Television: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., "The Dirty Half Dozen"

Robert (whom we're now all calling Gonzales) and Coulson put aside their hard feelings in order to fight Hydra. Everyone wants to kill Ward, even—or especially—after his sweet little speech about the good times they'd once had. Cal promises to behave while at the same time letting the cat out that Skye is his and Jiaying's daughter. Stuff about Lincoln and Deathlok getting rescued. And Raina is having visions.

Meanwhile, no one had better watch next week's episode without seeing the Avengers movie first because it sounds like, as ever, it's all tied together.

It's been brought home to me quite clearly now that Orphan Black is back that, while S.H.I.E.L.D. is moderately entertaining (or, really, inconsistently entertaining), it falls short of Orphan Black, which IS consistently entertaining. Orphan Black does far more with a lot less, keeping tensions high, and there is a real sense of anything being possible. Meanwhile, S.H.I.E.L.D. is kind of like a circus, with stuff going on in several rings. Some of it is cool, some of it is just clowning. But after a while, you just get a headache.

Orphan Black is neatly plotted and feels like razor wire. S.H.I.E.L.D. is clever, but not as clever. It's a behemoth, an elephant to Orphan Black's asp.

I didn't mean for this to become a treatise on Orphan Black. It's just that seeing that show again made it more clear to me what in S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn't work for me. They are, of course, two very different shows with two different agendas. I mean, they both want viewers, but Orphan Black stands alone, while S.H.I.E.L.D. is designed to sustain the Marvel-eating crowd between films. So maybe it isn't entirely fair to compare the two. But if I had to pick only one to watch, it would be Orphan Black all the way.

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