#Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a somewhat checkered history. It arrived with great fanfare — many fans tuned in to see the much-anticipated return of fan-favorite character Phil Coulson — but then it very swiftly lost momentum. As a result, a lot of viewers turned off.
But really, after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the series has improved year upon year. With the recent renewal for Season 5, here's why you should definitely get caught up.
Intriguing Storytelling And Great Pace
Since Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. began in 2013, the #MCU has changed quite dramatically — and as a consequence, so has the show. What began as a show about normal humans dealing with the ramifications of living in a world of superheroes has now became a superhero show in its own right. With the addition of the Inhumans and Ghost Rider, it's safe to say that AoS has certainly found its place within the MCU.
The decision to split Season 4 into three "pods" was a masterstroke. Rather than focussing on a single 22-episode plot, the producers instead had three ongoing stories. The first pod was "Ghost Rider," the second "L.M.D." (Life Model Decoy) and the third was "Agents of Hydra" — and while each had their own self-contained conflict, there were continuing threads that all came together in the finale.
This split was hugely successful, and just as planned it meant that the story progressed at a great pace. Rather than dwelling on a big reveal (I'm looking at you, Flash), AoS instead allowed the characters to find out secrets almost as soon as the audience did. For example, when Fitz begins experimenting on the decapitated head of the original Aida in secret, his deception isn't left hanging; the other characters quickly learn about this and are furious with Fitz. Two episodes later the head is destroyed. AoS continues to move on and tell a good story.
"Agents of Hydra" was an interesting concept. Similar to Marvel's own "What If...?" comics, it placed the cast in an alternate world, one where Hydra won. Unlike The Flash's "Flashpoint" event, this pod allowed the alternate world to breathe instead of rushing it as one episode. Certain characters were drastically different within the Framework, and the fact that it took place over four episodes allowed the audience to see how different the characters could be while also allowing establishing the new world.
The Acting Is Incredible
If there's one element of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that's been consistently solid, it's the acting. All of the main cast receive a chance to shine; the show is truly an ensemble. Season 4 showcased this brilliantly, as most of the actors had to play two completely different versions of their characters. Whether this was an L.M.D. or in the Framework, the actors were certainly tested. Just watch the scene above where Fitz and Simmons aren't sure which one of them is an L.M.D., and you'll see how good the acting is.
Brett Dalton played arguably the most complex character on the show in Grant Ward, but had to totally change his performance once Hive came along in Season 3. As Hive was an Inhuman who had lived on another planet for thousands of years, he didn't necessarily fit in with the modern world, nor did he particularly care about humans in general. This was obvious in Dalton's performance, as there was an otherworldly calmness to Hive's character; he also added in some subtle body movements as he observed the other characters.
Constantly Developing Characters
All of the characters have grown significantly since the beginning of the series. Daisy began as the mysterious Skye, who had been passed around from foster home to foster home and didn't know anything about her real parents. But once she discovered the truth, her world changed — she found out that she was an Inhuman with incredible seismic powers whose name was actually Daisy Johnson. Now, she has evolved into a highly-capable S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who is also the face of Inhumans throughout the world.
Likewise, Jemma Simmons began as the perpetually cheerful doctor in Coulson's team, who was better suited to lab work than field work. Her journey has taken her literally across the universe as she was marooned on Maveth, the planet that Hive called his home, and during this time she had to learn how to survive. "4722 Hours" showed Simmons battle to survive, and was one of the best episodes to date.
If there's one area where the MCU films are falling short, it's the villains — but AoS certainly doesn't have that problem. Whether it was John Garrett in Season 1 or Aida in Season 4, all of the villains have made their mark.
Garrett was the mysterious Clairvoyant who was the leader of Hydra. He planted a mole in Coulson's team, Grant Ward, and used him so effectively that nobody saw his deception coming. Ward himself has been a fantastic villain all the way through the show's run and has been a constant thorn in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s side.
Daisy's mother, the Inhuman leader Jiaying, who aimed to rid the world of humans altogether, proved herself to be a huge threat to Coulson's team in Season 2. Hive and Gideon Malick were an effective combination in Season 3, but it's Season 4's Aida who truly stands out.
Aida begins life as the L.M.D. created by Holden Radcliffe to assist him in his experiments. But thanks to the influence of the Darkhold, a mysterious supernatural book, she soon becomes self-aware and manages to kill Radcliffe after finding a loophole in her programming. Aida's entire mission is to become real, and she commences Project Looking Glass in an attempt to build a body.
When she is successful, she begins to feel things for the first time — but after she is rejected by Fitz, she becomes unhinged. As mentioned earlier, the acting is fantastic as we see all these different facets to Aida, from logical robot to illogical psychopath.
These are just a few of the reasons you should definitely give Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. a chance. If you gave up during Season 1, you've certainly missed out — but it's not too late to catch up!
Why do you love Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Let me know in the comments.