Monday, April 14, 2014

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D./H.Y.D.R.A.: prediction on top of predictions

SPOILER ALERT:  if you aren't current as of April 11th, don't read this.

I saw Captain America:  The Winter Solider, and immediately came home and watched episode 17 of Agents of SHIELD, "Turn, Turn, Turn".

I felt really good about myself and all of my predictions:  until the last minutes of the episode.

Yes, patting my own back, I was right about Agent Garrett.  I was right that Victoria Hand was certain that Coulson was HYDRA, and that explained her closing dialogue, and she was not HYDRA.  I was right that May was reporting directly to Nick Fury.

But Ward???  STUNNED!!!

It completely makes sense:  every action of Ward's throughout the series could reasonably be seen to be an agent of HYDRA.  He weaves himself unquestionably into the team:  jumping out of the plane to save Simmons, bedding Agent May, and of course, his overprotective XO actions towards Skye (things producers Jeph Loeb and Jeffrey Bell have been saying a lot lately here and here...they've suddenly become very chatty???!!!)

It makes sense that someone on the team would be HYDRA, and revealing Ward gives two options:  he always was HYDRA, or has decided to side with his former XO because of everything that has happened.  His dialogue with Skye just before reveals either regret, or resignation that he would betraying her.  Garrett's words to Skye on how Ward has changed could be either deceptive, or probing.

I would not be that surprised if a major part of the rest of this series involves the team dealing with this betrayal.

However...I think we're being tricked again.

While I find Ward's betrayal believable (this is not Snape killing Dumbledore...I KNEW there was more to that), I am going to double down on the idea that Agents of SHIELD is duping us again.

Many have mentioned the look that Coulson gives Ward before he leaves with Garrett and Hand.  Is it possible something is set up?  No way, you might say:  HE PUT THREE BULLETS IN AGENT HAND.  Yes, he did:  but I don't believe that is exactly as it seems, because there could be more to it.

Victoria Hand chooses to blow Garrett out of the sky and commandeer the bus because she SUSPECTS Garrett and Coulston, not because she has proof.  She is overly cautious, and she trusts almost no one, because she knows HYDRA hides out in the open.  Her speech to Simmons is persuasive in selling that point.

We are supposed to believe that Hand then makes herself vulnerable, giving Ward a gun because she suddenly decides Garrett has to die?  Remember that Ward "let his emotions get the best of him" in shooting who he thought (but wasn't) the Clairvoyant:  a major reason she suspected Coulson in the first place?!!!

Hand seems to be one who calculates, not someone who on a whim decides to let Ward take care of things, giving him the opportunity to betray them all.

I think that Hand has prepared for this moment, to a certain extent.  Marvel's universe is known for having clones, and this is where it happens.  Ward killed a clone of Victoria Hand, in order to infiltrate HYDRA.

It's the perfect cover:  Ward was already facing a inquiry for killing the "Clairvoyant", he is close to Garrett, and now has killed Hand in cold blood.  He is a triple agent:  and still Coulson's man.  

Or he's not, and I'm wrong.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. predictions

"You'd like to think so, wouldn't you?!!!"  

I use a Princess Bride quote to get to the point:  I think we've been duped.

I am only up-to-date on one current television series:  Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

(Although one could argue that since I haven't seen Captain America yet, I might be behind...)

I'm not writing on the "religion/ethics side" yet:  just as a fan.  But with all of the plot twists and characters' wrong conclusions over who's doing what, I'm going to make some predictions.

As of the end of the last episode "The End of the Beginning", we have this:

1)  Phil Coulson believes that the Clairvoyant is still alive, and that one of his team is likely working for him/her.  He first suspected Ward, but now suspects May.

2)  We the viewers are to believe that Agent Victoria Hand is behind this, as she has just remotely commandeered the bus and ordered her operatives to "Take out the team, but leave Agent Coulson:  he's mine!"

I believe that Coulson is right that the Clairvoyant is alive, even as he seems to be wrong about his team being involved.  May has been reporting to someone else (we're led to believe Hand), but it may be someone else (Director Fury, in my opinion).

