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Episode Review: MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. (“The Well”)

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Agents of SHIELD LOGOSeason 1, Episode 8
Date of airing: Nov 19, 2013 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 6.89 million viewers, 2.4/7 with A18-49

I would say this was a bullshit episode, because, like the six previous episodes, it didn’t bring anything new to the big Marvel game Kevin Feige wants to bring to both the big and small screens, but somehow the episode wasn’t as shitty as I want it to be. Okay, it was a shitty episode, but at least AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to go deeper into the Marvel comics and establish the various mythologies from various comic heroes, just so later episodes (and later TV shows, maybe even later movies) will benefit from it. Yes, the Asgardian mythology wasn’t even closely depicted in this episode, but I was glad to see that the MCU is one Asgardian character richer now – despite the fact that his reveal was pretty much the stupidest twist of the whole episode.

First off, the throwback to THOR: THE DARK WORLD. Of course it was laughable, and it was pretty much what I expected – not much of a throwback at all. Maybe it would have been a little cooler if the writers would have brought one or two more scenes showing the aftermath of the London chaos, or maybe it would have been cooler to not throw back to the movie at all. Seriously, the first seconds of this episode felt like a repeat of the first seconds of the pilot episode, while the rest of the first scene was nothing but proof that this show really is connected to the MCU. At least the writers managed to put this scene into a Thor-related episode. Yes, only Asgardian-related, but better than nothing. But yeah, the episode was a little distracting because of the movie throwback. Obviously, the writers and producers REALLY WANTED to make this show count in the MCU, but when they can’t get past one scene, they should better stop trying and tell their own stories.

Well, the arc around the staff was ridiculous for me. First of all, I didn’t know anything about Jakob (Michael Graziadeiand Petra(Erin Way), while the first two acts of the episode tried everything to build them up as the antagonists. And maybe the episode would have been more solid, if they would have been the antagonists, because the development of the story was idiotic. The writers explained the group’s actions with “hate against Norse mythology” (muhaha, I laughed when I heard that), and in the middle of the episode, Jakob, Petra and their group were completely forgotten, because the writers were rather interested in making an Asgardian out of Professor Randolph (Peter MacNicol). And here is where the episode sucks: Why would Randolph have given Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team the rhymes to the locations of the other two parts of the staff, when he himself was about to pick them up? Why was Randolph hiding the parts of the staff in the first place, when he wanted to pick them up thousands of years later? Why did he hide the locations of the parts in rhymes, when he never wanted the parts to be found anyway? And why was Randolph picking up the parts, when he hated the staff? Was there no way to destroy it for good, like… Throwing it into the Sun? After all, he is an Asgardian, and magic was mentioned, so there should have been a way for him to direct the staff into unreachable (for humans) heights. Pretty illogical the whole thing, and even though the episodes gave some answers, the back story still doesn’t make sense.

But I kinda liked Randolph as Asgardian, and his “relationship” with Coulson after the reveal. I never knew if there was hateship between the two after Coulson figured out the truth, or if he started to like the guy, just because he is Asgardian, and therefore a more interesting person to talk to (and since Coulson seems to be a fan of the Avengers members, he sucks up all the tie-ins and loves them as well – kinda like a comic reader, eh?). The only thing that annoyed me a little is that I could never read Randolph as a character after the reveal of his back story. Was he the villain, was he a friend and helper? The interrogation scene was almost horrible because of this.

The actual character arc was horrible as well. I actually thought that the episode would focus on Ward (Brett Daltonand his fights against his dark memories. Yet there was absolutely nothing about it. How was the staff working at the end? The Pagan Hate Group had no difficulties in bringing out their rage and killing people, yet Ward (and Melinda [Ming-Na Wenlater) were completely in control of their rage, and still seemed peaceful. Also: When the staff brought back bad memories in Ward and Melinda, did it do the same to the members of the group? Why was there nothing about this in the episode? Anyway, with me thinking that Ward would get a character arc here, I was disappointed at the end that he was just angry for a couple of scenes, an action hero in another, and horny enough to bone Melinda in her hotel room (they weren’t staying in the Bus?) after the episode ended. Also, Ward’s back story was just … meh. The thing with his brother didn’t interest me at all, and when this really was the worst memory of his entire life, then he really didn’t live a troubled life. Especially as a special agent.

