Monday, January 15, 2018

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Part 9

Runaways Season 1 is over, SHIELD is on its way into Season 5, and Black Panther is only a month away. Sounds like a perfect time to do some more Marvel (not that I need a reason). So this time it’s the first part of Agents of SHIELD Season 3 and our introduction to the sassy Jessica Jones.

Agents of SHIELD: Season 3 (Episodes 1-8)
  1. Laws of Nature: The Terrigen-infested fish oil pills have made their rounds, resulting in random Inhumans throughout the world. SHIELD collects Joey Gutierrez. Coulson confronts the ATCU’s leader, Rosalind Price. Daisy/Skye try to recruit Lincoln to help SHIELD. Lincoln and Daisy get attacked by a monster, Lash. Fitz tracks down details on the monolith. Simmons hides on a desert planet.
  2. Purpose in the Machine: In 1839, a man gets sent into the monolith. In the present, Fitz is removed from the monolith’s room by his friends. Deducing Simmons was transported through space, SHIELD recruits Randolph for help. Garner evaluates Joey. SHIELD opens the monolith’s portal and Fitz retrieves Simmons. Hunter recruits May to get revenge on Ward. Werner von Strucker joins Garner’s class, at Ward’s request.
  3. A Wanted (Inhu)man: Hunter and May track Ward. Simmons struggles adjusting back to Earth. Lincoln evades SHIELD and the ATCU. Coulson reaches out to Rosalind. Hunter works his way into Hydra. Simmons tells Bobbi that she needs to go back.
  4. Devils You Know: Lash kills various Inhumans. Daisy learns he has a human form. Garner evaluates Simmons. Hunter is taken to Ward. Ward threatens Garner’s life if he isn’t released. Von Strucker stalks Garner and the building they are in explodes.
  5. 4,722 Hours: Simmons recalls the events on Maveth to Fitz. Six months previous, Simmons finds herself stranded on Maveth. After a month, Simmons is captured by Will. Avoiding a monster, Simmons and Will comfort each other. During a rare sunrise, Simmons sees Fitz’s flare, Will gets attacked, and Simmons gets rescued. In the present day, Fitz begins working on getting to Maveth.
  6. Among Us Hide…: Garner survives assassination. Hydra and SHIELD chase after von Strucker. SHIELD pursues Banks, suspsecting he’s Lash. Rosalind takes Coulson to the ATCU and finds she has dozen of Inhumans. Von Strucker tells May that Garner turned into a monster. Lincoln calls Daisy.
  7. Chaos Theory: Mack meets with Lincoln. May discovers that Garner is Lash. Coulson shows Rosalind around Zephyr One. Simmons talk to Fitz about Maveth. May confronts and captures Garner. Lincoln fights Garner/Lash. Rosalind calls Malick.
  8. Many Heads, One Tale: Ward teams up with Malick. Coulson shows Rosalind SHIELD headquarters while the team checks out the ATCU. Fitz and Simmons discover that Hydra sent Will to Maveth. Hunter and Bobbi discover ATCU has been creating Inhumans with the fish oil. Malick tells Ward about Hive.

The Inhuman attacking Inhumans
Random Trivia/Connections:
  • The events in New York (“The Avengers”), London (“The Dark World”), DC (“The Winter Soldier”), Sokovia (“Age of Ultron”), and San Francisco (“Ant-Man”) are mentioned in “Laws of Nature”.
  • The death of Wolfgang von Strucker, in “Age of Ultron”, is referenced in “Purpose in the Machine”.
  • Malick was previously on the World Security Council in “The Avengers”.

So after the release of the Terrigen at the end of Season 2, this was the logical direction to go. However, one thing I didn’t like about where SHIELD went from this point on is that every person with powers is now Inhuman. Before this, we had synthetic powers (Mike Peterson/Deathlok), natural powers (Chan Ho Yin/Scorch), and powers of unknown origin (Carl Creel/Absorbing Man). After the Inhuman outbreak, it’s assumed that anyone with powers is Inhuman. It kind of got dull for me in a way. Besides that, I liked it. I enjoyed the backstory to Hydra, dating further back than Red Skull.

