Tuesday, 23 May 2017

TV Review No. 50 Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: What If... (S4, Ep16)

Strong Points:
Great remixes of characters
Atmosphere of unease
Inventive repercussions of removing 'regrets'
Interesting colour correction
Great acting from all
References to the first season - Dwarfs

Weak Points:
Can be difficult to invest in characters when they don't exist (which is ironic for a TV show). Or do they?
Can be confusing
Where do The Avengers and the other superhero's fit into this?

In-depth Review:
*In the Marvel boardroom*
Marvel Executive 1: right guys, how are we going to bring Ward back this time?
Marvel Executive 2: what do you mean, bring him back? Didn't we nuke his zombified body in space last time?
Marvel Executive 1: ... so how are we gonna bring him back?
Marvel Executive 3: ooh, ooh, how about we design an entire alternate virtual reality so that he never really died in the first place?
Marvel Executive 1: sounds good to me
Marvel Executive 2: me too
Audience: and us as well

Yes, Ward is back and good now too! (at least for now). While it's not particularly unexpected, (it's a well-known Marvel trope to bring characters back from the dead and I'd been speculating how they'd bring him back since episode one) it was a shock none the less to see him again, especially as in this reality he's together with Daisy Skye. Simmon's reaction to him saying he's part of the Resistance - 'oh always the double agent' - basically sums up my reaction to this new Ward, but overall I'm glad to see him and Brett Dalton back, at least until he betrays everyone again.

So, Ward came back from the dead and Jemma entered the Framework dead, presumably murdered, and had to fight her way out of a mass grave before turning and seeing her original body in the grave. What a lovely reality this is. But Jemma's not the only one who has changed, with May and Fitz now working for Hydra and twisted because of their choices (seeing Fitz as cold and calculating is unnerving to say the least, although Caestecker plays it well) and Coulson's a teacher who follows the rules and doesn't really remember anything before that (although due to his time in Tahiti, he does have flashbacks). All in all, it's quite an unsettling reality, especially seeing the characters we've watched for the past four years lose most of what makes them, them.

It's difficult to keep up this episode that's for sure, as not only have all of the team changed and Ward's back but so is Hydra! After the Bahrain incident turned into the Cambridge incident Hydra was able to seize control and 1984-style make everything censored and watched, for the good of the state over the individual. This revelation, coupled with the changes in character for the team have set up (along with Aida), the best villains of this season - themselves!

Now, I had two starkly different reactions to the characters and world of the Framework which don't exist in the real world. At one point I was completely drawn in, like Daisy was, wondering if we'd be able to see people like Tripp back but then I started thinking and realised that none of this is real (in a sense). Suddenly, it was more difficult to invest emotionally in characters I knew weren't real (ironic I know) and I started questioning everything (like Simmons). It's interesting how I could have such different views on the world in the same episode, such is the power of the world-building. This could bring up some ethical and moral choices, later on, that's for sure.

A quick side-note to finish this review on: when we were with Jemma, the colour correction showed a more muted colour scheme, giving the impression of death and a corpse-like appearance to Jemma, which coupled with her acting and squeakier, voice which sounded unused definitely helped to convey a person who's just come out of a grave!

Conclusion: overall, this was a great look into an alternate reality, with a mostly fleshed out world (where do The Avengers fit into this?) and chilling performances from all. Can't wait for next week!

Rating: 90%

Thanks for reading, Satamer.

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