Yeah, the episode was neither an improvement for the show, nor an improvement for the characters. I didn’t get to know Ward with this episode, because his childhood flashbacks were not delivering (though having him in a relationship with Melinda seems intriguing), and I didn’t get to care about the Asgardian mythology, because … Well, we only had a staff and another Asgardian. Not much back story at all. The final scene was great though. First of all, it promises to go further into Coulson’s Tahiti arc, but I also totally loved the DOLLHOUSE reference. Damn, I was smiling during that scene, even though DOLLHOUSE isn’t even a show I would consider good. But references to previous TV shows are always a thing to fall for. And I almost always fall for those references. 5.5/10

Fitz doesn't like rage

Fitz doesn’t like rage

Melinda likes fighting with the staff

Melinda likes fighting with the staff

Written by Christian Wischofsky

April 20, 2014 at 8:18 PM

Comic Review: SHUTTER (Issue #1)

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Shutter #1Issue Number: #1
Cover Date: April 2014
Est. Number of Sales in First Month: N/A
Written by: Joe Keatinge
Art by: Leila Del Duca
Colors by: Owen Gieni
Lettering by: Ed Brisson

Okay, back to comics. With Sunday having become a temporary day to drop TV reviews, Saturday is becoming a temporary day to drop a few comic reviews, while the rest of the week stands in for some real life. I’m slowly trying to get back into a rhythm, and I’m slowly trying to understand what I actually want from both my real life and my expectations for this block, which seems to go back and forth. Anyway, with the start of Image’s SHUTTER series, I also finally get the chance to finish ALIAS, and to continue both THE AVENGERS and THE WALKING DEAD. In the meantime, I’ll try to find a few other comic series to read.

The first issue of SHUTTER was quite solid. I didn’t know what to expect from the series, and I still don’t know what to expect from it after the final page. For now it looks like Image’s version of a Lara Croft/Indiana Jones mix, with the inclusion of supernatural (and extraterrestrial?) elements. While Indiana Jones was looking for treasures and fighting enemies in the past, and Lara Croft had to deal with the fantastic during her journeys, SHUTTER’s Kate Kristopher seems to do both. At first, the few flashback panels that make her have a huge backstory, and then the present storyline, which has her dealing with a normal life, just to realize that life was never normal for her. That she was grown into a world she didn’t want to be part of in the first place. That she only lives the life today, because somehow she needs to remember her late father. That makes for an intriguing character arc for the series, but I get the feeling this won’t even be the focus for writer Joe Keatinge. Because the final page teased a complete different story, and one I’m not really excited about. Even though the final page would mean the story stays family-related, I don’t really know whether to expect evil siblings and monsters wanting to kill Kate, or if SHUTTER remains a series that focuses on its characters and deep plots. The question is whether Kate’s siblings are just the generic pure comic evil, or if Keatinge has planned something more. Something that lies outside ridiculous twists and turns, just to fuck shit up for his characters.

Apart from the final page, the issue had some strong moments. The beginning on the moon was great, because ridiculous in a way. We in today’s times would be exciting to be on the moon, but Kate was as bored as Fry’s new friends in the second FUTURAMA episode. Kate’s normal life in the Big Apple was also great – her “conversation” with a fan (giving Kate a past besides the panels with her father – basically a timeline between the flashbacks and the present timeline), her way of dealing with a seemingly normal day. The flashback panels were also interesting, but only because they kinda established what SHUTTER is actually about, and who Kate really is. And finally, Kate talking to her father’s grave headstone was some nice character work. It makes SHUTTER feel real in a way, as if Kate was just another normal character in a world full of fucked-up characters. It makes Kate a likable person, and I’m interested in her adventures now. I just hope they don’t become ridiculous and blown-up adventures. The first issue managed to stay on the ground, but I have a little fear that this might not be the case with the following issues.

The art is also strong. Apart from the moon pages, which were simple and bright, Kate’s present timeline was edgy, dark, full of information. As if the panels in the present timeline mirrored Kate’s current “state of life”: She has lived through so much, so the panels looked like they lived through a lot – what you can’t say about the 80s-looking moon pages. Sadly, Kate isn’t really attractive for me. Her face is a little too long for my taste, but that’s just my problem, right?

All in all, it looks like I’m gonna stick with the series for now, as long as I don’t forget it exists. I hope that SHUTTER stays leveled and doesn’t fly high in subsequent issues, or the strong moments in this issue (mainly the character work on Kate) were wasted. I don’t mind a comic version of Indiana Jones and Lara Croft (Kate Kristopher could almost be an offspring of the two), but I do mind, when a comic series changes its look so fast that it doesn’t even have the feeling of the first issue any longer. 7/10

Written by Christian Wischofsky

April 19, 2014 at 8:35 PM

Episode Review: MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. (“The Hub”)

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Agents of SHIELD LOGOSeason 1, Episode 7
Date of airing: Nov 12, 2013 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 6.67 million viewers, 2.2/6 with A18-49

Usually in television, the strongest episode so far is followed by a weak episode. Seems like AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. is going to continue that curse of network television. It wasn’t a wow-episode, and it wasn’t an episode that could hold up my interest, but some elements actually were intriguing to me. First of all, the hierarchy of S.H.I.E.L.D. is depicted, which is a nice thing to do. You have a show about a government agency, yet there hasn’t been a chance to actually dwell into the government agency, up until this point. Okay, the Level clearance is a joke to me, and the “Trust the system” tagline could come right out of a dystopian movie, but at least the writers are trying. And as long as they play with trust and distrust, and how it could conflict characters with each other, I’m able to look past the weak story and separated character development. Also, going deeper into the mythology of S.H.I.E.L.D. is always a good thing. I already know almost enough about S.H.I.E.L.D. from the comics, but now I have proof that the writers are equally interested in depicting S.H.I.E.L.D. in the show as well, and this is a plus, no matter how snoozy the episode was.

