the characters are scattered and you don’t want to abandon anyone for too long, and to make it clear that all of this is happening at the same time, but dudes.  Ten second-long scenes aren’t even scenes.  You’re giving me a headache.



And other than that…just meh.   Nothing I disliked, particularly, except the entire lack of consequences for every one–following, you know, an episode about consequences.  Skye uses a computer, despite being told this was her last shot…and nothing happens.  Coulson disobeys direct orders…and nothing happens.  Simmons shoots somebody…and nothing happens.  I did enjoy Fitz, and I did enjoy Simmons.  Ward was boring.  May rolled her eyes one time.  But does the show honestly expect us to care about Skye’s parents?  We have no reason to!  We care about Skye…kind of, but she had no relationship with her parents, we have no reason to think her being connected with S.H.I.E.L.D. in some way means anything (other than that we’re watching a show, and that is not a good enough reason for caring).

My problem boils down to basically this: we had it hammered into us that hearing the words “trust the system” should make us automatically wish to buck the system (and feel free to see that as a typo should you choose to do so).  But we are simultaneously being asked to trust the show–we are given no clue that there is anything remotely interesting about Skye, or about any of them, or that they’re so cool–we’re just told so, by the show, over and over and over.  And I have been willing to trust the show, because I think it’s fair to give a first season a little latitude.  But if the show is going to tell me not to?  Then I’m going to start asking some harder questions, and so far, it’s not giving me any answers.

(By the way, I did go back and watch the first ten minutes, and I missed nothing at all that was remotely necessary.)