The show pointing the finger at Hand (heh), is a false conclusion.

It's an easy one to make:  Coulson and Agent! Skye are likely correct that it is a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative behind the "knowing" of the Clairvoyant.  And Hand appears ready to take serious action against the team.

But I think Agent Hand is pissed because she's come to the same conclusion:  and she thinks it's Coulson behind it all.

The real villain?  I think it's Coulson's old buddy, Agent John Garrett.

He's the likely one to be pulling the strings.  The Clairvoyant, more than anything, wanted to get to the secret behind Coulson's healing:  which Garrett gets to participate in the search for the truth, thanks to Skye's being shot.

Garrett and Agent Triplett get ambushed at a safe house by Deathlok, but for some reason, Deathlok flees after minimal resistance (compared to what he's capable of handling).

We get the "good, helpful, insightful routine" concerning Garrett:  he openly declares his approval of Skye's double-blind plan, he has a (to the viewer) likable heart-to-heart with Skye, pointing to how much Ward has been changed by his relationship to the team (and points to Ward's feelings toward Skye).  He also fails to remember that Coulson was with him as he remembered an old case of theirs, chalking it up to old age.  The scene works beautifully as lighthearted:  but it hides what I believe is the truth

My hunch is that he is the Clairvoyant, or at least works for HYDRA.

Additionally, Garrett wanted Thomas Nash to be killed by someone within S.H.I.E.L.D., having them believe that Nash was the Clairvoyant.  He had a motivated Triplett, who wanted the Clairvoyant dead for killing his partner.  He found another candidate in Ward, and manipulated him in a similar way.  The fact that he was "in the room" when the Clairvoyant spoke to the team only means that he has an accomplice.

So, that's my prediction.  I'm going to try and go see Captain America tonight, so I reserve the right to update my prediction before Tuesday's next episode.   

(UPDATE:  I can't make it until Friday to the theater.  Since I have a Vestry meeting tomorrow night, I'll wait to see the next S.H.I.E.L.D. episode until after the movie.)

Whether I'm right or not, let me say that I REALLY like this show!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

On Holy Week church services

There are three common ways that people approach the many liturgies offered during Holy Week:

1)  “ALL IN”:   If there’s a service, the plan is to be there.  Of course, I believe that this is a well rewarded journey through Holy Week:  from the pageantry of Palm Sunday, the solemn waiting of Tenebrae, the intimate dinner of remembrance on Thursday, the darkness of Good Friday, and what awaits us on Easter.  I can promise you that if you have the time to commit to this path, it will be filled with meaning and sacred moments.

2)  “SUNDAYS + GOOD FRIDAY (maybe)”:   This is a tried and true path that many people walk in a culture that does not pause for Holy Week.  Palm Sunday, in addition to celebrating Jesus’ dramatic entry into Jerusalem, points us to what Jesus willingly walked to (and through).  Whether or not one can make it to one of the Good Friday services, the crucifixion remains heavy on the heart and mind.  The range of emotions and experiences then brings us to the dramatic “Alleluia”, challenging us along the way.

3)  “EASTER ONLY”:  There are always people unfamiliar to the rest of the congregation on Easter Day.  Often referred to as “Christmas and Easter people”, they come in the sense that Easter is a special day to attend Church, even if they regularly do not.  Some certainly go to church on Easter simply to be with their families.  

If you are in this third category, what I want to say to you is that I AM SO GLAD that you go to church on Easter Sunday!  

Your presence on that day, if only that day, speaks to a sacred connection we have as people of God:  something that must be celebrated.  While I, as a Christian and an Episcopal priest, hope to be in your presence beyond Easter, know that our relationship as neighbors in Christ remains an essential part of this church community:  and you are always welcome here.  Thank you, in advance, for sharing in the joy of the Risen Christ.

May your journey in Christ, wherever it leads you, be holy, sacred, and filled by the love God has for us all.