I think, at this point, I can understand when Agents of SHIELD will do something poorly. Simmons trying to kill Ward? Done poorly. The entire ‘There is no SHIELD without Coulson’ plotline? Done poorly. We could argue that most of this season has been in poor form, seeing that the show seems to have lost its sense of self that it had in season one.
Starting with episode 2x10, Agents of SHIELD added an additional plotline to their messy ranks: Skye’s an Inhuman, the Inhumans are basically fancy mutants (and nothing like their comic counterparts) and just want to be left alone.
Now, if we take the fancy mutant angle, we see that Agent of SHIELD has been trying to wedge in “justice for the freaks” plotline. A reminder that hey, these fancy mutants are people, too! So long as they do exactly what’s expected of them, like good freaks should. That’s where others belong, right? Under the thumb of their oppressors, where they can be monitored.
Here’s the thing about others on Agents of SHIELD, be they lesbian women or men of color: they die. The show wants the audience to treat others like we’re spectators at a 1920s Coney Island show.
And how are we at GeeksOut, an audience of so-called others, supposed to feel about that?
Well, if the treatment of Jiaying is anything to go by, we should be pretty pissed off.
The show has shown us Jiaying literally being cut open and tortured. The show has told us that she lived in China during World War II, and watched the Chinese people suffer at the hands of invaders. She may be older than that. She may have seen the Opium Wars. That much is unclear.
But what is clear is that Jiaying has no reason to trust these people. We know she has no reason to trust them. And as much as Coulson and his gang like to pretend that every SHIELD mishap happened at the hands of Hydra within SHIELD, that’s simply untrue.
It’s not Hydra, after all, that put down Donnie Gill.
And the even before that, the treatment of gifted individuals was a SHIELD-sanctioned practice. “Put down the ones that are too dangerous,” didn’t start and end with Hydra. It started with SHIELD and is being continued by what’s left of SHIELD right now.
Jiaying might have framed Gonzales for attacking her. But is it really that unlikely that he, or another member of SHIELD, would have. Earlier in the episode, Phil Coulson, our PROTAGONIST, said of the Inhumans, “Are they... people?”
That’s the guy we’re supposed to be rooting for. The one who just dehumanized an entire marginalized group of individuals. That’s the lead of the show. What a great job AoS has done with this plotline.
The official Agents of SHIELD twitter, which unfortunately run by unsympathetic ants, went so far as to call Jiaying “evil” for her behavior. Keep in mind that this is a network approved twitter. This was a pre-planned tweet. The showrunners have been playing to show us that Jiaying is evil, just because she doesn’t take the meager offer that SHIELD’s given her.
Remember: if you don’t roll over and show your stomach to your oppressors, you’re evil.
While we complain about X-Men here at GeeksOut, most X-Men writers have had the foresight to at least allow Magneto’s opponents to understand him. There’s a reason it’s always Magneto vs. Charles Xavier and not Magneto vs. SHIELD. Because when Magneto fights SHIELD, every single mutant is going to feel it.
SHIELD is not who you turn to for sympathy as a powered person. SHIELD is not the ally. Not to the X-Men, and not to the Inhumans.
So why this show would even bring up a plotline as complicated as this one, only to simplify it to its lowest common denominator, isn’t just stupid, it’s in poor taste. Did the writers of Agents of SHIELD look at the current events surrounding them and still decide to go forward with a “demonizing the other” plotline? Or are they really just that oblivious?
I don’t have the answer. And I’m not sure which is worse. But one thing’s for sure: “Poor taste” seems to be the defining term for Agents of SHIELD, season 2.
And, in case anyone’s worried I forget, let’s give an honorary mention to whoever wrote Melinda May this week. Her continual bullying and mocking of Kara for posing as May in episode 2x05-2x10 really warms my heart. Who can forget that Kara was forcibly brainwashed, forced to wear another woman’s face, and was completely stripped of her identity? The answer: Phil Coulson and Melinda May. Our protagonists. I’m so happy we have them to root for.
We’ve got one week left of this mess. I never thought I'd count down weeks left of AoS like I did with True Blood, and yet here we are.