31 January 2015

The Girl in the Flower Dress

Episode: 05

Weird moral absolutism as a side-effect of super soldier serum.

What Happens
A Hong Kong street performer called Chan Ho Yin has fire powers and is approached by a woman called Raina. She seems interested in his powers but distracts him while he's captured. Agent Kwan from the HK office briefs Coulson's team, as Chan was being monitored by Shield, and reveals that they were hacked by the Rising Tide. Skye traces the hack to Miles in Texas, who's known for high-profile hacks. The team try to intercept him. Skye secretly goes and meets himbecause they're dating. Skye purposely infiltrated Shield. May finds them. Skye and Miles are put in interrogation, where they argue about politics and Shield. Ward reveals Miles was paid to hack the HK office by the Centipede Project, which he thought was an eco-group. Skye is furious that Miles sold out. Chan wakes up in a lab, the doctor from Pilot gives him the serum. Raina convinces him he's powerful and calls him Scorch. His fire powers stop the serum from exploding, so the doctor drains him to use his platelets. Shield figure out where the lab is, and try to free Chan. Angry and unstable, he kills Agent Kwan and the doctor. Coulson and May try to reason with Chan, but have to knock him out. As Chan's power erupts Miles takes remote control of the building's vent system to channel the fireball into the sky. Miles is left in HK, with a bracelet that stops him using electronics. Skye apologises to Coulson, who demands to know her big secret. She tried to find her real parents, but all she has is a classified document redacted by Shield, she wants find out who she is. Coulson offers to help her, but makes her wear a monitored bracelet that stops her hacking. Raina meets a man in prison and asks to speak to 'the Clairvoyant.'

Coulson's Alive!
After he recruited her Coulson is particularly furious and disappointed by Skye's betrayal, and he admits to May that she was right about Skye being a risk. Skye has trouble facing Coulson's disappointment, the daddy-figure vibe has been pretty strong from the start. Coulson really doesn't want to kill Chan, but after killing a Shield team and refusing to listen to reason 'Scorch' has to be taken out. Coulson talks about having an alien spear put through his chest, which reminds me of the weird UK DVD edit which removed the tip of the spear, for no good reason. When Skye explains that she's looking for her family he's sympathetic and offers his help, but hasn't forgiven her deception.

The Cavalry
May always had her doubts about Skye, and Eye-Spy established she's willing to go off on her own to eliminate threats to the team. May and Coulson often have grown-up side conversations, and Skye has jokingly referred to them as the parent figures of the team, but May is more like a scary, disapproving aunt than any kind of mother figure.

Ward reveals to Skye what Miles has really been doing. When Skye is going to Coulson's office in disgrace she asks Ward if he wants to come with her as her Supervising Officer. He says he's off duty and it seems like he's washed his hands of her.

Science Duo
Not given much to do this episode, to be honest. They both feel betrayed by Skye's actions, Fitz especially.

Hacker Girl
Skye's meet up with Miles connects with the text she got at the end of 0-8-4. She's still involved with Rising Tide (and Miles), but they've been separated for a little while and both have changed. Skye's more accepting of Shield and though she doesn't know it Miles has money now. She's ashamed and embarrassed at being caught, and she can't quite face Coulson's disappointment. The reveal about Miles really shakes Skye, and it seems that she got a lot of her ideals from him and has to readjust when she realises he's not what she thought he was. Skye keeps a SIM card in her bra, with all the info she has on her family. I guess it's a safe place, and possibly explains why she keeps her bra on when she's with Miles (or cos that's what women on TV do).

Weirdness of the Week
The return of Centipede, this time given face and name in the person of Raina.

Villain of the Week
The eponymous Raina. She uses charm to talk Chan up, filling him with grand ideas even though he's only a resource to Centipede. She's a recruiter, leaving the lab work and violence to others. She's cold as anything, not at all concerned when she leaves her colleague behind to be killed.

When Agent Kwan reveals that Rising Tide hacked the his office Coulson's team all go quiet and look at Skye. Kwan, unaware of this, taps the video screen. "Hello? It got real quiet. You guys still there?"

When Raina suggests Chan call himself Scorch he's initially scornful. Then he adopts it. Raina's doctor colleague says "You gave him a name, didn't you?" while eyerolling. When Coulson and May realise he's got a name they know it's a bad sign.

Melinda May: moment killer! After sleeping with Miles, Skye searches for her top. She opens a door and May is there holding it with a face like a terrifying matriarch. "Get Dressed."

While hiding from Chan's fire May asks Coulson if his file said anything about him being homicidal. Coulson replies "Just said he was kind of a tool."
Given how the serum affected Mike it's probably not surprising that Chan, who seemed less stable than Mike, turns murderous.

You Have Failed This Spoiler (future AoS eps including s2)

Raina is one of the most interesting returning characters. Always cool and composed and involved in/connected to a lot of things. Her background is similar to Skye's, except that she knows where she's from. Like her what we all want to know after the series 2 cliffhanger is what she will become.

I'd forgotten about the guy in the prison, it's not like he's that important in the scheme of things. He mostly just gives us a front for the Clairvoyant.

Coulson tells Skye that she might not like the truth if she finds it and she says it can't be worse than what she's imagined. I don't know if she's imagined worse, she can't have imagined weirder than her family history. A mother killed for her ability and a father who becomes a twitchy, murderous doctor.

My thanks to @AlasdairStuart and @runalongwomble for the spoiler pun suggestions.

