Agents of SHIELD: Not What I was Expecting, But It’ll Do

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I would’ve used this season’s logo, but this one is soo much better

HAIL HYDR… screw it, for everyone that watched the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (AOS), then you know it was a bit of a roller-coaster with a lot of highs and a lot of lows. Fortunately for the most part it was able to end on a high and had a pretty nice cliffhanger setting up some interesting storylines for this upcoming season. With this premiere we were able to get a bit of that and some things I did not think I’d see. So let’s get on with it shall we?


Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has one thing going for it and that is that the story writes itself in essence because of it’s connection to the Marvel cinematic universe and that’s what a lot of people were hoping for when it started. Not necessarily mirror it exactly but be an extension of it in some form. This season is inevitably going to focus on the narrative given to us by the fallout following Captain America: Winter Soldier and later the end of its first season of AOS. What it did not expect to see is how much darker the series has become and that bodes well for this season and hopefully the rest of the cinematic universe. The fun summer blockbuster movies are great but the tone has to change in some aspect or you risk becoming linear, repetitive, and a little stale. With the depth of the story revolving around finding the remaining S.H.I.E.L.D. members whilst avoiding HYDRA and the US Government has made for some tense and memorable moments this season.

It touches on most of the other things that we know more about as well in the series, from Skye’s parents to Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) dealing with current mental state and even what was up with that blue alien near the end of the first season. All of that won’t be explained in one episode understandably so, but it good way to start the season off revealing a little more every week.


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Adrianne Palicki as Mockingbird

Character change for Skye (Chloe Bennet) from season one to now is probably one of the bright spots thus far. Her attitude is much more job and team oriented and seems apart of the team as she’s also more in the field and the “mary-sue” qualities of her character were toned down to an extent. Included in that is a much clearer direction for the team and as new characters such as the Absorbing Man (Victor Creed) and Bobbi Morse under her codename: Mockingbird (Adrianne Palicki) make their appearances, it seems they will have regular assets and adversaries to further anchor the direction for S.H.I.E.L.D. and the show as a whole.

Budget also seems to be bigger on the show as CGI is used more and of even greater quality. The moment you see Absorbing Man’s first encounter with S.H.I.E.L.D. you can see the improvements in the CGI area which were already solid in the first season.


th (1)There are only a couple of real drawbacks to the premiere that are of note to me which I hope don’t continue as the season isn’t even to it’s midway mark yet. The first is the angle used for the former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Ward (Brett Dalton). I get that his character is essential being part of HYDRA and having integral knowledge of said organization, but it seems that coming from the scenes he has with Skye and then his escape could mean that there may be some sort of redemption arc on the way to which I hope there is not. His actions at the end of the first season really did make a redemption seem impossible. Judging by the end of the most recent episode, it still seems unlikely but I’m still a bit leery.

The other is the issue of agent Tripplett (B.J. Brreviews-shield-shadows-skyeitt). When he was introduced near the end of the season to essentially replace Ward, he was a likable character with usefulness to the group and just overall a better fit to me. Now it just seems like he’s there and doesn’t seem distinguishable from either the new crop of agents or the older ones. You can be a bad character by having no real character at all and I feel as though that is the risk they are running with him. Again, hopefully these are just early season jitters, but it’s just a feeling. and I’m usually wrong about these things anyway so it could just be more about nothing.


LUCY LAWLESS, NICK BLOOD, WILMER CALDERON, HENRY SIMMONS, CHLOE BENNET, PATTON OSWALTVerdict: It’s a good start to the season and it has me more than interested to see where this all ends up. I don’t know how much it will affect the rest of the cinematic universe, but whether it does or does not won’t matter as long as this season maintains the tone it has now and continues to get better.

Season two of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gets a 4/5

+ Better direction and progressive story

+ Skye’s development

+ Better CGI

– Agent Tripplet’s character

– Potential Ward redemption arc

Marvel’s: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs 9PM Easter/10PM Central on ABC.

 

Gotham: It’s Exactly What It Looks Like

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Experience life in the city before the dark knight

Fox’s new original series entitled Gotham, chronicles a new young detective in James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) as he begins his career working with detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue). Their first case is as expected; the all too familiar Murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne. Simple rules here, not gonna go too deep as it is only a pilot. Just some things I liked, didn’t like and what I expect in coming episodes.


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Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne

Let’s go with the good news first. Well to start off, the actors are pretty good for the most part. Jim Gordon is rigid but not absent compassion which are two of the best qualities for him to display. Specifically in two of the longer exchanges between himself and Bruce (one just after the murder and another one at the end of the episode). He learns very fast just how crooked the city is by the end so it will be interesting to see how his character continues to change as the season continues to progress.

