Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 3 Finale Thoughts

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 11.48.36 AMThe third season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has finally concluded and it so full of twists and loss and so much pain!! Where do I even begin. I finished it yesterday and I am still trying to order my thoughts into any sense of coherence.

I really enjoy AoS and I love the characters. When the show started teasing that someone important was going to die, I was a mess because I didn’t want the show to lose one of the core-members of the team: Coulson, Daisy, May, Simmons and Fitz as well as Mack. And at the same time, we had some great additions: Lincoln, Joey and Elena. There were all such great characters that it was going to be heartbreaking irrespective of who we eventually lost.

There were so many great moments in the finale, especially that scene between Mack and Daisy. She’s been isolated from everyone she cares about and she is drowning in self-hatred with no one there to tell her that she’s not alone, that there are people who still care about her and love her. And then finally, Mack decides that he’s had enough protocol and goes to see her. And you can see the despair in her eyes and the concern and worry in his when he sees just how listless she is. He forgives her and tries to hug her and she fights him, honestly believing that she doesn’t deserve it. And then she finally gives in and let’s go of those heart-wrenching sobs. You can’t help but feel her pain.

What I also loved was the way the show handled Daisy’s recovery. It wasn’t an easy road. She was in emotional pain, hated herself and suffering from withdrawal symptoms and being stuck in a box, all alone, certainly wasn’t helping her get better. And when she realises that Hive is on the plane, she goes to him, not to fight but to get him to take her back. That’s the truly painful moment. She’s so broken by what she’s done and so desperate to forget it that she goes back to Hive, begging him to take her back, to make her forget, to not care.vlcsnap-2016-05-27-15h19m18s608vlcsnap-2016-05-27-15h18m57s878Special mention for Chloe Bennet. She nailed those scenes, both with Mack and the other one I have yet to mention. She was amazing this entire season and just blew it out of the park in the finale. She was amazing.

Daisy: "Take me back"
Daisy: “Take me back”

The finale saw us bidding adieu to not one but two cast members: Lincoln and Hive. Lincoln had always had a rocky road on the show. For the longest time, his arc revolved around Daisy’s and when he finally did start to develop on his own, the show killed him off. I didn’t always like him but over the course of this season, especially 3B, I couldn’t help but appreciate him. He genuinely cared for and loved Daisy. And while she may have been his reason for joining S.H.I.E.L.D, he trained hard to be part of the team. All in all, Lincoln was actually quite lovable.

That final scene with Lincoln and Daisy, paralleled the scene between Peggy and Steve in Captain America. And it was every bit as beautiful and painful. And yet again, you could see Daisy’s heartbreak as she realised that there was nothing they could do and her need to just keep talking to him for as long as possible. And Lincoln, trying to put on a brave face for her and trying to tell her that he did love her before getting cut-off. Ugh!! This was one painful finale indeed.

vlcsnap-2016-05-27-15h20m39s882 vlcsnap-2016-05-27-15h20m44s908Now, onto to Hive, the big bad of the season. Hive was cold and for all his chatter about making the world a better place for the Inhumans, it was all about making himself powerful. His talk was nothing except empty promises. He was devious and uncontrollable and it was Malick’s arrogance that let him believe that he could ever control Hive.

Time for special mention no. 2 for Brett Dalton. He was amazing. First as Grant Ward, then Grant Ward 2.0 and then finally as Hive. He played so many different characters on the show and each one was distinct from the other. As Hive, he played something not quite human. And it was fascinating to see him. Although, we probably could have done without with the whole Neo vibe from Matrix. Also, the small things he did, like the slight head tilt and the cold eyes, gave one the impression that whatever was in front of them wasn’t quite what it seemed. I’m especially sad to see Dalton go. I loved him on the show and can’t help but pray and hope that he does come back, although that is highly unlikely. He already died and came back, how many more comebacks could one guy have. And I did love Skyeward before all the Hydra mess. They were so good together, awkward and adorable and I hate that now it’s never going to happen. It’s over for good.

If this season proved anything, it was that Phil Coulson is no longer fit to be the Director of S.H.I.E.l.D. He made a number of bad calls, chief among them was killing Ward on Maveth that eventually led to all the shit hitting the fan. May is a much better alternative.