Private Eye: Jessica Jones
Jessica Jones: Season 1 (Episodes 1-13)
Like I did with “Daredevil”, I’m going to provide a parent guide for “Jessica Jones”. Unlike “Daredevil” Season 1, there are three sex scenes in “Jessica Jones”. If you see anything you think needs to be in the parent guide, let me know so I can add it.
  1. AKA Ladies Night: Jessica Jones works as a private eye, a year after Kilgrave’s supposed death. Jessica gets hired to find Hope. Jessica meets Luke Cage and spends the night with him. In her search for Hope, Jessica suspects Kilgrave is alive. Jessica finds Hope and returns her to her parents. Hope kills her parents at Kilgrave’s order. (Parental Guidance: Sex scene between Luke and Jessica)
  2. AKA Crush Syndrome: Jessica gets interrogated. Jessica asks Hogarth to take Hope’s case. Trish confronts Jessica. Jessica researches Kilgrave’s missing year. Luke gets attacked but can’t be harmed. Hogarth takes Hope’s case. Luke and Jessica reveal their powers to each other.
  3. AKA It’s Called Whiskey: Jessica remembers killing Reva. Jessica steals anesthesia to use on Kilgrave. Trish interviews Hope. Jessica saves Trish from being killed by Simpson (who is being controlled). Distracted by saving Simpson, Jessica loses Kilgrave’s trail. Jessica breaks up with Luke.
  4. AKA 99 Friends: Jessica takes a new case and intervenes when Simpson tries to talk to Trish. Simpson and Jessica team up. Jessica interviews possible Kilgrave victims. A woman attacks Jessica, because she’s gifted. Simpson and Trish bond. Jessica learns that Malcolm has been Kilgrave’s photographer.
  5. AKA The Sandwich Saved Me: Eighteen months ago, Trish tries to get Jessica to be a superhero. She declines, but later saves a child. Jessica saves Malcom and gets discovered by Kilgrave. In the present day, Jessica, Trish, and Simpson put a plan together to capture Kilgrave. While enacting the plan, they get chased and Kilgrave is freed. Jessica makes a deal for Malcolm’s freedom. (Parental Guidance: Sex scene between Trish and Simpson)
  6. AKA You’re a Winner!: Kilgrave procures Jessica’s childhood home. Luke asks for Jessica’s help to find someone. Jessica helps Hope abort Kilgrave’s unborn child. Luke and Jessica get back together. Luke and Jessica fight off attackers. Luke seeks the bus driver who accidentally killed his wife. Jessica tells Luke the truth about his wife’s death. (Parental Guidance: Sex scene between Luke and Jessica)
  7. AKA Top Shelf Perverts: Jessica threatens Hogarth’s wife into divorcing her. After finding a body in her apartment, Jessica plans to get sent to prison to lure Kilgrave in. Kilgrave uses his powers to avoid having Jessica put in prison. Kilgrave takes Jessica to her childhood home.
  8. AKA WWJD?: Kilgrave manipulates Jessica into cooperating. Simpson meets up with Trish. Kilgrave gives Jessica information on his past. Hogarth works on her divorce. Jessica tries to teach Kilgrave to be a hero. Jessica knocks Kilgrave out and escapes.
  9. AKA Sin Bin: Trish takes injured Simpson to the hospital. With Kilgrave captive, Jessica tries to get proof of his powers. Jessica finds Kilgrave’s parents and gets them to confront him. He forces his mother to kill herself. Kilgrave escapes. Jessica learns she is immune.
  10. AKA 1,000 Cuts: Kilgrave forces Hogarth to take him to her wife for medical treatment. Kilgrave’s father works on an antidote. Hogarth’s lover saves her from being killed by her wife. Kilgrave confronts Jessica. Simpson attacks Kilgrave’s father. Jessica’s neighbor inadvertently releases Kilgrave. Kilgrave blackmails Jessica into getting his father.
  11. AKA I’ve Got the Blues: Years ago, Jessica moves in with Trish and discovers her strength. Jessica searches morgues for Kilgrave’s father. Simpson attacks Jessica and she’s saved by Trish. Kilgrave blows up Luke’s bar.
  12. AKA Take a Bloody Number: Two days ago, Kilgrave sets Luke up to blow up his bar. Recuperating, Luke and Jessica discover Kilgrave’s plan to increase his powers. Trish tells off her mother. After increasing his powers, Kilgrave orders Luke to kill Jessica.
  13. AKA Smile: Jessica gets Luke to the hospital, where he’s treated by Claire Temple. Kilgrave leads Jessica to the harbor. When Kilgrave can’t control Jessica, he tries to kill her. Attempting to control her again, Kilgrave lets his guard down and Jessica kills him. With Kilgrave dead, Jessica supposes she could perhaps be a hero.

