‘Agents of SHIELD’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 3, Episode 15: ‘Spacetime’
Welcome back to another Agents of S.O.M.E.T.H.I.N.G., where Comics Alliance’s Special Agents Chris Haley and Ziah Grace debrief you on all the things to like and complain about in this week’s episode of Disney’s ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!
This week Daisy sees the future, and the SHIELD gang try to wrap their brains around the complexities of the fourth dimension! Also, Gideon gets a new suit! “Spacetime” was directed by Kevin Tancharoen and written by Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon.
Ziah: Well, Daisy saw the future and it was grim this episode as a terrible future was sort of avoided and Lincoln continued to be terrible. We can roll into the details as we continue, but to start off: overall, what’d you think of this episode, Chris?
Chris: I enjoyed it! Grading on the scale of this show’s own internal quality and not against other better programs, this was one of the season’s more enjoyable episodes. Was it just me?
Ziah: It might have been just you! This episode mostly just made me mad and bored after three pretty good episodes in a row! This felt like the usual sloppily written, confusing characterization that’s bothered me this whole show, but maybe I’ll like it more once we dig into it.
Chris: Let’s see who’s opinion can influence the other’s more! There had to be something you liked this episode, right?
Ziah: I swear, every time Lincoln gets hit in the head, I like him more. I want a .GIF of him getting knocked out by that fire extinguisher by Magnoto repeated at the end of every review we ever do.
Chris: I laughed out loud for real in real life. A legit lolfrirl. I guess a gif like that would certainly be a… GIFt, wouldn’t it?
Aren’t you glad I’m around to find things like this for you?
Ziah: You bring me such joy in these moments, Chris, you have no idea.
Chris: Imagine how great it’d be if throwing that prop fire extinguisher was your job that day! Do you think the entire cast and crew lined up and took turns or did they all put their names in a hat and then one lucky person got to be the one?
Ziah: This is such a delightful mental image! I hope some lucky Best Boy had the honor. Would that that were us!
Chris: Hey, speaking of “the one”, what’d you think of (No Longer) Ward’s Neo cosplay? Could they seriously not find anything less Matrix-y to put him in or was it intentional or did they just not care? I wish I could ask them! This was another moment that really made me laugh this week, but it was kind of in a “that’s cute” way. As though this was a bunch of neighborhood kids putting on a show and not a multi-million dollar franchise television program.
Ziah: Yeah, that was weeeeeeird. It was distracting how blatant it was. And actually, between this episode doing some heavy Matrix lifting and last episode’s You’re Next vibe, I wonder if the writers room has just decided to start ripping movies for each episode’s plot. I’d actually be completely fine with this going forward. Big Trouble in Little China next? Waiting for Godot?
Chris: Oh man, if they’d let fans (or, you know, people like us) write in and suggest the movies they had to crib from next, I would be all about this idea! More shows should just do strange things like that. This is probably why I can’t get a job in television.
Ziah: And speaking of movies, can we take a moment to acknowledge Lincoln saying that he’s never seen the original Terminator? There was just enough of an emphasis on original that makes me think his follow-up line was that he’s only seen the new ones. Poor Lincoln. I don’t even dislike him anymore, I feel only pity. (I still dislike him.)
Chris: I was thinking more he was going to say he’d only seen T2, but if your theory is true then that really would be sad. It also wouldn’t surprise me if Terminator: Salvation was his introduction to the Terminator Universe. The TU, if you will.
Ziah: I think the new ones are more pee yew, if you know what I’m talking about. If you’re catching what I’m throwing. If you’re seying the genysis of my idyeas.
So, I think I figured out why we’ve had such a hard time accepting Coulson as a lead this whole time. In the Marvel movies, he’s the fanboy stand-in, the face and heart of SHIELD, right? Fury’s the guy that makes the tough decisions and stays in the shadows, while Coulson was the guy asking Cap for his autograph and dating a cellist when he wasn’t getting made fun of by Tony Stark.
Chris: So far your story checks out. Go on.
Ziah: Except now he’s the head of SHIELD and in charge of everyone, and there’s no room for him to be the charming and goofy side-character we used to know and love. So the writers split the difference between Director of SHIELD bullishness and his soft spot (like the frankly crazy dumb move he makes this episode where he doesn’t let May go on her mission so she can spend time with Garner), but that just weakens Coulson even more.
Is he a caring dad-type trying to keep everyone alive? Is he a hardline murderer who will track down and kill rogue agents and leave Hunter and Bobbi out in the cold unless they double-swear their allegiance to SHIELD? The writers can’t seem to make up their mind, and it just makes him look weak and ineffective.
Which would be fine, if that was a story they were trying to tell, but it honestly doesn’t seem like it. If they’re weaving a mega-story about Coulson being the wrong man for the job, it sure isn’t shown in the actual writing of the show. His plans are the best plans simply because they’re the ones that we see work out somehow, and his mistakes are papered over without dwelling on it. Do you agree, Chris?
Chris: Yeah, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. He’s not as likable because he’s not the same character we signed up for, but that’s not really the show’s fault since he’s the only person from the movies they could use… so it’s just kind of an untenable, no-win situation no matter what.