29 January 2015


Episode: 04

What Happens
A mysterious woman steals diamonds from a group of masked men in the dark, on a subway train in Stockholm. This isn't the first weird diamond robbery. Skye uses social media to identify the thief, and Coulson recognises Akela Amador, his former trainee who went MIA years ago. The team track Amador to Belarus and discover a weird, encrypted video feed. Amador knocks over their van; May wants to take her out but Coulson wants restraint. The feed Skye recovers reveals that Amador has a camera in her eye, which allows her to see in the dark with her eyes closed. She gets instructions typed into the corner of her vision. May goes alone to take Amador out, but Coulson follows and shoots Akela with a tranquiliser. When she wakes he assures her that the feed has been transferred to a pair of glasses, worn by Ward. Amador tells Coulson that she was trapped for years, then she was given a new eye with a camera and a failsafe to take her out if needed. FitzSimmons try to remove the device from her head. Ward and Skye follow Amador's assignments; he gets into a factory and is told to seduce the guard. Ward tries to be friendly, but knocks the guy out. He gets into a room, looks at weird patterns on the wall at which point a picture is taken and he's told to get out. He catches himself in a mirror and the failsafe explosive is activated just after the device is taken out of Amador. Coulson tracks down Amador's handler, but before he can talk to him he's taken out with a failsafe too. Ward escapes and Akela is turned in but Coulson promises her a fair trial.
Just another day in Stockholm?

Coulson's Alive!
Amador is someone Coulson trained up and them lost under troubling circumstances. When it initially seems that she's gone rogue he doesn't want to inform HQ and is determined to bring her in so he can speak to her and fnd out what happened. Skye talks to him about it, observing she isn't the first person he's taken a chance on.

The Cavalry
May assesses Amador as a risk and now that she's doing combat again she takes the initiative to go take her out. Not backing down from confrontation even after Amador warns her that as soon as she looks at her only one of them can walk away.

I think I felt more kindly towards Ward while he was wearing glasses. Not sure why, but my husband wears glasses so maybe I've been programmed or something.Ward is not amused when FitzSimmons and Skye are in the van and break radio silence to ask about toilet arrangements. Ward is entirely unprepared for seducing a guard (why such an essential skill isn't taught to male spies I don't know). Ward tries to be friendly as Skye suggests, but falls back to violence, which he's more comfortable with. Then it turns out he did need the guard conscious in order to make a quiet escape.

Science Duo
Simmons has operate on Amador's eye while she's conscious, but given the hell she's been through she doesn't flinch at this. The device itself falls into Fitz's wheelhouse, but as he's squeamish about icky biological stuff he's a bit wary about the fact that it's still in her head. Good thing Simmons is there to help him. It kind of reminded me of Iron Man, when Pepper has to follow Tony's instructions and basically do a kind of mechanical heart surgery on him.

Hacker Girl
Sky bluntly tells Ward that peeing in a bottle is not an option for her and Simmons. Skye gets into Amador's feed and later she figures out how to give Amador a reprieve by transferring the feed to glasses and she has to guide Ward, like a weird first-person shooter. She tries to explain to Ward how he can try a bit of male bonding, but he doesn't get it.

Weirdness of the Week
The eye-camera-explosive device. It's scary because someone can be entirely controlled without ever knowing who's doing it. Amador is able to tell Coulson her handler is older and British only because of the kinds of words he uses in the messages. Then when Coulson tracks him it turns out he was being handled himself. Seeing his eye explode behind the socket is pretty creepy. Also that entire diamond stealing operation was all done to get access to the back room of a factory in Belarus and take a picture of some weird writing.

Villain of the Week
Mysterious eye-tech people of unknownness.

Ward tells Skye he doesn't need her help dealing with a target. Then the instruction 'Seduce him' appears. "Help."

Ftz wants to call the weapon they use to deliver the dendrotoxin (which knocks people out) the 'Night-night gun'. Ward refuses.

Fitz wants Skye to use the x-ray function on the glasses to help him cheat at poker. Skye points out if she does that she'll also see Fitz naked, at which point he totally refuses and rushes away. Skye sneaks a peek at Ward.

I, Spoilercus (for future AoS eps, including series 2)
The eye tech will later be used with other cybernetics and the creepy "incentives programme" to compel large numbers of people working for an evil company.

Akela sees Coulson is different and asks May why. She explains about Coulson dying, but this isn't enough for Akela who asks "But what did they do to him?" After all she's been through perhaps she can see signs of some terrible change in Coulson?

The weird writing in the back room is unfamiliar to Coulson and isn't in the Shield database anywhere. This is the start of the major 'alien writing' plotline that'll get resolved in series 2.

27 January 2015

The Asset

Episode: 03

How do you solve a problem like gravity?

What Happens
A Shield convoy is attacked by an invisible force that can flip a lorry (seems like Magneto, but legally can't be). Dr Hall, a brilliant scientist, is taken from the convoy. Coulson's team discover that the heist was done using a device containing gravitonium (guess which universal force that affects). The components are traced to Ian Quinn, an entrepreneur who lives in extradition-free Malta. Shield can't go in and anyone that does will be disavowed. Not being Shield, Skye uses her contacts to get an invitation to a shindig at Quinn's mansion. Ward trains her to disarm someone and FitzSimmons give her tech to disrupt Quinn's security system so Coulson and Ward can get in. Quinn shows Dr Hall the massive ball of gravitonium he keeps in his basement, he wants Hall to create a doomsday device, or something. Turns out they used to be partners and Hall told Quinn where he would be. At the shindig Quinn is impressed with Skye, and offers her a job after she tells him she's with Shield. She follows the plan so Ward and Coulson can get in. Coulson finds Hall, but the scientist refuses to be rescued. He knows gravitonium is too dangerous to harness and wants to destroy Quinn's supply, killing himself and everyone in the mansion. Coulson stops him, though it results in Hall being sucked into the gravitonium. Skye escapes from Quinn and finds Ward. Quinn escapes, but the gravitonium is locked away in a Shield vault. Inside Hall's hand briefly reaches out, apparently he isn't dead.