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Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot

Harvey Bullock and Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) are two standouts for me with Bullock as the grizzly veteran who has to play the game to get by and Cobblepot as the under appreciated subordinate with clear ulterior motives. Within the first few episodes two things are apparent; the first is that Gordon and Bullock will continue to show differences in philosophy we will see whose philosophy wins out. The second is that between Gordon and Cobblepot, there is little doubt that they’ll continue to have exchanges and it gives way to a unique nature their relationship is gonna have and how Cobblepot’s rise to power as a bit more of a ruthless antagonist is going to play out.

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Gotham Itself actually comes off looking very nice on-screen. The smoky grey and dingy appearance feel appropriate for the city. Visually, it is somewhat reminiscent of the noire style that was made so famous by the original Batman animated series. Needless to say, it’s always a good thing to be compared to Batman: the Animated Series in any way possible.


Now for the bad; and there’s a bit of it. What is up with the overflow of characters.  The one’s like Detectives Montoya (Victoria Cartagena) and Allen (Andrew Stewart-Jones) are nice little introductions as they serve as foils to Gordon and Bullock, plus they have their own interesting stories of their own. Take a little time to look it up and you’ll see what I mean. However, for every Montoya or Allen you’ll get The Riddler or a Poison Ivy appearance and some characters that just seem unnecessary. I do not mind seeing teasers for future  characters but subtlety is definitely a better way to go with this show.

And now for probably the biggest issue I have; where is the common sense? In one pivotal scene in the series premiere (spoilers ahead), Gordon and Bullock are questioning a former convict and primary suspect in their case concerning the murder of the Wayne’s which concludes with a chase and small scuffle and ends with Bullock shooting the man in defense of his partner. This all sounds well and good right? Well, when they find out that the guy wasn’t the killer after all, both Gordon and (especially) Bullock get a little panicked at the fact that they killed a man innocent of the murders.

This is quite the blunder in writing considering the fact that the guy went on the run almost as soon as they started questioning him, which just so happens to be a telltale sign of guilt. wp_ss_20141101_0008[1]Not only that but he takes a gun with him and begins to shoot at them as the chase begins. Couple that with the fact that he picks up a knife before the scuffle starts between himself and Gordon and uses it to get the advantage and potentially kill him before Bullock puts him down with a gun shot… but he’s an innocent man right? If you don’t get how much of a failure that is in script writing, then I have nothing else to say. There are more throughout the series but the series is young and so is the development of the show.


I could go on and on about the shortcomings of the show just as I could go on about the positives. Both of which would end up being useless because in the end it’s very early and as much dissecting as I or anyone can do, there’s still much time to get better and clean up a lot of issues. I do expect to see better stories to come and the continuous and inevitable threat of Cobblepot’s rise to power. There is more to like about it than to not and as much as I had soured on the series going up to its premiere, I can say I’ve enjoyed it through its first five episodes and hope for better things as it continues.

Verdict: Not a bad show and has some potential. It gets better gradually and while there’s still much to be desired there is still some good stuff to be entertained by.

No Score

+ Solid acting from recurring characters

+ Classic dynamic between Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock

– Inconsistency in script and tone

– Lack of setup for future characters

Gotham airs Monday nights 8PM Eastern/7PM central on Fox

Free! Eternal Summer

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Free! Eternal Summer

The second season of Free! ended with the summer season of anime. Not only do we get a few new characters but we also get to go deeper into our main five. For an anime that started out as a commercial for an animation studio, it has turned into something extraordinary and memorable. Even better than the obvious fan service, is the actual story and character development underneath it all.

The last time we saw Haru, Makoto, Nagisa, Rei, and Rin, they had settled their differences over a relay race at the regional preliminaries but were disqualified. This season takes a look at how Rin has changed, the forming of his own team at Samezuka Academy and how the Iwatobi boys handle the coming graduation of their third years. The Iwatobi Swim Club is still looking to recruit new members. Meanwhile, the boys are training to make it all the way to nationals.


 

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Another look at the season two cast

free2aTwo new boys are introduced to fill in Rin’s side of the story. Sousuke, his childhood friend, comes to Samezuka and stirs things up with Haru while facing his own demons. The former swim team captain’s younger brother comes in as a freshman. Ai, from the first season, has a stronger presence and a better relationship with Rin. There is a healthy rivalry between the two the teams that leads them to inspire each other.

The boys’ struggle to find their dreams and make their way out of adolescence and into adulthood is just as important as swimming itself. There is fun, life, laughs, and tears this season.


 

Verdict: Free! Eternal Summer still maintains that beautiful Kyoto Animation quality and the music continues to be catchy. Even with all of the fanservice, there is still good stories held up by a developing cast of characters. It gets a 4.5 out of 5 from me so go check it out.

Free! Eternal Summer gets a 4.5 out of 5

+ High quality animation

+ Stronger cast of characters and stronger character development

+ Good complementary soundtrack