The end of the season picked up six months later with Daisy as a fugitive with Mack and an unkempt Coulson hot on her trail. He is clearly not the director any more and looking less than chipper and more than a little desperate. Daisy on the other hand, looks pretty good, she’s healed and seems to have a better handle on her power.

vlcsnap-2016-05-27-15h21m13s907 vlcsnap-2016-05-27-15h22m34s077Fitz and Simmons also seem to be together and no longer with S.H.I.E.L.D. It appears that there are working with Dr. Radcliff though it is unclear just how involved they are. Whatever Radcliff is creating will probably the antagonist next season. For now, I am still reeling and trying to come to terms with all that we’ve lost this season.

vlcsnap-2016-05-27-15h29m06s906P.S. – Now that ABC isn’t picking up Marvel’s Most Wanted, is there a chance that Bobbi and Hunter could return to AoS? AoS was already reeling from their loss and now to add Luke Mitchell and Brett Dalton, it doesn’t look very good for the show and I love it too much to see it cancelled any time soon. I hope the show creators and writers have a game-plan…

Advertisements

Agents of SHIELD 3×20: Emancipation

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 11.48.36 AM

When Daisy finally came back to the base, looking drained and exhausted, being restrained by 2 guys, Coulson called her Agent Daisy Johnson, not just Daisy or even his usual slip-up of Skye. Was it because Talbot was with him or because he still didn’t trust that she was herself? She looked so lonely and broken and nobody came forward to hug, there wasn’t even an impulse that was quickly tamped down. Only with Lincoln, there was an indication that he was holding himself back.

Simmons is already acting cold and detached with Daisy, you can hear it in her voice, she sounds hard, not like the kind and caring version of herself. I get that Daisy did horrible things while she was under Hive’s control but now she isn’t. She’s heartbroken and guilt ridden about her actions, the last thing she needs is to feel isolated from her team, her family. She needs to feel like she belongs with them, that they still care and not just enough to make sure she’s free of Hive’s control, that they care about her emotionally as well.

The next two episodes are gonna be really tough for her and I can only hope that she gets the love and support that she so desperately needs.

On a side note, Marvel’s Most Wanted got cancelled so does that mean that Bobbi and Hunter will rejoin Agents of Shield? The only reason they left was because of the show.. I’m hoping they come back. I remember reading somewhere that they were both coming b

Crown of Crimson (The Afterlight Chronicles #1) by Rose Reid

Synopsis:

First Rule of the Cannon: Trust no one.

Aerietta Elony is destined for evil.
Born into a royal family, it was quickly discovered that she bore the Jezdah mark — an intricate tattoo meant to identify the Children of the Elements. To make sure his people never knew about the danger that hid in their midst, the king had his daughter sent to the leader of the Cannon, his order of assassins, where she would learn to become one of them.
No one was ever supposed to know what Aerietta was, where she came from, or what she was destined to become. She’s never worried what would happen if someone discovered her secrets. But when a neighbouring kingdom attacks, and Aerietta is betrayed and captured, keeping her secret will mean the difference between life and death.
When the king of the neighbouring land enlists her services to track down one of her traitor companions, she has no choice but to accept. But in order to find her former friend and make it back to the king with her head still attached to her shoulders, she’ll have to keep the enigmatic, inhuman Swordmaster in the dark, which proves to be more difficult than she could ever imagine.
Deception abounds, danger is just as prevalent, but even in this world of demons and magic, the only thing Aerietta fears is herself.
The Queen of Crimson accepts (Via Goodreads)

Ratings – 2 out of 5 stars

This wasn’t actually as bad as my ratings may lead you to believe but while most of the book may have been good, the ending with regard to the romance in the book leave much to be desired.

Arrietta is an assassin and it wasn’t a life she chose for herself. She has a mark on her back which marks her as someone who will bring great strife for those around her. Still a young child, she is sent to the order of assassins, disowned by her father, the king. And since she is an assassin, she does kill people. I liked this because it is rare for a main character to kill simply because she is ordered to. Some of her victims were horrible while others were not.

Once she is betrayed and captured by another king, she is given a choice, hunt down one of her friends who betrayed her or face execution. She obviously chooses the former. There she is joined by Lyom, the Swordmaster, who is as gifted in the arts of combat as she is. He also comes across as the intended love interest and that is what really bothers me.

Arrietta and Lyom are adversaries from the beginning, especially Lyom. He hates her and for the longest time we don’t know why (of course, we find the reason by the end of the book along with Arrietta) However, since they are on a mission, they are forced to spend time together along with other members of Lyom’s guard.

