One of the most distressing changes to the way we interact with movies in the twenty-first century is the advent of ‘live tweeting.’ Setting aside the fact that 99% of these oh-so-witty insights are neither terribly witty nor particularly insightful, the real problem here is that it violates the essential social contract of filmgoing. Your only job as an audience member – whether you are a world-renowned critic or just someone who goes out to the movies once every couple of months – is to surrender yourself to the picture and trust it to effectively impart its meaning. The film may not fulfill its end of the bargain, but it is crucial that you walk into every movie giving it the benefit of the doubt. Note, that this is not an argument for ‘turning off your brain’; you can, and should be scrutinizing, but you must engage the movie on its own terms instead of arrogantly closing yourself off and demanding it meet whatever arbitrary expectations you’ve set for it. If you’re watching a movie – especially if it’s for the first time – and pausing every ten minutes to toss some snarky comment into the digital landfill, you’re closing yourself off to the film before it even has a chance to express its true meaning or intent.
I say all of this because, in many ways, reviewing a season of television week-by-week is a lot like live tweeting a movie. Each week you’re getting, at best, one-sixth of the story, and especially early on there’s no way of knowing how the arc of the season is going to play out or how the creators may or may not be playing with or subverting your expectations to make a point. A good review should come from a position of authority, but it’s impossible to be authoritative when you don’t even have the whole picture in front of you. In the case of Agent Carter, over the past couple weeks I’ve criticized the show for the ways in which it seemed to be struggling to settle into a theme, but after this week’s penultimate episode I’m having to square with the idea that I may have been dead wrong.