When it comes to character development, we have to talk about Ward (Brett Daltonand Fitz (Iain De Caestecker). I was hoping for some character development for the two, but there wasn’t much. On the other hand I was happy that the mission wasn’t used to bring in comedy. Yeah, Fitz did this one or that other thing that made the episode look horrendous (the sandwich thing was the biggest problem of them all), but I have to say that I expected a whole lot more of comedy when I realized the episode would go with a Ward/Fitz team-up – but the hour kept itself down to earth during this time, and never got silly. Which could mean two things: Either the writers were really interested in bringing some character depth into the show, or they just completely failed to make a comedy hour out of the episode. When I think about BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and their silly episodes, AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. stinks, because there is absolutely no silly comedy moments to go for, while BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER always managed to take the cake and make a run for the hilarious and stupid (case in point, the “Something Blue” episode during the fourth season) and look good while doing it.

Anyway, the Ward/Fitz team-up. Thankfully it wasn’t that boring, though I really would have wished to see some real deep scenes between the two. The scene in the pipe, for example, was just smelling of sandwiches and character development, yet there was nothing really to be seen, except Ward kind of behaving like a big brother towards Fitz – which was cool in a way, but it also kind of was the only “moment of characters” in that story. Because the rest was simple proceduralized storytelling. Two guys, who are Yin and Yang to each other, team up, go on a mission, prove they can work well together, and are also in the middle of showing that their team members care for them and pick them up when they are in danger. The usual – no surprising twists, and no real danger. Not even with Ward and Fitz in the hands of some Russian/Georgian wannabe mob masters, and not even with Skye (Chloe Bennet) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridgestupidly risking their reputations and jobs to save their friends.

The latter was probably the most troublesome thing of the episode. I mean, you have Skye, and she is wearing the “I’m a cheater and liar, so never trust me” wristband, and yet she is STILL trying to be Skye the hacker, who would do anything to find out more about her past and go beyond any rule she has been told exists. So, why exactly is she wearing the wristband in the first place, when she is clearly able to fuck around anyhow? Were her actions in this episode just a plot by the writers to show that she really is one of the good guys, who would do anything to save her new friends? Or was Skye pushed to her episodic limits in this hour to show the audience that she still can’t be trusted after betraying Coulson’s trust for the second time in three episodes? Yes, she might have done the right thing, but it was the right thing FOR HER, which means it was the wrong thing to do, which means she is a pretty egoistic character. Which means I don’t like her. Which means she can’t be trusted as a character in the show. And I don’t really know if this was intentional or just plainly bad writing. Yes, Skye annoyed the shit out of me in this episode. And she made Simmons look bad, too. The scene where she used the Nite Night Gun against Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernándezmight have looked funny, but inside my brains I was just thinking ‘Oh my Harvey Weinstein, how can she be so stupid and out of character, and how can she trust Skye after two episodes ago, and how can she trust her now, and why the fuck does she have such awkward and silenced confidence in a situation she was never before, and what the hell did I just watch?’ I really don’t know what to think of it except bad things.

Well, at least the S.H.I.E.L.D. part was good. I hope this episode isn’t the only one where The Hub is being used, and who knows, maybe it’s going to be shown in one of the MCU movies as well. Fact is that the writers just included Victoria Hand (Saffron Burrows), and she is a recurring character in the comics. Whether she is prepped to be a villain in future episodes/seasons, or becomes a force against the evil to reckon with (becoming part of either this S.H.I.E.L.D. team, or the Avengers, or maybe even The Defenders in 2015?), it’s clear that she will be part of the show for now. Her interactions with Coulson (Clark Greggwere nice, and I liked the uncertainty behind her character – did she not tell Coulson about the non-existence of the extraction team, because she knew Coulson would save the day and do his own thing, or was she ordered to not tell Coulson anything, because in reality he (and his strength) was tested? Interesting questions, which dig deeper into the S.H.I.E.L.D. hierarchy, as well as into Coulson’s back story. Seriously, the mid-sentence pause during his repeated “It’s a magical place” was instantly noticeable, and now that even Coulson questions his own back story, it has somewhat become more interesting. A character that doesn’t know about his own past? Neat. And I know it’s the usual memory-wipe twist we see everywhere in science-fiction these days (and is currently getting ridiculed into the land of stupid in James Dashner’s The Maze Runner book trilogy), but in AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. it’s neat, because the conclusion to that story will ultimately reveal who Coulson really is here. Because one thing is for sure: He is not the Coulson from THE AVENGERS.

