By John Walker on January 13th, 2014 at 9:00 am.
Anyone who’s watched Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD, and possesses more taste than a toilet roll, will have noticed that it’s a massive stinking turkey of colossal proportions. Somehow making Agent Coulson an unlikeable character – an even more impressive feat since he’s surrounded by utterly hateable characters – it’s a miserable mess of dreary sub-sub-sub-CSI procedural tedium, and mortally embarrassed to be in the Marvel universe. It seems to go out of its way to avoid including anything regarding super heroes, and indeed anything directly relating to familiar Marvel themes, instead opting for that most tiresome trope: evil scientists. (Although without mentioning AIM or Hydra, of course.) Viewers of a recent episode of the somehow not cancelled series might have noticed their strangest decision yet: to use Mass Effect 3 concept art.
Reported by Eurogamer, and spotted by an eagle-eyed Bioware forumite, the catchily named fhweufhewiu, the heavily edited piece of artwork pops up as a background about five minutes into episode ten, The Bridge. (A story about how evil scientists are using science for evil.)
Here’s BioWare’s concept art for Mass Effect 3:
And here’s the moment from SHIELD:
How on Earth anyone ever spotted it, I’m not sure. This must be a human fitted with an advanced version of that YouTube technology that lets them recognise if a video is copyrighted content. Which would make him a far more interesting concept than anything that’s appeared in eleven episodes of Agents Of SHIELD.
You may argue that I’m only writing this story so I can vent about how bad SHIELD is. You’d be right. I’m going to carry on for a bit.
Everyone speaks either in exposition, or failed attempts at “pithy”. The core team is made of some of the most unpleasant people imaginable – sneering, gormless or impossibly naive. It’s absolutely impossible for the show to generate any notion of tension or peril, since the only sensible reaction is to desperately hope any or all of them get captured and zapped into evil science juice. Every time an enemy fires a gun at any of the main cast, you’ll find yourself thinking, “Damn! Missed!”
You’ve got two non-evil scientists who live with the constant moral nightmare that at any moment they may do a science that is evil, while talking to each other as if it’s the first time they’ve ever encountered a human. You’ve got Min-Na Wen monstrously wasted, and seemingly asleep at all points. Although she’s positively vibrant compared to human coma Grand Ward, played by Brett Dalton. And there’s Faith… I mean Echo… No wait, I mean Skye.
Pointlessly flailing around in the middle of these zombies is poor Clark Gregg as Coulson, who DIED! DID YOU HEAR THAT HE DIED?! AREN’T YOU INTRIGUED THAT HE DIED?!?!?! No, no Jed Whedon, I’m not. I’m not intrigued, because you forgot that not saying something isn’t the same as making something interesting.
Each week they defiantly refuse to engage in anything relating to super heroes, but instead agonisingly flog the dreary horse of Iron Man 3’s least interesting aspect, Extremis. Somehow eleven episodes in they’re still blathering on about this generic nothingness of “super soldiers” that never appear to be quite that super, with only a brief distraction as they were seemingly forced to work in some connection to Thor 2 for an episode. Which they approached by turning it into a story about evil scientists.
But worst of all, in a time when government mistrust is at its highest, the show’s core message throughout has been: trust the powerful, invisible government against the interests of your own personal freedoms. It’s just bewildering how heavily this message is hammered each episode, as characters quickly learn that rebelling against the instructions of the rich and powerful only brings you harm, and that trusting them and doing as your told is the only Right Way. It’s not only massively creepy – like some sort of McCarthy-era propaganda – but woefully out of touch with public sentiment.
So, er, yeah – videogames! Quite why a piece of Mass Effect 3 concept art appeared as a backdrop in an episode is not yet known. So far BioWare have joked about it:
— Aaryn Flynn (@AarynFlynn) January 10, 2014
Whether EA are feeling so jovial is perhaps something we’ll learn soon. Of course, they could have given Disney/ABC permission without telling BioWare first. Who knows? All I know is I feel better for venting.