Into The Dark Places

There are going to be spoilers in this post so if you haven’t watched the winter finales of either Gotham or Agents of SHIELD stop reading.


There has been a lot of good boys going bad on television during these winter finales.  I had pretty much given up on GOTHAM after the bone stupid legal errors that were being made — “No Bruce, you whiny little shit, you can’t fire me.  I’m your guardian.  And “No Bruce, you can’t sell the company because you’re like 14 years old and I’m your guardian!”  Grrrrr.  Anyway, George R.R. convinced me to give it another try and I do love Ben McKenzie who plays Gordon so I started watching again.  Only to watch Gordon throw away his faith in our justice system, his belief in the rule of law and gun down a man begging for mercy.  Made me a little queasy. Especially since I have just come off watching two films that point out the dangers when we lose faith in our institutions.  Both Bridge of Spies and Trumbo explore the carnage that results when we ignore the law.  They are both a testament to the rule of law.  I’ll write more about them later.  

Now we come to SHIELD.  I have loved Coulson from the first moment he walked on stage in Thor.  He was the human heart of the first Avengers movie.  I like the character and the actor.  But I was fascinated by Grant Ward.  Brett Dalton’s performance as the chameleon-like killer was masterful.  He could be charming, dangerous and brooding, or give you the look of a heartbroken eight year old that makes you want to give him a cookie and a hug.  There has been a concerted effort by the entire SHIELD team to take down — with prejudice — Ward.  Hunter was going to kill him until Bobbi pulled him back from that dark precipice.  Jenna tried and failed.  Fitz hated the man who had seemed like a such a friend but never resorted to murder.  May would have killed Ward the way you put down a rabid animal, but instead the kill went to Coulson.

And I felt like it completely undercut the basic decency of the man.  I don’t mind that, but they better deal with the fallout from a good man basically losing his moral compass.  Yes, Coulson has killed people before, but they were agents trying to kill him, or an Asgardian god who was about to escape and rain down terror on the Earth.  The killing of Ward was particularly brutal and personal and literally hands on.  It was an act of vengeance which made Coulson no better then Ward.  Ward had killed Coulson’s lady, Roslyn, as payback for the death of Ward’s “love”.  I put that in quotes because the relationship between Ward and Agent 33 was a sick folie à deux and of course it was Ward himself who killed his reputed love.

I worked on a serial killer show called Profiler and I know a lot about murderers the methods they employ.  The use of your hands to kill someone says a lot psychologically about a person.  The way Coulson killed Ward was particularly horrific — using his artificial hand to crush Ward’s ribcage and heart.  It was an incredibly powerful moment, a fascinating choice and they better pay it off.  Fitz who has now become the “decent man” seemed horrified at Coulson’s actions which is as it should be.

With Gordon we have him using a gun.  I again worry that the writers/creators of Gotham are losing sight of what made us care about the man who will become Commissioner Gordon.  I don’t have confidence that they know that they’re playing with the heart of darkness and how to deal with that.

With the team on AoS I have confidence that they will explore the darkness that Phil Coulson has entered.

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