And finally: The Bus can hover. I was laughing when I see that. As it stands, the writers bend their rules and in-show technology as it fits. I hate inconsistencies of this kind, and it doesn’t even matter if any airborne device in the Marvel universe can hover, because the MCU has a hovering helicarrier above the cities of the world. I just can’t believe that a plane as huge as The Bus can easily hover above the ground without blowing a huge crater into it – or blowing Ward and Fitz away with burning clothes. There’s just so much disbelief I can suspend in one episode… 5.5/10

No more total recall!

No more total recall!

How to dispose a body in the middle of the most secured (and CCTVed) area on the planet

How to dispose a body in the middle of the most secured (and CCTVed) area on the planet

Written by Christian Wischofsky

April 13, 2014 at 8:49 PM

Episode Review: MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. (“FZZT”)

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Agents of SHIELD LOGOSeason 1, Episode 6
Date of airing: Nov 5, 2013 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 7.15 million viewers, 2.5/7 with A18-49

Well, this seems to be the best episode of the show so far. With the worst plot of the show so far. Once again, AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. goes down that route every show in its genre path (whether extraterrestrial, supernatural or simple science-fiction) goes down, with the same stories and setup, and maybe even with the same characters and oneliners. This episode couldn’t have been more an episode of SMALLVILLE and SUPERNATURAL, where the main characters had to deal with a virus; or an episode written by Brannon Braga, who seemed to love that kind of shit, and even brought it into TERRA NOVA, though it was completely out of place there. Now, the disease thing has made it to AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D., and even though the story was matter-of-fact bad, the episode wonderfully showcased Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) as characters, once again gave Coulson (Clark Gregg) two moments of character depth, and even gave May (Ming-Na Wen) one single moment of shining. Yes, this episode had the worst story, because it was used everywhere, but it was the best episode of the season, because it brought me some of the characters closer.

During the last five episodes, I couldn’t give a shit about Fitz and Simmons. Too nerdy, no back drop, always there to explain scientific stuff and technological advances to the newbie characters and viewers, and sometimes I didn’t even know whether they were brother and sister, or a couple, or in love with each other… Well, this episode gave some answers to this, plus Simmons’s first name (it must be the first episode to depict Simmons’s first name), but what was excellent here was the emotional level between the two science nerds. The scene of the two sitting back-to-back at the glass door, not looking at each other, both in their same world of emotions, was excellent. Seeing Simmons slowly accepting her fate was excellent. Seeing Fitz transforming himself into a hero to save his best friend was excellent. Seeing Simmons standing there, about to jump into her death, was excellent. And if there wouldn’t have been the cut to the commercial break, Fitz’s cry for Simmons after she jumped would have been excellent as well. Yes, the episode wins when it comes to the development of the relationship between the two, and suddenly I care about them. The question is whether I will care about them in the next episode as well – not that the writers went back to the bullshit of the last few episodes and offer nothing but empty promises.

Sadly, the best part of the episode was only the second part. I would have liked for the search of the killer (which turned out to be a virus) to be cut into one arc only. I would have liked for the whole mystery during the first two acts to completely vanish after the first act. It stole away way too much time from Fitz and Simmons, and if the writers would have realized that, they could have brought another level of emotions into the second half of the episode. Like, going even deeper into the friendship between the two. And/Or involving the other team members into the tragic events. Since Fitz was the only one able to do anything to save Simmons’s life, there was no chance for Coulson, May, Ward or Skye to show some emotions. They were just standing there, literally doing nothing. Well, at least the writers went forward with ONE character-developing story.

In addition, I kinda liked that the writers used already established “alien tech” for the origins of the virus. Who knows, if it wouldn’t have been a Chitauri helmet, any logic for bringing in the virus would have been as ridiculous as TERRA NOVA was for most of the time. That doesn’t mean the story was still good in this episode, but at least the writers didn’t have to create a complete new setup. Sometimes, an existing universe can be used for something good. And, like I already said, I adored the emotional level of the episode. Beginning with Coulson’s words to Tony Diaz (Vincent Laresca), and the face Coulson had when he exited the fire station, going over to Simmons’s drama, and how she and Fitz were reacting to the news and events. Finally, AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. showed the seriousness I was missing during the past five episodes, and I would like to see that kind of seriousness in future episodes. But I don’t think that’s ever gonna happen.

