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.
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.
Trying to find a new structure inside the idea of The Muppets in an interesting quandary. These are old school puppets who find themselves in a new world and yet they need to be a product of it without seeming antiquated or behind the times. “Muppets Now” is a direct reference to that. It takes into account that some of the most successful elements of The Muppets recently have been their You Tube shorts playing to music video covers and such which plays into vignettes. It is a different beast from the original “Muppet Show” nearly 40 years ago where it was more about what was going off stage as it was on stage. This is inter-played here to be sure but it is not really the same thing. However, it does approach it in a parallel way. Scooter is still doing the tech elements but now with a computer instead of a stage. It incorporates the internet/social media angle and it has the guest stars in many ways in a similar way While it does incorporate some of their personality, pop culture is different now. It would be neat to see how music and comedy plays in but it is not quite there. There is no “Pigs In Space” moment. No Steve Martin plays the banjo. Kermit does on-on-ones that go awry. Miss Piggy has a fashion segment. The Swedish Chef has a cooking show that goes wrong. The show seems to have its ducks in a row but it is not overtly thinking outside the box but it is a tricky line. A lot of the stuff that could be done in the late 70s on a UK produced show perhaps can’t quite be done in close to a similar way on Disney+ in 2020. It will be interesting to see how “Muppets Now” evolves.
The necessity of time and the intention of connection is an important progression. But it is also a tried and true method of progression. This is what is known as a time loop. Many films have done this to varying effect. What it comes down to is what the viewer feels about the characters. After not watching “Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.” the previous 2 or so seasons but jumping back into this point where it is transitioning in a very unique way because has to do with its spot in the pantheon of mythology. And in this way, it takes on a very crucial element. But what works well in “Episode 9: “As I Always Have Been” is that despite this, there are quiet moments that truly elevate. Without giving away too much, that is what makes this episode so humanistic and exceptional despite the plot machinations moving around it. Two highlight points come with different kinds of emotional resonance, both innately powerful. But to give away any aspect of its place in the plot would spoil it, even the location it takes place in. This is “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” at its best but also, to a point, its most insular since you have to be invested in these characters to understand its impact and the foreshadowing involved.
As a companion piece to the “Dirty John” miniseries detailing “The Betty Broderick Story” , “Snapped: Betty Broderick” on Oxygen shows the actual life from the facts that were extrapolated from friends and the media coverage at the time of the event in the late 80s. Granted at the time many elements can take a slight bias while others don’t. Certain similarities in process come to mind. Betty (also known as Elizabeth), is shown as a model who grew up and went to school in NY with parents who were well off which wasn’t really highlighted in the mini-series. The progress of Betty giving up any dreams to help Dan Broderick reach his from Notre Dame to Harvard Law doesn’t speak to parents on either side helping in part. In the series, Betty’s parents are seen as very cold so it is interesting to take basic pull-aways of that the relationships were. The psychological impacts behind closed doors (and obviously this took place before cell phones) can be perceived as hearsay so there is of course disconnect. The aspect of the boyfriend Betty had post-divorce is not integrated into the miniseries and that brings a slightly different angle to it. In real life, he is the one who first discovered the bodies. Supposedly Betty was set off by the kids being taken away from here but that would bely a psychotic break from an action that seemed to have occurred. Of course, this kind of human nature is , by its definition, illogical.
Again, as recently as 2017 at a parole hearing where she was denied release, Broderick didn’t express remorse for her actions but said she was driven to do it. And yet her kids ended up without either parent per se so the motivation is outside logic since it is this family she was striving to protect. The angle which this documentary goes into has to do with premeditation which can be legally slippery as explained. While the first trial Betty had which ended in an apparent mistrial (this is not made as clear here versus the miniseries), Betty Broderick speaks on camera from the court footage of being battered by Dan (which was not mentioned in the miniseries). The miniseries also speaks that one juror who was the hold out of the jury agreed to the 2nd degree murder conviction so Betty could possibly have been out in 5 years. Yet the judge apparently threw the book at Betty with the maximum sentence allowed by law. No discussions of psychological evaluation are mentioned so there are many loose ends that seem to still trail the story in terms of closure. Now 72, Betty won’t be eligible for parole until 2032 when she is 84. It just seems particularly sad just from a family lost point of view and though the woman herself is not interviewed for this doc, she obviously still holds a space in American consciousness as her story is still being discussed 30 years later.