Jessica succeeds in killing Kilgrave. Or did she? Find out in March
Random Trivia/Connections:
  • During her interview with Hope in “AKA It’s Called Whiskey”, Trish references the Battle of New York and the Avengers.
  • Jessica and her attacker further reference the events of “The Avengers” in “AKA 99 Friends”. The Hulk and Captain America are both alluded to specifically.
  • A child in a Captain America costume is seen in “AKA The Sandwich Saved Me”.
  • Brett Mahoney, who Jessica meets in “AKA Top Shelf Perverts”, appears on a recurring basis in “Daredevil”.
  • Claire Temple, originally appearing in “Daredevil”, appears in “AKA Smile”.

This has by far been my favorite Netflix series that Marvel has done. Perhaps it’s because of Jessica Jones’s sass and humor. Perhaps it’s a little celebrity crush. Regardless, I really liked this series. Also, it was really hard for me to watch this show with David Tennant as the villain. He’s been my favorite Doctor for five years now, so to see him as a villain (and an incredibly well done villain at that) was wonderful and horrible. The one thing I’d change from this show is the sex scenes. Bedroom scenes don’t add to the show for me. If we had a make-out with a bedroom door closing behind, we’d have the same result in my mind. Overall great series though. Can’t wait for season 2 this year.

What did you think of the Inhuman outbreak? Any thoughts on Jessica Jones? What do you hope to see in Season 2?

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Eighth Doctor

Another Doctor down. He only had one TV movie and a mini-episode. So as a result, I don’t have much for top or flop stories. So I’ll just review both stories. HOWEVER, the Eighth Doctor does have some spin-off media that held Doctor Who through the dark ages of 1996-2005. Anyways, here we go.

Fresh after regenerating
TV Movie: Doctor Who
So the first quarter/third of the movie was actually the Seventh Doctor. He gets shot while landing in San Francisco and regenerates into the Eighth Doctor. We had some unique moments with this Doctor. I found his youthful attitude to be a precursor to David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. He was also the first Doctor to have a romantic kiss with a companion. The Y2K story was actually pretty compelling, but there are definitely critiques I’d have.

Eighth Doctor's TARDIS team
This movie was meant to reboot the show after it got cancelled in 1989, but it didn’t set it up very well. It didn’t leave room for new Whovians. It assumed you knew about the Doctor beforehand. So in comparison to when the Ninth Doctor arrived, this story didn’t even have a chance. There’s also the whole inconsistency with the Master’s interaction with Chang Lee. In one scene the Master is threatening him into helping and in the next he’s pulling some sort of elder brother move.

So my final thoughts: It’s worth watching, but it’s definitely not a starting point for the series.

Regenerating again
Mini-Episode: The Night of the Doctor
It’s near the beginning of the Time War and the Doctor ends up crashing, trying to help Cass. Then the Sisterhood of Karn forces a regeneration to keep him alive. This story came out shortly before the 50th Anniversary Special in 2013. It was the perfect way to help close the gap of the Doctor’s regenerations. I absolutely loved this story when it came out and I could still watch it a lot. One thing that I wish would have come from this story would be more appearances by the Eighth Doctor. Even if it’s just for a team-up episode with the current Doctor. I had hoped that Paul McGann would have worked with the Twelfth Doctor. Since Paul McGann is still young enough to play the character, why not? Maybe I can still hold out for him to team up with the Thirteenth Doctor. I really loved this Doctor and he deserved a better shot.

Grace    TV Movie
Chang   TV Movie

More than a match for the Doctor
Favorite Companion: Both companions only appeared in the TV Movie, but I really enjoyed Grace. My understanding is that she could have appeared more if the Eighth Doctor’s reboot had been picked up. She appeared in some spin-off media. Even just the fact that her intellect rivaled the Doctor, it was great. She didn’t need the Doctor explaining why the TARDIS was bigger on the inside. It kind of reminds me of companions like Zoe and Nyssa, who weren’t just along for the ride, but also were able to match wits with the Doctor (while not being completely obnoxious like Adric). I would have really liked to see more of her.