What I’m hopeful about though is that the show is going to become a better one with the next episode. I vaguely remember that Joss Whedon called the first six episodes a big pilot, and that the writers were able to get into the show’s mythology with the seventh episode. I call bullshit, because Whedon isn’t the only one who said something like this, but I still have a few hopes, because now I can kinda confirm that the first six episodes were a big pilot. We know a little something about the characters, we know a little something about the big antagonist in the last rows, we know a little something about the new tech, and we know a little something about the relationships between the characters. It’s almost like we have enough information to finally go into the show and fuck shit up (in a good way). I’m intrigued if this is ever going to happen though… 6.5/10

Only fringe science can explain the flying dead man

Only fringe science can explain the flying dead man

Simmons has to deal with mortality on her own

Simmons has to deal with mortality on her own

Written by Christian Wischofsky

April 6, 2014 at 8:26 PM

Episode Review: MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. (“Girl in the Flower Dress”)

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Agents of SHIELD LOGOSeason 1, Episode 5
Date of airing: Oct 22, 2013 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 7.39 million viewers, 2.7/8 with A18-49

Seems like the writers like to put in more than one antagonist into each episode. First the actual villain who has a face and a name, and then the mysterious party behind that antagonist, which has no faces, no names, and slowly gets uncovered by S.H.I.E.L.D. And I don’t really know whether I should like it. Like I already said in last episode’s review, I hate it when the writers make such a big mystery out of the big boss of the show. The fact that the big boss has a name (probably fake) and a face (probably expendable) now, and is connected to the events in the pilot, doesn’t really make it better. In addition, the introduction of Raina (Ruth Negga), and the fact that she is the title character of the episode, reminds me of Mr. Jones, and how he was once the title character in the first season of FRINGE, and look how his character, or his band of friends, were important to the show’s narrative. Consider me suspicious…

It wasn’t a very good episode. When I saw that Chan Ho (Louis Ozawa Changchien) got stronger powers, and a superhero/supervillain name, I was hoping for something more interesting to turn up near the end. Instead he was killed off, which also means that the writers needed five episodes to finally kill off an antagonist for once. Then I realized how boring Scorch’s powers were, and I was happy that he was killed off. Otherwise we would have had a little X-Men and Fantastic Four party at the end of the first season, if the writers would have continued to bring in generic-powered superheroes/-villains into the plot. Furthermore, Chan Ho wasn’t an interesting character, mostly because he changed to a radical villain midway through the episode. I kinda liked the fact that he had to hide his powers, which made him a little depressive as a person, but as soon as he “got freed”, he behaved extremely ridiculous. I just can’t buy that one girl in a flower dress, a few promises (which weren’t questioned at all – I mean, Chan Ho just accepts the big needle in his arm, and the serum in his body without asking questions?), and a bigger flame on his hands can make a villain out of Chan Ho in this little amount of time. Then again, Chan Ho seemed to be an idiot as a character, which I can totally buy.

That the unnamed party in the background has a name now… Well, I’ll take it, but still, there are absolutely no answers to all the questions. In addition to that, besides the name for the group (and seriously, when I hear Centipede, the only thing I can think about is the Human Centipede movies), there is also another name whooping around now. And I don’t really wanna theorize around the name “Clairvoyant” – I just hope it’s an alien in the body of a female, because that would be the only thing that would get approval from me. Comics need more female supervillains.

At least Skye’s (Chloe Bennet) secret is out in the wind now, and I’m happy that it is after five episodes. I already figured for the last three episodes that the secret isn’t a big one. Instead Skye’s background arc is a big one. I’m actually interested now, because the past of S.H.I.E.L.D. is connected to one of the main characters of the show, which means that the continued building of the universe is tied to one of the characters now – and story developments like these are always exciting for two reasons: Either the writers realize the great chance they have to build their show, or you can see the quality of the writers by fucking up that great chance. I guess I will see. That Skye would make such a big secret out of her parents though… I don’t really know. In addition, wouldn’t S.H.I.E.L.D. have found out about Skye’s past, and the fact that her parents have a S.H.I.E.L.D. connection? Wouldn’t have somebody from the S.H.I.E.L.D. leadership asked Skye about it, or wouldn’t have Coulson know something about it? Or is the clearance in this case higher than Level 7? That Skye would keep her family background a secret, so she can snoop around the S.H.I.E.L.D. files seems a little ridiculous to me. She could have simply asked, especially right after she became a S.H.I.E.L.D. protegé. “Hey, I’ve got a problem with my past, can you help me out while I continue to work for you guys?” could have been an easy way to ask Coulson or anyone else for help… Even more, I was disappointed that pretty much none of the team members was shocked about Skye’s betrayal. Coulson (Clark Gregg) was just saying he had been lied to since the beginning (which means he wasn’t angry, he was just being lied to), May (Ming-Na Wen) just showed her annoyed face, when she had Skye’s shirt in her hand, and Ward (Brett Dalton) wasn’t even involved with his emotions here. So, yeah, the writers don’t really have it with character development here.