Coulson's Alive!
Coulson advises Ward about training and bonding with Skye. He goes with Ward on extraction, apparently respecting May's request to be kept out of combat. Coulson understands and respects Hall's desire to remove the threat of the gravitonum, but won't let him kill to do it. He ensures the gravitonium is locked away as secretly as possible. At the end of the episode he finds he no longer has the muscle memory he once did and gets frustrated, though May points out he's still recovering.

The Cavalry
May assumes she'll be joining Ward in the extraction team, even though she's already seen more combat than she expected, and is surprised Coulson will be going. She tries to point out specialist work is different fieldwork. Coulson says he saw action with the Avengers and May points out that he died. After Coulson returns from the op May offers to do combat again to stop the obviously rusty Coulson from putting himself in more danger.

Training Skye is difficult for Ward, who expects more discipline and less talking. After Coulson suggests he treat her like a person he tells her about his family background, how he had to protect his younger brother from his older brother's cruelty.

Science Duo
FitzSimmons know Dr Hall, he was a tutor and mentor to them in the Academy. They're alarmed to hear he's been kidnapped, then shocked when they discover he was the one to give away his own position.

Hacker Girl
Now that she's on the team Skye has to train, and complains about how hard Ward pushes her. She does well at Quinn's party, ingratiating herself and impressing him. It seems like she might betray Shield when she takes out her ear piece and tells Quinn they sent her. Despite her reluctance she learned from Ward's training, which she uses to escape. When they get talking she tells Ward about her background in the foster system, never staying anywhere for long, always passed from family to family. She never belonged and wants that feeling from something.

Weirdness of the Week
Gravitonium is apparently a very rare element. Those seem to be ten-a-penny in the Marvel universe. How something that disrupts gravity stays in the earth is never explained. Tiny amounts can flip trucks, and Quinn's supply turns the basement and lab upside down, at least from the viewpoint of those in the room.

Villain of the Week
Ian Quinn. CEO of Quinn Worldwide and fairly brilliant in his own right given his previous work with Dr Hall. He's found the gravitonium through his mining enterprises. He paints himself as a progress-driven, freedom of information, deregulation champion, but just wants power and tech for himself.

When Dr Hall is revealed to be in a secret compartment within a lorry full of paper he looks at his kidnappers and says "Are we there yet?"

Discussing how to get past Quinn's deadly laser fence Fitz suggests a monkey. "If we had a small monkey, he could... disable the fence's power source with his adorable little hands."

Skye talks to the team in spy-sounding code while she's in Quinn's mansion, no one understands what she's talking about. "Skipper to Bravo. I got my eyes on top dog. The Eagle is landing on it."

Coulson finds Dr Hall in Quinn's basement and explains they have an exit strategy. When Hall responds that he's exactly where he's supposed to be, Coulson responds "I'll be honest, our strategy did not take into consideration you saying that."
Coulson, always dapper

Spoilerium (for future AoS eps)

It's sad to hear how the foster protocol has affected Skye. She'll get part of the truth before too long.

What allegiance does the guy who locked away the gravitonium have? Is he Shield? Hydra?

25 January 2015


Episode: 02

What Happens
The team are sent to investigate an 0-8-4, which is code for something mysterious. It's in an archaeological dig in Peru and might be ancient and/or alien. Rebels show up while the team are trying to secure it and a firefight ensues. The Peruvian military police arrive, led by an old friend/flame of Coulson's, Camilla Reyes. Reyes' unit helps the Shield team get the 084 back to the plane, and escape into the skies with them. Fitz determines that the device is very powerful and dangerous. The Peruvian force turns on the Shield team; they were sent to recover the 0-8-4 for their government. It had been made by a Hydra scientist who fled to Peru from Germany after WWII, then lost. Separated from Coulson, the team work together to free themselves and take back the Bus. The device is activated and blows a hole in the side of the plane. The Shield team survives and hand over the 0-8-4 and Reyes, with her surviving men. The device is put in the Slingshot, which is where Shield sends really dangerous stuff towards the sun in rockets. Just as the team are bonding Skye gets a secret text from the Rising Tide suggesting she infiltrated Shield on purpose.

Coulson's Alive!
Coulson defends his reasons for recruiting Skye, he's already considered Ward and May's objections. His interactions with Reyes give an idea of what he used to be involved in, but she observes that he's changed a lot. He acknowledges that his team aren't operating well together yet, but he sees the potential in the group.

The Cavalry
May goes on the op without a gun, which Ward comments on. She says she'll take a gun if she needs to. She immediately takes two from rebels. This is the woman who didn't want to do combat. When they're captured May escapes from her restraints and starts the plan while the others are still talking.

Meh, Ward
Ward complains about how other people hold him back, he's used to working alone and resented looking after FitzSimmons and Skye during combat. Fitz points out that people like them design and make all his gear and weapons. It's a good point, one that some spy films/shows/franchises neglect. At the end Ward agrees to train Skye as a field operative, her actions having convinced him of her potential.

Science Duo
FitzSimmons are excited that Skye's joining the team and eagerly show her the plane. Their excitement at having a new person on board is rather sweet. Fitz comments that the  0-8-4 engineering looks German, although he too assumes its alien because it uses tesseract technology. While they're racing through the jungle he has it on his back and doesn't manage to tell Ward how dangerous and unstable it is. When they're taking the plane back Fitz's little drones are a major part of the plan.