The reader is to believe that in the midst of all their caustic interaction, somewhere along the lines they fell in love, or at least Arrietta did. While reading the book, there is probably only one or two instances where Lyom seems concerned about her well-being and even those I question. There is no question that Lyom hates her, it is made clear to both Arrietta and the reader on multiple occasions.

Arrietta is unable to complete her mission and is sent back to the dungeon, to make matters worse, her mark is discovered and now she faces certain death. For those who think that Lyom fell in love with her, I believe that while he certainly feels sorry for her, he has no qualms about hurting her and causing her pain. Yes, there is the “tightening of muscles”, “softening of the eyes” and all of it is bullshit. He doesn’t even try to help her, indeed I don’t even think he considers it. And the worse part, Arrietta still likes him! She feels jealous of the princess who may or may not be sweet on him. Seriously!? She should have been running in the opposite direction. She has every indication that he’s not to be trusted and she still does. How could she believe that someone who hated her so intensely could suddenly change. That’s not how it works.

I didn’t hate the book, but I hated the “romantic relationship”, it was awful and toxic. I will read the second book, but I fervently hope that Lyom is NOT Arrietta’s love interest (though the chances of that happening are slim to none)

Winner’s Kiss (Winner’s Trilogy #03) by Marie Rutkoski Review

9780374384739_FC_n6GzO0HIt is finally over!!! And what a ride it was! This series is one of the few where the end leaves me relieved as well as sad. Ideally, this is exactly how one should feel when finishing a series. You come to know and care about these characters over the course of the series and to finally bid them adieu is always a sad affair.

The Winner’s Kiss was perfect if a little frustrating. Marie Rutkoski takes her time as she did with the two previous instalments. She builds the atmosphere and not just the physical aspects. She gives scenes a weight that most authors would not always bother with. This series is not fast-paced, it is slow but never dull and never monotonous. It keeps the reader on their toes, always guessing about what will happen next and what the characters’ next move will be. Rutkoski never makes things easy for the reader. You will often think that you know what will happen next and be wrong but not regret it because what does happen often surpasses your own expectations.

One of the strongest suits of the series is how well written it is. As I mentioned earlier, she takes her time with building the atmosphere. She doesn’t hurry and as a result, the pace is easy and almost laid-back. But it is so laden with tension that it never feels easy and laid-back. There are moments when the situation is so tense that it is hard not to take a peek ahead to get a sense of just how things will play out. The series is also beautifully written and that in itself should be incentive enough to read it. If you enjoyed reading Leigh Bardugo and Laini Taylor, then this is right up your alley, although Taylor tends to be heavier and more ornate in her writing style.

Now, as far the characters are concerned, they are all superb. Everyone from the evil and despicable Emperor to the funny and not-always reliable Roshar are wonderfully realised and written. Case in point, the crown-prince Verex or even Risha, the hostage princess from the East. We don’t spend a lot of time with either of them and yet they both have a lingering presence even after the series has concluded. You don’t forget about them and they don’t get lost in the sea of secondary and peripheral characters. You get a real sense of who these characters are beyond their names and superficial characteristics; Verex’s kindness and Risha’s core of steel.

What I also liked about this series is how complex the characters are. Take for instance, Kestrel’s father, General Trajan. It would be easy to hate him and you do, but it is tempered by the fact that there is more to the man than what you see. He does love his daughter but he is weighed down by his expectations of her and his sense of betrayal when she doesn’t comply. It is unfair and unreasonable and yet it is realistic. He sees his daughter as an extension of himself and his own ambitions and not a person in her own right with her own wants, needs and ambitions.

It is hard not to love Arin. He is meant to be the more likeable of the two main characters. He is kind, straightforward tries to be there for the people he cares about. He is open and demonstrative about how he feels. And while his thick-headedness drove me up the wall in the previous book, Arin in Winner’s Kiss is far from that insecure, love-sick boy. He is the same at his core, but it is tempered by his experiences.

Then there is Kestrel who was my favourite character in the series. She was the brains of the operation, the strategist. She makes the tough choices, the unpopular choices and bears the brunt of those choices’ consequences. In the beginning of the book, she is in a tough spot and even gives up but once she gets out, her resilient spirit rears up again. She hates being helpless or being dependent on someone else. She is resilient in the truest form of the word. She is pragmatic and practical in a way most other characters in the book are not. I loved how logical she was, always strategising and weighing all with alternatives, seeing opportunities where others only see obstacles. I loved how sharp Kestrel’s mind was, I loved that she was clever and cunning and it was never a liability or portrayed in a negative light, it was always an asset and one that was highly sought-after.