And finally, rest in peace, Dr. Debbie (Shannon Lucio). I completely forgot that you were involved in the Mike Peterson case in the pilot, but I still like Shannon Lucio, and I would have liked to see her involved in something bigger. Instead she just puffed away here. At least her death scene was kinda cool, though also ridiculous – I know it’s network television, but Debbie’s screaming while burned alive could have been a little more … NC-17 rated. Also, the fact that the writers brought back Debbie and Extremis means two things: The story isn’t forgotten, as is Mike Peterson, and Extremis is going to be used as a cheap way out for some of the villains and the S.H.I.E.L.D. team in the future. If you have an unstable villain, just put Extremis in his body, and the villain makes a hot exit. Yeah, definitely lame. 5/10

The girl in the flower dress comes with her equally well-dressed friends

The girl in the flower dress comes with her equally well-dressed friends

Obvious screenshot is obvious

Obvious screenshot is obvious

Written by Christian Wischofsky

March 30, 2014 at 8:09 PM

Fear of a Better Life: A Journal of an Aging Twentysomething

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Anxiety 1Due to recent events, I’m gonna tell you a little something about social anxiety today. I’m gonna tell you why I fear the world, and why I have difficulties in living in it. I’m gonna give you the reasons why I barely have friends, and why I’m slowly accepting to never have friends or a romantic relationship. And I’m gonna tell you why people without the disorder need to start recognizing it, so they are able to understand why the quiet and shy person in front of them doesn’t want to talk or do something.

Social anxiety is part of my life for as far as I can remember, though it wasn’t as big of an issue in my childhood than now. Back then I couldn’t make friends, so I stayed home, developed my first hobbies, and was considered a couch potato. And when I was able to make friends, even just one, the friendship was short-lived, and all of a sudden I didn’t have friends any longer. Whether they started to hate and bully me, or class six was suddenly done and I went to another school, had to start all over again. Today I can’t make friends, because by now I have figured that I’m being used, hurt, left. One person I considered a friend stole money from me, and I had to learn about his personal (and health) problems after he had left – I was thinking he used the friendship with me to get a little money from me, and I thought that he didn’t trust me enough to tell me his problems. Other friends come and go, and the ones I start to consider as friends, they leave quickly, never to return or getting in contact again. One friend I understood myself very well with left urgently without saying goodbye, and when I tried to make contact with her once, she didn’t respond. Maybe because she never got my message to begin with. So, when it comes to friends, there is only one question in my mind: Why go through all this process of making friends, if they are either going to use me or leave after a short while? Why creating hope in my mind that everything will get better, when suddenly everything gets worse after the realisation hits my mind? I’m always going into new potential friendships with that question in mind, which eventually hinders me creating new friendships.

I wasn’t able to talk very much in my childhood, and I am not able to talk to people today. I have a bright and colorful and imaginative mind (hell, I’m a writer), but somehow I can put my thoughts into words. I always found it easier to write my thoughts down, though I sometimes realize that going deep into me and putting down my feelings on paper (or on a blog, for everyone to read) is difficult as well. I know that it is easy to spill out all my emotions into written words, for people to read and understand me, but there is still the sense of judgment in my mind. When people didn’t know a fact about me, they do now, which means they will think differently about me. And I tend to prevent a development of a potential relationship, because I have this fear of being rejected and used again. Once I learned something about a (former) friend’s past without her knowing about it (and she most likely didn’t tell anyone about her troubled past), and when I did I suddenly understood her much better – I believe that when people learn something about me, they don’t understand me and instead try to stay away from me, staying away from the uncomfortable, from the awkwardness.

Writing down my feelings also gives another advantage. When I talk to a person via text messages, I’m being given a distance between me and the person. I don’t have a problem spilling beans in words with a distance, because I wouldn’t be able to see the true reaction of the person. I would give the person a chance to react to my words and respond in a way that wouldn’t destroy the relationship again. The disadvantage is that people tend to never fully understand my feeling and emotions. Because they never know about my anxiety. Another disadvantage is that most people don’t care. They might learn a little something about me, but a large percentage are so self-concerned and obsessed with their own lives, they quickly forget what other people say, and it is my task to explain to them once again what my troubles are – if I’m ever ready to tell them my troubles. And if people are not interested in understanding my troubles, I realize they don’t want to be my friends, so I tend to move away from them.

