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The Complexity of Television And Story Pacing

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The latest (I'm writing this the day before Thanksgiving) Agents of SHIELD was easily the best to date. High powered stakes, great acting by Ming-Na Wen, and a bit of characterization for everyone. The last few weeks have been steadily upping the ante from "fancy X-files/Torchwood with a plane" to the promise Coulson gave us in the first episode:  this is a world post-alien invasion. Post-Avengers. And I'm finally starting to feel it as the team of plucky misfits gets more and more out of their depth.

Because we see the patterns established in the first couple episodes - Coulson's trust in SHIELD, May's reliance on violence, Skye's go-to tactic of "do the thing everyone said not to" - stop working.  And then we see the characters try to figure out what the hell to do next.

It turns out that these characters ARE quite a bit more than stereotypes.  They just had to get pushed pout of their comfort zones for us to see that.

And that fact might be the undoing of the series.

Not that the tropes are being subverted and revealing character growth. Nope - it's that we've had to wait a half season to get here.

And in a culture where we can consume an entire series in a weekend... Well, who wants to wait for it to get interesting?

I'm still trying to figure out what this means for us as storytellers. Not just in terms of release schedules, but for pacing as well.  What do you think?

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