Hacker Girl
Ward and May both advise Coulson not to recruit Skye because she's a liability and has no Shield background. Coulson sees the latter as a benefit. Sky explains her ethos to Ward, she loved the Rising Tide because it's a big group of people working together to solve problems. Skye is handed a safety leaflet when she first comes to stay, it has rubber dinghies on it. Later she uses one to block the hole in the plane, saving Ward. Although Skye pulls the team together when they're in danger it looks like her allegiance is still with the Rising Tide.

Weirdness of the Week
An 0-8-4 that seems to be ancient, as it's embedded in a temple with pre-Incan artifacts, but is actually post-WWII. Reyes doesn't mention how it was lost, but I guess its weird design caused it.

Villain of the Week
Reyes and her men aren't quite villains, antagonists mostly. She's committed to her cause, but Coulson points out that control of the device will turn her government into a tyranny.

Fitz is excited that he might see a monkey in the jungle, this is apparently an obsession the character shares with the actor, Iain de Caestecker.

When the team get into an argument about who contributes what Coulson has to tell them off like bickering children. He points out their skills -Ward speaks 6 languages, Simmons has 2 obscure PhDs, Fitz is a rocket scientist - while telling them to figure it out and get along. Skye quietly says "I-I'm... good at stuff too."

Simmons goes on about being in the field, in a knowing but excited way, even though she's been in the field la few days longer than Skye. It's kind of adorable.

After the credits Fury yells at Phil for putting a hole in the Bus after 6 days. He insists it's repaired exactly as it was, no additions, like a fish tank or something. As soon as Fury leaves Phil says over comms "Yeah, we're gonna have to kill the fish tank."

Spoilertastic (spoilers for later AoS episodes)

Coulson describes an 0-8-4 to Skye as "An object of unknown original. Kind of like you." Little does Coulson know that's literally what Skye is.

He says magical place when describing his R&R, and Skye points out he already said that.

23 January 2015


Welcome to my Marvel's Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D rewatch (this will probably be the last time I use the full title). Delayed slightly as I got a little behind with finishing TNG series 3 and my computer has recently been changed from Windows to Linux, which is something of an adjustment.

Episode: 01

The title seems a bit dull and generic. I guess someone does get recruited to fly a plane, though she's hardly the focus of the episode.

What Happens
Agent Phil Coulson, who aten't dead, returns to work by assembling a small mobile team for covert fieldwork, which means flying around in a specially-adapted plane (called the Bus). Mike Peterson, an unemployed single father from L.A. takes part in an experiment that gives him superpowers. He attracts attention when saving a woman from a burning building. Hacktivist and van-dweller Skye tracks Mike down and advises him to go public before the 'suits' make him disappear. The fire was in a lab and the Shield team discover it was caused by an exploding man dosed with a super-powered concoction, it's where Mike got his powers. They also track down Skye, who previously hacked them and published intelligence. Coulson uses unorthodox methods to gain her trust and she helps them find Mike Peterson before he explodes too. Unstable and angry, Mike takes his son to Skye for help after his doctor refuses to help him. He nearly explodes in a train station while fighting Shield off. Coulson's team manage neutralise Mike without killing him and stop the sniper his doctor sent after him. Coulson provisionally recruits Skye.

Female characters often stand oddly in promo shots

Coulson's Alive!
The first mystery is Coulson's death, which he doesn't know the truth about. His existence is probably classified and his superiors are hiding something major from him. He's as charming, witty and efficient as you'd expect from his appearances in the Phase 1 films. He's stern and in charge when needed, but he's also light-hearted at times, and always seeking the best outcome with the least loss of life. His attitude to Skye is interesting, he sees her as an asset rather than a threat. It's also funny that he plays on her assumption of them as the evil monolithic oppressors, challenging her views of them with his good humour, humanity and interesting methods.

The Cavalry
Agent Melinda May is kept a bit mysterious and kinda stereotypical here. A taciturn, desk-bound veteran with a badass reputation, who insists she's out of the game. She's only supposed to be along to fly the plane, but when they're trying to get to Mike Peterson she has to take out a sniper.

Meh, Ward
Grant Ward is one of those tough-guys who doesn't play well with others and has to learn to be part of a team. I do not like him, and I did not like him at first viewing either. That said, he is used to some good effect. Especially when he and Coulsen are doing good-cop, bad-cop with Skye and Coulsen gains Skye's trust by injecting him with a truth serum, leaving him spilling his guts to her.

Science Duo 
FitzSimmons are in fact two separate people, though the show doesn't want you to think so. They're the fresh-faced young geniuses getting their first taste of fieldwork. Fitz is a bit bad with people and forgets others aren't on the same wavelength as him, but he's also kinda funny in a blunt, sarky way. Then there's Simmons who is on Fitz's wavelength, but also emotionally and socially aware and helps Fitz deal with other people. She's totally brilliant in her own right and really sweet. She's the one who wanted to get field experience, suggesting she's more willing to expand her role than Fitz, who has tagged along with her. They rise to to Coulson's challenge of neutralising the stuff in Mike without killing him.

Skye's part of a freedom of information, hacker collective called the Rising Tide. I'd forgotten how goofy she is in this episode, especially when she's trying to talk Mike into becoming a superhero, but instead freaks him out by being crazy at him. I like her more this time than I remembered. It's funny when Skye is in her van broadcasting a message to Shield, calling them out and saying they'll never find her, then Ward and Coulson open the door and take her in. She's so determined to mistrust Shield, but Coulson plays with her expectations. When she sees them in action the fledgling team is not what she expected at all. It's not entirely surprising Coulson recruits her she has useful skills and her non-conformist approach provides a fresh perspective the more specialised/institutionalised team members lack.

Weirdness of the Week
Mike Peterson's increased strength. It seems to be a mixture of extremis (Iron Man 3), a kind of super-soldier serum (Captain America), and gamma radiation (the Hulk), delivered by alien metal (Avengers). This mixture of the various origins from the MCU shows the blend of things this show is going to be dealing with.