The Master's companion turned Doctor's companion
Least Favorite Companion: Chang Lee was actually more like the Master’s companion, but he ended up being on the Doctor’s side in the end, so I’ll count him. Like I said before, Chang’s motivation to help the Master changed between scenes, so it really didn’t help him; one scene he’s being threatened into helping and the next he’s being bribed. The writing of that didn’t sit well with me. But he ended up being a good guy at heart (despite being a gangster) so I guess I liked him in the end. Maybe we could still see him again at some point? Doubtful, but it’d be cool.

What do you think of the Eighth Doctor? Have you read any of his books or listened to any of the audio dramas? Which ones can you recommend? I’d love to get into more of his canon.

Just before regenerating in to the War Doctor, he acknowledges several names including Charley and Molly. These were companions who traveled with him in the Big Finish audio dramas.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Passing of a Guardian: A Mormon Geeks Tribute to President Monson

For two and a half years of my life I lived in the suburbs of Chicago. One of my favorite parts about living out there was the proximity to Nauvoo. I would frequently go out there to enjoy the historical sites and enjoy the spirit of that place.

On one of my last trips to Nauvoo in the summer of 2015, I happened to pass by a t-shirt shop fairly close to the temple, and saw the below shirt. Given my love of the First Presidency and Guardians of the Galaxy, I felt that it was a no-brainer to buy it 😀

And sadly, one of our beloved Guardians of the Galaxy has passed on. 

Within my 29 years of life, I've only clearly remembered the passing of President Hinckley 10 years ago this month. President Hinckley was the prophet of my youth. He called me to my mission in Brazil and signed my mission call. I remember finding out in my first area that he had passed away. I felt like I had lost a close friend and a hero.

It is with similar feelings that I woke up to the news of President Monson's passing this morning. When I think of true Christians who exemplify charity towards their fellow men, devotion to the Savior, and service to the Kingdom, Thomas Spencer Monson is at the top of the list. 

Even at his very weakest, he left us with two powerful sermons this past April in General Conference. May we heed his counsel to love one another and to read the Book of Mormon.

The Kingdom will roll ever on, Zion will continue to be established, but for today, and in gratitude for the past 54 years of service to the Kingdom as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, We Thank Thee Oh God for Thomas Spencer Monson

On behalf of the Mormon Geeks community, we express our deepest condolences to the Monson family and invite all of our readers to follow President Monson's example by serving those around you over the next seven days.

**Details of President Monson's funeral can be found here**

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Doctor Who Review: "Twice Upon a Time"

Merry Christmas! Merry Doctor Who Christmas Special! I just barely finished watching the Christmas special, so I want to share my thoughts ASAP. Warning: Spoilers ahead.

So I think this is the first multi-Doctor story that doesn’t have a villain. I recently finished classic Doctor Who and they all have villains: “The Three Doctors” (Omega), “The Five Doctors” (Borusa), “The Two Doctors” (Dastari and the Sontarans), and “The Day of the Doctor” (Sontarans and Daleks). This was definitely a twist, pulling out a person-versus-self plot, when most of us expected a person-versus-foe plot. So as far as this story goes, I was kept guessing and on my toes, so I liked it.

I wasn’t a big fan of bringing Bill back. Turned out okay, but it started out as another death cop-out. Bill had a good, satisfying ending and I was worried they’d mess with her ending. Turning her into a memory of herself was a lot more satisfying than somehow resurrecting her.

That being said, I enjoyed the cameos by previous cast members. It was also satisfying to see the Doctor regain his memories of Clara. I knew of course that Bill was returning, but Clara and Nardole returning was a pleasant surprise. We even got an appearance by the good Dalek, Rusty, last seen over two years ago. I also very much enjoyed the stand-ins for Polly and Ben and the incorporation of the Classic Who footage. On the topic of recurring characters, David Bradley did a great job as the First Doctor. His mannerisms and the portrayal was spot on for how William Hartnell carried the character back in the 60s.

