The continuing evolution of “Muppets Now” in its second episode “Fever Pitch” seems to a find a little more texture in its wackiness and starts to loosen up. It doesn’t lean so heavily on Kermit but for a brief bit which gives a lot more room for the smaller characters to shine. The aspect that is evolving here, unlike the movies, is that it is not a “nudge-nudge-wink-wink” approach. It is simply them going about their day and not breaking the 4th wall per se. From the first skit which is a game show, one of the smaller characters really takes the scene for a ride which is why it works and yet there is always heart. Two or three segments from the 1st episode are repeated but with much better results. But you need the right human talent, either to play off of or just bounce off of. Danny Trejo, who is promoting his taco restaurant without saying it, is the perfect foil for the Swedish Chef but still keeps it kosher. Some really funny bits revolve through this segment both because of the irony but also the visual. Muppet Labs also makes an appearance but again the strength comes out of heart, awkwardness and, in a way, heartbreak which always seems to see characters feeling different things. If “Muppets Now ” can find this balance, this show can really work. There will be misfires but as long as it can keep this off-kilter feeling and start bringing in those left field characters (like the Italian rat who riffs with Linda Cardellini and references a cat in his frame rummaging in the background) then this might be a Muppet foray that can actually survive beyond the season.
By Tim Wassberg
Working towards a common goal has always been the S.H.I.E.L.D. way but where does survival begin when hope fails. In the Marvel Universe, everything can be faced by a new path. And with some, as “Infinity War” showed, many simply come to an end. Timelines move and fade but it is about making them seem real but at other times unattainable. Cause and effect is what promotes the current Episode 11: “Brand New Day” of the final season of “Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Sybil is an interesting construct because it is about a computer built on logic but again in another timeline she doesn’t exist. An interesting element of this episode, while giving nothing away, is the path where it leads. A big texture in multiple storylines between and within the plot has to do with contentment but also safety in an abstract way, not from death but from being alone. That is a truly interesting idea. Even when Tony Stark is drifting in space or even pointing to a big aspect of James Kirk lore, is the idea that everyone is alone. It is an interesting construct for a S.H.I.E.L.D. but one that rings true the deeper one goes. Even looking at Jenna and her connection with the character Fitz speaks back to this metaphor which can be both literal and figurative at the same time. This episode raises the stakes but it almost starts to create a blueprint in an odd way. Nothing is by chance but wild cards always lead the way.
By Tim Wassberg
The aspect of consequence but also perception figures heavily into Episode 10: “Stolen” of Season 7 of “Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.” After the previous episode, which in any series would be hard to top, the follow-up might feel like a let-down, just by the nature of the energy of the previous episode. In its inception, the story of the ep is a little jarring because the location is not automatically assumed. Certain structures are in play and there is a plot angle that needs to be accomplished. Again the Sousa/Daisy interconnection is important. But without giving anything really away, it becomes about truth in the greater sense of the word. How Daisy vs. Sousa sees the world sometimes does not take into account all the variables. The key in this episode is characters and their belief or perception in what they ar seeing. That continues to change which speaks to the new time angle of what is going on. Whether this affects or impacts the next phase is still to be seen but every move is made or conceived for a specific reason, even if it is a minor detail in the construct of the universe. “Stolen” works slow and steady but this more readily set ups the structure of the new twists to come.
By Tim Wassberg