Villain of the Week
Centipede, mostly personified by Mike's angry doctor. They're throwing everything hey can at people to give them increased powers. Their aims are unknown, but the doctor arranges to have Mike taken out, so they aren't all puppies and rainbows.

When Ward is interviewed by Maria Hill he spells out what S.H.I.E.L.D stands for (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) then suggests "someone really wanted our initials to spell out shield."

Coulson reveals he isn't dead to Ward by dramatically stepping out of the shadows and saying something badass. Then utterly charmingly he says "Sorry... that corner was really dark and I couldn't help myself. I think there's a bulb out."

When Skye is trying to convince Mike to be a superhero. "With great power comes... a ton of weird crap you are not prepared to deal with."

Simmons calls the ongoing operation a 'Journey into Mystery'. It is an amazing, fantastical comic book series you should totally read!

Oh by-the-by Coulson's vintage car Lola, it can fly! Given his love of original old-fashioned tech could it be the one Howard Stark was demoing in the first Captain America film?
Sorry... that corner was really dark, and I couldn't help myself. I think there's a bulb out.

Read more at: http://transcripts.foreverdreaming.org/viewtopic.php?f=140&t=8806&sid=9f7b3f1c108fc6ed4c77f9e5b67c42e1
Sorry... that corner was really dark, and I couldn't help myself. I think there's a bulb out.

Read more at: http://transcripts.foreverdreaming.org/viewtopic.php?f=140&t=8806&sid=9f7b3f1c108fc6ed4c77f9e5b67c42e1

Spoilerrific (spoilers for future AoS episodes)
Skye uses an encryption tied to GPS so she has to be in her van's usual location to decrypt her files. She'll use this again much later. For someone who never really had a home Skye puts stock in the places she expects to be.

Ward's family history is hinted at. I wondered how he managed under the unexpected truth serum, given all his evilness and such, but in a couple of episodes he reveals that was a stunt to gain Skye's trust.

Coulson says "It's a magical place" twice in this episode, whenever Tahiti is mentioned. Already it's clear that talking about his recovery prompts an automatic, unconscious reaction.

19 January 2015

Best of Both Worlds Pt 1

Episode: s3, ep 26

What Happens
A Federation colony has been totally destroyed, it looks like Sunnydale at the end of Buffy. This all seems familiar and it looks like the Borg are closer than ever. An Admiral brings an up-and-coming officer called Shelby to work with the Enterprise, she's the closest they have to a Borg expert. The Admiral reveals to Picard that Riker has failed to accept yet another promotion. Shelby makes herself unpopular with Riker by telling him she wants his job, she had assumed he'd take the commission. Riker reacts defensively by being grumpy around Shelby and bitching about her to Geordi. They also have a disagreement about whose turn it is to have Data.
Shelby's tests confirm it was the Borg that destroyed the colony and plans are made for a confrontation. Shelby has ideas, Riker doesn't like her, I mean her ideas. Picard suggests Riker consider his career, so he has an inconclusive chat with Troi about it. The Borg are sighted and the Enterprise pursues. The Borg ask for Picard, by name, then don't listen to anything he has to say. The Borg want Picard to beam over and won't take no for an answer. The Enterprise barely survives the encounter and hides in a nebula.
More plans are made, Riker and Shelby disapprove of each other's strategies. The Borg find them and some board the Enterprise to kidnap Picard before warping away. Riker wants to go save the Captain himself, but Troi points out he's in charge now and has to stay on the Bridge. Shelby leads an away team to rescue Picard, but the scoundrels have removed his comm badge and his uniform (though at least they tidied them away in a drawer. Crusher suggests they disable power relays to see if they can get the Borg Cube to drop out of warp. This works, although it attracts hostile attention from Borg foot soldiers. As they're shooting the approaching Borg they see Picard and try to rescue him, but he's covered in Borg gear and Worf can't get near.
When the Cube drops out of warp the away team are beamed back without Picard. They want to go back and him, but they only have this one chance to use a weapon against the Borg. There's no time for anything else. Riker makes his choice.
To Be Continued

Oh Captain My Captain
Picard is surprised to learn from the Admiral that Riker has been offered another commission and not told anyone. He takes the Admiral's advice and has a career meeting, pointing out that Riker is ready for command and shouldn't hang around for no reason. Picard also points out with amusement that the stuff Riker doesn't like about Shelby makes her sound like a younger version of Riker. Picard unwittingly plays the 'Daddy' figure in Riker and Shelby's intrigues.*
No one understands why the Borg are asking for Picard. How do they even know his name, or what names even are? It turns out that they have heard of his speeching powers (as seen in episodes too numerous to list) and decided that he will make a good spokesperson. While this is a sensible line of thinking I don't know why the Borg feel they need a spokesperson. Perhaps that'll come up in the next episode? The reveal of a Borgified Picard is creepy and I can see why it had such impact.

Riker: adventurer, lover, middle-management
Riker's reluctance to take a commission perplexes the Admiral, Picard and Shelby. It may even perplex Riker himself, who likes where he's working but questions his career trajectory. Perhaps he's got comfortable approving rotas and reading reports? Maybe he's not ready for the executive washroom? It's possibly not entirely tactful to ask these questions of Troi, since his ambitions seem to have been the reason they broke up, but she's fine with it. Riker is very defensive of his current position, hence his dislike of Shelby. She is forthright and a risk-taker, but she also knows what she's doing and has garnered respect. Perhaps Riker can't stand that she's so much like him, or like he used to be (I don't think the Riker-plays-things-safe subtext is entirely justified).
When Riker is forced to take command he immediately wants to act like First Officer and go after Picard himself, leaving a new, temporary colleague in charge (my, how safe he plays things). Shelby tries to point out that she's more qualified for the away mission. He won't listen to her, so Troi has to point out where his responsibilities now lie. After this Riker realigns his priorities and later he even chooses to leave Picard captive in order to make use of their only weapon.

