Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Get On With It, Already

It’s a classic story.

A “Boy meets Girl” …

… “Boy and Girl become best friends and science-nerd co-workers” … “Boy dreams of the day when they might be an Item” …

… “Boy suffers major head trauma while saving Girl’s life” … “Boy therefore hallucinates a very helpful and supportive and totally Boy-invented version of Girl, even while Girl in real life has gone away to infiltrate a rival spy organization” …

… “Boy welcomes Girl back from her infiltration experience, and very nearly works up the grit to ask Girl to dinner, before Girl is sucked through a Weird Supernatural Portal and ends up marooned on Another Planet” …

… “Girl survives six months on Another Planet, keeping her sanity in part by recording Very Sweet Messages to Boy on her cellphone which she’s certain he’ll never see because she’ll never get back from Another Planet” … “Boy goes to ridiculous pseudo-scientific lengths to figure out how to trigger the Weird Supernatural Portal, does figure it out, and inexplicably visits that Another Planet and rescues Girl” …

… “Boy finally does take Girl to dinner and it goes rather poorly, not because Girl is still a trainwreck from the other-planet experience (although that’s true), but because there was another boy marooned on that planet with whom Girl conspired to design an escape and um sorta kinda apparently had a bit of a Fling with and there was so much more baggage than Boy has any idea about, and Boy thinks Girl is weeping based on the lingering effects of the trainwreck but Girl knows she’s weeping because at no time in her life did she expect to be the subject of a Soap Opera like this” …

… “Boy discovers photos of the other boy on Girl’s cellphone and is ready to flay Girl or the other boy or the both of ‘em … but Boy also discovers Girl’s Very Sweet Messages on the cellphone and goes from insane jealousy to dogged determination in the space of half a page of screenplay” …

story.

Ya know. That old chestnut.

 

One of the things that drives a great deal of theatrical storytelling, and seems dominant in most American television drama these days … and assuredly drives the stories of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” … is two or more characters who are not exactly being straight with each other.

I love the “Agents”, but sometimes their drama drives me crazy.

Let’s see. Agent Coulson couldn’t tell anyone about his supernatural obsession with drawing weird alien flowcharts on walls. Agent May (for about ten minutes) couldn’t tell anyone that her ex-husband has acquired the ability to turn into a raging alien beast and kill people. Agent Ward couldn’t tell anyone that he spent years being trained — by a HYDRA double agent within S.H.I.E.L.D.! — to look and sound like a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent while actually working as something on the order of a quadruple-agent in the service of HYDRA. Agents Morse and Hunter can’t tell anyone that in spite of their divorced-spies status, they really do have the hots for each other and in fact are liaison-ing more frequently than Agent Ward growls, lately. (In fact, the nice lady who plays Agent Morse said in an interview that “she and Hunter have been keeping secrets from one another, evidently for years.”) Agent Skye only became a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent to avoid going to prison for cyber-espionage against S.H.I.E.L.D., and as she began to like the idea of being S.H.I.E.L.D., she couldn’t tell her cyber-hacker friends about it …

And Agents Fitz and Simmons – who are so joined-at-the-hip inside their science lab that their fans *and their fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. characters often refer to them as FitzSimmons …

Well, they’re that weird, clumsy, supernatural, and excruciating boy-meets-girl story. And the only thing they can’t seem to tell each other is the thing fans wish they would just *say*, already.

Which got me to thinking … not about anything specific going on at the moment in Editorial License land … so you can stow your imaginations in the overhead compartments again …

But rather, as the two of them wrapped up this past week’s episode standing on a balcony, watching a sunrise, and as Simmons asked Fitz, “so, what’re we going to do about it?”, and as Fitz replied, “wha’ we’re doin’ now … just lookin’ at th’ sunrrrise,” [he’s very Scottish] … it seemed that Fitz had looked right into the face of the question that mattered most to him in the world, and couldn’t meet its gaze.

It also occurred to me that FitzSimmons were still not “doing anything about it”, and still not saying anything, and clearly we will spend either the next three-quarters of a TV season or possibly *the rest of the gosh-darn series* watching this Dance of the Seven Approach-Avoidance Coping Strategies.

(An aside: children of the 1980s will recall that the comedy private-eye TV show “Moonlighting” took a distinct turn for the worse when its two protagonists finally gave in and became an Item, so perhaps there’s a cautionary tale for the “Agents” writers. Same TV network and everything…)

So … can you drown in subtext?

 

One of the pieces of wisdom imparted to my friends and I, during our time listening to the wit and wisdom of our college band director, was this simple thought: “Tell people how you feel about them before it’s too late.” Things happen, life careens onward, and suddenly there comes the moment when death or something almost equally serious (and/or supernatural) slams the door shut, rings the curtain down, and you’re left only with the chance to have your opinions about someone rattle around inside your own head for the rest of whatever … accompanied by that irritating little voice that says, nice going, wimp, you’ll never get the chance to say it now.

Invoking the specter of death, out of nowhere (or being sucked through a Weird Supernatural Portal), is perhaps a bit melodramatic. Tap the brakes there, guy. And for you, dear reader, to deduce from all this that your humble Blogger is involved in a circumstance like Agent(s) FitzSimmons would be to understandably but sadly read waaaay too much into this. Tap the brakes, indeed.

Meanwhile, at times, for many perfectly legitimate reasons and in far less dire circumstances, it isn’t easy to be entirely up-front with people. Doing so can run the risk of being wiseacre without being wise. Honesty is the best policy … unless it isn’t. International diplomacy … interpersonal diplomacy … keeping other kinds of peace … keeping a rehearsal going in the right direction … not Poking a Bear that you don’t absolutely have to poke at this moment

But at how many moments in our lives have we not bit the bullet, not said something that would change our situation irrevocably … or not just told someone how highly we regarded them, or that we really admired something they said or did or were … because we were unsure what was on the other side of that Weird (if not necessarily Supernatural) Portal? Even if that change were welcome, or even necessary … or if it represented something we’d always wished for?

So, to all my treasured family and friends and colleagues, all those Boys and Girls out there … I hope you know where we stand, and I hope you know we’re good. And I ought to take a moment very soon to say so, on purpose.

 

[Ed. Note: I wanted to put a disclaimer at the top of this post, saying, “Warning: many sentences in this post are of a very dangerous length.” But I liked the rhythm of the opening too much. Sorry if you sprained your eyeballs while reading.]

 

[Unexpected postscript: friends, I wrote this before the terror in Paris earlier today. I honestly (!) didn’t edit the thing at all; but events did conspire to turn it into a very different essay nonetheless – while simultaneously reinforcing the point of the thing. I did opt not to go with my original title, which was “Pull the Trigger Already”, and I suspect that was wiser. Anyway, you just never know when things will take a turn. Oi.]

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November 13, 2015 - Posted by | current events, entertainment, friends, science fiction, Starred Thoughts, television | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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