Monday, February 17, 2014

On uber-shipping and Agents of SHIELD

Confession time (even though it's not really a confession at all if you've seen my Tumblr): I'm a shipper. Like, hardcore. About 80% of a time, I wind up watching a show because of a particular couple I want to root for, and I go into new shows looking for the people we're 'meant' to root for--because come on, shows totally set this stuff up early, no matter what Chris Carter said for seven of the nine years, no matter what anyone who has ever created a modern-patterned show in the last fifteen years has to say about it. At the very least, they're preying on brains like mine, and throwing a bone every once in a while to keep us tuning in.

But here's the thing also: I'm a flexible shipper. I'm willing to invest in any relationship where the characters have chemistry and might make a good story, but this is something that's a whole lot less common in TV, and one of the many reasons why I like SHIELD so much (despite the reasons I'm a little annoyed with it).

We're not yet done with the first season of SHIELD, and almost everyone is up for grabs ship-wise. And that's what today's post is about: the glorious and heady freedom of shipping everyone on a show with everyone else!

Here's what we have:

  • Skye and Ward (Skyward) - The most obvious, what with him being her trainer and whatever she has that's closest to a partner--the standard ship that comes built into crime-solving shows: partners fall in love. And that'd be fine and fun because they're so opposite, temperamentally and actively, but it would also be obvious and a little dull. And also because...
  • May and Ward (Mayward) - Which is already going on! How awesome is that! First half of the first season, and two unexpected characters are together, working through their mutual isolation, trauma and anger issues, and they work! And not a single one of the team has had anything to say about the fact that May is a lot older than Ward, and so it's not only an age-gap, it's a reversal-of-the-typical-genders age gap, and it's thrilling! It's so cool! And if it doesn't last, we have...
  • May and Coulson (Mayson) - Because they've obviously known each other for a long time, have a lot of history that we haven't even explored yet that might include a past relationship, and currently have about the closest thing to an instinctive partner relationship that we have on the Bus. A few of the scenes they've had together showed great chemistry, and there's also the reversal, again, of gender expectations with Coulson being relatively chatty and emotional in comparison to her stone-faced everyday. And...
  • Ward and Simmons (I've heard Chemical Agent and I kind of love that name so I'm going with it) - In the angry-stick episode, they were flipping adorable, and I can see a whole lot of promise in seeing her softness work against his hard-as-nails attitude about everything, her sciency-ness against his hands-on-let-me-shoot-it-ness. Opposites make for awesome TV romances. Unless...
  • FitzSimmons - The one handed to us by the show pans out. I mean, it's obvious that those two totally adore each other. Simmons jumped out of a plan in one ep and threw herself over a grenade in another to save Fitz, and Fitz has flat out chosen to risk death to stay by her side almost every episode. Ironically, though, the feeling I get is that she's much more platonic in her feelings than he is--like they're twins from her PoV, but potential loves from his, and that's awesome-sauce drama right there when that comes out. And if it doesn't pan out we have...
  • Fitz and Skye (FitzSkye) - Which is unexpected a little, but when you see the two of them in a scene alone, not as unexpected as it seems when Simmons and Ward and anyone else is in the room. The train episode had a great team-up scene with the two of them and a really charming quiet chemistry that totally won me over. Plus, the dynamic of a relationship with the scientist pulling Skye out of her fixed orbit exactly between science and action might be nice, as she's still in training and will still have to be action-y as the show progresses. And, barring some revelation of relationship, there's...
  • Skye and Coulson (Skyson) - Which I just adore. They have good chemistry, though it's not obviously non-platonic, and they're getting nicely emotionally close lately. It's a sort of Buffy-and-Giles thing, which is great and worked wonderfully, and never turned non-platonic, so to make it different, why not a little age-gap romance? Think of the storylines! So much conflict! Head-agent and lowest-rookie = so much rule-breaking, older and younger = societal pressure and judging (though different from what Ward and May would get if they were open about their relationship, if it actually becomes a full relationship), and how will the rest of the team react? Plus! If Ward and May are still there at the same time, there are so many parallels that can be drawn, and I do so love parallelism in my storytelling. 
  • And Chloe Bennet who plays Skye has said she'd be up for Skye and Simmons to get together, which would be a minority love, as well as unexpected from how things are set up but not out of the blue since they get along really well, AND would answer why Skye didn't fight harder for that one episode boyfriend she had in the beginning, why her and Ward come across as sort of a BroMance or a twinsies thing, and would resolve why Simmons is so much more platonic in her affections than Fitz is!
  • And of course, Coulson and Maria Hill seemed a little flirty and awesome in the first episode and it would be fun to get that back, since she's the only pre-existing friendship / relationship of any sort that Coulson brought into this show--they went into The Battle of New York ('s early set up) together, and only one of them came out and only one knows exactly what happened to the other and hasn't yet had a chance to react to the other knowing what that was yet. All sorts of potential story.
  • And maybe this is just me, but I really want to see Akela and Nick Fury team up with long coats and matching eye-patches, whether romantically or not.
Non-romantically (but really, give me a chance and I'll ship it), we have...
  • Fitz and Ward would make awesome, awesome bromance partners. Fitz wants to be a man of action and Ward could really use a little emotional attachment and softening, and in the one episode we saw of them in the field together, they worked really really well.
  • Ward and Coulson have a nice fresh-agent / established-agent understanding, and it would be amazing to get more depth on that front--like, was Coulson more like Ward when he was young and new and fresh out in the field? Could he offer guidance and advice specifically for Ward that Ward then totally ignores and learns lessons from? I think they could be awesome as a makeshift father-son deal, especially since Coulson seems so sad that he gave up the chance at a normal life that would probably have included kids, and Ward is SUCH an orphan.
Basically, the only relationship I don't support is Coulson and that South-American revolutionary, because that was just...spiky. It didn't sound right or feel right at all. Icky x 100.

When I was looking up stuff for this post, I found an article where they asked if there were Too Many Ships but it was written early on, and I think the show has found a way around the issue--it's not too many ships, it's ALL the ships. In all the forms. Right from the beginning, we have lots of potential loves to root for and lots of bromances and even a few triads (I'm rooting for functioning triads rather than ill-fated love triangles!), and surprisingly enough, the unexpected and the nontraditional pairings we're being given are the more interesting ones! By allowing everyone to be sort of in love with everyone else, the show lets the team have deep emotional ties quickly--which is what the first half of the series really needed, ties other than because-the-plots-says-so keeping them together--which allows us to have deep emotional ties. And also allows the show to explore, sweetly and quietly, a series of under-represented ideas about what love and relationships are, versions of the same that never show up on mainstream, primetime, network TV shows. 

If they follow through, there's plenty of time to try on all of these relationships--expected, unexpected, age-gap, opposites, same-sex, could be epic in the actual sense of the word. Now we just have to keep the ratings up enough that it survives past it's given second season.

So what's your favorite ship on Agents of SHIELD? Did I miss someone you want to talk about? Share in the comments!
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