Why is Wesley attending the poker game? Why is he in a key staff meeting? He only got promoted to Ensign right? Do the other Ensigns get to do these things? I suspect not, which may be why Wesley doesn't hang out with the other Ensigns.

Guinan's Hat: olive green
Picard goes to her for counsel. Her people were mostly wiped out by the Borg so she knows how he feels. Her advice is uplifting in the long term, human (not Federation?) values and culture can survive as long as even a few humans survive to keep them alive. Of course on a personal level it's not comforting as they're likely to die and from the sounds of it she thinks a large part of humanity could too.

Staff Meetings: 4
1. Picard and Riker meet with the Admiral and are introduced to Shelby.
2. Picard and Riker discuss the Borg situation, what they think of Shelby and Riker's career.
3. The Admiral tells the Enterprise about the Borg sighting and everyone has to prepare.
4. Shelby does a play-by-play of the Borg encounter and everyone discusses what to try next.

Death by Space Misadventure
There were 900 people in the colony that got scooped away by the Borg.
After the Borg attack the Enterprise 11 are dead and 8 are not accounted for.

The End
The away team want Riker to try and save Picard or at least ask Starfleet about it. But now Riker's in Captain mode he knows there's no time. The Borgified Picard comes on screen and tells everyone his new name and function. Riker orders Worf to fire.

This is actually a tense and interesting cliffhanger, which is a first on this show. I get the impression the start of series 4 will live up to the promises made here. Whatever they do it can't be as bad as The Child.

* Not actual intrigues, since everyone is really upfront about everything, but y'know the TNG version of intrigues. People getting a bit annoyed at each other and being civil but not friendly, that kinda thing.

12 January 2015


Episode: s3, ep 25 (isn't this more episodes than even US series normally have?)

What Happens
Geordi has a crush on someone and talks to Worf about that, before entirely failing to speak to the woman. The Enterprise is doing something dull when they find a crashed ship and injured humanoid. An away team goes to assist. Dr Crusher has to link the alien to Geordi with forehead stickers in order to beam him to sickbay, something golden and glowy happens for a moment. A strange pod is taken from his ship. The medical team work hard to save the alien, and he stabilises partly because he has regenerative abilities. He also seems to be mutating on a cellular level, but it's not clear what that's about so Crusher just keeps an eye on it.
The alien wakes with amnesia, so Crusher uninventively calls him John Doe. Despite his regeneration powers it takes him a while to recuperate and he's confined to sickbay for a month. Beverly and John grow closer, and Wesley asks whether the mysterious alien will be his new daddy. Beverly knows she has feelings for him, but he's also her patient. John turns out to have healing powers. Data and Geordi technobabble a lot while trying to figure out how to get the information out of the pod from John's ship. Eventually they figure it out and trace where his ship came from, it's in the direction they're going. John is alarmed and knows that he can't return, but Picard doesn't want to alter course.
John gets increasingly agitated and glows gold; he's afraid that he will injure someone. He tries to steal a shuttle, injuring and maybe killing Worf in the process. John revives the Klingon and is sent to the Captain's office. Meanwhile an alien ship arrives, demands that the fugitive is turned over to them for execution as he's a dangerous influence. Picard doesn't want to interfere with a foreign legal system, but when he tries to get more information about John's crimes the alien captain decides the Enterprise has been corrupted. The alien Captain force chokes the entire crew. John saves Beverly then protects the ship with a forcefield. His memory returns and he confronts the alien captain. His people are evolving, but their society suppresses this, so he and his fellows tried to flee. With his memories come his powers and he turns into a shiny golden silhouette, saves the day and leaves.

Doctor Doctor
This is the first episode since The High Ground where Dr Crusher gets a major plot line. She's competent and compassionate as a doctor, has the respect of her staff who work together well. She's not going off on her own to solve problems as though she doesn't need her team (*cough*Geordi*cough*). There's a small moment when she's tired from working, has stepped to the side for a moment, and one of the med staff comes over and gives her a drink, which is the kind of thing I've yet to see in Engineering or on the Bridge. When John's biology proves mysterious she accepts it and does what's best for his recovery, as opposed to treating him like some fascinating specimen to satisfy her curiosity (*cough*Dr Bashir*cough*). When John acts out she very sensibly calls security, rather than protecting him over ship safety.
I like that John's recovery takes time, despite his regenerative abilities. If people stay there it makes sense for sickbay to be more welcoming than other parts of the ship. I also like that he goes through the future version of physiotherapy, with devices that gradually help him regain the ability to walk. They could have waved a magic tech-wand and had him all better straight away.
Beverley's dinner time conversation with Wesley was both good and odd.Wesley has picked up on his mother's feelings for John and talks to her about that in an open way. I think it's a bit strange that she tells her son why she finds John attractive, but maybe that's just me. It's cool that she acknowledges the doctor-patient nature of their relationship, and how that can affect both parties, she's such a professional. Her feelings for John are expressed subtly, nothing mawkish or hammy. John explains that the journey he's on must be his primary concern, he tells her where he stands maturely, without vocalising what's between them. He lets her know instead of letting her down.
Blind Engineering
Geordi likes a girl (which is almost certainly how he thinks of her) but isn't sure what to do about that, because apparently he has the emotional maturity of an 11 year old. The idea that he might talk to her like a person never crosses his mind. I hate this damn trope so much! He talks to Worf about it (seriously Worf, seriously?), because Guinan's excellent point  from 19 episodes ago failed to register. When the object of his affection (as she may as well be known) makes conversation he answers in monosyllables. She's probably interested because she makes an effort to talk to him, even though it's an uphill struggle, and touches his arm. If this is what Geordi is like in social situations it's no wonder the main people he hangs out with are an android and a teenager. Seeing this I really don't think he was at all qualified to give Reg Barclay any advice on being shy or awkward. And then the solution is not for Geordi to grow up a bit and realise he shouldn't let his feelings stop him from functioning. No, he gets zapped by alien magic, and then he can talk to girls. Gah! The only saving grace is that hopefully we shouldn't have anymore plots with Geordi whining about his love life.