Now the topic of the new Doctor: I have my opinions on how I feel about making the Doctor a woman now. Short version is that as long as it’s done without an agenda (which Doctor Who is pretty good at) I’m fine with it. I’m not sure yet how I feel about her entrance. It was reminiscent of the Eleventh Doctor’s entrance (TARDIS blowing up and chaos ensuing). Coincidentally, that time was also a turnover in Doctor, companion, and showrunner. So I guess we’ll see what happens. On a side note, it’s funny how so many of us Whovians associate Steven Moffat with killing off characters, and yet again we see Moffat not kill off a single person, even during World War I.

What did you think of the Doctor Who Christmas special? Thoughts on our new Thirteenth Doctor? Enjoy New Years, guys! I’ll see you in two weeks.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

"Other" Geeky Christmas Specials

Christmas is less than a week away!!! I’ve got one post left after Christmas and then I’ll be gone until after my honeymoon. In honor of Christmas, I wanted to share a few Christmas special episodes you may not have thought of or that you may have forgotten. Sure, everyone thinks to watch “The Santa Clause” or “It’s a Wonderful Life” but for how many decades have sitcoms and cartoons been doing Christmas episodes? Just something to give some variety to your holidays.

Can't have a Christmas special without a monster attack
Digimon: A Very Digi Christmas
In the second season of Digimon, we had a couple short story arcs ending off season two. The second generation of Digi-Destined brought the original Digi-Destined’s partners to the Real World to spend the holidays together. It set things up for the three part “world tour” arc and it meant that everyone was in the Real World for a few of the last battles. While it fits nicely into the storyline of the season (which is saying) it was also just nice to have a Christmas-themed episode.

What's Christmas without a simple
miscommunication getting out of control?
Pokémon: Holiday Hi-Jynx
So back when Pokémon was new, Ash and his friends found a Jynx stranded on the beach. They deduce that she belongs to Santa Claus, so they end up making the trip to the North Pole to return her. We also got some tragic backstory from Team Rocket’s Jessie, where she thought Santa’s Jynx stole her toy (really to fix it). So after Santa and Ash beat Team Rocket and resolve Jessie’s backstory, Santa goes off to deliver the presents with his flying Ponyta (back before Stantler and Deerling/Sawsbuck existed). It was a fun episode that had no relevance in the series after this. But then again that’s Pokémon; 90% of it is standalone stories. Still, a fun Christmas episode. Worth a watch.

And the party started out so well.....
Arrow: Dark Waters
So Arrow has been doing Christmas episodes since its inception five years ago. So the list of Christmas episodes actually also includes “Year’s End’ (S1), “Three Ghosts” (S2), “The Climb” (S3), and “What We Leave Behind” (S5). Season four’s “Dark Waters” felt like it had a great holiday tie-in, it kept the season’s story arc moving, and it was sufficiently emotional.  I’ll leave it like that, to avoid spoilers, but I enjoyed it.

Is it bad that I liked him better here than in Star Wars?
The Flash: Running to Stand Still
Like its predecessor Arrow, we’ve had a Christmas episode of the Flash each year since it started. “The Man in the Yellow Suit” (S1) and “The Present” (S3) were great, but I want to focus on Season two’s “Running to Stand Still”. Guest appearance of Mark Hamill as the villain and there was a great Christmas-themed plot to foil. If for no other reason, watch this episode because of how freaky Mr. Skywalker is in the episode. But like Arrow, I’m not going to give spoilers. Just go watch it.

The power of music and friendship!
Community: Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas
So if you enjoy comedy and anything enjoyable, make sure you’ve watched Community. If you haven’t, go on Hulu and start episode one now. They do a wonderful job on this show of parodying other franchises and having plenty of pop culture references. So of course their Christmas episode had to parody “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and other Claymation Christmas classics. Musical numbers, Christmas-themed epiphany, and whatever wacky adventures they wanted to do. And it was all in Abed’s head (spoiler alert). Seriously, if you haven’t watched this show, do it now.

So obviously I haven’t hit all the Christmas specials, but in addition to these I’ve previously reviewed Doctor Who Christmas Specials and a variety of Disney specials. What Disney specials did I miss, particularly the geeky ones? Next year I’d kind of like to do a post on the Friends Christmas episodes. What do you think?

Don't forget there's a new Doctor Who next week, featuring the First Doctor and a likely regeneration.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Star Wars: A Retospective

There probably isn’t a point to lobbying yet another Star Wars: The Last Jedi review into the internet. If you haven’t seen it yet then you’re either planning on seeing it or don’t care about the franchise, so my opinon is probably moot on the film itself, so I’d like to go ahead and talk about the series as a whole, where it is, and what needs to happen next.

