With the continuing build of consequence, the motivations of “Marvel Agents Of S.H.I.EL.D.” are distinctly becoming more plot driven rather than character driven as the episodes go on but that doesn’t less the consequence of what is being shown. When the last episode left off, the decisions that the team and specifically Mac needed to make they all believe were done for the greater good, but as this episode (“Adapt Of Die”) continues it all starts to unravel. There are some tender moments but also some revelatory moments. Like in the previous episode, Patrick Warburton plays a S.H.I.E.L.D chief in the 1970s and he plays it to a t with a bit of tongue in cheek styling. Some of the best moments though are still small character ones including some in between Daisy and a SH.I.E.L.D. agent from the 50s we have seen in the previous couple episodes. It captures almost old school romanticism with the modern storyline. The progress continues but any other spoilers would give it away though Coulson is quite enlightened in many ways throughout the episode. As with the continuing ideas of the season, it is about choice in different situations and what path it leads the Marvel Universe towards in the future.
By Tim Wassberg
The rabbit hole that “Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story” continues to go down is a slippery slope. With Episode 6: “The Twelfth Of Never” one would think that Betty (as played by Amanda Peet) has reached her lowest point but the episode shows her resolve and redemptive ways to a point. But unlike her ex-husband, she tries to play fair whereas he doesn’t. Why a husband would treat the mother of his children so recklessly even if he remarried is beyond reprehensible. Again this is a dramatization though so parts of the story might not have the full fact represented at certain points. However what is undeniable is the sacrifice that Betty endured to get Dan (played by Christian Slater) where he is but he does not see it that way. There are some bright points that indicate Betty’s potential but also many wrong decisions or perceptions. There are two possibilities for light at the end of the tunnel but the situations don’t quite play out as one hopes or Betty hopes they would. It is about wordplay and coming to bear. The system is stacked against Betty at her best points to gain ground, mostly shrouded in the smugness of the boys’ club and legal jargon. Slater plays the character with an inherent smugness of course but his character ends up being very two dimensional which likely is by design. Giving away too much more would reveal how the descent happens. Either way the path will always end darkly. The issue is that seeing the destruction of such a positive soul, whatever her perceived shortcomings may be, is a tale in unnecessary tragedy.
By Tim Wassberg
The compounding of identity filters into this week’s episode of “American Dad”. Episode 10 entitled “American Data” has Stan’s son Steve and some of his friends wanting to get calf implants because they think this will make them look cool at school. The story of the episode devolves into Roger as an arcane professor conducting experiments on the notion of prisoner and guard psychology through a test lab at Steve’s school. When his initial tests go awry, he brings in real convicts to up the stakes. It just turns out Steve is a follower at heart. He makes the inmates food and sings songs. Yet he could be in “Goodfellas”…he adjusts his behavior to what his captors want to see. When he finally gets out, his friends finally see his true colors. Meanwhile Stan is going into catatonia over the loss of a colleague per se that he reflects in the tone of a leaf blower. As with some episodes, the more esoteric imagery tends to have a bigger metaphor masked in its grotesque outlay. Roger in his own alien way keeps talking about binders like it is the end of the world though both he and Steve have their own safe rooms that exist inside their heads. The question ultimately is what does Steve want versus Roger? Acceptance. Love. Life? Steve is the true trooper here and yet his final resolution places him in the same space he was before. And if he has learned anything, he has learned nothing.
By Tim Wassberg