The other thing that made me absurdly happy (and equally frustrating) was how long it took for Arin and Kestrel to come together and Kestrel finally telling Arin how she felt about him. I was happy that it took long because it gave Kestrel the chance to be her own self again. She took her time to ground herself in her own skin. And also find out who she is and not someone else’s idea of who she was. It also made sense that she would be reluctant to embrace how she really felt about Arin when you think about what her father did. She told him she loved him and he still did nothing as she dragged away to the mines in the Tundra. He never interfered, never stood up for her, didn’t try to protect her. She was wary of feeling that strongly about anyone, because it was akin to handing over the reins of her life to someone else where they held all the power and she had none. She had to come to see her feelings for what they were on her own or she would never trust them. And I love Arin for giving her that time and space to doing that and never giving the impression that he was doing her a favour or some great service.

The other characters are just as worthy of note. I loved Roshar. I loved that he was ambiguous and lied more often than not, you never knew if he was being honest or not or just what his game plan was. I loved that in his own way, he always loved Arin. I loved Verex for wanting to do the right thing but never having the courage to do it and trying to help Kestrel despite that. I loved Risha, for loving the home she was raised in and still mourning the loss of what could have been, or Sarsine who offered Kestrel her friendship even when she didn’t have to and offering true companionship to both Arin and Kestrel. I even loved the emperor because he was a true adversary, one who was just as wily and cunning as Kestrel and perhaps the one person who could possibly outplay her.

The other thing that was awesome about this series was just how gender positive it was. The women were all fully-fleshed out characters. They were flawed and they were strong with their own unique brand of strength. I also loved that more often than not, the women were the ones you had to watch out for. They were not damsels and they were not defenceless.

The Winner’s Kiss, in fact the whole trilogy is one of the best I have come across because it was consistent and the characters only got better with each instalment. Just when you thought that you finally had it all figured out, Rutkoski threw in a spanner that had you scratching your head. The Winner’s Trilogy is truly well-written and a pleasure to read and highly recommended for anyone who likes well-written books with complex characters. I loved the series and look forward to revisiting it in the not-so-distant future.

 

The Winner’s Crime (The Winner’s Trilogy #2) by Marie Rutkoski Review

TheWinnersCrimeI have never been more grateful for deciding to wait for the release of all the books in the series before starting with the second book! Had I read The Winner’s Crime when it had first released, I would have been a mess of nerves and frustration. As it stands right now, I finished it a few minutes and plan to start The Winner’s Kiss as soon as I’m done writing this.

Since I can’t wait to start that book, this will be short. I absolutely loved The Winner’s Crime. It was amazing, everything about it from the characters to the world-building. It is also very beautifully written, the prose reads like a classic. It also completely immerses the reader in this world. One of the best part of it are its characters and chiefly among them, Kestrel and Arin (but mostly Kestrel)

I liked Arin, all through the previous and then this one, he was always likeable. He’s written in a way most female characters are which was a nice change. He’s always the romantic, the one who wants to believe that everything will be alright. He’s also very thick. Where things with Kestrel are concerned, there were so many moments where he misunderstood her motivations and her true intentions. And when he did understand them, he ruined her carefully crafted plans. I loved him but there were times when I wanted to smack him on his head. But he was committed to helping his people and even secures an alliance that could help Herran in their fight against the Valorians. He’s persistent once he sets his mind on a task and doesn’t stop until he’s completed it. He genuinely cares about his people.

The main character in the book, I felt, was Kestrel. She took all the risks and made all the difficult decisions. She was engaged to a prince who didn’t like or trust her, near an Emperor known for his cruelty and surrounded by courtiers who would be only too happy to see her fail. She was in a nest of vipers with no one she could trust. She managed to help the Herrani, at great risk to her own safety and still keep her wits about her around the Emperor. I loved Kestrel even more in The Winner’s Crime because her future just seemed so bleak and yet she still fought to protect the people she loved.

The Winner’s Crime was everything I thought it would be and more. Now, I’m off to read The Winner’s Kiss, I’ve waited long enough