Spoilers: People fight
Where We’ve Been
Once upon a time the Star Wars franchise consisted of three films and a handful of novels considered by fans to be cannon. Back then fans begged for more cannon, anything (As long as nobody mentioned Life Day) that would add to the story in the galaxy far far away. So then they got it, a prequel taking place a couple dozen years before New Hope. To say that the Phantom Menace was hyped is an understatement. You couldn’t swing a dead Gungan without hitting something related to Phantom when it was first released. The film had mixed reception, kids loved it since there was lots of stuff blowing up and even some cool monsters, but longtime fans wanted it burned at the stake.
Fans got what they asked for but not what they wanted.

The Curse of Choice
HK-47, please come into the mainstream...
 Now we’re up to 9 official films, hundreds of novels and comic books, a couple dozen video games and at least three TV shows, most of which was erased from the main story with the exception of the films by decree of Daddy Disney, but we’ll get to that in a minute. Essentially there is something for everyone in Star Wars if you’re willing to look hard enough, and you can pick and choose which stories you subscribe to. This is the same problem DC and Marvel have dealt with for years. With so much content and more being added on a regular basis, it’s almost impossible to catch up let alone keep up. Now we have a 2+ hour movie sitting in the theaters adding even more to the already formidable pile, and while the movie was overall good, it didn’t really progress the story.

The Real Issue
The best part of any story is the conclusion. What would A Christmas Carol be if afterwards we kept seeing movies of Scrooge failing at being nice or honoring holidays and meet one ghost after another like a Victorian Scooby Doo? What would happen if Frodo came back to Middle Earth because Sauron’s son was now in Mordor trying to take over the world? Three words: Land Before Time. When a story is told it’s because someone had a story to tell. When a story is expanded because someone is dangling the carrot of more money over the writer, the story will suffer because there is no need for a satisfying conclusion. Star Wars had a satisfying conclusion once, it was at the end of Return of the Jedi. The Empire was defeated, Vader was saved and dead, all our mains ended dancing with teddy bears, alls well that ends well. It’s the adding of prequels midquels and the next generation that’s clogging this francise with bloated excess to the point where we’re no longer telling any kind of story.
The Disney Purge
Disney made probably the best choice if not the most controversial but declaring anything outside the films to be officially non cannon, essentially reducing the decades of novels, video games ect to extremely high budgeted fan fiction. This has helped with reducing the tangled octopus pod of stories to one quasi cohesive narrative but it has created its own set of problems. Remember a couple weeks ago when EA destroyed Star Wars Battlefront 2? Well it turns out that the story mode in that game is cannon, so if in the future someone from that game shows up in a movie with no introduction or back story then the audience is going to be completely lost. I understand that some characters from one of the animated series made a guest appearance in Rogue 1, but having never watched any of the animated Star Wars for any significant amount of time I can tell you that they had absolutely no impact on me as a viewer.

Happily Ever After?
I'd party with bears. 
I know you don’t want to hear this, but in the end I think what Star Wars, and a lot of franchises for that matter, need a solid conclusion. Not a reboot, not more prequels, an ending. I like how in Batman Vs. Superman that they put Batman’s origin story in the opening credits, basically saying “Yeah we know how this goes. Dirty alley, rich parents, pearls hit the ground” and then we roll into the story for better or worse. Compare this to Gotham, which has endeavored to stretch Batman’s origin story so far beyond from where it was that it barely resembles Batman. Plus considering how all his villains keep popping up years before he puts on the cowl, it’s a wonder why Batman didn’t just routinely head to the retirement home every evening instead of Arkham Asylum.

To put this massive rant into a more bite size portion: Star Wars: The Last Jedi was fine but where is this all going? 


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Part 8

Agents of SHIELD started up again recently! And with Runaways going right now too, there are so many Marvel things to keep up with. Unfortunately, this week isn’t about Runaways. But it is about SHIELD. I’ve got two small chunks of SHIELD as well as two feature movies. So here we go.

