Agents of SHIELD- episode 15

Yes Men AKA “The Lady Sif episode”

Lorelei, Amora’s kid sister, Loki’s friend and sometime love interest; shifts her focus from random newlywed to a gang of bikers to start her army. Similarly to Loki, Lorelei is the younger sibling that never lives up to expectations, Lorelei has recently been confined and unable to speak, so when she gets loose she really blows the doors off of things.

Back at the plane, Skye is still stuck in bed at the prodding of Agents Simmons who is desperately trying to find out more about the “wonder drug.” Ward comes in to visit Skye and makes cute smiles at her while she complains that “she must look hideous” (she’s wearing an awful lot of makeup for someone who ‘hasn’t seen a mirror’). Anyway, Coulson is trying to find Director Fury but no one will let him near him. Suspicion grows! But while Coulson is gone, Agent May holds down the fort. They get a call about incoming Asgardian activity.

They find Lady Sif in the middle of the desert via the bifrost. Lorelei entered unnoticed via one of Loki’s secret pathways. Lady Sif explains that they are up against a sorceress that can bend men’s wills. Lorelei is used to commanding armies and starting wars. She also explains that Lorelei’s power only works on men… they have an inherent weakness..

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Is the weakness a Y chromosome?

The implication is, of course, that no MAN can resist her feminine wiles. But so… even men who are gay? But not women who are gay?

Because I have got to tell you. This would have been a better episode if Simmons was bi and helped Lorelei take down the team. No one would have expected that and we would have gotten some LGBT visibility over here -in the comic book genre/Marvel Universe/primetime network TV realm where there’s not much. And in this case, it wouldn’t have been “inclusion cookies” it would have actually added depth to the episode.

Because I honestly called the rest of this shit.

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The Team + Lady Sif heads to the biker bar where Lorelei is setting up her empire, and I already know that 1/2 the team is men and of that team there are only 3 that really get out of the plane and 2/3 of them are men. If Lorelei is after the greatest warriors then she will head for Ward (even though that makes less sense since Coulson is actually “the leader” but we need angst here people!) and Ward will fall hard and by the time Lorelei squeezed his arm I was already like “We can pack this up here. He won’t betray Lorelei for May but Skye will bring him around.”

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So, Simmons gets sidetracked (because she’s been tending to Skye instead of being in the field and having more involvement in the Lorelei situation) and says that she needs outside help to identify the Wonder Drug. I love driven academic types. Coulson shoots it down. Ward and Lorelei head for Vegas. There Ward references that he cares for a member of the team but that she’s nothing next to Lorelei…

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The the two have a sexy clothes ripping hook up. After she feeds him the line “You’re a real man with the rage of a berserker inside.” Which reminds us that the fury brought on by the berserker staff is still very much alive in Ward (yeah, so in Melinda May, too)

Meanwhile Sif and May bond over weaponry and losing their men to vixens. Sif warns her that Ward, the real Ward is lost to Lorelei’s will. May says “Ward won’t kill me. He might try to kill me, but he won’t.”

And then, while they should be looking for Lorelei, she and Ward take over the plane. This leads to the inevitable May vs. Ward faceoff -where Lorelei reveals that the “beautiful warrior with the heart of ice” is not the one who had his love.

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Sif, meanwhile throwing down with Lorelei is antagonized by the redhaired vixen who reminds Sif that she made the love of Sif’s life obey her every command, that Thor thinks of Sif as a man. Sif subdues her and slaps the magic collar on. Ward snaps out of it just in time to not get dead and stuff.

But here’s the fucking thing though, so none of our “strong” chicks get happiness? Ward tries to apologize to May, she waves it off with an “I told you that you didn’t have to worry about that with me.” Which she did, she was really forthcoming with the fact that it would be no strings attached and that it couldn’t get in the way of work. May also has a heart to heart with Coulson, say that he needs to open up about what he saw, even if it’s not to her, even if it’s to Skye. And he does and he tells Skye that the “wonder drug” was alien blood (btw- Sif mentioned the Kree earlier, I’m thinking my theory was right!). In the closing scenes we catch Melinda May listening in… and she calls it in, saying that “Coulson knows.”

So, damn, May knew?

I don’t want Ward and Skye together. I just don’t. And I don’t really hate Skye. I’m tired of this idea that tough and capable women aren’t worthy of love in the way that special snowflake Mary Sues are.

This episode had a lot going on in the background (Coulson divulging about the alien, the obvious cover-up, Melinda’s informing on them.). And a lot of awesome stuff in the foreground (Lorelei recently reappeared in Loki:Agent of Asgard #2, and it was awesome. And who does not love Jaimie Alexander looking all Asgardian? Nerd cookies everywhere!) But this fucking episode also ignored the existence of LGBT people entirely. And it’s even worse because of Lady Sif and Melinda’s implied fist bump over male weakness. Umm.. no. Because it’s not that. It’s that men are socialized to be protectors and unfortunately women are socialized to be damsels. Which is what happened here. Skye was kicked back all helpless, while May was fighting for everyone’s safety …but who does Ward love? Melinda’s showed him tenderness and compassion (as much as she can) but who does Ward love? Women are socialized to believe that being a true equal takes you out of the running for being a love interest. The backstory of both May and Sif in this episode fucking dead on perpetuated that. Shut up. I feel like there’s something in there about Lorelei using her sexuality for empowerment but not being better than the “strong female characters” -but even so, they don’t get the whole package, either.