When I talk, I mumble. Mostly because I have a deep and quiet voice which loses itself in the room quickly, but also because I’m not able to form my thoughts into coherent sentences. Also, a language barrier might be a problem. The English language isn’t a problem for me, but it is still my second language, and I’m still trying to form grammatically correct sentences, with the hope that people would understand me better if I used proper grammar. But every now and then the thought of a sentence I just wanted to say loses itself in my mind, and I stumble with my words. Sometimes it happens because I start to think about the consequences of the spoken word WHILE I talk (and talking and thinking at the same time always messes things up), and sometimes it happens because I didn’t think anything – my mind is blank and I don’t even realize what I’m saying until after I said it.

Anxiety 2In addition, I have the problem anybody with social anxiety has: I’m just not good in talking to people. For most of the time I’m really not interested in hearing how their day was – I know it’s a common way of starting a conversation, but I really don’t wanna know what joke your boss told you during lunch break, or how the punk rocker looked like you saw beside you in your car while waiting for the green light. I don’t need to know the things that are mundane, because they don’t tell me anything about who you are as a person. I’m always interested in hearing personal things from people (how they grew up, their relations with friends and family, etc.), because it lets me see into their minds, but when it comes to how awesome that new app on their phone is, how shitty the new club is that just has opened, or how terrible the food was they’ve bought and threw away… I turn off my mind and go into a little trance, because I just want this thing to be over it. But while I’m interested in hearing about people’s (real) lives, I tend to stay quiet about mine. Yes, I might be able to write about it, but talking about it is nearly impossible. During the separation and subsequent divorce of my parents, I was seeing a counsellor – apparently I had to see one, because my parents thought it was necessary. I didn’t talk about my problems during those ~30 hours I spend in sessions, and instead I tried to showcase my hobbies. It’s easier to get lost in your own thoughts, instead of talking about them, while you’re sitting on that chair. I can remember, my first session was with my father, and he was talking all the time. I was just sitting there, sometimes listening, most of the time daydreaming and wishing to get the fuck out of there and for people to leave me alone. And when I had my own counsellor, I was thinking about GOOD WILL HUNTING, and how it’s impossible to get that one counsellor who has only one patient and is fully interested in knowing anything about the patient, wanting to simply help the patient out of its misery. When I’m thrown into a conversation, I’m not thinking about the actual conversation most of the time. Besides thinking about what’s right to say right now, my mind jumps back and forth between different thoughts and daydreams, and my mind asks the question “When is this conversation finally over? I want to be by myself!”

The daydreaming is another aspect. With my imaginary mind, there are always pictures floating around. Most of them are random, and within minutes I succeed in creating a whole different world after seeing one little thing that might just be as unimpressive for people as the next morning coffee. But for me they are part of a larger scale. I want to live in a world where everything is perfect. Where people aren’t assholes, and where they are nice. Where corruption, violence and war doesn’t exist. Since this world can’t offer me my perfect Utopia, I have to create it myself, even though I know it will never be real. Sometimes I think about it so much, I get lost in my thoughts and the world I have created (and sometimes I use my creations for my writing). Sometimes I think about it so much, I can’t think of anything else. Conversations will be standing in the way of me creating a whole different world in my head, and I’m looking for a quick exit out of real life, just so I can get lost in my thoughts again.

If people say to me they like me, the first thing that happens in my mind is an alert: red flashes jump into my eye, and I realize that the person in front of me just told a lie. I never had people liking me before, and if they did, they used me sooner or later. If people say to me they love me, even more red alerts jump into my eye. I had my mother say that to me ONCE (I can only remember it that one time), and I couldn’t believe her then, and after all that has happened, I wouldn’t believe it today either, no matter by whom the words come from. In fact, I have never heard an “I love you” in my life that I could take seriously. This also makes it completely difficult for me to say “I like you” or “I love you”. Usually, my road of a romantic relationship, beginning with “He sees her”, ends at step 4 (of about 30) with “He likes her”, because I’m never able to tell her that, or go another step forward. My mind just shuts down after that, protecting me from future embarrassment and pain. And I can’t seem to do anything about the mind’s shutdown, since it’s – in a way – a chemical process in my body. When something happens to me that hasn’t happened before, my heart races, my blood pumps, I get nervous and insecure, and I really don’t know what to do. And before I do something wrong, I rather decide to not do it at all. Another one of my mind’s methods to protect me from my wrongdoings that are never wrong for so many people.

Social anxiety is a battle, and I have accepted to lose it. Thanks to a few certain people in my life I got to a point where I am now, where I will always have difficulties in opening up and talking to people; beginning a friendship or even a deeper relationship. I have not given up the hope that there might be somebody out there who fully gets me, who understands me, and who is selfless enough to break me out of this phase where I don’t have to act to be an ordinary person. Where I don’t have to be sarcastic and cynical, just so I don’t have to show my feelings. I have not given up, but I am also no longer looking. A recapitulation, basically. Which means there is more time to put everything into written words.

