First and foremost, this week’s SHADE would like to give an honorary mention to whoever wrote Phil Coulson this episode. While I can fully understand that Coulson’s not Grant’s #1 fan, offering to erase his memories in exchange for a clean slate tinged their entire interaction with gross misunderstanding. And while it was Coulson that delivered the line, I know in my heart that blame lies solely with the writers, who have taken Coulson from empathetic everyman and turned him into some pseudo-sympathetic hero that’s okay with murder, but only when you’re murdering for the right side. And bonus kudos to the writers of the show for saying “we know you were abused, but it’s more convenient for us to just erase it instead of realistically explore it.”
Agents of SHIELD, where the sides are made up and abuse doesn’t matter. Thumbs up emoji.
On to our main point. I’d like to take you back to a time in 2012, when we were all super pumped for the Avatar: The Last Airbender sequel show, Avatar: The Legend of Korra. It was a beautiful, fun, fast-paced show with just one glaring flaw: For the first two seasons of the show, the writers insisted on adding a love triangle. We were given three characters, Asami, Mako, and Korra, and forced to watch them all end up in an unnecessary and uncomfortable situation. In season one, it was very clear to viewers that Mako and Korra were going to end up together, given that Bryke thought they’d only have one season to work with. But most of us were stuck wondering: If Korra and Mako were going to end up together, why did we need to hurt Asami for it to happen? Why did we need the drama?
Now, of course, we all know that the writers of LoK took this criticism in stride and improved their show. There was also the little fact that Korra and Asami feel in love with each other in seasons three and four, which makes the whole love triangle thing seem kind of funny in retrospect.
However, given that AoS has a 100% kill rate of canonically queer characters (they’re two for two!) I find the idea of them even bringing up bisexuality to be, how do you say... unlikely. To put it politely. You know from my other pieces that I fully believe that 2015 is the year of the bisexual. But I also fully believe that if you give AoS queerness, they will be terrible about it.
But that’s a bit of a sidetrack. The point of bringing up the Asami/Korra/Mako triangle is to bring attention to the Grant/Kara/Skye and Skye/Grant/Lincoln triangles that are forming in the show. Because where Brkye was able to learn from their mistakes, the AoS writers seem to enjoy thundering through the barrier of good taste at full speed. I mean, whatever. If that’s what they like to do. But I’d really prefer that Kara Palamas not get hurt in the process of it.
And yes, I do think it’s far more likely for Kara to get hurt than Lincoln. She’s a woman, a woman of color, and has no other romantic prospects other than Grant. She’s far more dependent on Grant than Lincoln is on Skye, and now it’s time for the narrative to punish her for it. Because how dare she get in the way of Grant’s feelings, right show?
And here’s the thing, readers: I ship SkyeWard. But I also care about Grant, Kara, and Skye as characters. The writers and the show itself love to hint at and flat-out remind us that Skye and Grant have feelings for each other. That they’re going to end up together. It’s not the ship I’m worried about. It’s the writers. Because would it really have been so hard to make Grant and Kara friends? Would it have been so hard to give Kara another romantic interest? Of course not. And yet, here we are.
This week, we watched Grant go from “Kara, you and I will have a future together,” to siding with Coulson in order to help Skye. I should mention that the second Grant and Kara had a “future” talk, most viewers knew this would end badly. Think when someone says “We’ll discuss it later,” in A Song of Ice and Fire, but with none of the nuances of the books and all of the bullshit of the show. The writers are dangling a carrot in front of Kara, knowing full well she’s not going to get it.
So why not give her something that she can get? Why not make her journey about Kara Palamas, and not Kara Palamas and Grant Ward? I fully understand why she depends on him right now. But she could have a bright future ahead of her on any show that isn’t this one. Because on AoS, the most important thing to do is pit women against each other. We’ve really got to stir up the inter-female resentment, here. Especially if Raina and Skye start getting along! Skye will need a new woman that hates her. Because Skye’s just that kind of girl, right?
Hopefully next week, I won’t be sitting here writing SHADE about the damage that’s been irreparably done to Kara. Again. I say hopefully, but I don’t feel very hopeful. Maybe bringing the original team back together will help the show remember what it was like to actually be fun. Remember: no one wants a love triangle. The characters in a love triangle don’t want to be in a love triangle. So stop making them, and come up with other ways to make characters interact.