Klingon Warrior
When Geordi talks to Worf about a woman, the Klingon tactfully advises him to let her see the fire in his eyes. He says this to a blind man who wears a visor! He is not picked up on this stunning lack of tact. Then he suggests that words are less important than smells, which he must know isn't the case with humans. Later when Geordi can suddenly speak to women (due to a magic alien zapping his brain) Worf claims he has been teaching him. Why does Worf think he can help? He's been raised among humans, but is scared of getting involved with human women. As far as we know he's had one relationship, which ended weirdly (twice). Plus he proposes to anyone he has sex with. But sure, teach people about dating, why not?
When Geordi and Data are in 10 Forward, technobabbling at length (about something they technobabbled about at least once already) Worf is visibly bored and agitated. Eventually he stops them because he wanted a relaxing drink, not dull, nonsensical chatter. For once, Worf, I am with you.

Poor O'Brien
O'Brien comes to sickbay because he's knackered his shoulder while kayaking in the holodeck. I didn't realise this part of his characterisation went back so far. He moans about it a bit more than he should when in the company of an amnesiac who's confined to sickbay. He is the first one to benefit from John's healing powers (assuming you don't count what he did to Geordi as healing, which I do not), so things are pretty OK for him this episode.

Random Crewmember
The object of Geordi's affection is called Kristy (is she the same Kristy who rejected him in Booby Trap? Does it matter?) She's also called Miss Henshawe, which along with her lack of Starfleet uniform suggests she has no rank and isn't a crewmember. So who is this woman and why is she there? Turns out it doesn't matter in the slightest. The important thing is that she makes out with Geordi in a lift.

No Magic Here
John is the evolved form of his people (like a friendly Magneto*), which must be pretty damn impressive as the unevolved form of his people can force-choke the entire Enterprise. His powers include regeneration, healing (possibly with resurrection), force blasts, warding (he shields the entire Enterprise from force-choking just by touching a random console), and turning into glowing energy (which is actually a pretty common trick in this universe). At the start Beverley biobabbles about something to do with his cells, but by the time he's become a glowy, golden silhouette it's pretty clear that he's magic.

Staff Meetings: 2
1. In sickbay Picard tells John they can take him home, but John insists he can't go back yet. His memories are fuzzy, but he knows he was escaping with companions who were killed by their pursuers. Picard is reluctant to change course, because the dull mapping is important for some reason. He tells John it won't be for another three weeks and clearly hopes their guest will be less crazy when they get there.
2. John is sent to the Captain's office for trying to steal a shuttle, Picard is disappointed in him. Crusher speaks on his behalf, but John senses that his golden, glowy episodes are dangerous. The meeting is interrupted by the arrival of an alien ship.

The End
John tells his enemy that the mutations will mean change for their society, but they shouldn't fear it. The captain still rejects the change, but John says its available to all their people and now he's magic they can't stop him from spreading his message. John  disappears the captain and says goodbye to Beverly before disappearing as a ball of energy.

* Not really at all, but my husband is currently playing a Marvel computer game behind me, and he plays Magneto a lot and so there's a lot of Magneto's dialogue in the background at the moment.

9 January 2015

Agents of SHIELD rewatch

I like many things about US TV, but I do not understand this mid-season break malarkey. It largely seems to be a way of making the details of the story go vague in your memory while giving you time to make other plans during the broadcast timeslot (not so bad nowadays, but surely it doesn't encourage the ratings that networks seem so keen on).

Agents of Shield series 2 went on its mid-season break just after Christmas and I spent most of New Years Eve watching phase 2 Marvel films, so it feels appropriate to do a rewatch of the somewhat-troubled first series now. Plus it will make a nice interval between my posts of series 3 and series 4 of TNG (I am trying to be a bit more organised with those).

My general thoughts on the first series, just after watching it, can be found here. I enjoyed AoS series 1 -but in my house we were predisposed to do so- where others were frustrated. I liked some of the characters enough to stick through the weak, formulaic early episodes.

I suspect that in the wake of the excellent last third of series 1 and the good start of series 2, the beginning of series 1 is going to suffer by comparison. Still I enjoyed it enough the first time so I'm sure I'll manage somehow.

3 January 2015

Menage a Troi

Episode: s3, ep 24

I want to like Lwaxana Troi, she seems to have agency, isn't embarrassed by her sexuality and is a fun character. Unfortunately the show uses her really badly, so I can't enjoy most of her episodes.