Written by Christian Wischofsky

March 30, 2014 at 4:14 PM

Episode Review: MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. (“Eye Spy”)

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Agents of SHIELD LOGOSeason 1, Episode 4
Date of airing: Oct 15, 2013 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 7.85 million viewers, 2.8/8 with A18-49

Seems like the writers aren’t really interested in concluding their episodes. And I kinda don’t mind, because the open endings are actually part of building an even bigger universe. Even though I hate open mysteries in TV shows (because the writers are able to excuse themselves very easily through lazy writing), it kinda works here, because I already know that the MCU is growing and growing, and as long as you bring a shitload of forces into the universe, it can only get better for the future projects. I mean, Graviton’s origins in the last episode, and now an unseen enemy with unseen and unheard-of technology in this episode. If this doesn’t tell you that the writers are building a universe on top of another universe, then I don’t know. Unfortunately, it’s the only good thing going for AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. so far.

Compared to the first three episodes, this hour was another solid one. First of all, I liked the fact that the show was shot on-location. Suddenly television feels more real when you realize that the scenes in Stockholm were IN FACT shot in Stockholm, and not in a studio back loft somewhere in Los Angeles (ALIAS, anyone?). You suddenly notice that the production was executed with lots of effort and work, and I praise that. In addition to that, the Stockholm metro station just looked fantastic! It almost seemed like a tourist attraction, or not? Anyway, the Marvel-mystery of the week wasn’t really interesting for me, since there wasn’t much Marvel in it. Instead it just felt like a tech-episode, and the characters (and the viewers) now know that there are things out there that might have nothing to do with anything the MCU has depicted so far. I mean, the story involving Akela Amador (Pascale Armand) reminded me of bad plots in James Bond movies, or a future episode of an evil Bionic Woman. Nothing I haven’t seen so far, and everything that you can also find in different spy movies, TV shows, novels, and even comics. But at least the emotional component worked. The way Coulson (Clark Gregg) was trying to give Amador a second chance, while the rest of his team went down the hill of clichés and wrote her off from the beginning was nice, and it gave Coulson some nice character treats. Not that I can do anything with it, but it showed that Coulson is a human being. (Is he really?)

The mystery behind Amador was also solid, though it still didn’t pick up my interest. I liked that she was more of a slave to her handler (the fact that the producers chose a black actress for the character seems intriguing and almost well thought through), and I liked that she wasn’t the evil and genius weapon both Ward (Brett Dalton) and May (Ming-Na Wen) wanted to see her as. But I was severely disappointed by the fact that Ward and May weren’t involved in the story any longer, after Amador was brought in, and she suddenly became the good gal. I really would have liked to see how May saw her little “mistake”, and how she was accepting Coulson’s choice of giving Amador a second choice, and I also would have liked to hear something from Ward. Instead of just executing Amador’s mission, he could have been involved a little more in Amador’s story. But I know that would have been a little more complicated to write, with two storylines emerging in the fourth act.

So far, I’m also not interested in the mysterious party behind this episode’s events. Obviously, someone big was executing the robberies, and obviously, it’s going to be the big enemy for the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in the second stage of the season, but I just hate it when the first episodes starring the phantom menace end with unanswered questions. (Also, the death of the Englishman [Dominic Burgess] made me laugh, because the only thing I saw was SAW. And then I saw every season of 24 in that scene.) I always wonder why writers have to keep their secrets a secret, and I will never understand why writers take so long to come out with the answers. Everyone has seen how it hurt LOST in the aftermath, and everyone can read the fans’ opinions on the web, after the show has finally delivered answers – just for everyone to see that those answers are not consistent with earlier episodes any longer. Writing-by-numbers, and “making shit up as we go along” might still work these days, but in the long run it just doesn’t make any sense. It’s only the fourth episode of AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D., but I can already expect to feel my disappointment, when I see that the secret wasn’t worth speculating over for half a season.

A few more words about both May and Skye (Chloe Bennet). May seems to be the only serious character in the bunch, which I like, but this episode also gave me the answer why she hasn’t gotten any screentime yet. With AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. still being a light number, there is no place for a dark and serious character. And then there is Skye. I think I fell in love with Chloe Bennet here. Her little eye games in the van, when she talked to Coulson at the end… OMG, cute-alert! Skye was totally playing with AC, and I loved every tenth of a second of it. 5.5/10

The Red Men Group perform in Stockholm this very second

The Red Men Group perform in Stockholm this very second

"Let me poke my own eye with this horribly big needle"

“Let me poke my own eye with this horribly big needle”

Written by Christian Wischofsky

March 23, 2014 at 8:23 PM

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