Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD 5.06 “Fun & Games” REVIEW
Airing Sundays on E4 in the UK at 9pm
Writer: Brent Fletcher
Director: Clark Gregg
Essential Plot Points:
- With Kasius preparing for another auction of Inhumans, dignitaries are arriving at the Lighthouse, and the Kree are rounding up children to put through terrigenesis.
- The only kid who transforms in a pubic ceremony is Flint, a street urchin friend of Tess’s.
- But just as he breaks out of his cocoon he vanishes.
- Yo-Yo has secretly whisked him away.
- The rest of the SHIELD team later catches up with Yo-Yo and Flint, who has yet to discover his power.
- As they discuss an escape plan for Flint involving laying low on a trawler, Grill stumbles across them all and threatens to shop them all to Kasius.
- At which point Flint’s powers kick he; he telekinetically creates a giant rock from bits of rubble and debris and smacks Grill with it.
- Team SHIELD later discovers Tess’s body hanging in a public walkway, with a sign on her demanding that Flint be handed over to the Kree.
- Meanwhile, Fitz has assumed the identity of a Boshtok, a vile space Marauder of unlimited wealth, and is hobnobbing with Kasius’s guests (and trying to avoid eating space snail). He has enough money to acquire the Destroyer (aka, Daisy).
- Jemma is serving at the party, and in a quiet moment, Fitz proposes to her… but she can’t hear him because of Kasius’s sound-blocker.
- Kasius takes his guests to the arena to show off his Inhumans.
- First up: Ben vs May.
- During the fight Fitz learns that Kasius is the unloved younger brother of his family, given Earth to look after by his feared warrior dad to get him out of his hair, apparently. Dad loves elder bro’ Faulnak so much more, possibly because he wears less mascara. We get the feeling dad isn’t exactly a new man (or new Kree, or whatever).
- Fitz, to save May (Ming-Na Wen), complains that he came to see the Destroyer fight not a SHIELD has-been.
- Amazingly, Kasius stops the fight, sends May to the surface to be roach-food, and gets Sinara to ballbearing Ben to death, with Daisy watching.
- In a lull between fights, Jemma reveals to Daisy that she’s managed to steal a knife from the cutlery at the dignitaries’ reception. Terrible security, these Krees.
- Enoch tells Fitz that Kasius’s brother, Faulnak, has arrived at the lighthouse.
- Kasius makes it clear that while Fitz is still free to bid, the Destroyer is now likely to go to his brother.
- The dignitaries, including Faulnak, make their way to the arena again to watch Daisy fight.
- Faulnak insists that Daisy fight Sinara. Kasius reluctantly agrees.
- During the ensuing fight, Fitx reveals an ICER and starts shooting the dignitaries, Jemma cuts Kasius’s throat and Daisy deals with Sinara.
- They all escape and Jemma proposes to Fitz.
“Fun & Games” is clearly trying to be a Guardians Of The Galaxy-style romp, but it sadly falls flat. Sure it’s witty in places and there are some sweet character moments, but the humour often disguises some really lethargic plotting.
After the previous, superlative episode, which culminated with Fitz waking from a 74-year hibernation to rescue his mates using a plan Enoch has already put into action, everything looked ready for a really audacious escape story here. Instead we get yet more arena fights, Fitz as the least convincing evil-scum-lowlife ever and a escape that works more by luck than judgement, with Jemma, Daisy and Fitz all apparently having suddenly developed the ability to communicate telepathically. Which might have been a good twist if it had been revealed that Ben had allowed them all to communicate in secret before his death, but that doesn’t appear to have been the case. Instead, they just all seem ready to take on Kasius and co at the same time because… hey, teamwork, folks – it’s all intuitive!
So what promised to be SHIELD’s audacious Great Escape is actually a rather pedestrian affair.
The episode also suffers from far too many shock deaths. We wouldn’t be surpised if a couple of those deaths aren’t terminal (this is a comic book series after all) but even if this is the case, the audience is supposed to believe these characters have in this episode, so the apparent deaths should feel like they matter, rather than being mere plot points. Jemma getting her revenge on her odious “boss” is particularly wasted. And if Kasius is dead, what a waste of a good character. The bland Faulnak would be a disappointing replacement.
Luckily, the Fitz and Jemma scenes are lovely, and the Flint plotline provides some good material for Yo-Yo. Best of all, that final stinger suggests that there’s a lot going on Enoch that he hasn’t revealed yet. Goodie or baddie, we love him.
- The scowl May gives Fitz when he calls her an ancient has-been is a peach.
- Fitz’s marriage proposal falling on deaf ears: “The universe can’t stop us. ’Cause we’ve crossed galaxies. We’ve traveled through time. We’ve survived the bottom of the Atlantic just so we could be together. Now, a love like that that’s stronger than any curse. And you and I we are unstoppable together. I don’t want to live another day without you. So, Jemma Simmons, will you marry me?” [Pause] “I know I said, ‘Play it cool,’ but I didn’t mean play it this cool.”
- Coulson: “And she’s not the only Inhuman with us.”
Flint: “You mean this guy?”
Yo-Yo: “No, he’s just cool.”
- Daisy: “It’s a baller move. Not to mention the whole bounty-hunter look he’s rocking.”
Jemma: “I still prefer him in cardigans.”
- Yo-Yo kidnapping Flint right after his transformation was an enjoyable twist.
- The stinger at the end with Kree-Enoch is very, very intriguing.
- Space snail (and how to get away with not eating it).
- Too many sudden deaths that have no impact: Tess, Ben, Kasius, Grill. We’re guessing Sinara was iced rather than killed, though it’s not totally clear. And Tess and Kasius could still be alive (if Tess’s death turns out to be a ruse and Kasius gets some miracle emergency medical help). But real or ruse, none of them have any emotional clout.
- Ben’s death is particularly by-the-by. Okay, SHIELD is on ABC so we’re not going to see guts flopping on the floor, but the sequence is almost embarrassingly coy, and Daisy’s reaction shockingly brief.
- Too many cheesy sounding made-up SF names, of the kind that only space opera parodies like The Orville and “USS Callister” should be getting away with these days: “Xandarian snail”, “Culverian Blasters”, “the brothels of Kitson”, etc.
- Fitz never convinces as Boshtok. That’s not Iain De Caestecker’s fault so much as the script’s; very little of what Boshtok says sounds authentically “low-life scum”, and his feeble excuse to prevent May having to fight to the death would surely have had Kasius going, “Are you trying to save this girl or something?” Good call with the snails, though.
- How does shooting a shield control make it raise the shield?
- May’s involvement is being reduced to a series of cameos.
- The boxes in the arena look so, so cheap…
- Why doesn’t Daisy use her powers more in her fight with Sinara? She could have polished off that bout in about five seconds flat. The shot with her quaking one of Sinara’s balls was good value, though.
- Grill gawps at the floating rock long enough for him to shoot Flint about a dozen time.
And The Random:
- Phil Coulson actor Clark Gregg made his TV directorial debut with this episode.
- Fitz’s false identity, Boshtok, is referred to on a number of occasions as a “marauder”. There was a group of warriors called the Marauders seen in Thor: The Dark World, which consisted of a range of low-lives from different races, so Fitz may have been posing as one of them. On the other hand, marauder is a pretty generic space opera baddie term.
- “Guy’s got his own Cronenberg science division and everything,” says Coulson about Kasius. He’s referring to David Cronenberg, director of such films as Rabid (1977), The Brood (1979),Scanners (1981), Videodrome (1983) and The Fly (1986).