What Happens
The Enterprise holds a reception after a Betazed shindig, which includes Ferengis. We are reminded the Picard does not approve of Ferengis. The Betazeds (being more reasonable than Picard) invited them even though they can't read Ferengi minds. Pssst! This will be important later! A Ferengi captain is attracted to Lwaxana Troi for her good looks and telepathic abilities. He hits on her, she loudly rebuffs him. Deanna is embarrassed by her mother's behaviour* and irritated by motherly meddling. Riker beats a Ferengi at 3D chess, and his opponent claims the alien music distracted him. Wesley scoffs at the Ferengi's lack of musical appreciation. It is one of those parties.
Wesley is to attend the Academy and has to get a ride to the oral exams. Instead of staying on the planet to get his ship he goes with the Enterprise to do something dull that puts them out of comms range. Riker and Deanna take shore leave together and kiss, but they're interrupted by Lwaxana Troi: moment killer! Then the Ferengi captain returns to proposition Lwaxana again. She refuses, so he kidnaps all 3 of them. The Enterprise returns to the planet so Wesley can leave. They're told about the disappearance and start searching. Wesley stays to help, but after a while Picard tells him to leave as he's delaying the transport ship. While his mother is trying to say goodbye to him Wesley ignores her as he realises that the static was in the pattern of the music from the party. He races to the Bridge to tell them what he's realised and misses the last bus to the Academy. The Enterprise follows the trail to the Ferengi ship.
Deanna and Riker find Lwaxana just as the Ferengis are going to painfully scan her brain. Lwaxana bargains for Deanna's safe return, and in exchange she'll give herself to the Ferengi. The deal is struck just before the Enterprise arrives. Deanna and Riker are beamed to safety. Deanna tells Picard what her mother did for her and convinces him to save Lwaxana by acting like a jealous ex. He tries to act like he loves her, then uses lines of the poetry he likes so much. He pretends that he'll destroy the Ferengi ship unless Lwaxana is returned to him. The ruse works and the Ferengi captain is scared off.
Picard calls Wesley to his office and, since he can't attend the Academy until next year, promotes him to full Ensign. Looks like he's not going anywhere.

Oh Captain My Captain
The Captain of the Federation flagship remarks that he's surprised the Ferengis were able to behave - to the diplomat who invited them to the shindig in the first place. Assuming others share your prejudices is not very diplomatic, Picard.
This is the episode where this meme comes from, this meme is everywhere. Picard is persuaded by Deanna to pretend he's possessively in love with Lwaxana in order to save her from being stuck with the Ferengi. It's always funny to see good actors doing terrible in-character acting. Picard realises he can use the words of Shakespeare and Tennyson to express his feigned feelings, and does properly massive Shakespearean dialogue, the kind that fills a theatre and overwhelms a TV screen. It's hammy as anything and hilarious.
Picard promotes Wesley so he doesn't feel bad about missing the Academy admission. When this news gets out Wesley should probably steer clear of being alone in lifts and corridors with Ensigns who actually bothered to go to the Academy and worked hard to earn their place on the flagship.

Riker: lover, adventurer, middle-management
Proving his mastery over games Riker easily beats a Ferengi guest at 3D chess, and is insufferable about it. He's also smugly amused by Deanna having issues with her mother - even though the Trois are way more functional than his crappy relationship with his father.
I'm not sure why Riker is beamed away by the Ferengis, probably because he's a witness. He doesn't seem too worried about his fellow captives being beamed away without their clothes. He uses his previously established chess prowess to escape from the cell (because that's a use for chess).

It's Not Easy Being Troi
Despite telepathy Lwaxana doesn't seem to realise how much she irritates her daughter, or possibly she isn't bothered. Deanna doesn't want motherly lectures on finding a man and settling down when she's happy and fulfilled by her work. She's also fed up of her mother treating her like a child, which is fair enough.
There's a confusing moment between Deanna and Riker, well I'm confused even if they aren't. Revisiting somewhere they went when they were dating, they kiss - even though Deanna insisted to her mother that they were just good friends now. Was that true? Is a thing exes do? I honestly don't know. Before we can find out what's happening Lwaxana turns up and interrupts with a picnic. Then the Ferengi Captain turns up and interrupts with kidnapping.
The Ferengis force the Trois to be nude (which may be a part of Betazed culture, but is bad if you don't get a choice). Deanna is sent back to the cell, but then she has to stay in telepathic contact with her mother while she seduces their captor. Deanna doesn't seem squicked out by this, so I assume this is another area where their culture is fairly open, but it's still a horrible situation. Lwaxana sacrifices her freedom to save her daughter, and as soon as she's escaped Deanna gets Picard to help free her mother.

Not Actually An Ensign ... oh wait, damn
Dear Admiral Admissions Officer,

I'm very sorry I was not able to attend the oral entrance exam, and therefore missed my chance of attending Starfleet Academy this year. I missed the very last ship from Betazed because the First Officer of the Enterprise had been kidnapped by some Ferengis along with the ship's Counsellor and her mother (who is an Ambassador). I was about to beam over to catch my lift, when I realised that the First Officer had sent a coded message in static leading us to his position. It is not unusual for me to be the one who solves problems like this, even though the Second Officer is an android.

I officially request to defer my entry to Starfleet Academy until next year. I will ensure that I am in a position to get to the Academy in good time for the entrance exams, and won't rely on last minute transport. I have been told by my fellow crew (I've been working aboard the Enterprise for a few years now) that I might not be assigned to the Enterprise when I graduate. I'm confident, given all my experience on the ship, that I will be most qualified for that assignment. Plus I'm sure that Captain Picard will request me. He's just promoted me to Ensign, so he's well aware of my value as a crewmember.


Wesley Crusher

Transporter Magic
The Trois and Riker arrive in the Ferengi brig unconscious, meaning the transporters have a setting that puts people to sleep when they're beamed. Is this something only the Ferengi have? Is it something the Federation could do, but are too principled to try?

The End
Lwaxana is sent home offscreen. Wesley comes in wearing his new red uniform. I don't know what tone this is meant to be striking, but Wesley sure is happy.

* As an Ambassador Lwaxana could have been more diplomatic about rebuffing the Ferengi, but on the other hand he suggested he could buy her, which seems to be unacceptable in her culture.