Becoming the Cavalry
Agents of SHIELD: Season 2 (Episodes 17-19)
  • 17. Melinda: We start seven years ago (2008). May and Coulson are in Bahrain taking care of an enhanced individual. As things turn out, the enhanced individual is an inhuman child with mind control powers. In present-day Afterlife, Jiaying teaches Skye to use her powers and reveals she’s Skye’s mother. Skye has dinner with her parents. Lincoln suspects Raina is clairvoyant.
  • 18. The Frenemy of My Enemy: Bobby and Mack discuss Fury’s Toolbox and Coulson. Simmons reaches out to May. Coulson, Hunter, and Mike team up with Ward, in exchange for helping him take down von Strucker. Cal and Skye visit Milwaukee, where Skye contacts May for backup. Skye and Cal get ambushed by Hydra agents. Needing support, Coulson surrenders to Bobbi and Mack.
  • 19. The Dirty Half Dozen: Jiaying talks to Raina about her dreams. Cal confronts Jiaying. Coulson teams up with Gonzales. Coulson’s old team works together (including Skye and Ward) to infiltrate the Hydra base and rescue Lincoln and Mike. Simmons accidentally kills Bakshi. The team escapes without Ward. Raina has a vision of Loki’s scepter. Coulson talks to Hill about another Hydra base.

Coulson's team reunites for one last mission
Random Trivia/Connections:
  • ·         Wolfgang von Strucker (who appeared in “The Winter Soldier” credit scene and who later appeared in “Age of Ultron”) appears in a photograph in “The Frenemy of my Enemy”.
  • ·         The twins mentioned in “The Dirty Half Dozen” were last seen in the credits scene of “The Winter Soldier” and they become an important part of “Age of Ultron”.
  • ·         The events of “The Dirty Half Dozen” foreshadow and directly precede the events of “Age of Ultron”.

Nice little prelude to “Age of Ultron”. It led up well with the infiltration of Hydra. We also got some resolution on why May is called the Cavalry, which has been teased since the beginning of the series.

The Avengers take down a Hydra base.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
The Avengers take down a Hydra facility, capturing Loki’s scepter and encountering Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Analyzing the scepter, Tony puts it to use towards Ultron (an AI system to replace the Avengers). During their celebration, Ultron takes life and attacks. Ultron uses the scepter and allies himself with the Maximoff twins to fight the Avengers.

Obtaining vibranium, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Ultron fight the Avengers, driving them crazy with visions. The Avengers take refuse at the Barton farm. Thor looks for answers to his visions. Fury inspires the Avengers. Ultron works to make a real body, but loses the allegiance of the twins to the Avengers in the process.

With JARVIS in Ultron’s synthetic body, Thor energizes him and he becomes the Vision. The Avengers team up with the Vision, the twins, War Machine, the Falcon, and SHIELD assets to save Sokovia and stopping Ultron from killing humanity. The Vision ultimately defeats Ultron.
After creating a new base, the Avengers part ways for a time. Elsewhere, somewhere in outer space, Thanos obtains the Infinity Gauntlet.

The Vision faces off against Ultron
Random Connections/Trivia:
  • ·         Loki’s scepter, which contained the Infinity Stone which ultimately resides in Vision’s forehead, was given to Loki by Thanos in “The Avengers”.
  • ·         War Machine (from the Iron Man films) and the Falcon (from “The Winter Soldier”) appear alongside the Avengers.
  • ·         The Tesseract/Space Stone (from “The First Avenger” and “The Avengers”), the Aether/Reality Stone (from “The Dark World”), and the Orb/Power Stone (from “Guardians of the Galaxy”) appear in Thor’s vision.
  • ·         Leviathans from the Battle of New York in “The Avengers” appear in Tony’s vision.

I remember seeing this movie when it came out while I was in Spain on my study abroad. It holds a very awesome and special place in my heart because it’s from when I really started getting into Marvel movies. There was a lot going on and it may have been a mistake to do this as one movie instead of two. I read once that Thor’s visions were very much cut down but hinted toward “Thor: Raganrok”. Now that I’ve seen “Ragnarok” twice I’m interested to watch “Age of Ultron” again. I know people who didn’t care for this movie, but all I remember was geeking out in Madrid over this movie.