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Someone write me a fanfic where Gemma Simmons falls for Lorelei and she hijacks the plane while the lock Ward in the holding cell which would have been the logical thing to do anyway: WHO BRINGS SOMEONE WHO HAS ZERO CHANCE OF NOT BECOMING A HUMAN WEAPON? Where was Agent Hand and Maria Hill?! If “only men are susceptible” why would you not CALL ALL THE WOMEN?!

Someone help. Send logic.

Book Review #10- Mockingjay (Book 3 of Hunger Games)

This book begins where the other left off. Peeta and Katniss separated. Katniss is in District 13. Everyone is preparing for war.

I didn’t want to finish this series. I liked it. Really. More than I thought I would. But there came a point when I just knew there was going to be no way I was going to get what I wanted out of it. 

Katniss was rescued from the arena to be a symbol of the rebellion. Not because she could actually do anything. She’s manipulated from all sides. From the beginning, but it gets more flagrant as the series continues. The atrocity that it takes for her to FINALLY stand up against this is mindblowingly egregious. (By the time in the second book, when Peeta told everyone she was pregnant; I would have started shooting everyone who had a plan, involving me, that didn’t tell me about it. Goddamn ridiculous. BANG, you’re dead. Eff you.) But it was good that she finally got to that point. 

During the time when Peeta and Katniss are separated, Peeta is forced/coerced into making these videos that tell the rebellion to desist. Katniss stands up to President Coin and says that Peeta and the other tributes need to be granted immunity (in a rare moment of strength) it happened early on in Mockingjay, and I really thought a new tone would be set, but instead Katniss falls for the same old schemes and tricks.

The names in this book, in particular are ..silly. It was hard for me to keep the new characters straight (which didn’t seem to matter). So I’m not going to try to even debate the actions of female vs. male bit characters. They brought back Johanna, Johanna, former victor. Johanna, who was in on the rebel plan. Johanna, with no one left to love. Tortured. Snarky and addicted to morphling. Johanna and Katniss become (wait NOT friends) allies. Johanna and Katniss, have done nothing to prepare for combat and get sidelined, decide to train together, to which Johanna says, “…I’m going to the stinking Capitol if I have to kill a crew and fly there myself.” So they train together and take a test that “exploits their biggest weakness” and Katniss passes, and Johanna …has a mental breakdown. And doesn’t kill a crew. And stays in District 13.
Of course.

Couldn’t possibly have anyone else… no, no, wait.. Couldn’t possibly have any other FEMALES get their fucking shit together and get revenge of the Capitol. Two females who are both brave and tough? Better not have them both in one place too long. Peeta even shows up and is useful. But Johanna? Nope.

At some point in the rebellion, Katniss makes up a plan of her own, keeps it a secret from everyone. Which serves them right. But then, she feels bad about it, and confesses. And Gale says, “Katniss, we all knew you were lying…” SHE THINKS SHE’S ORCHESTRATING A PLAN AND THEY ARE ALL IN ON IT WITHOUT HER KNOWLEDGE. “Do you really think Jackson believed you had orders from Coin?” Of course not, because only Katniss will repeatedly fall for this shit! UGH! There are even 2 times in this (just THIS) book where something was explained to her but she still didn’t understand it.

And Peeta and Gale. Who you would think at some point, would actually realize that the earth is not revolving around them. Gale says something to the effect of, “She’ll choose whoever can help her survive this.” Which he didn’t say as an insult, but Katniss took as one. Most people don’t get fairy tale love. That’s real life. In fact, those coming from poverty are more likely to list requirements for marriage as “steady income”, where wealthier people are more likely to list “open communication”. Basic needs get met first, everything else comes later. If basic security isn’t met no one gives a shit about the other stuff. 

LOOK

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Most of them are operating around that orange area there, sometimes red. Gale is not. He’s much higher up on the pyramid there. Which is probably why he understands that. So, that’s interesting. Of course, I would have shot Peeta in book 2, so whatever. 

There was a whole angle, too, with the camera crew filming propos and live footage. Since I read this after Feed and Deadline, it made me think of the defacto After the End Times motto, “If you’re going to die, at least die on camera. It’ll be our highest ratings.” I thought it was a fair assessment of how media spin can motivate people’s actions and choices. 

I guess I have to rate this, there’s this thing with trilogies that the first book is really awesome and self contained. And the second one wraps things up but prepares to launch you in to the next book. At this point the author usually knows there’s backing for the third book so they leave some plot devices lying around. And then the third cleans up the loose ends and hopefully you get what you came for. 

Honestly, there wasn’t a lot of character development over the course of the three books. Katniss frequently says that she is not the same girl that volunteered to take Prim’s place. But in so many ways, she is. Which, sadly, I could have forgiven if Johanna got to go to combat (and not die) or married Gale or something. The characters may have annoyed me, but Suzanne Collins writes interesting backdrops and assesses the actions that those in power will take even when they are supposed to be “the good guys”. I feel obligated to give it a 4, but what I want to say is 3. 3 and 1/2? 3 and 1/2 cups lamb stew with dried plums. That’s all.