And like you said, a lot of the difference-splitting they do to try to make sense of it, or balance it out, rings false, so you’re just stuck. Thinking about it all like this is honestly making me feel a little bad for the showrunners, because they’re in a tough spot, and I don’t have any idea how they could get out of it and serve all the masters this show is beholden to. It’s rough making big time TV sometimes, I guess.
Ziah: So, did you understand the homeless guy’s power? It shows victims a glimpse of someone’s death, but not always? I thought Daisy’s vision meant that Gideon died, but he showed up at the end of the episode. Am I wasting time trying to figure this out? Because according to Lincoln, Inhuman abilities “exist to bring balance”, so what purpose was this supposed to serve?
Subquestion: Am I retreating back into pettyness and annoyance at the existence of this show?
Chris: Well, to answer your subquestion first, no, I don’t think you’re being petty. I don’t think it’s asking too much at all for a show to make the central conceit of the episode’s plot clear. I applaud them for trying their best to explain “spacetime” and the fourth dimension and why things can’t be changed, but as best as I can tell, things still played out exactly like the vision Daisy saw, so I’m not sure what point they were trying to prove.
Ziah: Yeah, points to the show for making a concerted effort at explaining one of the many complicated theories regarding spacetime, but this would’ve been pretty easy to avoid if Coulson hadn’t made that bonehead move discussed above.
Chris: To answer your first question second though, I think the idea was that he showed people a death they would witness or be involved with… possibly their own, but not necessarily? I think I just went with it at the time, but now that I’m thinking about it, I’m not sure how much sense it made.
Also, I don’t care that the people charting the show’s path are the ones putting the words in Lincoln’s mouth, I don’t give anything he says any weight whatsoever. Especially when it’s hippie-dippy, greater Inhuman plan BS.
Ziah: So, Mac is presumably still recovering from getting shot, so this episode replaces him with…. No one. Man, it’s too bad that the show doesn’t have some sort of underdeveloped character who ostensibly joined the team and is also the first openly gay man in the MCU who could use some time in the spotlight, huh? Just too bad that that character doesn’t exist. Nah, let’s just keep focusing on Lincoln, the ineffective, rage-filled doctor who keeps threatening to murder people.
At least Joey and Yo-Yo are showing up in a couple weeks, according to promo pics. Still can’t figure out why they’re not getting any character development now, though.
Chris: Man, this episode was confusing enough as it was. I honestly cannot imagine where you could have fit new information or development about new characters in here. I’m not saying I don’t want to see The Melt Meister and Yo-Yo again, because I do, but I think if they’d been in this episode they wouldn’t have gotten any real time to shine either.
Ziah: I suppose you’re right, but the weird focus on some characters some of the time without any consistency definitely bothers me.
Chris: To give this episode a little more props, let’s talk about the “fight planning” scenes and then the way it played out in “real” life. I thought those were choreographed and shot really well. Especially the final “real” one. What’d you think of those?
Ziah: It was pretty cool! Daisy having a vision of the fight and instructing May on how to take them all down in the proper time and sequence was a fun idea that played out well. Pretty funny for her to complain the entire time about how useful her earthquake powers were and then barely use them during the actual fight though. Coulson shooting “at” her in the two-way mirror was bull though. That’s such an old trick! I was really hoping for a nice twist on that, but oh well.
Chris: Yeah, it also really bugged me that she barely used them in her “fight” with Malick at the end. Speaking of, what’d you think of Malick’s Elysium suit?
Ziah: Kind of silly, right? In a world where the Iron Man armor exists, it’s pretty hilarious for Ward Alien to say that robot arms are real power. So, what’d you think he saw in his vision? His own death at the hands of Ward, I assume?
Chris: One would have to imagine. Okay, before we wrap up, was there anything else you wanted to get off your chest about this week’s episode?
Ziah: Just that I’m really starting to dislike Daisy in these episodes lately for how she’s buying into Lincoln’s psuedo-mystical Divine Purpose stuff, so they’re made for each other. Let those two crazy kids stay together for all I care. You?
Chris: I’ve got one last thing, and it’s not really related to the show itself exactly, but speaking of Daisy, it made me appreciate Chloe Bennet a lot more, and I think it’s worth bringing to people’s attention. Did you know that her real name is Chloe Wang and that she’s half Chinese?
Ziah: I did not! Good for her to be (sort of) the lead of a show, though!
Chris: For sure. The thing is I read an interview with her over the last weekend where she talked about how she didn’t start getting callbacks for roles until she changed her name, and then she immediately got the first thing she tried out for. I bring this up for two reasons:
- When we talk about or complain about representation in shows like this, I think some people don’t appreciate that weird discriminations still exist in Hollywood (and the world in general) and so it’s important when these shows do try to bring people from all kinds of cultures and backgrounds in. That kind of thing really does matter to people, and each step in the right direction is meaningful.
- Before she was an actress she was a Chinese pop star and she did songs in English and Mandarin! Songs like this! That is super cool to me and I hope you all appreciate it too. (Seriously, watch the video!)
Ziah: That is two very excellent points, and I’m glad you bring them up. It’s excellent that she’s headlining a show as a biracial woman, even as I dislike where her character is going right now. And also, I really hope she has to go undercover as a Chinese pop star this season.