Finding reflexivity in a slightly new tone has been the tome for this season for “Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Sometimes the stories go off in their own trajectory but with this “The Most Excellent Adventures Of Mack and The Deke Squad” it pushes a little farther in terms of tone. Now without giving too much away it might have to do with a more analog angle from all points but the way in which the violence is approached is different as well. This is in homage to some classic 80s tropes. But then the episode is completely full of them. Without giving anything away it works within the states of characterization whether it be throwbacks to “Rambo’, “The Lost Boys” or many others. There is an aspect of characterization to it though and no matter how wild it gets, the episode winds around to that thought that created it in the first place but also takes the time travel angle into impact beyond the simple plot mechanics. A lot of what the episode ultimately shows is tongue in cheek which is nice that the series is able to do. While there is plot progression, this episode is more character based. And one could swear that a new team member is someone that be can recognized but alas, it is not, especially with a throwback line to a certain 80s song.
By Tim Wassberg
The influence of wordplay in “American Dad” can point to something literal or a subversive reality hanging just below the surface. With Episode 8″ “Trophy Life, Trophy Wife”, it uses the metaphorical and literal against each other. Sometimes there is so much subtext running through an episode that the role of what it is attempting to discuss becomes merely a satirical reference to itself. The story here revolves around when Stan is seriously injured at the inset of the episode to where there is no way he can possibly repair himself alone. In a normal episode, he would snap his fingers and be up. But what this examines is the psychology of need specifically in the perspective of Francine, his wife. It is a bit of a retro-feminist approach in its ideal but again is an interesting discussion. As has been been seen in many female comedian specials of late, certain aspects are biological as much as the intellectual wants to push it the other way. Francine wants to have a strong husband and yet wants to remain in control. She wants to be vulnerable and yet know exactly how a business should be run. All very apt points.
But wiring between male and female cognition is inherently different just by biological nature. What is interesting of course is that Stan doesn’t know how to traverse this gray area. For his kind of personality it is zero or extreme in terms of his approach. After Francine nurtures him back to health, he thinks he cannot survive or do anything unless she can watch over it. It is a survival mechanism balanced with a Florence Nightingale backlash. The funny thing is the rehabilitation product of choice is Stan chasing an actual trophy. When he leaves his job, he and Francine buy at trophy shop where he doesn’t want to sell trophies at. He just wants to be with Francine all day and no one else. The coup de grace is him leaving when there is no middle ground that he will even acknowledge. He buys a pickle store across the street and it literally goes down from there before a reset can occur. And life goes on. But that intention of need shows below the surface that despite everything going on Stan and Francine still have a connection.
By Tim Wassberg
As the season progresses, “Harley Quinn” is coming to terms with its identity in a way but has also spreads out the narrative in a more broad way than would have been expected, using humor to its advantage but not necessarily making narrative sense. The series seems to operate in vignettes while also engaging on ongoing story lines like Batgirl (aka Barbara Gordon). This episode “There’s No Place To Go But Down” seems to have triple meaning like most of the titles. The progression of this one is that Harley is brought to court for the murder of Penguin but as it is new Gotham it is a Kangaroo court with Two Face as prosecution and Bane is the judge. The court appointed attorney is a mutant Bat which is sort of funny since no one can understand what he is saying and he seems aloof with a drinking problem. Of course Harley is sent to jail but Ivy tries to take the fall for her which is sweet.
What progresses is that instead of Arkham, Bane transports them to a new place he calls The Pit which is a prison of sorts where the inmates, all murderous types try to find themselves through painting and the arts. Bane is a delight here since he is always made to be the butt of all the crime lords jokes. All he wants is a little order, some laughs and the bed made. It is only when he kicks in his serum that he becomes dangerous. Harley just wants to escape so Ivy can finally get married to her boyfriend Kite Man. The ending progression is interesting for Ivy because it is existential and identity prone but then the last shot changes everything in a quick shot. It creates a neat but undeniable story shift which could have interesting ramifications.
By Tim WassbergTV Colle