Raina works with Gordon
Agents of SHIELD: Season 2 (Episodes 20-22)
  • 20. Scars: A year ago, Sam and Coulson discuss the Helicarrier for the Theta Protocol. In the present, Weaver, Gonzales, Bobbi, and Coulson discuss recent events in Sokovia. Coulson and Gonzales join forces. Raina and Gordon sneak into SHIELD and find the Monolith. Skye and Lincoln return to Afterlife before SHIELD arrives. Agent 33 and Ward kidnap Bobbi. Jiaying kills Gonzales and shoots herself to frame him.
  • 21. S.O.S. Part 1: Jiaying declares war on SHIELD. Skye goes to Raina for answers. May and Hunter go after Bobbi. Skye sees Jiaying kill Raina. Coulson questions Cal. Simmons and Coulson aggravate Cal. Gordon and the Inhumans attack SHIELD’s ship.
  • 22. S.O.S. Part 2: Skye and Mack attempt to liberate the SHIELD ship. Hunter and May rescue Bobbi, killing Agent 33 in the process. Fitz, Coulson, May, and Cal go after the SHIELD ship. Skye confronts her mom. Lincoln and May stop Alisha. Fitz traps Gordon. Jiaying tries to steal Skye’s lifeforce but Skye distracts her by getting rid of the Terrigen Crystals and Cal kills Jiayjing. In the aftermath of the fight, Skye (now going by Daisy) visits her mind-wiped father. In the ocean, the Terrigen Crystals dissolve. Simmons is swallowed by the monolith.

Coulson loses his hand.
Random Connections/Trivia:
  • ·         The events of “Age of Ultron”, specifically Agent Hill arriving with the Helicarriers in Sokovia, is directly referenced in “Scars”.
  • ·         Cal’s memory being altered is due to Project TAHITI.

It was a satisfying end to the second season of SHIELD. The three-part finale put an end to the Afterlife arc and kind of set us up for some new stuff the next season. I loved the tie-in to “Age of Ultron”. I love it when Marvel uses SHIELD to answer small, unanswered aspects of the movies. Stuff that’s not big enough to warrant movie time, but easy enough to explain in an episode of TV. It was admittedly a bit slow of a season, but I binged this season on a grave shift, making it really easy for me (although it also made it hard to process).

Ant-Man faces off against the Falcon.
Flashback in 1989, Hank Pym confronts Carson about stealing his technology. In the present day, Scott Lang gets released from prison but can’t get a stable job. Hank visits PymTech and Cross shows him the Yellowjacket. At his friend Luis’s advice, Scott breaks into the Pym home and steals the Ant-Man suit. Freaked out by the suit, Scott returns it but gets caught in the process.

Hank helps Scott escape jail and he and his daughter Hope train Scott to be Ant-Man. In training to break into PymTech, Scott fights the Falcon to get some tech. Hank tells Hope the truth about her mother. As Cross gets closer to perfecting the Yellowjacket, Hank, Scott, and Hope recruit Luis and his friends to help.

Scott gets caught in the break-in to PymTech. Hope and Hank escape. To win his fight with Cross, Scott ends up in the Quantum Realm, but manages to escape. Scott reconciles with his family. As everything resolves, Scott finds out from Luis that the Falcon is looking for him. Later on, Hank gives the prototype Wasp suit to Hope. At a later time, the Falcon and Captain America question Bucky Barnes.

Wonderful father-daughter moments in Ant-Man
Random Connections/Trivia:
  • ·         The events of “Age of Ultron” in Sokovia are referenced by Hank Pym when he refers to the Avengers dropping cities out of the sky.
  • ·         The post-credit scene with Captain America is a scene that takes place in “Captain America: Civil War”.
  • ·         A “Pingo Doce Soda” poster appears. Bruce Banner worked at their manufacturing plant in “The Incredible Hulk”.
  • ·         In Luis’s final conversation of the movie, he references a hero who swings from buildings, alluding to Spider-Man, who would later appear in “Civil War”.

I loved the balance of humor and action in this movie. Kind of a nice in-between of “Guardians of the Galaxy” and  “Captain America: The First Avenger”. It’s also great because it could exist as a standalone movie. You don’t have to watch the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to enjoy it. Though the references to SHIELD, the Avengers, and other Marvel groups makes it that much better if you do watch it. Only thing that I’d really want to change is Evangeline Lilly’s wig.

What were your thoughts on “Age of Ultron”, the last third of “Agents of SHIELD” Season 2, and “Ant-Man”? Anythin